As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, July 2012.
It’s no secret that real estate agents often are the key to building a stream of business for mortgage brokers and originators. Nonetheless, successfully reaching this group can prove to be hard at times.
This feat doesn’t have to be difficult, however. Consider the following tips for forging long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with top-tier agents.
1. Invest in them
If you’re expecting real estate agents to invest in your business, you have to invest in them, as well. Take them to lunch, cater their open houses and find innovative ways to support their business endeavors.
Supporting a real estate agent’s marketing efforts means more than simply splitting the cost of an advertisement. Good agents will expect you to bring value to their operations. With that in mind, consider hosting a first-time homebuyer seminar and asking an agent to join you. If you’re a frequent speaker at industry events, you also could ask certain agents to join you as fellow panelists, showing them that you’ll market the event and, in turn, market them.
2. Stay on call
A lot of real estate agents are surprised at how many mortgage brokers turn off their phones at 5 p.m. Real estate agents work all day, and they need their industry partners to be available, too.
Don’t underestimate the value of staying on call all day. Being constantly ready to help your partners via text, e-mail or phone will help you grow your business — and theirs. If you can’t help your real estate partners when they need it, they’ll find someone who will.
3. Follow up
Sometimes, adequately expressing your professional objectives is enough to get a real estate agent’s attention. Finding ways to help your partners’ business is great, but you also must determine ways to truly express your desire for long-term business relationships.
Even in cases when you send clients to real estate agents and never receive so much as a thank-you note, you still should follow up and thank them for their partnership. More specifically, thank them for taking care of your clients and express your intent to send them more customers, as well, if they’re open to that. You also can take this opportunity to set up a lunch meeting to discuss other professional opportunities.
This will put you in the driver’s seat and allow you to set the relationship’s expectations. If you still receive no response, don’t be hesitant to move on, as there are many agents who would be thrilled to receive such messages.
4. Know their interests
Finally, be sure to learn about the real estate agents with whom you want to network. For instance, take careful note of their personalities, communication styles and the ways in which they conduct their businesses.
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At the very least, know this much: You shouldn’t rely on rate sheets to entice potential real estate partners. Simply put, they’re not concerned about these rates because they know that such figures fluctuate widely. Be honest and upfront with them about why they should work with you, and do your best to approach them in the style that they’re most comfortable with.
Jim Lowenstern is CEO of Castles Unlimited, a boutique firm in Newton, Mass.
He’s been in the real estate industry for almost three decades, having sold luxury real estate in Palm Beach, Fla., at the start of his career and being the owner and operator of Castles Unlimited for the past 27 years. Lowenstern also is the creator of NewEnglandProsperity.org, a website dedicated to helping charitable organizations during real estate transactions. Reach him at JLowenstern@hotmail.com.