At the heart of any strong relationship is transparency, or being open, honest and, above all, communicative. The same goes for the agent-client connection.
Being transparent is important for so many reasons. Transparency helps establish, so the earlier you are clear with your client, the better. It also helps set expectations, which, as you know, eliminates the potential for misunderstandings and also alleviates the pain of going through such an intense process as selling or buying a home. Finally, transparency lets your client know that you care.
We interviewed some talented and successful real estate agents to get their perspectives and most helpful tips for establishing and maintaining transparency with your clients.
Grant Inaba, Climb Real Estate, San Francisco : In the introductory phase I contact clients daily by phone, text, email, until they communicate to me how seriously and quickly they want to buy a house. From there I generally let them dictate how often we communicate. If I see them communicating less and less over time I put them in a drip campaign to lightly follow up with them on a biweekly or monthly basis depending on how much assistance I feel they need to reach their real estate goals. I also send out monthly newsletter style communications which prompt replies back from clients at times.
Tyler Whitman, TripleMint, New York City: “Communication is tailored to the client, but in general, I reach out to clients more or less often based on where they are in the buying process. I speak to early buyers once or twice a week, clients that are actively searching I speak to three to four times a week, and clients that are actively making offers I speak to multiple times a day.”
Tania Matthews, Tania Matthews Team, Central Florida: “Sellers are updated/spoken to a minimum of 1x/wk if we are still active on the market. We give an update on showings and market activity for the week. I prefer to have someone to have spoken to them a second time if possible.
“Communication is very important, even if there is not anything solid to give. We will let them know of any feedback from showings and talk about recent market activity. Once it goes under contract, we keep them updated on where we are in the process and what can be expected.
“Buyers – Based on where they are in the search, it could be daily to once every other week. For those buyers that are going to be buying within six months, it would be every three to four weeks. If they are active in the search, it’s almost necessary to contact them about seeing properties daily.
“If they are just considering a purchase, it would most likely be an initial meeting or call to help them with starting the process (pre-approval, what they are wanting in a home, introduction to the process and what to expect). After that, it would be important to speak with them about every other week and no more time more than three weeks unless they will not be purchasing in the near future, at which point it would be less frequent.”
Ways to Maintain Contact
Grant: “I maintain contact through phone, email, and text and infrequent coffee meetings if I feel clients need the extra guidance.”
Tyler: “The fastest and most efficient way to communicate quick things with my clients is by text.”
Tania: “Sellers – Based on their preferred method of contact, we will call, text or email. I prefer to at least speak with them again a minimum of once per week to make sure they know what we are doing for their property, to tell them about the market and to see if they have any questions or concerns. Speaking in person allows for more of an opportunity to hear what their thoughts are on the process.
“Buyers – We set them up on a home search and have automatic property notifications that go out when a property meets their criteria. Phone conversations are still important as this is how you learn. Based on their preferred method of contact, it will be either phone, email or text. We use all and make sure voice-to-voice contact is in there frequently.”
What to Share with Clients
Grant: “Generally, I share with them property listings and specific information related to them as well as local market activity. We also tend to talk about financing solutions collaboratively with their mortgage advisor if they are using one.”
Tyler: “If I’ve already sold them an apartment then I’ll email them with what’s happening in their building and what sales have happened recently. I’ve found that clients are generally most interested in information that affects the value of their own home. Buyers, on the other hand, love options. I’ll email them with the listing of any apartment I think could work for them.”
Tania: “Sellers – It’s a great opportunity to ask them if they have any questions or concerns. If they’re getting anxious and I need to address this, are they losing motivation to sell the house, are they frustrated with how the showings are going, and showing agents not doing what they are supposed to do, etc. We keep notes in our CRM system and follow-up with an email recap.
“Buyers – Talk about the market and activity. Let them know if we found a house that meets their criteria. Talk about the mortgage process and what is expected with interest rates. Most of the time for buyers it is going to be conversations about homes we have seen that they might want to schedule a showing for. Initially, we have a conversation with them about the process and make sure they are aware of what to expect.”
The Importance of Being Transparent
Grant: “Transparency is the utmost priority for me but finding a way to communicate that effectively to clients can be difficult. There are many parties involved in a real estate transaction: seller, listing agent, buyer, buyer’s agent, mortgage advisor, title officer, at the very least.
“Getting all these points of view to agree with each other can be a challenge and there can be misinterpretations. Making each party feel heard and understood while maintaining truth and clarity is of the utmost importance to moving forward until successfully closing a transaction.”
Tyler: “Transparency is my top priority. My clients are spending an enormous amount of money, and they need to trust me. My goal is not just to close the deal, but also to get my client to use me again and again and to tell their friends to use me.”
Tania: “In the real estate process whether buying of selling, trust is a huge foundational component. Trust is built through transparency and open communication. For a successful relationship and transaction, I feel that communicating frequently and providing information to them even if it is hard is necessary for a successful transaction.
“For buyers, it is important that we let them know honestly what is going on in the market. Many people feel that they can still get a deal. In our current market, it is a sellers market overall and those deals are not as readily available as they once were. Educating them on the market inventory, activity and process are one of the best ways to help them. Transparency in this helps to prevent frustration with unrealistic expectations.”
And there you have it! Clear communication is not only going to help you be more trustworthy in the eyes of your client. It can also make the process a lot easier for everyone involved.
Is transparency important in your real estate transactions? How do you make sure you maintain clear communication with our clients?