A good real estate reputation takes time to build, but it doesn’t take much time at all to destroy.
You already know that things like being on time, filling out paperwork correctly, and being scrupulously honest are building blocks of a good reputation.
Another one is responding to both clients and other agents in a timely manner, and that’s where this week’s message comes in.
Do you plan to work through the last couple of weeks of December, or will you be going away? If you’ll be gone, when will you be back to work?
The answers to these questions are something your clients and your current prospects need to know.
Good communication will protect your real estate reputation.
If you’ll be on duty, let both your prospects and current clients know that you’ll be available when they need you.
You could announce this on your blog, your Facebook page, and anywhere else potential clients might be visiting. If you’re prospecting by mail or sending an autoresponder message to your entire list, do also let them know the day or days you won’t be working.
Since many agents will NOT be available, this might be the time when you’ll convert leads who might have chosen someone else.
If you plan to be away, arrange for someone to fill in for you with current clients and current prospects.
Even if there are no inspections, closings, etc. scheduled for the time when you’ll be gone, someone might need a question answered. Remember that sometimes your real estate reputation hinges on reassuring your clients. You might also need someone to arrange a showing or present an offer in your absence.
Once you have backup, inform your current clients. Let them know you’ll be away and tell them who will be covering for you. Tell them how to reach that person. And of course, let them know when you’ll be back at work.
IMPORTANT: As you make your plans, remember the advice you give your listing clients who go on vacation.
Do NOT announce your absence on your Facebook page! And don’t tell random people, like your hairdresser or the clerk in your favorite quick stop. You never know who might be listening.
Instead, arrange for your business email and phone calls to be forwarded to the person who is covering for you.
Take wise precautions with your home: Arrange for someone to pick up your newspaper and/or mail each day and possibly to go in and out of the house once or twice a day. You might even consider hiring a house sitter.
Not telling your clients you’ll be away can ruin your real estate reputation.
If they try to reach you and you don’t respond, they may not back out of their transactions, but they’ll be unhappy. And in case you never noticed, unhappy people talk about their experiences more than happy people do.
In addition, they won’t be sending you good testimonials or telling their friends to contact you.
Not responding to prospects might not ruin your real estate reputation, but it will hurt you.
You know how it goes – if they’re ready to act and you don’t respond in a timely fashion, they’ll simply move on to someone else. You would probably do the same.
If you’ll be on duty… protect your time and energy as well as your real estate reputation.
Before you run out to show homes to a new lead, check to see that those buyers aren’t already committed to someone who is off on vacation. Unless it’s your own listing, politely decline to do another agent’s work.
Since some people do fib when it suits their purpose, you might want to test them with a request to sign a buyer/broker agreement. You could also ask a few qualifying questions, such as “How long have you been looking?” and “Have you seen any other homes in that neighborhood?”
Whether or not you’ll be away…
It might be wise to change the message on your answering machine and set up an auto reply to email messages, just so people don’t make an incorrect assumption if you don’t answer immediately.
If you’re working, let them know you’re there and will get back to them. Your message could say something like “Thanks for calling. I’m here and working through December – and I’ll return your call (or email) just as soon as possible.
If you’re away, keep it vague. Promise a response as soon as possible. Then, hopefully, your back-up person will make that call-back or send that email quickly.
Meanwhile… if you’re working through the month, line up your next listings.
Some of your potential clients won’t want their homes available during Christmas, even if they really need to sell. They’re busy with guests, gifts, parties, baking, and all the rest. It’s not a good time to keep things in top condition for showing.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be ready to “go live” right after Christmas. It doesn’t mean you can’t get your photos now, gather all the information you need, write your property descriptions, and have the paperwork ready to date and submit as soon as they’re ready.
Use my Holiday Listing Letters Part 2 to show your listing prospects the benefit of being ready. If their homes are available on December 26 or 27, they just might catch one of those buyers who is in town searching for home – and who has to somewhere else by January 4.
And you just might have a few pending sales to celebrate on New Year’s Eve!