An agency relationship between a real estate agent and a client is fiduciary. That means it’s a relationship built on trust: trust to handle large amounts of money, trust to complete legal documents like contracts, trust to discreetly handle sensitive and confidential information, trust to ethically provide reliable advice. You’re asking clients to have a lot of trust in you and put one of the biggest financial transactions of their lives in your hands.
Why is Client Trust Important?
It may not be immediately obvious how and why client trust is important. Real estate clients hire agents for their real estate expertise and to handle the major elements of a home purchase or sale. One of the main practices of an agent is providing advice. If clients are going to follow your advice, they need to trust that you know what you’re doing and that you’ll do what needs to be done. They rely on you to guide them through a complicated, stressful process. Establish trust early and often.
Lack of trust leads to frustration, suspicion, and second guessing. Once trust is lost, it’s hard to get it back. For clients to trust you, you need to work hard for them, be honest, dependable, accurate, and considerate.
Honesty is Always Best
Be honest with them. Lies are the quickest way to destroy trust. Even little white lies can be toxic in an agency relationship. People know when you’re manipulating them with insincere flattery. Don’t exaggerate. With the internet in their pockets, most real estate consumers can quickly discover if you’re being straight with them.
Expectations and Education
Set realistic, fact-based expectations during the first meeting. They will remember what you told them in the beginning. If you raised their expectations based little, or flawed, evidence, they may blame you if things don’t turn out the way you said they would.
Demonstrate your excellent knowledge and experience by clearly outlining what they can expect, the things they need to do, and the typical steps and costs in the process. It’s better to educate them early so you’re not dealing with a flood of questions at all hours later.
Be on Time
If you keep showing up late to meetings, your clients may think you’re not taking them seriously. You may have lots of clients, but this home sale or purchase is likely the only one for them at the moment. They’re probably stressed and neurotic, and you’re the one real estate expert who’s supposed to help them through it.
Follow Up and Follow Through
Do what you say you’re going to do when you said you’ll do it. This is the best way to build trust. Trust is earned through experience and a track record of being true to your word.
A real estate transaction involves lots of deadlines and contingencies. If you fail to quickly follow up on a document request, counteroffer, or condition, a deal could fall apart and you’ll have some extremely unhappy clients on your hands.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Lack of communication is the number one complaint real estate consumers have about agents. You may have perfectly good reasons for not responding quickly to every email, text, and phone call. But failing to respond to questions and inquires makes people feel ignored.
Keep Clients Informed
Be explicit, not vague. Tell them what you’re doing to sell their house or find the right home for them. Clients likely don’t know everything an agent does in the process of a typical agency relationship or transaction. Keep them updated on everything you’re doing for them so they worry less and don’t blame problems and setbacks on a lazy agent.
Respect Their Time
At meetings, get to the point and stay on the point. Don’t ramble, don’t chit chat, don’t tell war stories. Don’t talk endlessly about your kids, your pets, your garden, your condo. Your clients are busy, and you sure are super busy too. If you seem to be constantly late, cancelling meetings, rambling, and wasting their time, your clients will start to feel you don’t respect them.
A good way to figure out how to establish and maintain a good relationship with clients is to imagine what you would want and expect from an expert duty bound to promote your interests above all others. No agent is perfect, but if you earn trust with the steps outlined above, clients will be more forgiving.
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