5 Ways to Build Trust with Your Client

  • OKAY.com | 7 November 2016

When a client entrusts you with a listing or asks you to find them a suitable property, you’re helping them make one of the biggest decisions in their lives. Buy or rent, sell or let – they want an agent with solid integrity and sound judgement by their side – someone they can trust. Trust holds the key to any successful relationship, and it’s particularly important for property agents.

5 Ways to Build Trust with Your Client

1 – Listen, Listen, Listen

This is arguably the most important quality in a real estate agent, but one that is often forgotten. All too often, real estate agents try to immediately “sell” a property, without really listening to their client and what THEY want. As their agent, you’re offering a housing solution, so understanding their needs is vital. Pick up on emotional cues and ask questions to gather additional details. When you believe you have enough information, attempt to analyse and balance the needs of different family members.

Once you’ve gained insight into what the client is after, offer sound and honest advice, but look for ways to better articulate pros and cons. If a client seems hesitant at the end of a viewing, offer alternatives and follow-up. If they know you’re on the lookout for similar properties, they will be encouraged to stay in touch in case you find something suitable.

2 – Be generous with what you know

Your market knowledge is invaluable to your client’s decision-making process. Keeping yourself abreast of industry news and trends is paramount in helping your client make an informed decision, but proactive knowledge sharing – publishing commentaries and articles on a company blog or website, for example – is an even better way to demonstrate your expertise and provide unique insights for your client. Exchange information with colleagues and your co-op network so you can reference similar cases when needed. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion about a property or district – they are looking to you for guidance, not merely information – they can search online for that.

3 – Be an Educator

Sometimes clients have unrealistic expectations of the market. Don’t be afraid to address them. If they mistakenly think they can find a 1,000 sq.ft. rental for $15K /month, be upfront with them about the real market level (but do so tactfully). Send a list of properties to educate them, and support your opinions with market facts and information on relative value. Email them about a good deal when you see one but be equally honest if they can do better with another property. If there are potential problems, let them know – they’ll appreciate your honesty.

4 – Be friendly, but keep it professional

A good property agent should already possess people skills but it is equally important not to lose sight of professionalism - when trying to build a rapport with a client, your credibility is key.

Making a great first impression is half the battle, so dress appropriately and practically. Before each client meeting or viewing, make sure you have the itinerary and route planned out, and allow yourself enough travel time for unexpected delays. Keep additional properties on hand in case clients show interest in a certain road or building and happen to speed through your scheduled set of viewings.

Interactions with the client – whether face-to-face, email, or over Whatsapp – should be friendly but always professional. This sets the tone and gives your client confidence that you are great at what you do. Speak their language and communicate the way they do. If they are more formal, you should be more formal. If they are more casual, be (slightly) more casual. This greatly helps them become comfortable working with you. You don’t need to be someone else, just find the best ways to communicate and build trust.

5 – Be Like the Flash - Fast

It’s a no-brainer, the fastest person in a race always wins. The same is true in real estate, especially in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong. You want to be the first send information to your clients. Since most people are usually working with several agents at a time, you should be the most responsive particularly when sending new listings that have just hit the market.

It’s not only about showing your responsiveness, you should keep in mind that your client is also competing with other people looking for property in the market. So help them see a great property first, before the rest of the market knows about it.

If your company has a strong (ideally mobile) technology platform, use it. At OKAY.com, we’ve built our own mobile platform to do things on the go, such as notifying our agents when a property hits the market that matches their client’s needs, or creating a viewing schedule remotely. But you can use any CRM if you’re diligent – even an excel spreadsheet. The main goal is to move quickly. After a viewing, don’t wait for a few days to send more listings – send them the very next day (or ideally later the same day). If your client wants to put in an offer, do it immediately, not “tomorrow” or you’ll risk losing the property to another buyer.

The mobile era has brought an expectation of instant gratification. Just as you expect a friend to respond quickly to a WhatsApp message, clients expect us to be immediately responsive. So if they send you a message, respond immediately if at all possible - even if it’s just to acknowledge receipt and let them know you’ll get back to them. A quick note can go a long way – it lets them know you’re “on the case” and puts their mind at ease. Otherwise they may reach out to other agents, thinking you’re not prioritizing them as a client.

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