According to the National Association of Realtors® 88% of both home sellers and buyers used an agent in 2014. Of the other 12%, 7% bought directly from a builder and 5% bought directly from the seller. The question agents should be asking is how does that 88% decide which agent to go with? The numbers say that 67% of buyers go with the first agent they interview and 20% interview only 2 agents. This strongly suggests you want to be the first one interviewed.
Many buyers (40%) first interview with an agent referred to them by someone they know. The next highest percentage (12%) go with an agent they previously bought or sold through. The number drops to 5% when it comes to open houses or having your name listed on a "for sale" sign. We all know that customer service is paramount in this industry. Getting previous customers to refer you to new customers should be your number one marketing strategy.
Not having many previous clients becomes a real challenge for new agents. The best strategy for new agents is building networks. Not only networking within the real estate profession but also networking with family, friends, and neighbors. Or anyone else that can make a word of mouth referral for you. Make sure you politely ask everyone you know to make referrals to you. Both seasoned and new agents should ask past clients for testimonials that can be prominently posted on their websites.
Clearly, getting the interview is your first goal. Your second goal should be addressing what potential clients are most looking for from an agent during the interview. A full 91% of buyers say that an in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market is the most important attribute they look for in an agent. They want agents that have both a knowledge of the market dynamics and the available inventory.
The second most sought out agent attribute is the ability to find and show homes most closely matching the needs of the client. No one wants to waste a bunch of time looking at homes they can't afford or are not interested in. That means going beyond a tight focus of pushing the properties your company has a listing for and certainly thinking beyond the open house you are showing when you first meet a potential client.
The same percentage of sellers as buyers go with agents. And the other numbers closely match as well. 70% of sellers go with the first agent they interview with. Again, the first agent they interview with are referrals from family, friends, and neighbors (38%). Another 22% go with agents they previously did business with.
At 36%, sellers say the most important attribute they look for in a listing agent is reputation. Along with sales activity, they list attitude and integrity as important aspects of an agent's reputation. Following closely are honesty and trustworthiness.
The bottom line is that agents, whether new or well established should always be working to improve the attributes clients find the most important as well as asking for referrals from every client and potential client they come in contact with.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 25 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest in the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.