Rising interest rates. Limited inventory. Bidding wars that send prices tens of thousands above asking in a matter of days. Today’s real estate market is competitive and fast-paced, and every year, more agents join the fray, competing for clients.
In 2020 and 2021, more than 156,000 new agents threw their hats into the ring, making the client pool even more shallow. So how can you set yourself apart from the crowd? Client testimonials. Here’s what they are, why they’re essential, and how to gather them.
Client testimonials are written or video recommendations submitted by former clients. They can come in the form of reviews online or posts on an agent’s website. Common topics might focus on diligence in house-hunting, affordable commissions, or an agent’s dogged determination to find the perfect house (or to get the best price for a seller). If the sale is a particularly stressful one, as in the case of divorce or a death in the family, reviewers might note if a realtor handled the sale with care and compassion.
These days, there is so much competition to represent people buying and selling homes that it’s not enough just to hand out cards or put up billboards. Potential clients want to hear from people who have used your services.
Client testimonials are nothing new. Before there was the internet, there was word-of-mouth marketing. These days, word-of-mouth has moved into the digital space, with online references and reviews serving as a potential client’s first point of contact. Because most people begin their home-buying search online, having multiple positive reviews and testimonials on your website and social media builds credibility and fosters trust.
Buying or selling a home is a complex process. Not only is it likely the largest purchase people will make in their lifetime, but it’s also often complicated by intense ties to the property or other emotional considerations. When buyers and sellers are looking for an agent, they want someone who knows how to handle this transaction professionally and with a personal touch. Testimonials provide reassurance and insight into how a realtor works with clients.
Home buyers and sellers may have preferences in how their realtor communicates and handles the process of buying or selling a house. Some might want daily text check-ins, while others are okay with a weekly round-up of any developments or a phone check-in. Testimonials are great for providing practical observations into how a realtor communicates.
From websites to social media, the algorithm is hard at work, deciding what potential clients see and what’s valuable to the internet at large. The more an agent’s name is mentioned, the more important they seem. This increased digital footprint contributes to better search engine optimization (SEO) and can put you at the top of the page in organic search results. And considering that most people conducting searches don’t get past page one, that’s right where you want to be.
Unless they are related to someone in real estate that they trust, buyers and sellers are putting their fate into the hands of a stranger. Client testimonials reduce the potential risk of this significant transaction by using firsthand accounts of a real estate agent’s competence and professionalism. This is reassuring and allows clients to move forward confidently.
Unless you ethically incentivize former clients to sing your praises (more on that below), testimonials are free marketing materials that can be used across your various platforms (website, social media, etc.).
Although some satisfied clients will post on social media, tell friends, or blog about their great experience with you, most people need a nudge to provide a testimonial. Here’s how to effectively (and ethically) gather testimonials.
Yes, you want multiple client testimonials to boost your business, but there are legal guardrails that prevent certain behaviors when gathering reviews. As a person using testimonials, you cannot:
Contrary to popular belief, you can pay for or otherwise incentivize reviewers, but you must disclose that you have done so. For example, you could offer a commission reduction in exchange for a review, but the posted testimonial on your website or social media must indicate that.
This seems like a no-brainer, but many agents don’t ask for client testimonials. They just assume that clients will take their own initiative. This is often not the case (unless the service is very bad).
Don't wait for clients to offer testimonials. Ask right after closing for a review. You can even send a follow-up request a few weeks later.
The testimonial process should be so straightforward that the review practically writes itself. Provide a link to a Google form, a questionnaire, or a simple series of yes/no questions with an option to explain. This can be in the signature of every email you send, too. That alone increases your odds that clients will follow through.
Video content, especially short clips designed to be posted on social media, may be more effective than written reviews. Seeing people talk about their buying and selling experiences can have more impact, and sharing this content across social media platforms is also easier.
Making money in real estate is about the number of homes you buy and sell, of course, but behind those numbers are people — the most important part of the transaction. Testimonials reassure clients during this sizable financial commitment that you are trustworthy and want the best for them. They clearly illustrate your experience and dedication to the entire process of buying and selling a home. And that’s a win for everyone in a competitive market.