I Will Meet Anyone Once
, Oct 15, 2021 | 0 Comments
There is a lot of bad advice & misinformation in our industry with regard to working leads. Facebook discussion groups are the worst. You will find Facebook real estate groups filled with inexperienced and/or unproductive agents discussing how they “deal with clients”. The funny thing is that most of these agents don’t deal with many clients either because they follow their own bad processes/policies or they have bad processes/policies because they’ve never dealt with many clients. The two worst pieces of advice that you’ll hear (over and over) are:
- I will only show a property after the buyer has been pre-approved.
- I always get buyer’s representation agreements.
Years ago, a very successful mortgage broker commented to me, “Eric, I’ll meet anyone once.” I’d never verbalized it, but I have the exact same policy. It’s worth meeting someone face to face one time, almost every time. Examples of when you should almost always meet someone:
- Someone contacts you or the office and wants to see a property.
- Someone is coming to town to decide if they want to move to Austin.
- Someone is visiting Austin to interview for a job and they’d like to see a few homes while they’re here.
- Someone has accepted a job in Austin and wants to see homes that they might purchase.
- Someone isn’t sure if they want to sell their home and would like to know what your opinion of value is.
- Etc, etc, etc…
In each of these instances, you have the opportunity to meet someone who has a likelihood of becoming a client. The key is to invest the right amount of time with each person and to approach each person in the correct way. A few examples:
- Bear in mind that greater than 90% of the people you talk to either through your SOI or through company lead generation will be able to be pre-approved. Those that can’t usually express concerns up front or give you other “red flags”. It’s not a waste of time to assume that the vast majority of folks that you talk to can buy.
- When you meet someone at a property (or at a coffee shop in order to go to the property), they are now interviewing you as an agent. Ask the right questions with the goal of getting them set up on searches. Worry about pre-approval later. During your conversation, you found out where they worked and what they do, so you have a good idea if they can be qualified.
- If someone is visiting Austin on a “scouting trip”, then you need to limit how much time you’ll spend with them. You can also ask more questions about employment over the phone, so you’ll have a good idea about qualifications. Recommend that you spend a half day with them physically viewing homes and suggest that they drive neighborhoods and visit restaurants on their own. If they do decide to move to Austin or accept a job, there will be a subsequent trip where you can really pound the pavement to view tons of homes.
- If someone is definitely moving to Austin, then it makes sense to recommend pre-approval before they come. They can’t make an offer without a letter, and the goal is to make an offer on this trip, so they should agree that it makes sense. When someone comes to Austin with the stated goal of putting a house under contract, you will spend as much time as necessary with them. Generally, you can view 2-3 homes per hour. They will know a day or two prior to the visit how many homes they want to see. If they’re in town for 2+ days, then try to break it up into multiple half days so that they can spend time exploring areas.
- Any time someone expresses any interest in selling a house, you want to meet them at the house whenever they would like. There is no reason not to go on that interview. I have personally met the same sellers at their late mother’s house 4x over 5 years and will continue to do so until they decide to sell.
It’s obviously important for your buyers to get pre-approved with a trusted mortgage lender. The point above is only that you need to focus on establishing a “trusted advisor” relationship with someone before you start giving them trusted advice. You need to be able to explain to a buyer why it’s in their best interest to get pre-approved. Here are some good scripts (that are great advice):
- It’s super helpful for you to talk with a lender early. Your lender will be able to tell you how much you’ll need to put down and how much your monthly payments are. It’s one thing to know that a house is $XXX,XXX. It’s much more helpful to know “I need to put down $XX,XXX in order to have $XXXX per month in payments.”
- The market moves pretty quickly, so it’s nice to have your pre-approval out of the way. That way, if you do luck out and find something you love early on, there isn’t an obstacle to making an offer.
- There’s no obligation to work with the first lender you talk to. I always recommend that you get pre-approved with a local lender first and then shop later. If you start shopping now, the lender is just guessing on rates b/c they always change.
As in (almost) everything, there are exceptions to this. Your personal safety is obviously your #1 priority. Because we deal with the general public, you will sometimes run into truly insane people. You can determine that someone is insane by searching them online or by using your gut instinct or your “spidey sense”.
Set your own personal safety guidelines. If you’ve never met someone before, it often makes sense to meet them at a coffee shop and then follow each other to the house. Many agents will ask for a copy of their driver’s license that they can text to a partner or friend. If you don’t have a policy, talk w/ other agents or me. Set your own policy and always follow it. Fair Housing will not allow us to set different policies for different people, and that’s a great fallback if anyone ever questions your policy.
Your Spidey Sense
When you talk with people, you will sometimes get a weird feeling. They make comments that don’t make sense. They brag about money and you can’t find them online. Over time, your spidey sense will get better and better. However, always trust your spidey sense. Early in your career, err on the side of always (safely) meeting anyone once. As your spidey sense matures, you can begin limiting the amount of time that you’ll spend with people who seem “off”, or not meeting them at all if the alarm bells are really going off.