Agent-to-Agent Referrals - Do You Make the First Move?

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I've been putting agents together left and right (or east and west?) for the last several months via the SWS Referral Network (Network? What Network?). Some of the referrals have come together, but many haven't.

Why haven't they? Oh, the usual reasons - the client found an agent on his own, the seller didn't have as much equity as he thought, the buyer's lender decided it wasn't the right time to buy(!), the job transfer didn't go through, or the client decided to rent for awhile before buying.

Of course, these are all perfectly valid reasons for a perfectly good referral to crash and burn.

But... but... but... I'm thinking there's another reason some of these SWS referrals haven't resulted in a client for one and a referral fee for the other.

As I've been checking in with the agents who have used the Network to see how the referral is going (or not going as the case may be), I've been told more than once that "I gave the contact information to my client." In other words - the referring agent (the guy or gal with a client to refer) simply passed on the names and numbers of the agent(s) in the referring area to his or her buyer or seller, and called it a day. That is - THEY NEVER MADE CONTACT WITH THE AGENT(S) THEMSELVES.

Do YOU make contact with someone before you refer to them? If so, why? And what do you say or ask? If not, why not?

Please share your thoughts!

RELATED BLOG: Ten Tips to Being a Good Refer-ee


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Lori Gilmore
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Joliet, IL
Realtor - Will County Illinois

Whenever I refer a client to another agent I call and interview that agent.  A referral is a powerful thing, my client is relying on me to find them a professional who can provide the same level of service they have come to expect from me.  I take that seriously and play an active role in matching client to agent.  I see it as a team effort to meet the needs of the client.

May 12, 2010 02:33 AM #7
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

I am able to make many referrals to real estate agents for clients who want to list their home if the client calls me before choosing a listing agent. I always call the listing agent I'm referring and send them an email just to make sure. I also give them the homeowner's contact info (with the homeowner's permission).


May 12, 2010 02:56 AM #9
Chris Wechner
CW Health Inc - Waterford, MI

It's sad how common courtesy (giving a "heads up" to the affected person) needs to be listed on here.  Unfortunately, it does!

Very good point, Jennifer.  It's not so good that this point needs to be made.

May 12, 2010 04:30 AM #10
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Follow up is everything in our business... this is yet another clear example of why you need to follow up!

May 12, 2010 04:47 AM #11
Alexander Harb
Knights Investing - Mesquite, TX
Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing

Agents are supposed to be representing the clients they serve, not the other way around.

Referrals are from agent to agent, not agent to client.

I ALWAYS contact the agent first, then if everything is good, I contact the client.


May 12, 2010 05:35 AM #12
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Jennifer - While I'm sure my experience is not what you're looking for because the only agents I refer to are ones that I already know in my market but yes, I do call them and give them a heads up that I referred them and I do pass on my clients contact info if my client gave me permission to.

However, as to referring to another area, I've only done that twice and both times were here on AR.  In both scenarios, I called the other MLO that I wanted to refer to and I spoke with them about the prospect that I was referring.

In one scenario, the referred MLO closed the transaction and did let me know the progress along the way.  The other scenario was not as strong of a referral and after referring the prospect, I just let the referred MLO take over.  I did not follow up in that one.  My bad!

May 12, 2010 05:59 AM #13
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Being a 2nd home market it's all about referrals here.  I could not see referring a customer to anyone I had not contacted and at least had some basic knowledge about.  The follow up will continue with both the customer and associate until they get to closing.  Then they return here next seaon and I will continue to service their needs here.  When I am comfortable with whom I choose I can feel fairly confident that my customer will be also.  Sounds so simple doesn't it?

May 12, 2010 06:10 AM #14
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

When the referring agent simply "passes on the information" to the client, I don't see why the client would have any real motivation to give the referee agent a, if the referring agent could enthusiastically say, "hey, I have this great agent for you...I talked to him/her yesterday and he/she said....", the odds are dramatically increased the client will be more enthusiastic about the referee agent, therefore a great likelihood of something positve happening.  Seems like common sense to me!

May 12, 2010 08:10 AM #15
Cari Anderson
Danville, CA

Jennifer: I think the whole point is to help out other agents so I would definitely let the agent know that I've referred someone to them. I would ask my client if it's okay to have the agent contact THEM and then give them the agent's info. That way at least you can say you did everything you could do.

May 12, 2010 08:21 AM #16
Diane McDermott
Realtor®, GRI, Landis e2 Real Estate, LLC - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte NC Real Estate Market

Hi Jennifer,

  I always call any agent I'm referring to - which is also a chance to see if they're interested in the referral (shocking I know but I've contacted some that haven't been interested!)

   Usually I'll ask the potential client beforehand if they're ok with me providing their contact info to the other agent, all of mine have been ok with it, one less thing for them to have to do.

   I've had several referrals work out really well, and in those cases the agent I referred to contacted the buyers/sellers, they got to know each other and took it from there - and now I have several contacts I'm confident in referring to again :)

May 13, 2010 03:00 AM #17
Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate
Results Real Estate 801.580.5624 - Draper, UT
Broker, Results Real Estate

Hi Jennifer,

You have to contact the other agent with the persons information.  I had a recent incident where a referring agent gave the seller my contact information and didn't let me know.  Long story short the seller had lost my phone number called a local office and asked for me.  The agent who answered said I was out of town and that she was taking care of my business while I was gone.  She set up an appointment too.  Luckily, the seller talked to the agent who was referring it to me..... and she set her straight.

I ended up with the listing, and the agent ended up with the referral fee, but what a disaster. So long story short,,,,,,, yes contact the other agent directly and get the ball rolling and avoid all the outside "things" that can and will interfere with your business.

May 13, 2010 04:16 AM #18
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

I just completed one here ion Activerain actually it was one of many . I am seeing your network what network button and guess what I am going to click. I do talk to everyone I am refering to beofre I pass out the referral

May 13, 2010 07:02 AM #19
Sally Lawrence
Advantage Real Estate - Tehachapi, CA
Broker, CHS, e-Pro, SFR, REALTOR®

I think it's important that the agents speak to each other before the referral is made.  When I'm the one referring a client, I also follow-up to see that my client is happy with the referral.  If not, I try to mitigate any issues.  For me, it's all about servicing the client.

BTW, I had a call from another agent in an adjacent area to that which I serve.  The client is at a lower price point and wants to look at the furthest distance I travel (more than an hour away).  I hesitated to take the referral since by the time I paid for gas and a referral fee I could actually lose money.  When I explained this to the referring agent and said I would take them anyway since it is about helping the client, he told me to forget the referral fee and just help the people.  His only request was that if they wound up looking in the area where we overlap that I send them back to him.  Nice guy and I bet we wind up doing a lot of (much more lucrative) business together!

May 14, 2010 03:23 AM #20
Robert L. Brown - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic

We DEFINITELY have to have a conversation BEFORE they talk to my people. Not doing that makes absolutely NO sense to me.

May 15, 2010 10:22 AM #21
Dora & Vincent Kwok
HomeSmart Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
CNE - Chandler, Arizona Real Estate

Hi Jennifer,
We definitely contact the other agent prior to giving his/her information to my client.  If its a referral to an area, we don't already have a contact, we do our due diligence in speaking(interviewing) the potential agent.

May 17, 2010 04:44 PM #22
LLoyd Nichols
Premier Florida Realty of SWFL - Fort Myers, FL
Southwest Florida Homes By The Sea

Jennifer: Yes I always contact the agent before sending the client's info. And before that I have a referral agreement signed. Also I talk to the agent before. Are they up to the task?  Are they to busy? 

May 18, 2010 04:50 PM #23
Ann Cordes
Century 21 Randall Morris and Associates, Waco - Waco, TX
Home Ownership is Not a Distant Dream

Jennifer, great point. Follow-thru is critical in a successful real esate career.

May 22, 2010 05:15 AM #24
Jill Schmidt
Aurora, CO

So true.  Even if it's not an agent referral, it's best to do the followup.  If I make a contact with a past client or friend for a referral, I always ask if I can contact the referral (instead of waiting for the phone to ring).

May 26, 2010 07:22 AM #25
Christine Pappas - REALTOR®
eXp Realty - Willoughby, OH
eXp Realty - Because Experience Matters

Great topic!

I always call the other agent or agents first and talk with them about the clients needs to make sure they want and can service my client and to get a firm commitment from them that will give my client awesome care.

Then I contact my client and give them my findings and I ask them for their permission to give the agent their contact information.

I call the agent back and give them the clients contact information and ask them to give me updates. 

And I keep in touch with my client to make sure they are happy and staying happy.

Giving a referral and keeping up with communication is just another extension of being of great service to your clients.  The service should not stop at passing the name.  I believe our clients have come to us because they know and trust our judgment and they value our  on going interest in their happiness.

Jun 10, 2010 01:54 AM #26
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Christine - AMEN!

Jun 10, 2010 05:55 AM #27
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Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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