When you're 100% dependent on real estate commissions for your livelihood, quality referrals are key. Without new prospects coming into your pipeline, you can't build your real estate business.
Some of the typical ways real estate agents find new prospects include:
- Attending networking events.
- Distributing door to door flyers.
- Buying leads.
- Knocking on doors.
- Hosting open houses on their own, or another agent's, listing.
- Running expensive newspaper and billboard ads.
- Websites, blogs and social media.
- Networking with real estate agents in other markets.
The problem with most of these methods is you're marketing to people who may or may not be interested in selling or buying a home right away. They could be 2 to 5 years away from making such a decision, and you need income now.
A 2004 reasearch project commissioned by HouseValues, Inc. found that buyers began thinking that they should buy a home up to 4 years before actually doing so and that on average the home buying process takes 16.4 months. That's a long time to wait for your commission!
Here's a more immediate referral source you've probably avoided:
Many home stagers reach out to real estate agents only to find them ducking their calls or being outright hostile.
Realtors often assume the home stager only wants to sell them home staging services for their listings. And they wrongly assume this means they'll have to pay for the home staging services rather than their client.
Consider that many home sellers hire a home stager before ever contacting a real estate agent.
Savvy sellers know that the better their home shows, the more excited an agent will be about the potential listing, and the higher the asking (and selling) price.
A home stager learns a lot about a client in the process of staging their home. Let's face it, how many people let strangers open all their closets and go through their basement, attic and garage?
Because home stagers spend a fair amount of time with their home staging clients, they build rapport and trust. Those clients often ask a home stager to recommend a local real estate agent.
It's in the home stager's interest to recommend the best real estate agent they can because they want the staged home to sell quickly and for top dollar.
For a real estate agent, a referral from a home stager is pure gold.
You're getting a:
- Listing that the client has already paid to stage. No wasting your time trying to convince them to ditch the clutter, make repairs or repaint.
- Client who is committed to listing and selling right away (not 16.4 months from now) or they wouldn't have invested time and money in home staging.
- Listing that already photographs and shows well, making your marketing and selling of the property infinitely easier! Get on MLS now, not weeks from now.
So, the next time a home stager reaches out to you, take their call! Don't assume they just want to "waste" your time selling their services. They may be calling to introduce you to how their services can grow your business, or it might just be a call with one hot lead on a new listing in your area!
Real estate agents, do you use home stagers? Do you have other referral sources I haven't mentioned? What do you think about these ideas?
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is President of Six Elements Home Staging and creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. Author of several guides, and featured on CNNMoney, Wall Street Journal and HGTV, Debra has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate and uses her expertise to train others worldwide. Buying, decorating and flipping her own homes and staging for others gives her the real estate buzz she craves, and means she only has to go to an open house when she wants to.