Comparisons between dating and real estate are often made, and when it comes to first impressions the similarities are certainly present—both the suitor and the agent must be pleasant, polite and it doesn’t hurt to be charming. Like a date, a broker’s aim after a first meeting is to win their client’s confidence.
The means of gaining this trust from a first impression vary from agent to agent, but one method remains constant no matter who you talk to—have a method.
Whether it’s a go-to joke to break the ice or a formal presentation, top brokers across the globe know that a little planning can go a long way when making a solid first impression with new clients.
Find Some Common Ground
While the relationship built between a broker and their client is based on business, relating to your client on a personal level can make for a stronger partnership, says Barak Sky, managing partner of the Sky Group of Long & Foster Real Estate.
“I don’t really get into real estate talk until I find a common ground with somebody, whether it’s skiing, tennis or anything under the moon. Just something I can connect on, and, once you’ve made that connection, then slowly transition to real estate.”
Often, says Skye, points of conversation can be inspired by the contents of a home. “Maybe it’s a picture on the wall or another point of interest, but you can focus on something in the house and get a discussion going, get everyone laughing and comfortable.”
Work Out of the Office
Keeping the setting as controlled as possible is essential, says Rick Higgins, Chairman and Owner of Fairfield County, Connecticut-based brokerage The Higgins Group Private Brokerage. Higgins recommends bringing clients into the office to ensure an initial meeting goes smoothly.
“After we go to their house, we’re going to ask them to come into the office. And we’ll give our market analysis and our thoughts. The reason we do that is I want to have that home-court advantage. We have a nice office, and we want to showcase that. Also, I want to know that the computer is going to be working, I want a big screen because we do a lot of visuals.”
Higgins continued that these presentations are vital to gaining the client’s confidence. First, we do a few minutes about the history and the background of our company. The second thing is we’re going to talk about marketing. And I want them to be excited about the marketing. I want to show them how we do things no one else is doing.”
Send Out a Premail
With the modern real estate market being transformed by social media and online listings, first interactions can often take place before an in-person meeting. Leading real estate agent Stephanie Duran of Barker Realty in Santa Fe, New Mexico, says that online communication allows for a more curated first impression.
“My initial intro to all of our sellers, after a phone call, is an email from me and my team explaining exactly how we deliver a product. I want them to see what we do prior to the meeting so that they understand what we represent and the excellence that we represent. So, I walk in the door, and they know who I am.”
Duran added that in addition to market analysis, she and her team also send out video content in the initial email, including footage of “the property along with aerials.”
Move To the Kitchen
When planning a first meeting, sometimes the best strategies are the simplest. Eric Moreland of Austin-based brokerage Moreland Properties, advises that the small choice to move initial conversations to the kitchen can have a big impact.
“Always, always sit in the kitchen. A kitchen table kitchen is where they’re likely to spend a lot of their happier times, and you can lay out your information. Be overprepared. You bring all the necessary information that they might need because this is your chance to impress them. Then, set all the materials in the kitchen, and then we’ll walk the house and start having the conversation. ”
Aside from choosing the kitchen, Moreland also cautioned against having discussions in the dining room. “Never sit in the dining room. An old coach taught me years ago. Only bad things happen in the dining room.”