By: Wendy Rose Gould
When a client hires you as their real estate agent, it’s a sign they want your expertise and guidance in selling or buying a home. They’ve likely done some research to decide on an agent. They might have heard of you from a friend or family member, or they might have read reviews about you online. Whether or not they’ve formulated their conclusions through word of mouth or research, it’s essential as real estate professionals to take the time to gain the client’s confidence.
If you don’t, you might encounter a client who pushes back on your recommendations or questions your advice when putting in an offer. Sometimes, these things are unavoidable, but you can take steps at the very beginning of the relationship to prove your trustworthiness. Doing so is important, as buying and selling property is no small commitment. Your clients are often investing in or selling their most significant asset.
“Building trust begins with finding common ground, builds by expressing genuine care for the client’s best outcome, and is proven by expertise in the field,” says Tia Coates, a Phoenix-based real estate agent. “What’s in it for the client is that they get what they want, and the realtor can know that they have a client for life who is happy to introduce them to others.”
Authentically build rapport with your clients so that they feel empowered and trust that you have their best interest in mind.
Trust Your Clients
Trust isn’t a one-way channel. The best client-agent relationships have a fluid understanding of trust. “An agent has to trust the client in what their intentions and needs are and that they’re speaking the truth so that we can accurately represent them in the best way possible,” says Aaron Kirman, a luxury real estate broker in Beverly Hills, California.
This looks different with every client. In relationships with first-time homebuyers, your client will likely lean on your expertise and guidance throughout the transaction. With seasoned investors or clients who aren’t new to real estate, they’ll likely have a stable of professionals they trust, and you’ll have to trust that, in those cases, they know what works well for them.
For example, Coates once worked alongside sellers who had an escrow officer they’d personally worked with for numerous investment properties. She says, “I deferred to their preference and developed a relationship with that professional for this transaction and the future. They trusted my advice, and I trusted theirs.”
Offer Candid, Thorough Explanations
There’s a delicate balance between understanding your client’s needs and managing their expectations. “With that comes the responsibility of ensuring that whether you’re working with a buyer or a seller, you’re telling them what they need to hear and not what they want to hear,” notes Omar Barragan, a real estate professional in New York and New Jersey.
Kirman agrees, adding that many clients will naturally question your expert guidance and don’t mean any harm by it. They’re entrusting you with their biggest and most important decision, and it’s natural to ask questions to gain reassurance that they’ve chosen the right person. A thorough explanation for your advice is vital to building trust in these scenarios.
“I gain their trust by sharing facts, anecdotal historical stories and at the end of the day, proving in a mathematical way [that] what I am saying is right,” says Kirman. “When you put the right data together, it speaks the truth for you.”
You want your clients to walk away from their experience satisfied, even if things didn’t go as planned. This happens with open and transparent communication, providing the facts and the data to back up your assertions and working hard to build a relationship every step of the way.
Offer Support Before & After the Transaction
Being a trustworthy real estate agent often means building a relationship outside the immediate window of the transaction. This might look like fostering a connection with a potential homebuyer months before they ever commit to working with you. It also looks like acting as a resource for your homebuyer after the transaction.
Building a relationship means that your client, whether you worked with them five months ago or two years ago, knows they can come to you if they have a real estate need, whether that be a name for a contractor because they’re interested in adding an addition onto their home or they have questions about investment properties. Let your potential or “former” client know that they have a reliable source in you and that they can come to you as needed.
Work With Excellent Vendors
As the saying goes, you’re “as good as the company you keep.” This is true in business, especially when you work closely with other professionals to ensure your client’s investment is protected and supported. “I share my trust in recommending vendors I’ve used for my own homes,” notes Coates. “Working with a trustworthy inspector or a dependable handyman, for example, can help bolster the trust you are already developing.”
Your goal is to become your community expert, not just someone who sells homes. When you’ve built up a list of contractors, lenders, title companies and tradespeople you trust, you show your client that you are plugged in and have access to what they need.
Prioritize Ethics and Honesty
Your reputation will precede you in real estate, which is why the best way to establish and maintain trust is to ensure that in every interaction, you uphold a high ethical standard. Honesty and integrity will take you far in the business. Programs like NAR’s C2EX offer a solid foundation to get started. These characteristics will also help you stand out as a go-to resource amongst your peers in the industry as well.
“While we are competitors, we are also partners because we need each other to be able to do deals,” Kirman says. “With real estate, community trust comes in time, and it also comes in doing a deal honorably, accurately and fully transparently. Trust comes in time, and successful transactions lead to more successful transactions.”
Wendy Rose Gould is a veteran freelance lifestyle reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She covers home, travel, and wellness for outlets such as Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Insider, TODAY, and others. Wendy received her journalism degree from Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and has a second bachelor’s degree in philosophy. You can learn more about her at wendygould.com and follow her on Instagram @wendyrgould.