A number of recent market reports have come to the same conclusion in recent weeks: vacation home sales are heating up! Investors.com reports that “interest in buying second homes has increased as people look to ‘get more bang for the buck’ amid low interest rates.” This is refreshing news for resort towns after years of plummeting figures.
Even if your selling area isn’t by the beach, chances are rising employment rates and an improving economy have you fielding calls (or more likely emails) from buyers who are thinking of relocating to your neck of the woods. Of course you have excellent face-to-face skills and a great reputation in your community, but are you prepared to work with buyers who may be hundreds – or thousands – of miles away?
Adapt your client relationship-building tools to appeal to remote and relocating buyers and you will open yourself up to a whole new market. Today we have 6 easy tips to help you appeal to a much wider audience.
Think Beyond the Telephone
Today’s remote buyers have access to a variety of communication technologies that may be more convenient or effective for staying in touch than the telephone. Take some time to become familiar with internet-based video chatting platforms like Skype, FaceTime and Google+ Hangouts. These services will help you establish a visual connection and won’t run up your phone bill.
Forget 9 to 5
Time differences can make it hard to connect during normal business hours. In this age of always-on connectivity, it’s important to make yourself available at a variety of times. Ask prospects in different time zones which hours work best for them and then find a way to work that window into your schedule. This can understandably be a little tricky. Set realistic expectations from the get-go by establishing a response time if they are unable to reach you, something like “I will get back to you within x hours of this agreed upon time, or 12 hours no matter what.”
Tighten Your Network
Round up your go-to team so you’re ready when your buyers ask you for a referral. Whether they’re looking for a stellar lender, an experienced home inspector or an awesome property management team (remote investors will ask!), be prepared with a list of experts in your area that you trust to offer the same level of service that you do.
Pack for a Long Weekend
Chances are that when and if your remote buyers do come to town, they’re going to want to get a lot done in a little time, possibly over a long weekend. One of the great things about being a real estate agent is that you have a flexible schedule, but that can lead to headaches, too. Plan ahead to provide a 5-star experience during their stay by scheduling a home tour using ShowHome, pulling comps and having your network (see above) on call. Bonus points if you prepare your buyers for their visit by emailing them area maps, neighborhood guides and a local event calendar.
Adapt with Apps
Have you heard stories of buyers closing on properties sight unseen? We have! Establish a high level of trust with your long distance clients by providing all the necessary resources for them to feel comfortable making this big decision and a remote closing could happen to you. Fortunately, today’s technology makes it possible. Download the iMovie app to your iPad to create video walkthroughs that let them see every detail of their potential purchase. Floor plan apps like MagicPlan and ROOM+ help you create and share quick and easy plans. And when it’s time to sign the paperwork, DocuSign Ink makes it possible for remote signers to make offers and complete contracts.
Talk About It
There’s no point in offering all these great services to remote buyers if you don’t advertise it. Create a page for remote and relocating buyers on your website that lists your range of services. Add testimonials from previous out-of-town clients. Share your experiences on Twitter and Facebook. Upload insightful neighborhood tours to YouTube. Your marketing options are practically endless.
These tips will help you reach out to and succeed with long distance prospects. International real estate expert Janet Choynowski will teach you how to network with foreign buyers, sidestep language barriers and become an international real estate success story. Sounds pretty good, right?
Does your office work with remote buyers? How do you adapt your business practices to meet their needs?