So, after you generated the buyer lead (or one came to you), pre-qualified them, went on showings (hopefully only 1 appointment!) and successfully asked for the order, they made an offer, with or without further negotiation it was accepted, and now what do you do?
Duh, Scott, I take it to closing.
Right, and if you read the previous blog on listings/sellers, you know I’m all about efficiency and systems, along with good clear communication. And, you know most agents aren’t very efficient and don’t communicate very well to their clients (I’m going to write about why agents don’t communicate to their clients very clearly, very well and/or with any consistency in a near-future post)…it’s sure to be enlightening).
So, as we did for when taking a listing and when a listing goes under contract, let’s demonstrate efficiency with a good checklist. And remember, this is from my memory when I sold real estate. Feel free to add things you personally need according to your business or market, etc.
Checklist #1 – Your buyer goes under contract (this will be similar to listing under contract checklist from my last post): Executed contracts back to buyer and seller, contract to title/escrow company and closing date confirmed; second deposit date, mortgage contingency date, home inspection date, any needed tests by buyer or seller (water/sewer, radon, fire inspection, CO, etc.), closing date, *utility letter sent, title/escrow company in touch with seller for estimate, *weekly communication with buyer, *ask buyer for referral, make sure buyer has proper amount for closing check well before closing – and knows it must be a BANK CHECK, not a personal check, *call neighbors.
*Just like with a seller, sending out a form closing procedures letter, complete with utilities change information and phone numbers is very efficient and gives the buyer step by step instructions as to what to expect and what is needed. Include in BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS that the closing check will need to be a bank drawn, or counter check, and in no way can it be a personal check. Also, if they plan to do a wire transfer, let them know even though they sound immediate, they can easily take 24 hours to go through, so do it earlier. And, you will have to remind them a couple more times before closing.
*Yes, there may be nothing to say to the buyer for weeks at a time. All contingencies may have been met, all inspection items negotiated, and now it’s just wait until closing next month. You still need to call your buyers regularly (once a week is good) and let them know you’re there for them, see if they have questions, etc. And, YES, you should be asking them for referrals, but that’s only if you want to grow your business.
*Just like when your listing goes under contract, you could call the neighbors when you have a buyer that goes under contract. Or, you can wait until closing. As I mentioned in the last post, I used to do both. You should be looking for neighbors thinking of selling. If they’re not, and they don’t know anyone who is, you can ask them if they know of anyone looking to buy a home. Either way, you have a reason to call. There’s news. A house near them sold. People want to know about that stuff. Again, be careful, because it’s illegal to tell the neighbor the pending price until it closes.
Checklist #2 – After closing (this is virtually the same list as I posted for sellers): Call day after closing, 7 days after closing, 30 days after closing, every 90 days, send after closing thank you letter and customer satisfaction survey, send postcards quarterly, holiday card (I like the Thanksgiving card because it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle), HUD-1 form.
I explain things like the customer satisfaction survey in the previous post, so if you haven’t read that, please do.
With a buyer, it’s more important to call them ASAP and follow up, so that you ask them about the house, or if they need any services for the house (you work with and refer all sorts of people every day like contractors, landscapers, etc.).
However, as I said before, in general you need to be in consistent communication with your past clients in order to grow your business. The rule of thumb is that you will get about 1 deal for every 7 to 10 of your past clients and sphere of influence (friends, family, etc.) on average, over the course of a year…if you are in consistent communication with them and ask them for the business and/or referrals (do the math, if you have 200 people combined in your sphere of influence and past client list, that’s between 20-32 deals a year…ON AVERAGE…if you cultivate the list consistently and ask for business.
In reading these two posts, you might have one of two thoughts going through your mind (hopefully neither!):
1. I already know to do this stuff
2. Why should I be responsible for the buyer/seller agent on the other side of the transaction. They should do their job.
Answer #1 – You probably do know to do this stuff, and yet wouldn’t it make sense to have it written down the same way for every single transaction? Wouldn’t it be less stressful to have it all there for you instead of having to think about what you might have forgotten? Do you want to chance a transaction falling apart because you just happened to forget something?
For example: let’s say something big happens to you, whether it’s good or bad. You can make up what you want here: you get sick, you go on an impromptu vacation, you have a car accident, your baby is born, etc. Your mind won’t be on Mr. and Mrs. Buyer #3’s 2nd deposit date, will it?
And, if you have an assistant, would you allow them to operate on winging it? And wouldn’t you fire them if they forgot something mundane that caused a deal to blow up?
Answer #2 – It’s kind of the same thing as Answer #1: Yeah, you’d like to believe the other agent should and would do their job, yet do you want to chance your commission on their mental capacities?
So, have systems, make checklists and be in communication with your clients. You will succeed much faster and feel better for it. Plus, you’ll be doing a favor for your clients. After all, they thought they were hiring a professional sales person, right?