Jumpstart Your Real Estate Referrals

by : Tim Harris

How many times has your mother told you she's proud of you? Then tell her to spread the word and give dear old Mom some business cards to hand out to her friends at her next bridge game.

Referral business is essential to any successful real estate agent. If you've done a good job for a past client, your good reputation will bring you business. But you must know how to play your cards right. It is essential to build on your existing customer base with good referrals. There are many different opportunities available to smart agents that pursue this type of business.

Every person you interact with in any given day is walking potential. Think of things exponentially. You are surrounded by people that are aware of your great reputation for buying and selling real estate. Wouldn't it be great for business if they spread the word? Encourage your friends and family to be your advocate. Make yourself the agent people turn to when they need real estate advice in your community. As Donald Trump said, "You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"

The traditional referral occurs when a satisfied home buyer or seller tells friends, family, co-workers or acquaintances about what a fantastic agent you were when they needed your services. How do you increase these referrals? You simply stay at the forefront of your old clients' minds.

Send out birthday cards with a few business cards inside. Offer cash incentives for the referring person and the new client. Give your home buyers magnets for the refrigerator in their new home. Even billboard or newspaper ads are a good investment for referral business because they keep your name in the minds of old clients. They also serve to remind potential buyers and sellers that have heard of your good reputation how to contact you.

New and non-traditional referrals are now on the horizon, thanks to the magic of the Internet. About a dozen or so websites, are now getting into the world of referrals. Like many online dating sites, they play matchmaker. Potential home buyers and sellers are virtually paired up with realtors that are their ideal matches. While these sites are currently handling only a small segment of the market, they do offer cash incentives to buyers and sellers that choose to use their services. Some even entice clients with cash and savings of up to $1,500 for people that buy, sell and finance with their partners.

In a market filled with finicky buyers and spastic sellers, an agent needs all the positive referrals he or she can get. So it certainly won't hurt to give one or two of these sites a shot; especially if you're looking to woo people that are not familiar with your area. These sites are also particularly useful if you serve a specific niche in the real estate market. For instance, Shalom Home caters to buyers looking to live near kosher markets and synagogues. If a lot of your listings meet some type of niche requirement, this might be a great way for you to position yourself with potential buyers.

The secret to jump starting your referral business is to be thorough: network with old clients, friends, relatives, fellow parishioners and even acquaintances at the local supermarket. Leave no stone unturned, or if it has to stay unturned, at least put a few of your business cards under it.