Editor’s Note: The Playbook is an RISMedia weekly segment centering on what brokers and agents are doing to ensure they not only survive but thrive in these challenging times. Industry professionals explain the strategies they’re employing and unique ideas they’ve formulated. Tune in every Thursday for another addition to the series.
We all know that real estate is a local business—at times hyperlocal, depending on whom you ask—meaning that the networking you do in your respective markets will be the relationships you’ll most likely leverage as you work with your clients.
With competition for business as fierce as ever, the local relationships you build in your markets will be worth their weight in gold for your businesses.
Most understand the value of building and nurturing relationships, but with a market changing daily, it’s high time folks get a bit of a refresher in networking and building relationships from some of the top agents in their respective markets.
Building your core connections
Most agree that everyone should have a few bread-and-butter connections in their back pocket, specifically local vendors who can help close deals.
As one of Central Massachusetts’ top-selling real estate agents, Jason Pincomb of Lamacchia Realty understands the importance of maintaining control over his transactions. To that end, Pincomb stresses the need to build working relationships with lending officers, attorneys and insurance vendors.
“Your relationships with your vendors will be paramount because you’re able to control the deal better,” Pincomb says. “You can receive referrals from them because they know you have their best interest and business in mind as well.”
Having reliable and efficient vendors in those three areas of the business has paid dividends, according to Pincomb, whose network of local vendors keeps business flowing in at all times.
“I’ve established these relationships through being consistent and communicating with my clients and vendors, which has helped me develop strong networking opportunities with those vendors,” Pincomb says.
For Olivia Merrill, a broker associate with The Agency, connecting and leveraging relationships with community leaders has been most beneficial to her business in the Denver market.
“Anytime there is a shifting market, like the one we are in now, the agents who survive the longest are the ones who position themselves as local experts, and the best way to be a local expert is to get entrenched into the community and really understand who the community leaders and business owners are,” Merrill says. “That will set you up for the long term versus just cold calling or getting third-party leads.”
With a bit of research and a willingness to network, Merrill proactively reaches out to the businesses and vendors in her market. However, she says locking down those partnerships takes genuine effort to build rapport beyond business.
“I’m focused on building the relationship, not so much getting the business, and the way that I do that is I’ll take them out for lunch or dinner one-on-one,” she says.
Similar to working with clients, Merrill notes that she takes every opportunity to learn about each vendor and community leader she meets during lunch and dinner meetings and follows up after.
Only some vendors or businesses will be the right fit for you and your clients, which means deciding whom to work with will take discernment on the agent’s part, according to Pincomb and Merrill.
While many agents are attracted to the “top-producing” lending officers or vendors, Pincomb says it may be better to go another route when choosing a potential partner.
“I recommend finding a lender who doesn’t have that go-to real estate contact already,” Pincomb says. “The way I approached it is I found a lender who is now one of my good friends. He came up as a loan officer and was one of the top LOs in central Massachusetts. However, I developed the relationship before he had relationships with other real estate agents.”
While production is a necessary trait to find in a potential partner, Pincomb thinks it’s worth stepping beyond the business side of things when assessing the vendors.
“I have their cell number, and they respond to me,” he says. “They respond to my clients, and they are on their game. My lender doesn’t write a preapproval that is not ready to get it closed. I have never had a deal fall apart in my six years with him.
“I’m also using people I know are knowledgeable about what they are doing,” he continues. “The loan officer that you have to wait Monday through Friday night to hear back from just doesn’t fit for my clients and me, so I’m looking for someone who communicates, gets the job done and is knowledgeable about the industry.”
Cultivating a genuine relationship that pays dividends
Real estate is a relationship business, and relationships only predicated on business can get dull. While that applies to agent-client relations, it is equally—if not more—vital in nurturing your partnerships in your markets.
“When it comes down to my core group, not only are we part of a networking group together, but I get lunch with them,” Pincomb says, adding that after six years of working with his loan officer, they’ve become personal friends.
“It started as a business relationship, but you have to develop it into more than that,” he continues. “To me, you’ve got to make more than just business.”
As you build relationships with vendors and businesses in your markets, you have to offer a value proposition.
Merrill focuses on finding business owners or community leaders through different avenues, including searching the neighborhood board association or a local business in the area.
Another avenue that has proven to be a boon for her business and branding has been her popular fashion and lifestyle blog, The Denver Look, which she uses to support local businesses and other women.
“It is more of an organic reach than most REALTORS® might have,” Merrill says. “With the Denver look, it’s been more authentic and organic to me, who I am, and the people who are interested in what I’m interested in, and that’s just giving me an added leg of exposure to those local businesses.”
While many bloggers and influencers often charge businesses to be featured on their platforms, she admits that she does it free for local businesses.
“I want to support them and give them business genuinely,” Merrill says.
- Prioritize reliability and efficiency when searching for lending officers, attorneys and vendors.
- Develop relationships with local business and community leaders to attract leads.
- Consistent communication with your vendor partnerships are paramount to cultivating those relationships.
- Offer a value proposition that would incentivize a vendor to work with you over other agents.
- Once you’ve established a solid business relationship, take time to nurture the personal relationship with that vendor.