If you’re helping buyers look for homes from a distance, with only a short trip to make their final decision in person, here’s how to create systems and processes to make working with out-of-town buyers more effective, efficient and rewarding.
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What has been dubbed the era of the “Great Reshuffle” has impacted all aspects of life: careers, offices, housing, consumer goods, the economy, real estate — the list goes on. The “Great Reshuffle” for real estate agents, hopefully, means expanding clientele to out-of-town transplants.
In our current market, headlined by national record low-level inventory, it is crucial to use a detailed game plan when working with out-of-town buyers. Setting aside time to work through upfront steps virtually will save valuable in-person time, which should be focused on evaluating properties.
Here are six essential tips to consider before hosting out-of-town buyers.
Make the most of a virtual intake meeting
Understanding your buyer’s motivations is more important than ever with out-of-town clients. Keeping a client’s goals in mind is the real estate agent’s primary objective when touring numerous properties per day.
Use a virtual intake meeting as a time to fully understand each real estate objective in a calm and quiet environment — and take detailed notes!
Keep their goals at the forefront
When you ultimately create a cover page and itinerary for showings, include the purpose for visiting each listing address.
For example, if one of their must-haves is proximity to public transportation, have a bullet point outlining the distance to and the name of the closest public transit option.
If their commute by car to work is at the forefront, take a few minutes to calculate the timing from each listing you will see.
Give them one unbiased place for information
Neighborhood guides are an incredible resource for all buyers. Finding an unbiased source of relevant information like schools, neighborhood attractions and amenities, and transportation all in one place is not easy.
Printing out hard copies is a huge added bonus, too, so your clients can take notes for quick reference. Many brokerages create their own neighborhood guides for brokers to use, or you can go the extra mile and invest in designing your own.
Pace it out
There is a delicate balance between capitalizing on an out-of-town buyer’s visit and overwhelming them. Eight homes per day with a midpoint lunch is an ideal schedule for the first two days of a three-day visit.
By the third day, you ideally look at homes a second time and make final decisions. It also behooves you to make a lunch reservation in a convenient location and schedule a short coffee break ahead of time.
Consider hiring a car service
If parking is an issue in your area, consider hiring a car service for your client’s visit. Not only does it save time and stress, but it also allows you to chat with your clients versus navigating traffic.
Use a rating system
Use something simple like 1 is terrible, 5 is a dream home, and have clients rate a property directly after leaving. Fours and 5s are very uncommon, so clients should consider writing offers for properties that achieve these ratings.
This numerical framework helps clients calibrate their objective and subjective feelings about a home; sometimes clients will say “I love it!” and then rate a property a 2, so this framework helps add clarity for you and your clients about whether a property is truly a viable option.
After a whirlwind tour, sifting out anything under a 4 will also help facilitate conversations around offers.
Movement across the country shows no signs of slowing down, so it makes sense to invest in these processes now. In a marketplace where it is hard to get buyers under contract with low inventory, putting systems in place also helps agents succeed in closing transactions.
Julie Busby is the founder and president of Busby Group, and in the top 1 percent of Chicagoland brokers. Follow her on Facebook and LinkedIn.