When do you hand off a client, and when do you stay the course?

Over the course of my career selling luxury properties in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, the Sunset Strip, and other prestigious Los Angeles neighborhoods, I’ve been involved in hundreds of transactions. It may surprise some to learn that there have been times I’ve made the call to connect a client with another agent.

There are a range of reasons why it may be best—both for you and your client—to hand off to another agent, though it can be a difficult decision to make. Most agents don’t want to lose a potential sale, and they realize that if they refer their client to someone else now, they may not come back to them for future sales. But I would caution against focusing on money. What matters most is the experience and success of the client and the quality of service and attention they receive.

Never promise more than you can deliver

Sotheby’s International Realty – Beverly Hills Brokerage

It may be prudent to send a client to someone else if you lack the time and energy required to invest 100 percent of your effort into their needs. But perhaps the most compelling reason to relinquish a buyer or seller is if you lack the particular expertise they require.

It’s perfectly okay to not know everything; being a specialized expert is often better than being a general jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the luxury space. But a lack of knowledge can lead to trouble—compromising your credibility, losing value for your client, and possibly even falling afoul of rules of regulations.

If you lack knowledge on any of these subjects, consider sending your client to a trusted colleague:

  • The local area, including the climate and topography, amenities, attractions, recreational activities, and the overall luxury lifestyle.
  • The past, present, and future market trends and conditions, as well as the value of other homes in the neighborhood and region.
  • The unique or uncommon disclosures involved in purchasing specific types of luxury properties—for example, equestrian homes.

If any of these factors are beyond the scope of your current understanding, the best option for all parties may be for you to forego the sale. But as you prepare to refer a new agent, there are three considerations to bear in mind:

1. A great agent is also a great matchmaker

Do your due diligence in identifying the agent who’s best suited to the client’s needs. It’s critical to match with the best reputation and the most relevant knowledge.

Also ask yourself if the new agent is going to be a good fit for the client in terms of their personality. It’s almost like matchmaking; there are objective and subjective factors in play that can make or break the referral.

2. Keep track of the client, and stay in touch

When you find a new agent for your buyer or seller, help to facilitate the handover and stay in contact. You can assist in troubleshooting any complications that emerge, and the client may remember your exceptional service in future—even if you weren’t the one to help them close.

3. There may be potential for a partnership

If you have the time, energy, and motivation to help a client, but are missing some key expertise, it might be possible to partner with another agent rather than simply referring them and losing the sale. Reach out and have a conversation about how a collaboration could work, and why it would be advantageous for everyone.

Sometimes it’s worth it to stay the course

Sotheby’s International Realty – Beverly Hills Brokerage

I’ve had searches and sales that have felt like forever—and in fact, the longest client journey I embarked on was a full seven years. During that time, there were definitely moments where I questioned whether or not I could help this buyer find what they were looking for. But I trusted my market expertise, and I knew I was well-situated to serve them.

Ultimately, it ended up paying off. This individual was a celebrity, and not only did we have a great relationship and a lot of fun during our years-long house hunt, but I got referrals from them, invites to exclusive parties where I met other potential clients, and even a trip to Mexico! We have also worked together several more times.

The moral of the story is to evaluate every client, listen to your gut, and carefully assess whether it makes sense to stay the course. Some deals may not be worth the time and effort they demand of you, while others may pay dividends for years to come.

What matters most is the client’s success. Concentrate on that, and you can have confidence in whatever decision you make.

Jory Burton

With two decades of experience in the real estate industry, Jory Burton has made a name for himself among his clients and other agents alike. His tenacity and commitment to excellence made him a top agent in the prestigious Sotheby’s International Realty Beverly Hills office.

Burton is a Los Angeles area native and multiple homeowner. He specializes in marketing and selling property in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, The Beach, Sunset Strip, Hollywood Hills, and Hancock Park, but has experience selling homes from the coast to The Valley and everywhere in between. His resume includes the sale of more than 400 homes and estates, totaling more than $500,000,000.

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