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 Understanding Relocation Clients (Part 2)
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Tue, Oct 23rd, 2007 5:19 am

This is part 2 of yesterday's post discussing how relocation clients are different than traditional buyers or sellers.


7) Don't forget the family.  Take time to understand their children and spousal needs so you can make recommendations on activities to get them integrated to the region (sports camps in the summer, places to find new jobs, etc).  Take time out of showing house to drive by these places and even schedule tours of potential schools.  This stuff is just as important to them as the house.

(Editor's Note:  Need to add to this.  Was asked how do you know all that stuff in advance.  Well, you don't.  On your first conversation ask what's important in their lives and the lives of their family.  Then take notes and start researching.  Then when they get to town you can say, "oh by the way, I understand your child likes ballet, here's a list of local ballet schools...")

One of the (very real) problems of relocation clients is suddenly you are their best friend in their new town and they want to consume you after the sale.  This is particularly true with stay at home wives if you are a female agent.  As a result Kimberly created a "Diner Club" for her relocation women that get together every month so they can meet other people.  This allows the "new ones" to create a social network of people who understand what they are going through.

8) Keep the kids happy and you'll have a better day.  We have snacks and activities in the car for children when we pick them up the first time (but we discuss in advance with the parents what's appropriate).  If the children are younger we pick up a simple coloring books to keep them entertained.  This process can be awful for the kids who are also under stress and without distractions they tend to make the day miserable for everyone.  If you are in competition with another agent, the fact that the children aren't irritating their parents on your day can be all the difference.

Crayola, BTW, has a real estate program we found that lets you buy their stuff in case loads- like the markers that won't leave marks on anything but the special paper, etc.  We're looking into it.  Portable DVD players and video games with headphones also work.

9) Find things of value to give your prospects beyond the stuff your broker provides.  We have flyers in our relocation packages on discounted rental cars (Enterprise) and hotels (can't remember who but I think Marriott).  We picked this stuff up at NAR and a franchise convention.  Another thing to add to your relocation kit- MAPS, which you can get for free at a state interstate rest areas.

10) We have a lot of tech tools that we use for relocation clients.

Transaction management software is a must.  Again, they are under a lot of stress and dealing with two contracts in two different towns can be a nightmare especially with everything else going on in their life.  This allows them to "catch up" at midnight when they can't remember where they were with their contract.

Commonwealth Title has a free service called NiteOwl that allows you to pull statistical information from the clients current neighborhood so you can compare it to your own market.  There's nothing more impressive than when you are on your first phone call with a relocation lead and say, "I see you currently live on a golf course community, how important is that to you?"

NiteOwl also allows you to pull up radius searches on a house to see dining, nightlife, shopping, doctors, dentists, schools (private and public), daycare, etc.  It's nice to have these reports in the car when you start looking at a neighborhood or subdivision because if you cover a large area like we do and are competing with an agent who specializes in a specific community you eliminate their advantage of knowing the neighborhood better than you.

Advanced search tools like the Scouting Report are ideal for them when they are looking remotely because it allows you to collaborate with them as well as with each other (if one is here and the other is there).

Our call capture system, which is toll free, will forward calls to our cell phone so they can make toll-free calls to us if they are calling from a hotel or work.  I'm looking into Skype for international/military calls.

11) Relocation clients can be under severe time constraints.  That's a good and bad thing because they can either pull the trigger after one day of looking or they can decide to rent for six months because they can't find what they are looking for and consume you for the next several months.

We've had both.

Time management- mapping out a plan in advance instead of just putting them in the car- helps keep them on track.  Previewing houses for them in advance, especially when they are higher end prospects, is a must because it allows you to weed out dogs and prioritize what they see.

One of the things to consider is when you're showing homes to one spouse but the other isn't in town- take extra photos of properties when you are previewing (both good and BAD stuff).  We've also shot video for a couple of clients.  I don't know what the official rules are, but we've disclosed that we were going to do it to the other agents and have never had anyone ask us not to.

For example, we had a Scottish relocation client whose wife stayed in Scotland until their home was sold.  He fell in love with a home here but was concerned that she wouldn't like it, yet was also afraid it would be sold before she got here.

I took 96 extra photos to supplement the listing photos that included photos of the houses next door, the local school building, the view of the house driving down the street, detailed photos of everything in the kitchen- including open cabinets to show storage space, etc.  Then I posted them to on a password protected webpage for her to see.  She OK'ed the purchase and they have a beautiful home.

Meanwhile I've also turned on a video camera to capture the sound of a neighboring interstate that you didn't see in the "too good to be true" agent photos then emailed it to a remote client so they could rule a home out without ever seeing it.

12) Make sure you sell a great house because we've had two listings this year that were sold by us less than six months earlier.  The first client got an even better job elsewhere just 30 days after moving to St Louis.  It was with a company he had interviewed for before getting the job that brought him to St. Louis.  The second simply got homesick for Florida and decided to move back (and a cold winter had a lot to do with it).

We also have two other current listings from relocation clients that were sold by us in 2006.

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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in tech sales which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director. In 2011, he launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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