Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Agent, Vendor Relationship Pretty Tight

Peeking at an online real estate discussion group, the question came up (and I've heard it before), is it bad to take a referral for my mortgage broker from a real estate agent? The quick answer is – no problem.
When it comes to the real estate industry in a local area, it's a pretty small community. Agents, lenders, various inspectors, insurance professionals and home warranty providers all know each other -- very well, I might add. Keep in mind that in between the seven years you purchased your last house (the average time that passes between home purchases), they have worked together on dozens, if not scores of more transactions.
Heck, the vendors probably even sponsored the agents' Christmas party or went to their kids' soccer games. So, yes, they know each other, probably even like each other -- just like you know and like the vendors who work with you in your business. And if you didn't get to know your vendors and you found out you didn't like them, would you want to do business with them?
A recent industry survey revealed that 42 percent of all buyers already knew their agent before they used them. That's a good thing. Building relationships, builds business. That's one of the first business-building principles in any sales endeavor. Just like you chose your agent because you or someone you knew trusts them, most agents select their ancillary service providers in the same way.
So here are five reasons why an agent likes to encircle him or herself with loan officers, insurance providers, inspectors, etc., that they know and use over and over again:
They like to use people they know. Familiarity is a good thing. If they know who they're working with, they are confident they can approach the vendor with problems in the transaction.
Agents can hold them accountable. If the home inspector doesn't find an item that was obviously defective, the agent will not be shy to approach that inspector and file a complaint, peg them at their next meeting, go to their boss, whatever it takes to get it solved. (This is, of course, assuming you have a direct, assertive agent working for you.)
Using the same people gets a business rhythm going. When you've worked with the same fix-it guy, you know his style, his timing, his professionalism. You know that if he hasn't returned the call in a couple hours, that he DID get the call from you and that he WILL call you soon. You know the mortgage guy/gal is going to be upfront with you and with your clients -- but most importantly, get the job done.
Business is referrals and referrals is business. These residual service providers are part of the Realtors' referral network. While federal laws prevent agents from receiving gifts of monetary value from these providers for their referrals, the referral is still legal -- and encouraged and sought after. In real estate, the referral is the most secure transaction than any other lead. By working with a tight circle of professional service providers, the agent will receive referrals and feel comfortable sending out referrals to this network.
Friends like to work with friends. Hopefully, your agent isn't letting friendship cloud his or her judgment in referring business out, however, it's pretty common in all industries that friends like to work with their friends. If my clients and customers are going to need services, I'm going to refer them to someone who is good at what they do and who, hopefully, is a nice person. I've never heard a referral like this: "He's a good loan officer, but I can't stand him. Here, use him."
Most agents and mortgage brokers who refer business to each other, actually like each other. The main reason I find they like each other is because they bend over backwards to get the job done.
Published: January 20, 2006

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