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    The U.S. is home to more than 3 million real estate agents and over 106,000 independent brokerage firms. In short? Real estate is a pretty competitive business.

    While a great marketing or ad campaign can certainly give you a leg up on those competitors, it’s likely not enough to ensure long-term success in today’s dog-eat-dog world.

    To really out-best those other brokers, you need stellar service — above-and-beyond customer care that gets your clients talking, sharing, and referring you to others in the community (not to mention recommending you online).

    Do you want to beat out other real estate agents and keep the new leads and listings flowing? Here are 7 small ways to up your service and make it happen.

    1. Communicate using their preferred method.

    Not everyone likes to talk on the phone, nor is everyone glued to their email. So when you take on a new client, ask them upfront what their preferred communication method is. More importantly, which one will allow them to be most responsive? Do they like texts? Calls? Voice memos?

    Being able to communicate in real-time (and quickly) is critical in today’s red-hot market, so make sure you’re on the same page from Day 1.

    You should also get clear on hours. When are OK times to text, call, or email? On the flip side, what hours can they expect you to be responsive, and what hours are blacked out? You want to set clear expectations for these early on.

    2. Offer staging help.

    According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Profile of Home Staging, staging a home — even just a room or two — can make a big difference in the money it brings in. In fact, almost a quarter of buy-side real estate agents say staging increases a home’s offers by 1% to 5%. Another large chunk (15%) says it’s 6% to 10%, while 11% believe it’s as much as 11% to 20%-plus.

    You better believe agents who can help their clients bring in an extra 20% are going to serious referrals.

    And to be clear: You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg getting new furniture and décor for the home, but give your sellers some hands-on help in arranging what they already have. What could they do to make the home more marketable? Declutter the walls? Change the paint color? Add in some fresh-cut flowers or push the couch against the wall?

    Have a pow-wow, and help them stage their home as best they can with what they’ve got. You can even just focus on one room and really make an impact. Most buyer’s agents say the living room and master bedroom are the most important rooms when it comes to staging, so start there.

    3. Send them to lunch (or coffee).

    Have a showing or photoshoot going on at a seller’s house? Send them out to a nice lunch to bide their time.

    Just toured a few properties with your newlywed buyers? Send them to dinner to discuss their experience in private. Even just a $10 Starbucks card for a quick coffee date can be a great treat if you’re on a budget.

    Let them talk over the details and hone in on what they liked, didn’t like, and where they want to go from here. Empower them, and make the buying and selling process a little bit less stressful with a nice treat and a few quiet moments together.

    4. Use a pro cleaning or lawn team.

    One of the hardest parts of selling a home is keeping the property neat and orderly while it’s on the market — especially if they’ve got kids, pets, and other people to take care of.

    Consider calling in a professional cleaning and lawn service to come in once a week and handle the dirty work. This helps you (and your sale) by ensuring the property’s always ready for a last-minute showing.

    It also helps the seller by easing their burden and putting one less task on their shoulders — something they’re sure to pass on to their social circle once all is said and done.

    5. Have a vendor network for them to tap.

    Buying a home (or selling one) is stressful enough for your client. When you add in finding an inspector, locating a moving company, vetting move-out cleaners, and more, it can get to be a lot.

    Want to ease the hassle and give your clients an easier experience? Come ready with a network of recommended vendors. You could even put together a brochure that lists them all out. Include a few inspectors, mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, financial advisors, cleaner services, lawn pros, movers, and anyone else you can think of that might be a help along the way.

    Be sure to include each one’s contact info, pricing, and service areas, and give the vendors a heads up, too. They may be willing to offer your clients a discount for the referral.

    6. Bring them refreshments.

    Driving around from showing to showing in the hot summer weather? Pack a cooler with ice-cold water bottles and Gatorades.

    Meeting at a property bright and early? Pick up a latte and a muffin on the way over.

    Heading to the title company for closing? Pack a small bottle of prosecco to toast your clients on getting their keys.

    These little touches can go a long way in making a customer feel cared for — and you can bet they’ll share those details with others in need of a real estate agent.

    7. Ask questions — and then ask some more.

    Understanding your customer is the true key to delivering a stellar experience. And to do this? You’ll need to get to know your clients — what they like, what they dislike, and what their goals and motivations are.

    Ask questions about their jobs, families, and hobbies, and learn what you can about their priorities and preferences. What’s their favorite design style? Are kids (and therefore school districts) in their future? Do they have pets they adore, or maybe they intend to adopt one? Where do they see their careers going a few years down the line?

    The more you know about them, the better you can tailor your services — and the homes you point them to.

    Real estate agents: Take those extra steps

    Do you need a great lender to refer your clients to? Then Embrace Home Loans is here to help. Contact one of our loan officers to learn more about our loan products (and how we support real estate agents like you) today.

    Your mortgage options for a smooth journey home.

    Get expert guidance and personalized solutions for a stress-free mortgage experience.