There is a broad spectrum of referral agents and companies out there that range from those who provide little to no service, yet still ask for a fee from the agent at the other end, to the well oiled referral relocation company.
Here’s how a real estate referral works; a real estate agent is either asked to or offers to help find a consumer adequate help for whatever their real estate transaction needs are, whether it’s buying or selling. The real estate agent painstakingly researches the agents in the area to make sure they’re the best suitable match and well experienced in the local market. The referring agent is generally paid a fee for their hard work and extensive research.
Hopefully, you’ve picked up on the sarcasm. With any luck you really, truly are being referred to a real estate agent who knows what they’re doing and has been vetted by the referring agent. That’s not always the case.
There’s a whole breed of “relocation experts” willing to take a name and a phone number and pimp it out to the first person that answers the phone and accepts the referral. I know because they’re calling me with half baked referrals, trying to scrape up a spare buck like they’re digging through sofa cushions for loose change.
My phone rang several days ago and on the other end of the phone was a real estate agent who asked if I worked in a specific area and if I’d be interested in a referral. The agent tells me the address of the property that needs listed, asked me if I took referrals. That was more or less the entire conversation.
There wasn’t one qualifying question to see if I’d been licensed for more than 20 minutes, knew the area, ever sold one stick or brick before, had a web presence so I could actually sell the home in question. Nothing.
When the phone call was over I wondered if she realized she didn’t even provide a phone number for me to call her back or contact phone number for that referral. It was like she overheard a conversation in the grocery check out line and gave me all she gathered … a first name and a street address.
There are many situations where the consumer does require help with real estate and has to count on a second party referral. I believe in the referral process if it’s done correctly, with care, due diligence and follow up to make sure things are going well and that the consumer is getting the services they need.
The challenge in being a referral customer is making sure there is value in it for you. The referring agent is supposed to be providing research and finding the best possible candidates for you to choose from not just winging it and literally selling your phone number.
If working with a referral agent feels anything like a blind date or you feel like you’re being set up with someone’s cousin who “has a great personality” put an end to the relationship.
Just because someone offers to find a referral agent for you doesn’t mean you have to let them. Just because you agree to let them help you doesn’t mean you have to use the agent they chose for you, either.
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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.