Every time a home sale closes, the buyers gain a new home and the real estate agent earns a commission. However, the signatures on the closing documents don’t tell the whole story. For a sale to have occurred, a relationship first had to form. The buyers had to share their vision for their home, the personal details of their family, finances, history, and more. The agent, to be of assistance, had to listen carefully.
This ensuing relationship is typically more intimate than, say, the relationship one forms with a salesperson when purchasing an appliance, or even a car. Appliances typically do a single job and cars provide transportation but a home shelters an entire family and provide the backdrop against which they live their lives. It houses not only their bodies, but also their hopes, dreams, successes, failures and life dramas. It is their place of retreat, a refuge where they feel safest and most secure. When at last the perfect home is located and the paperwork signed, both home buyer and real estate agent share a sense of achievement.
It has become customary for real estate agents to give a gift to their clients upon the purchase of their new home. This practice is partly to communicate appreciation for the privilege of participating in their journey with, partly to say congratulations, and partly to commemorate the time they spent together, to be a memento of a good memory. Like any gift, a real estate gift can be impersonal, automatic, and rote, or it can be thoughtful and genuinely meaningful.
A surplus of material goods inundates today’s world to the extent that there is currently a growing movement away from consumerism and towards minimalism and simple living. It is therefore more important than ever that a gift, when given, be more than a mere obligatory gesture. Gifts, including closing gifts, should commemorate an experience and articulate the appreciation and respect felt by the giver.
Every real estate agent wishes to give gifts their clients will treasure, but not all people are equally skilled when it comes to selecting the perfect gift. The following “Do’s and Don’ts” will help real estate agents to select gifts that not only will be sincerely valued, but also which will serve the practical purpose of creating repeat clients in the future.
Do listen. Beginning in the initial interview, pay attention and take notes for each person, couple and family. By taking notes you won’t forget important observations or inadvertently confuse one client’s likes and interests with another’s. Things to be on the lookout for are lifetime hobbies and interests, such as gardening and cooking, strong convictions, such as spiritual beliefs, food choices, imbibers of alcohol (or not), sporting affiliations, whether they are animal lovers, etc.
Don’t view your gift as an opportunity to hawk your brand. Your name discreetly marked on the back of a cutting board is one thing, your full logo engraved on the front of that same cutting board is just plain tacky!
Do understand that what defines a great gift is the degree of thought put into them, not the amount of money spent.
Don’t fail to deliver your gift in person. A real estate closing gift is all about expressing gratitude, and also, about relationship building. Don’t miss out on this all important opportunity to make a final (for now) and lasting impression.
Do make your gift a personal one, whenever possible. When faced with those rare, inscrutable clients who seem difficult to get to know, opt for gifts that are classic, tried and true. For example, for such individuals consider things like sketched note cards of the house with the new owner’s name and address at the bottom, tasteful garden art, or (when appropriate), a vintage bottle of fine wine.
Don’t make the mistake of failing to give a gift. Adopting the attitude that you rendered your service and don’t owe anything more is a churlish one, and sure to inhibit your overall success as an agent. Whether or not you agree with the practice, closing gifts are now an expected part of the real estate game.
Modern society is transient, fluid, and networked. No matter where a person lives today, it is a given that he or she knows people all over the globe. People need homes wherever they go, and real estate agents are the go-to resource when seeking a suitable home. Just as you’d ask a neighbor for a recommendation for a caterer, so someone moving from one part of the country asks his friends in another to recommend an agent to help him find the right house. People tend to remember and recommend agents who not only helped them find the perfect home, but also, who gave them the perfect closing gift!