When California Realty Experts was founded, we had a vision of being the best brokerage in the Temecula Valley. This may have sound like a challenge if you believe that franchise brokerages carry a bigger weight due to their national–and sometimes international–umbrella. But there is something unique and special about having roots deeply immersed in the community that you advertise, hopefully by the end of this article you will find yourself more open and willing to support a local agent.
We have heard it many times over, “you should shop local!” but what does that mean? We know the importance of being proud, and we may even make the correlation between that and self-identity, but perhaps we did not think that those two principles could really have an influence in shopper’s psychology.
This trend seems to have originated from Millennial’s purchasing powers. Once the Millennial generation began to have a stake in the retail game, they also made certain choices that went against what businesses were accustomed to. Ypulse shares an interesting statistic that “63% of Millennials would rather buy a product from a smaller company that has fewer choices, but is innovating within the industry, than buy something from a brand that has more products to choose from, yet has a monopoly on the market.” That is a big chunk of the pie that is willing to forgo choices for the sake of innovation.
But is there any actual benefit to this? Or could it just be a sign of retail-rebellion? The surprising fact is that there are very direct and tangible results that come from shopping locally. In fact, a study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city while only $43 of each $100 spent at a chain retailer. That is local money, feeding local communities and enabling their continuous growth.
We at CaRE have always seen this is as an incredibly high priority, and that is why we have always encouraged our agents to be members of their communities before they are salespeople. There is an incredibly wrong misconception that real estate agents are meant to just wear a blazer, sell you a home, then part ways never to be seen again. Our business is built on relationships, because we believe that our product is not houses–it is the agents themselves, and as such we need to be able to allow people to trust our agents and to want to work with them.
Building Relationships, Not Numbers
One of our most common questions is how much money should I be spending on marketing? That is usually followed up by: How many cold calls do I need to make? Why is my paid marketing not working? Chances are you may have heard those same questions before, you may even have asked them to yourself! But those are not the questions that truly matter, and at CaRE, we challenge our agents to stop thinking about them. It may sound a little crazy, but if we are considering building our community, we need to stop seeing our clients as numbers and instead start seeing them as our neighbors…Our friends…Our family. Does it sound corny? Good! Get comfortable with the idea that your agent is not just a person who will help you sign a couple of contracts; your real estate agent will be a part of one of the most important life decisions you will ever make, would you not want to get to know them a little better?
Have you stopped to think about that? Who is the person facilitating your life decision? Things may be a little different if you are ordering food over the counter, or buying a new pair of pants, but when it comes to your home, you should probably know the answer to that. Often we are presented with clients who tells us about their terrible past experiences, but chances are that these clients were not presented with poor agents, but rather poorly trained agents. No, that is not the same principle, and here is why. A poor agent may guide you astray, may not be familiar with the process, may not have a dependable brokerage to support them, or many other ways that they can lack expertise. But a poorly trained agent may know all the ins and outs of real estate, they are just not trained on how to build their business.
Great customer service can make or break a company’s reputation, we may have all experienced that at some point or another. When we walk into a store, make a phone call, or shoot an email to customer service, we are incredibly surprised when a friendly and helpful individual is at the other end. Someone who seems to understand our needs, and wants to prioritize our positive experience. If you have ever been on the receiving end of such an interaction, chances are that you raved about it and about that business to at least one other person at some point. Why are we treating real estate any differently? Why are we somehow settling for the ideal that a generic treatment in the purchase of a home is okay? Take a cue from the millennials, find a local agent who is engaging and an expert in their community, and you will find the incredible benefits of being uniquely treated.
And if you are a real estate agent still wondering the answers to those questions at the end of the section, you are going about this all wrong. Your clients are not just names on a list, and your paid marketing should not be most of your marketing strategy either. When you focus on being an asset to the community and become an expert to sellers and buyers alike, you will see the benefits that a true network of people can provide.
Real Estate Agents Are Not One-Hit Wonders
On average, people move at least three times by age 45 according to The Independent, that is a total of at least three life-altering decisions that will consist of selling, searching, negotiating, waiting, closing, moving, etc. People’s reasons for moving vary greatly, and often those moves are within the same county, but sometimes they are not. Regardless of your motivation, chances are that your purchase (or listing) would be significantly smoother if you had the opportunity to work again with the same agent you did previously. The same agent who knows your dog likes to sleep in a spacious closet, or that knows your daughter needs room for a trampoline outside. The same agent who knows your budgetary concerns, your must-haves, and who has learned to care for your needs.
But why do people sometimes think of real estate agent as merely an employee under a brand name? Because sometimes we neglect to recognize what it truly takes to make the deal close. Now we will not go into intensive detail on the life of a real estate agent, but chances are that your agent does not sleep much–or has had any weekends off in a very long time–and they know the importance of their loyalty to you, that is something of outstanding value.
Just like we have our preferred grocery store or mechanic, having a preferred local agent can open many doors that we may not have been aware of. If you ever wonder about the true value of your home, call up your preferred agent and they will likely be happy to provide that for you. They can update you on the current state of the market, local events, places to shop near your home, best schools, clubs, and anything else that you may need to feel well prepared as a home owner. Real estate agents are prepared to answer these questions because they are more than a one-time sales transaction, they are a business built to provide their customers with a high value, and you are doing yourself a disservice by not utilizing them as a tool.
The Business-to-Business Advantage
So now that you know why a trained local expert is valuable to you, you may be wondering how they are valuable to their community. When we discussed the benefits of the ‘shop local’ trend, we saw how money remained in the local community in the form of a statistic, but how work? Although we cannot attest to every business out there, for us every transaction and every move is entirely intentional. We did not set out to make a business built on accidental wealth, and we would never encourage our agents to do the same. To us, wealth should be a given–your success is to be expected, but it is what you choose to do with that success that will determine your impact on the communities you serve.
A while back we decided to introduce a new position to our company: Public Relations Specialist. Our vision for this position was someone who would go out and get to know our local businesses, get acquainted with them, and build a network that would provide a long-lasting relationship among business owners in the area. It was not a sales pitch, we were not going into businesses expecting to sell anything, we simply valued the importance of establishing that connection. What we discovered was that other businesses seem to be equally delighted to get to know other local businesses, they wanted to have partners to draw inspiration from, or to guide into success.
For us these relationships allow us to get acquainted with the people living in our communities in a way that we would not be privileged to as outside agents. We want to know that our neighbor owns a printing shop, or that the bakery down the street is eager to take part on local efforts, because the product we choose to present our clients is genuine and authentic. There is absolutely no value in providing anybody the information that can be found on a search engine, or handing over a brochure that contains names of places we have never visited. When you get the opportunity to cross paths with one of our agents, you are truly experiencing a local expert who can introduce you to the community that they themselves are a part of. We do not only network with these businesses, we shop at these businesses, we know their names and we would be happy to make those connections for clients.
The #CaRE Model
Maybe you are still skeptical about the whole idea of local agents contributing to the community, or maybe you do not see how a business network could help other local businesses. Here is a story of how our public relations effort, helped not only contribute to our community, but allowed all of us in the company to grow into a purpose much bigger than our individual transactions.
Around the same time that we started getting to know local businesses, we got to know plenty of other members of our community such as charitable organizations that help various sectors of the Temecula Valley. One of those organizations was Rancho Damacitas—If you are not familiar with Rancho Damacitas, they provided housing for at risk youth provide many of the daily necessities these children have. One of the first things they shared with us, was the need for basic hygiene items for the kids. Things like soap, shampoo, tooth brushes, all things that we often take for granted. That gave us an idea, why not enlist the help of our business network and help raise these things for the kids through a toiletry drive.
With the help of 22 businesses, our amazing agents, and other members of the community, we raised 177 soaps, 82 tubes of toothpaste, 35 deodorants among many other items! We filled up our company car and drove it over to the organizers who were thrilled to see the community rally up in such a heart-warming effort. That is only the tip of the ice berg, if that is what we could accomplish through a small drive with 22 local businesses, imagine what the whole community could do if we rallied up together? It is no longer a matter of hypothetical, is it our commitment as a local brokerage fully invested in immersing ourselves in the community we serve.
Local Brokerage: An Urban Myth
This is a short note, because it tends to be a common misconception that local brokerages are somehow less equipped to handle your transaction. Allow us to be the ones to burst that myth, because it is simply not true. The industry secret is that many franchise brokerages are managed by an onsite office manager, and there is a noticeable absence from an onsite broker. This is not to say that they are not successful in what they do, but local brokerages have the advantage of brokers onsite who can not only help your preferred local agent, but whom you can also meet at any time.
For us, both owners Geno and Alesia are readily available to all agents. This allow us to make sure that there are no careless mistakes made, that we are familiar with every file, and that there is strong legal and logical support if need be. Imagine how secure your preferred agent would feel to know that there is someone to answer their questions, and it will not take a week-long wait to get an appointment.
If your agent is a local expert, their broker is a local staple, and as such you can trust that they will provide every advantage of being so.
The Future of Real Estate
There are many things that we can talk about when envisioning the future of real estate. We can talk technology, economics, and lifestyle, but the future of real estate is dependent on the quality of the relationships people build with their agents. A local agent can give a truly unique and knowledgeable take on the community, and if an individual is able to move into their home while already loving their surroundings, it is going to be hard to not want to make a positive impact on that same community.
It may be hard to think of a local agent when you may have a trusted agent from the area you are moving from but think about it this way, your agent may already have strong referrals to local agents in your desired area. Your agent will know that they are better equipped to handle the unique traits of their own market, and the benefit of this partnership is that the client will always come out on top. So, if you are in the process of looking for a home, or maybe you are an outside agent helping a family relocate over two hours away, shop local! Meet a local brokerage, choose the right local expert and be on your way to success!