How to build trust with home sellers

What you’ll get from this blog.

  1. A story about a poor experience
  2. Steps to speed up your client farming
  3. A list of free digital tools you can use to make it work

My Mum sold her house in 2011, it’s the reason I got into property. A long story short, she didn’t have a world class experience. Eight years later, over the weekend, she bumped into the agent that sold it for her. A long story short, she didn’t have a world class experience.

Mum’s thinking of moving again and she went to view a property that he was co-agent on. In the last eight years, he’s not picked up the phone once, nor sent Mum any material relating to the market or her current home.

She introduced herself to the agent and he replied, very politely, “Nice to meet you, Diane”. 

This is the guy who once had the keys to her house and advised her to accept the first offer, at their initial price.

To end my rant here, there’s a classic lesson on how to build trust with your clients here. If you work with someone, at least remember them next time you meet. At most, regularly stay in touch.

Had he offered the basics of a business relationship to my Mum then I’d have less inspiration for this weeks blog, so in a way I’m grateful he’s able to give us this lesson.

The proven (but time consuming) way to build trust

Trying to establish and build trust with your clients is tricky. It takes time, especially if you’re new in a market or starting a business in your market from scratch.

There’s a tried and tested approach, which still reaps dividends over time. That being, remembering all of your clients’ names and checking in with them regularly and asking for referrals.

You can letterbox drop every home in your town or trade area, offering a free valuation. That costs time, money and effort and many of the people who take you up on the offer are probably more curious than serious anyway. 

I want to suggest an alternative, not to replace the above but to compliment it.

It’s a process that can be adapted to work for you. And rather than just matching more experienced agents, it will give you a competitive advantage over them.

One of the key things to always remember in agency is that no one ever just woke up one morning and thought, “I might sell my house today. I’ll go see an estate agent.” 

The whole process a seller goes through before they walk into your agency is fraught with emotion, indecision, stress and confusion. 

And that’s when they’re not rushed.

You can find and help those people, if you know who they are. 

The first step is to know your sellers

So your first step is figuring out who your sellers are.

Of course, in reality they are a wide range of people. But you can know from your own experience and a bit of empathy that you can target your marketing at sellers who are at a particular stage in their life. For example, families with teenage children. Or downsizers. Or sea changers (do you call them that here in the UK?).

Whatever group you decide to talk to, it should reflect a group who are selling homes in your area. If you live in a 'nappy valley', you might not target downsizers. But families with teenagers might be a lucrative market.

Plan and produce helpful content is where you go next

I’ve stolen this straight from the book of Christopher Watkin. Content is king used to be the saying, but in our world it should be rewritten to Relevant content is king.

Step two is to think about what might motivate their decision to sell. 

Selling a house is rarely an end in itself. People sell to change their life situation.

If you create content that talks about their problem, rather than about selling their house or house prices, you are establishing a connection with a potential client.

Your goal for this type of content is just to offer helpful information — not to lock in a client. To be their agent before they choose you.

As an example, useful content for families with teenagers might involve comparing the cost and benefit of renovating versus selling and getting a bigger property.

But don’t create any content yet. There are a couple more steps in the process.

Step three. Google it

Nowadays, people who are at the 'awareness' stage of a buyer’s journey educate themselves by Googling stuff and asking friends. 

You should be no different. 

There are plenty of tools available to you to help you work out what those people might be searching for on Google. You can use those tools to come up with content that will answer their questions.

One of the easiest is to open up Google and type 'renovating versus selling' into the search box, then scroll right down to the bottom of the results page. You will see a list of 'related searches' there. These are generally the search queries people used next, after their initial search. Each of these related search keywords can be the subject of a short video or blog post.

Keywords Everywhere is a fantastic free chrome plugin that will show you the volume of search terms each and every month so you can work your content around that.

Step four is about action.

Plan and create content around those related search topics. Each one of those should link back to your website and Facebook page in some way.

Then use your social media accounts to promote your content. Don’t expect an immediate result. It’s like Mabeline says, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. And much faster than the market update letterbox drops mentioned above (but still do these, they will always work).

Over time you will build up an audience of people who know, like and trust what you have to say.

Step five. Don’t waste the data

I’ve said it before in these blogs and I will say it again now, “Database or die”.

People are different. There’s no set time a family will live in their home before selling. You can’t assume that just because someone is engaging with your content, they’re ready to sell.

You need signals. Put some content on your site that you know a soon-to-be-seller would interested in, and make it hard for them. 

It might be a sales marketing report for their property or a step-by-step guide to achieving a premium price.

On every piece of content you create, add a call-to-action pointing people towards that gated content. In order to get it, ask for their name and email address so you can send it to them, and stay in touch.

Don’t hound them with calls, texts and emails for the next two weeks asking if they wan’t a 'free market valuation'. Engage their curiosity and move them closer to decision time.

Use these tools to build your database of potential clients. Keep sending them personalised, helpful and relevant content until they tell you they’re ready for more.

Database or die.

Bringing it all together

The five steps to build trust with home sellers are:

  1. Know who’s selling and choose a group of ideal sellers to address;
  2. Plan helpful content around what might be motivating them to sell;
  3. Use free digital tools to work out what they’re searching for;
  4. Deliver helpful content, and make sure you capture their details when you do.
  5. Keep in touch with regular content, tailored to their needs

My Mum will have to sell her townhouse to buy something else. 

At nearly 70-years-old she’ll want someone to hold her hand through the whole process and make it as easy and as successful as possible. 

Poor experience at the start aside, if this agent had stayed in touch and done a few of the above steps over the last eight years, he’d at least have a chance at being Mum’s agent again. Instead, he’s the agent she’ll never call.