By Lynette Carrington
Every Realtor has their own personal style for conducting business. For Realtor Debbie Jennings of Realty One Group, her business is based on relationships, rather than on individual transactions. The reason is simple – the real estate business is highly service-centric and positive relationships turn into referrals.
Jennings does not treat a housing transaction only as “a sale.” Jennings explains, “Some agents cold call, hound people and go door-to-door, and once the transaction is over they are never heard from again. I hear horror stories about this all the time and it makes our profession look bad. To me, this business is about relationships, not transactions.”
She continues, “I work a lot by referral, so when I build relationships with my clients, they refer me to their friends and family with confidence. I am very communicative and caring throughout the entire process and my goal is to make people really comfortable, because buying or selling a home can be very stressful. I always say I am their ‘Realtor for Life,’ because if they have a question or need a referral for a home repair service company, they can always call me. I try to always maintain contact with my clients and make a lot of new friends along the way. To me this is a service business, not a sales business. Treating your customer right is the right way to go every time!”
Sometimes, maintaining an ongoing relationship with potential and current clients takes time and it’s time that Jennings feels is well worth the expenditure. “For potential clients, I do as much as I can to educate them on the process of the purchase or sale of their home and I find out what is important to them,” she explains. “I want to know how seasoned they are on buying and selling so I know how to best keep them informed. Seasoned experts don't need as much hand-holding as first-timers, and I want all of them to feel comfortable. All of them need to know the new forms and processes because change is a constant in my business and they deserve to know how those changes impact them. Always staying in touch and getting a pulse for where they are with the timing of buying or selling is important. They may have a lot of questions and many months can pass before they are ready. I am there every step of the way for anything they might need.”
During any real estate transaction, communication with her client is always a top priority for Jennings. “Many people don't hear from their Realtors and it makes them very uncomfortable. I am constantly on the phone and email updating my clients and I go the extra mile to make everything as smooth as possible to reduce stress and keep everyone updated,” Jennings says. “I also return calls and emails promptly. I like my clients to feel like they are the only one I am working with. Even if I am juggling six clients at the same time, the same week, none of them is more important than the other. I have a great deal of thankfulness for each and every client that chose me to represent them, so I do the very best job I possibly can.”
What does the client/Realtor relationship with Jennings look like after a transaction is complete? Jennings says, “Once they have finished the sale, I continue to communicate. I make sure the move went well and I email them current and relevant information every month in my e-letter. I maintain a great vendor list on my website so they have resources for home repairs and I send out cards and letters to keep in communication. I also offer to host a party at their new home if they would like me to organize it. Going the extra mile is something my clients really appreciate!”
In fact, many clients will sell a house to buy another and have asked Jennings to be available when they are ready to buy and sell again. Jennings states, “It's important to keep in touch with them so they remember me, because we are a service business and our cards and contact information can get lost if we don't keep in touch frequently. My clients never have to worry about that with me since I am always reaching out to them. I have been doing this a couple of years, so I imagine, five or so years from now I will be getting calls to help them again and I will be most happy to assist.”
There have been some major changes in the real estate industry that took place in October 2015. “It's basically a financial reform act that has the potential to greatly delay the closing date on the home being purchased because of changes to Title and Lender Disclosures,” Jennings explains. “So far none of my clients have been greatly impacted by it. The forms and processes we use change quite a bit. For example, in January there were changes to the Federal Appraisal laws which have had an impact on home values (many sellers over-price). I make sure my sellers are aware of this as we go to price their home so we don't have issues with the appraisal coming in at value. There are a lot of new forms this year including updates to the HOA form, the lender pre-qualification form and the sales contract. I tell potential clients to ask a lot of questions and make sure the Realtor has their best interest in mind, after all, we have a fiduciary duty to our clients - it's our job. Also in my November newsletter, I posted some information about renting versus buying - I did a video on it as well which can be found on my buyers page.” Watch the informative video at http://www.debsellsaz.com/buyers2.html.
“I try to educate people on the importance of using a Realtor when purchasing a new construction home. They must take their Realtor with them on the very first visit to model homes,” notes Jennings. “It’s very important to be properly represented. My service to them as a buyer is free and not only can we sometimes negotiate on price and options, most of the time we bring up questions that reveal surprising answers. I have a two page list I go through and ask the builder questions that most buyers wouldn't think to ask and can be very costly to buyers if they don't ask the right questions.”
Debbie Jennings with Realty One Group is on several social media pages and she publishes updates on a regular basis. Her Facebook business profile page is https://www.facebook.com/DebbieJenningsRealtor and her Twitter is https://twitter.com/DebSellsAZ. “My pages have a lot of information on them and a lot of people send me messages, especially on my Facebook page. I always get back to them right away,” finishes Jennings. “I look forward to serving my next customer and as always, I am never too busy for their referrals!”