Tips on Landing Builders as Clients
Builders are some of the most sought after clients a real estate agent can land. From flippers to multi unit developers, having a builder in your back pocket can ensure a stream of steady sales.
There are certain nuances to acquiring these relationships, and even more to maintaining them. Lisa Johnson Sevajian, Vice President with Coldwell Banker in Andover, works with four different builders on an ongoing basis. She helps them secure property in which they either renovate and resell or remove the existing homes, build new homes from scratch, and then sell. Through this arrangement, she gets to sell two homes each time. First, when she helps them buy the property and then again when they are ready to sell the improved, or new home.
Lisa says, " I made these connections through lots and lots of cold calling to construction companies asking if they were actively searching for land on which to build. When I see land being cleared or property that is in need of renovation I contact the owners and ask if they are either interested in listing with me or selling. I network with trades people , plumbers, electricians, siding companies, and roofers for leads on new developers entering the industry who may not have already formed relationships with existing realtors and I approach existing developers find out if they are open to modernizing their marketing."
Marketing is Essential
Marketing is a vital piece to the puzzle and can sometimes make or break the relationship. Kerri Bonarrigo, Residential Sales Director of Gordon's Woods, a 42 unit condo development in West Roxbury, recently hired a REALTOR to be the onsite sales representation for the project. "Marketing was a huge factor in our decision making process when bringing in a REALTOR. We wanted to make sure that everything from print to social media was represented in the media plan, and having an agent who understood the importance of leaving no stone unturned was very important to us," says Kerri.
Kelly O'Ryan, Office Manager of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage's Lexington and Bedford offices, guides her agents in establishing relationships with builders by encouraging them to network. "There are some excellent builder's associations in the greater Boston area, and by getting involved with them and participating, the agents will not only learn about the industry, they be able to forge relationships by showing interest in the bigger picture." Kelly also advises her agents to thoroughly understand local building regulations and the permitting process. This helps in being able to quickly evaluate whether a piece of land or a tear down is suitable for which builder. Another tip she shares is, "Be prepared to support the builder with interior finish recommendations and to stage the property once completed."
Don't discount developers who have their own onsite representation, either. Sometimes, showing that you are a team player can really pay off. Just ask Maribeth Bosivert, real estate agent with Coldwell banker in Shrewsbury. She was offered a job to be an onsite sales person for a developer after showing her buyers their property. The builder was so impressed with her sales skills that he made her an offer a week later.
Ensure a Long-term Relationship
Landing a developer as a client is just the first step to selling their properties. Maintaining the relationship is important to making sure it pays off, and there are some things you can do to ensure that you foster a long-term partnership with a builder client. Janice Dumont, Partner with Prime Time Communities, a research, marketing, and sales company which provides services to developers of new home condominium communities, tells us that, "Having systems and protocols in place, so that you are constantly able to provide feedback, is paramount to long term success." She tells us that it's not good enough to simply tell a builder that there wasn't any traffic to the development because it was a nice weekend and people were probably outside enjoying the weather. She suggests that instead of reasoning why things did or didn't turn out a certain way, highlight what you did to bring traffic in. "Stating how many calls you made, while there was no traffic, is a lot more effective than talking about why there was no traffic." Another thing her firm does is create six month marketing plans that include projected sales numbers. "We hold ourselves accountable for a certain number of sales. Most times we meet our goals, and in the event that we don't, we are able to pinpoint exactly why our goals weren't met."
Truth be told, taking on a builder client can be a lot of work but the flip side is that these relationships can be very profitable. Solid, ongoing communication coupled with true relationship building are the keys to success when it comes to taking on and successfully selling for builder clients.