Become a most-referred agent
Maintaining good relationships with colleagues, clients and the community is essential for referral business

by Tom Clegg
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Teresa Boardman is a broker and the owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minn, where she is a lifelong resident. Boardman also operates the “St. Paul Real Estate Blog, which she contributes to every day, The Real Estate Weenie” blog, where she writes about once a month, and a personal blog called “All T All Day,” which she describes as a “camera-phone blog.”
She also writes real estate columns for Inman News, and is a real estate photographer. Boardman recently spoke with OnCourse Learning Real Estate about building lasting relationships with clients and other agents.
OnCourse Learning: What part do referrals play in building relationships? Teresa Boardman: That’s huge. I have a couple of clients popping into my head that every year I can pretty much count on them sending someone my way because they were so grateful for some things I did for them. They were really happy with the way everything worked out, so they keep sending me business. I would say you probably can’t stay in the business unless you get referrals every year. Neighbors, friends – past clients are probably the best. OCL: How can you ensure a lasting relationship with a client once the transaction is over?
Boardman: You see, you really can’t. I think some agents believe you can. Real estate transactions are opportunities. Let’s say I was thrilled with the job my real estate agent did, but [then] my daughter gets her real estate license. Or I made a new friend somewhere in a new business and for some reason it was strategic for me to use an agent related to that business. It’s not about you.
I even had a client tell me – and this just blew me away – she said, “I wouldn’t have used you again, not because you haven’t done a great job – I really like the job you’ve done – but I have this friend I really should be working with.” So that has nothing to do with me. So, I think it’s important for agents to learn that just because they did a really good job for somebody, that’s absolutely no guarantee they’re ever going to get any business from that person again. All you can do is keep in touch. You send a postcard – I do Thanksgiving cards instead of Christmas cards. I start the first year they’re in their home. I keep in touch in various ways — through social media a lot, too.
OCL: What about with other agents? If another agent referred a client to you, would you reach out to that agent to stay in touch?

Boardman: I have a network of agents I stay in touch with. Referrals are a funny thing. I get referrals from one agent, but I end up giving them to another agent. It’s very rare that there’s somebody in another market that you’re passing business back and forth [with.] You try to keep a list of people that you know will do a good job. Because if I’m recommending somebody, it’s got to be somebody that does a good job. Sometimes there’s a referral fee, sometimes there’s not.

OCL: How important is an agent’s reputation in building relationships? Boardman: Where I work, there are some really prominent agents that everybody who works around here knows, but if you talked to an agent that worked 5 or 6 miles away, they’ve never heard of them. I think we have reputations among our friends, our family, some of the people we’ve done business with. If I have a reputation in the community, it’s not for selling real estate, it’s because I’ve delivered Meals on Wheels; I’ve sat on the boards of nonprofits.
“I would say you probably can’t stay in the business unless you get referrals every year. Neighbors, friends – past clients are probably the best.”

—Teresa Boardman
OCL: Is reputation at all important regarding other agents? Boardman: It can be. Your offer on a home might be taken more seriously because the other agent knows you and they know that buyer must be pre-approved or you wouldn’t be taking them to places. So, yes, your reputation helps. I know I’ve had agents say, “Teresa Boardman’s representing the other party. I’ve worked with her before. I know she keeps her word. I know she gets stuff done on time.” From that point of view, yeah. OCL: Are you going to get a better price on a referral fee if you know (the other agent)? Boardman: I have no idea (laughs). I have no idea. Referral fees for me are so situational. I guess I’ve just never negotiated referral fees. If it’s not high enough, I just say no. I could stop selling real estate altogether and collect enough leads and get enough referral fees so that I could just do that. I mean, it’s very possible, but that’s not what I want to do.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.
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Win-win relationships
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Build healthy relationships with members of the real estate team.
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Build trust on social media
Tips for creating lasting online relationships with real estate pros.
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Give some, get some
Using laughter and philanthropy to build client relationships.
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Mentoring relationships
Learn tips for building a solid mentor/mentee relationship.
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Referral mania
Discover the importance of referrals to building relationships..
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Must-dos for relationships
Great relationships with clients and colleagues is essential to success..
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Good relations for loan officers
Lenders can improve relationships with clients by attending closings.
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Relationships - Real estate agent handing a referral to another real estate agent.
Be a most-preferred agent
How to build lasting relationships with clients and other agents.
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Go the extra mile
Commercial real estate relationships require extra care.
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