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Commentary by Lelia Chapman

RISMEDIA, Jan. 5, 2009-Just a few short years ago, who could have imagined the stunning developments that have so dramatically changed the landscape of the real estate industry? Beginning in the late ’90s with the explosion of Web-based and do-it-yourself companies, and rising to new heights with the virtual implosion of the home loan industry last year, everyone’s looking for an extra measure of clarity and confidence.

Real estate professionals working to fill this need understand that these “intangibles” are often the result of a very simple principle put into action: building effective partnerships.

For brokers, partnerships with their agents are absolutely critical. Retaining top talent can be difficult-especially as our industry weathers the aftershocks of our nation’s economic crisis. It’s all the more important for a broker to create an environment that provides agents with a confident edge over the competition. Among other things, this includes empowering agents with the tools they need to be their best, including partnerships with industry leaders, such as American Home Shield®, in the home warranty industry.

Because real estate is still a face-to-face business, it remains the perfect avenue for building trusted partnerships with clients. Although the Internet provides an alternative, consumers still prefer to purchase big-ticket items with the help of an industry professional. For some, it’s the need for clarity and guidance as they navigate through a sometimes difficult process. For others, it brings welcome confidence to their purchasing decisions.

Nothing frustrates a new homeowner-or jeopardizes a healthy client relationship-more than a failed system component or appliance just after the closing date. Fair or not, homeowners often blame their real estate agent in such situations. If the agent has included a home warranty in the transaction, the repair or replacement of covered system components and appliances can be made quickly, often for the minimal cost of a service call-keeping the client happy and the relationship intact.

In addition, because most home warranty agreements provide coverage for one year, agents have an opportunity to reconnect with old clients when it’s time to renew their warranties. These conversations help keep the agent’s name top of mind with clients, and may produce unexpected leads.

Lelia Chapman is the vice president of real estate sales.

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