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RISMEDIA, February 3, 2009-As a Realtor at a full-service brokerage, there is tremendous opportunity to deliver a simpler, better client experience by tapping into your one-stop shopping services. If you already refer to your in-house services, you are in good company-one-stop-shopping use has increased by 45% since 2002, according to a January 2008 survey by the National Association of Realtors and Harris Interactive.

customer-webEven with this growth, the survey continues, 70% of home buyers are not familiar or only somewhat familiar with the one-stop shopping concept. Aside from word-of-mouth recommendations, real estate agents are the most trusted source of information about one-stop shopping.

Understanding the Value of One-Stop Shopping

One-stop shopping brings value to both you and your clients.

-96% of home buyers believe it offers a simpler home-buying experience, according to the NAR survey.
-Proven higher satisfaction for both home buyers and Realtors (according to a survey by Prism Partnership from 2006-2008 with 5,924 agents responding).
-Your brokerage’s oversight of in-house services means more control over resolving “bumps” that may occur in the home-buying/selling process.
-In-house services are evaluated based on how much of your business they “capture” and how well they satisfy your clients.
-In-house services may have money-saving promotions and closing guarantees that outside companies cannot offer.
-One-stop shopping is another point of value to keep commission fees intact.
-Higher satisfaction means more repeat business and referrals for you.

Some Realtors have put together their own one-stop shopping program using external providers. While this is the only option for those who do not work with a full service brokerage firm, you lose much of the value when cobbling together outside services.

Increasing Client Awareness

Clients are often overwhelmed when buying or selling a home-they can easily miss one-stop shopping messaging. There are several opportunities to reinforce one-stop shopping value to increase client awareness:

Opportunity 1: While presenting the Affiliated Business Arrangement Disclosure (ABAD)
Opportunity 2: Before you view homes
Opportunity 3: After viewing the second home
Opportunity 4: Before they sign a contract for purchase/sale

The ABAD is an excellent opportunity to introduce the value of one-stop shopping as a key selling point over your competition. Which one of the following scripts would make you sound more like an expert?

– “This is a form that I am required by law to give you. It lets you know my broker has ownership in these different companies and that he profits when you use them.”
– “This form is to make you aware that my brokerage has affiliated companies that offer mortgage and title. My mortgage and title experts team together with me to make your home purchase a seamless experience. Together, we provide one-stop shopping, which can save you time and money. When would be a good time to have Amy contact you for a complimentary mortgage consultation?”

Neutral messaging can be as bad as negative messaging. Instead of, “Amy is down the hall if you need a mortgage,” try, “My mortgage expert is Amy-she has done a great job with my past clients. Let’s walk down the hall and I will introduce you.”

As far as the “what” to say-consider the following examples and create your own messaging:

Presenting the One-Stop Shopping Concept

“By selecting me as your agent, you have access to XYZ Realty’s one-stop shopping services. Our one-stop shopping program was created to make your home purchase/sale easier and better. Instead of working with different people from different companies, you have the opportunity to use XYZ Realty’s mortgage, title and insurance experts who are experienced working with me to deliver a great experience.”

Close on Time with a Better Experience

“Home buying is complex. I have a better chance of catching and resolving issues faster with my in-house team. The mortgage and title reps are located in my office-and my management team is involved with their management. This gives us more control over the entire process to help make sure you close on time.”

Offer a Guarantee, Gift or Rebate

“We want to make sure you have a superior end-to-end home-buying experience. My brokerage backs-up its one-stop shopping services with a guarantee/or money rebate…” Describe your company’s program.

What If My Client Already Has a Lender?

More than 50% of home buyers will contact a lender before selecting an agent, but studies show 70% of consumers will still take the mortgage recommendation of their real estate agent.

“It is great that you have already checked into the financing aspects of your home purchase. Clients that choose to one-stop shop with our mortgage company find it helps make their home purchase easier-and can save you money.

“It is no longer just about the lowest rate. It is important to assess your bottom line including the rate, closing costs, loan term, program type-and of course the ability of the lender to close the loan on time. My financing expert is Amy. She can provide you with a complimentary second opinion so you can make sure you’re getting the best financing solution available. When might be a good time for Amy to contact you?”

Each Realtor has a different method of connecting with clients. These scripts may not have resonated with your style-and that’s ok. They are starting blocks for you to use as a foundation. Give it a try. The important thing to remember is 9 out of 10 clients will be interested in hearing more from you about one-stop shopping-use it to your competitive advantage.

Andrea Zimmerman is a Realtor with more than 15 years of experience in strategic business planning for the real estate and financial industries. Contact her at andreazim@earthlink.net.

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