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RISMEDIA, January 5, 2011—Now more than ever, most consumers are nervous about jumping into homeownership, highlighting the need for integrity and honesty in real estate today. Here, Jim Gillespie, chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC offers the following tips for real estate professionals to build trust with today’s clients.

Jim Gillespie
Chief Executive Officer
Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

I recently met with an amazing group of Coldwell Banker agents who came to our corporate office to provide us with a sense of the challenges they and consumers are facing today.

I was inspired by Cindy Yoder of Coldwell Banker Vinson Chase in Modesto, California. Cindy spoke so passionately about the need for integrity and honesty in real estate today. Her reasoning was that her clients—and she rightfully believes, most consumers—are nervous today about homeownership. She believes real estate agents have an important responsibility to make certain they are providing sound counsel, advice and answers…today more than ever. She said that agents who are only concerned with making the sale are doing themselves and their clients a disservice. I couldn’t agree more.

Trust is so important. It always is. But I would venture to say that our clients are counting on us more than ever when it comes to decisions about homeownership.

I get interviewed all the time on major media outlets and I continuously point out that now is the smartest time in my 35 years in real estate to buy a home. The reasons are fairly obvious. Home prices have dropped and are beginning to stabilize while mortgage interest rates are at all-time lows. In most communities, there is an abundance of homes to choose from and, of course, there are substantial tax advantages to homeownership.

But it is important to remember that what I have just said only applies to those who are financially secure and not concerned about the threat of job loss. It also doesn’t apply to those who don’t anticipate living in the home for several years to hopefully allow the market to correct and build some equity. Homeownership is a long-term investment and not a “get rich quick” scheme.

Yet each of your clients’ needs and situations are vastly different.

When a customer first makes contact with you, it is fair to be excited about the potential to gain a new client. But how do you make certain they understand you are the right agent for them? Are you looking for a transaction or trying to build a relationship by providing sound answers and advice? I hope the latter.

Encourage them to ask tough questions and probe. This will allow you to calm their fears and concerns. By doing so, you instantly become a valued advisor. If you are only interested in making a sale, I believe consumers will see right through it.

Consumers have to do their homework and make certain what they believe about housing today is/isn’t true. And rather than getting their information third-hand, let’s encourage them to go right to the source. That source is you.

While the Web has given consumers control of the process, I’ve yet to see a computer screen that can calm fears, provide sound advice, and handle the emotional toll buying or selling a home can take on an individual.