If you’ve been in the home inspection game for long, you know that winning over real estate agents is key to a successful career. Most of your clients will come from referrals, so understanding how to market yourself to REALTORS® is essential.
But in a competitive market with many people vying for real estate agents’ attention, it can be difficult to get noticed and stand out.
That’s why in this post, we’ll cover how to find real estate agents in your area, how to network with them successfully, and how to maintain a beneficial relationship with them in the long-term.
First, get in the right mindset
When marketing yourself to real estate agents, you need to start with the right vision of yourself and what you’re marketing.
Don’t think of yourself as someone who is desperate for real estate agents’ help in landing clients (even if you are). Think of yourself as a business owner who provides a valuable service, and even more valuable expertise.
It may help to define your unique value proposition (UVP). What special experience do you have that makes you stand out from your competition? For instance, you might have expertise in new construction or commercial real estate — or you might have been inspecting in your area for decades.
Whatever it is that makes the services you offer special (even if it’s something as simple as giving extremely friendly customer service), use that as your starting point. Reminding yourself of your unique selling proposition can give you the confidence you need to market yourself effectively to real estate agents.
How to find real estate agents who are looking for home inspectors
If you’re new to marketing your home inspection business, it can be tricky to know where to look for real estate agents to pitch your services to. Use these ideas to get started:
Your personal network
Reach out to your family and friends and let them know you have availability. Encourage them to share your information on social media. If one of them has connections in the real estate industry, they may be able to send a few referrals your way.
Attend conferences, trade shows, luxury home tours, real estate functions, building and home supply events, and garden shows. Set up a table or main a booth to get yourself noticed by anyone who may be looking for home inspection services.
By connecting with an industry organization such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), you’ll have access to networking opportunities that put you in the path of real estate agents. These organizations also provide continuing education and greater credibility for your business so that when you meet a REALTOR®, they’ll be that much more impressed.
In today’s world, social media is a great source of free marketing.
Make sure your social media profile is optimized and links back to your professional website, then start sharing informational videos, helpful tips, and promotional posts to your social media platforms. The more your connections share your posts, the more eyes you’ll get — and the more likely a real estate agent will see you as a source of knowledge and expertise.
Advanced tips for networking with real estate agents
Although it’s important to get seen by real estate agents, your job doesn’t end there. Agents are bombarded with marketing attempts all day long, from inspectors, to lenders, to moving companies, to attorneys. In order to stand out in the agents’ minds, you’ll need to have a long-term and sophisticated marketing strategy.
If you approach agents with the hard sell (“I’m Joe Schmoe, and I’m a great choice for your clients because I’m responsible and trustworthy…”), it’ll be in one ear and out the other for most agents you meet.
Instead, think of it like cultivating a long-term connection. Make it a point not to start “selling” until you’ve interacted with that contact at least four times.
For instance, here’s a potential game plan you might enact for making connections with a real estate office in your area:
- First contact — Drop off introductory treats (like candy or donuts) at the real estate office. These treats should be stamped or otherwise branded with your company logo.
- Second contact — Email the manager with a follow-up (for example, “We hope you enjoyed the treats we left you today!”)
- Third contact — Follow the company and the individual agents on social media. Like a few of their posts and leave casual, helpful comments where appropriate (“Good advice!” or “That listing is in a great location!”).
- Fourth contact — Ask to give a short presentation at the next company meeting. Try to center the presentation on helping the agents, rather than simply selling your services. Hand out business cards and helpful materials branded with your logo so that the agents (who should be familiar with you by now) can refer you to their clients easily.
Giving real estate office presentations
Face-to-face time can be the most valuable way to gain the trust and respect of real estate agents who are unfamiliar with you. You can get this time by offering to give a presentation at the next office meeting at a real estate agency.
While you might be tempted to make your presentation about your company and what services you can offer, don’t go that route. No one will be impressed by what they can see is an overt sales pitch.
Instead, think of topics that will be of interest to the agents themselves. Are there any aspects of your services that they would be interested in extra training on? Is there any way you can provide value to them?
For instance, many home inspectors who use HomeGauge’s Create a Request List™ (CRL™) find it helpful to give presentations on how real estate agents and their clients can use the CRL™ to save time. The CRL™ lets users easily create a repair amendment directly from the inspection report, which can be an attractive feature to agents and buyers alike.
And by giving helpful advice, you’ll position yourself as an expert in your field — and agents will think of you first when asked if they know any home inspectors.
How to maintain a relationship with real estate agents
You can have all the flashy marketing techniques in the world, but if your work is shoddy, you won’t stay on real estate agents’ good sides for long.
Part of winning over real estate agents is turning your relationship into a long-term arrangement. You can maintain a good reputation among your REALTOR® connections by delivering consistently high-quality work that makes their lives (and their clients’ lives) easier.
Though it should go without saying that you should always be honest, ethical, and do the best work you can, it’s an added bonus that quality results will endear you to real estate agents, who can throw more business your way.
Another way to maintain your relationship with real estate agents is to be easy to work with. Providing excellent customer service is part of it, but also make sure to focus on the little things, like:
- Overcommunicating. Send reminder texts and emails before your appointments, and always follow up after your inspections with a friendly check-in. Being easy to communicate with adds an extra shine to your service.
- Deliver impressive inspection reports. The days of handwritten reports are long gone; nowadays, real estate agents expect home inspectors to use advanced home inspection software with all the bells and whistles like expanding photos and videos, availability in digital and print format, and the Create a Request List™ (CRL™) feature for easy repair requests after the inspection.
- Know what you owe to your clients. It’s important to walk the line between being informative and being a “deal killer.” If you find a minor problem and treat it like a major emergency when explaining it to your client, they may panic and back out of a deal on what could’ve been their dream home. Understanding how to explain the issues you find in a reasonable, realistic way will help your clients make the right decision for them — and make their real estate agents happy with your service.
Winning over real estate agents: Make a plan and stick to it
As with any business, the service you provide is only part of the job. You also need to find clients — and a large part of that comes from making and keeping relationships with REALTORS®.
When you begin reaching out to real estate agents, start by using your personal network. Attend industry events and join professional associations. And don’t forget to utilize social media for all the organic marketing power it can bring.
Once you discover your prospects, nurture them by reaching out slowly and repeatedly. Don’t make your communication all about your sales pitch, either; focus on how you can help them, and they’ll respect you and want to return the favor.
And don’t forget that perhaps the most important aspect of winning over real estate agents is your long game. In the end, the thing that determines your long-term relationships with REALTORS® is what you do best — high-quality home inspections.