This is a real email sent from a www.listaproperty.com client looking to buy an apartment in Beirut. But the client could have been looking for a villa for sale in Dubai or an apartment for sale in New Cairo. The location is not the important thing. The distressed nature of the email is.
In today’s connected world people start their real estate search online. However, just having a presence online is not enough. You need to have a solid strategy on how to respond to inquiries. There is no point in advertising online if you are not going to respond to every inquiry in at least two hours.
One thing that for sale by owners do really well is to pick up their phones. They generally have one property to maintain. The NAR (National Association of Realtors) in The States released a study showing 48% of phone inquiries were not responded to at all in a survey. Let’s just assume the statistics are the same here in the Middle East and North Africa.
If you cannot respond to every call within two hours, assume another agent has and managed to get your client on the hook. At best, you are now looking at a shared commission – at worst the client has been shown another property and is sold.
Below are a few tips for managing inquiries as they come in.
1. If you cannot commit to responding to every call within 2 hours, then hire an assistant. Do not rely on an answering service as they will not sell your services. An assistant can answer questions, access your calendar to schedule showings and starts relationship building from the beginning.
2. Be careful with auto-reply email. The generic “thank you for your property request we will contact you shortly,” email doesn’t really help the client. A much better version is “I have received your email and will follow up within 2 hours. However, feel free to contact me directly on my cell at xxx xxx xxxx or use my personal email account firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Set up voice-mail. This is, for me, a really frustrating element of life in the Middle East. Use voice-mail. Allow people to leave messages and listen to them. Say Sally calls at 3:00PM and leaves the following message, “Hi, I am interested in an apartment for sale in Dubai Marina. The listing number is 45679.” At 3:30 agent Bill calls back, “Hi Sally, you called about a one bedroom apartment in for sale in Dubai Marina. I am sorry I missed your call. I would like to schedule a time to show this apartment to you. Hey, tell me what you are looking for and I can arrange to have 3 or 4 apartments to view at the same time- all same price range, location, size, etc.” WOW! okay- I like this Bill guy. He replied quickly, knows my needs and is ready to go.
4. Realize you are competing with every other agent online. The ones that are on the ball and respond to emails and calls professionally are able to take clients away from the agents that are slow their response times.