1. Hold open houses at your finished products. You may be doing this already for your trade contractors, architects and designers, so adding real estate agents is easy. You still have a sifting problem, however; so you don’t want to invite everyone. Ask around, find out who is selling high-end homes, who are the biggest producers in your marketplace. Invite these agents. Find a very productive agency and invite the entire team.
2. Make arrangements to attend a sales meeting at a local real estate office. Train agents how to work with high-end builders.
3. Invite a real estate office to tour your office or homes under construction.
4. Have a plan for how you compensate agents for referrals. Be specific in terms of:
a. What level of involvement you expect.
b. How you keep them in the loop. Even if just a referral, the agent’s reputation is hinging on a successful customer-builder relationship.
c. When they get paid.
d. Whether they get paid on the final price or the original estimated price.
5. Educate real estate agents about your product and your processes. You will have a much better experience if you make them part of your team rather than begrudgingly welcoming the additional sale. An agent that understands the process in detail is much less likely to do something you don’t like.
6. Get testimonials from agents you’ve worked with. Use these in simple agent promotional materials. Be a name dropper when talking with agents; let them know those agents that work with you and refer to you.
7. Don’t forget about the new hotshot. Many times new agents may not have the experience, but they compensate with powerful energy and a new set of connections with the younger crowd. Finding a few of these energetic agents as part of your agent marketing can open doors to new opportunities.
8. Be grateful for their referral. Send them a thank-you in addition to the commission. It does not have to be much, just a kind gesture.
Bridging the gorge between builders and real estate agents doesn’t have to be difficult. Sift through the masses to find the best, treat them well, help them see that this is better money for their time than working short sales and foreclosures, and show appreciation. For builders that can accomplish this goal, the results will grow their business. Beyond additional referrals sales, I am convinced that a group of real estate agents saying good things about you will result in noncommissioned sales, too.