How to Make Relocating Clients Happy

It's often the little things that make the greatest impact when working with buyers who are relocating. Here are some tips for easing the stress of the big move.

September 1, 2008

Having been a military brat, I know what it’s like to get the news that it’s time to move again. From the time I was six, my family moved every couple of years. 

It gave me the opportunity to meet friends and experience life all over the country—from New Orleans to Boston—but it also made me realize how hard it is to let go of a community you love, and readjust to new surroundings.

Of course, moving is always stressful, even if you’re just moving across town.

But moving new a new state or region is particularly hard. Everything changes. Even simple comforts that you take for granted, such as favorite foods in the grocery store, are often no longer available.

Then there’s the challenge of meeting new friends and learning the new social norms associated with each area of the country (and believe me, they are very different). 

Finally, you’ve got to relearn the practical everyday stuff, like where your house is in relation to the schools, what the best pizza place is, and where the movie theaters are. It’s taxing on the mind, body and spirit.

Make Their Lives Easier

But as a real estate practitioner, there are things you can do to make life easier for relocating clients, and in turn create loyal customers that will hopefully recommend you to their pals.

The first thing you need to remember is that no matter how organized and calm your relocating clients appear to be, they are under great stress and they will appreciate your help to get through the transition.

To help, you first need to understand where they are coming from. In some cases, they may have convinced themselves that they are used to this moving thing. They think that they have the process under control. And, in terms of the details, they probably do.

But what they are really saying to us is that they are used to operating in a constant state of chaos. They have become adept at moving forward through the overwhelmed stage.

It does not mean that they are OK. They are still stressed. They are still feeling out of control (although not as much as people who don't move often, since they do know what to expect). They are still disoriented.

Ideas for Going Above and Beyond

Because of their unique needs, your services for relocating clients should be a little more extensive than they are for your usual buyer. Remember, it’s often the little thoughtful things that will matter most.

Before they get to town:

  • Send a complete relocation packet, including: information about the school systems, crime rates for local neighborhoods, and a map that shows the layout of public transportation and location of public services, shopping, schools, and the person’s employer.
  • Help parents get the kids on board by sending a list of fun places to go and things to do in your area: the zoo, amusement parks, lakes and rivers, entertainment complexes, etc.
  • Create a list of Web sites you recommend for learning about local culture, events, and activities. The visitor’s bureau is often a great place to start.
  • Send a copy of the forms and contracts associated with a real estate purchase in your area so they have a chance to read them in advance.
  • Provide a list of short-term rental options or extended-stay hotels. (If you can negotiate a discount for being associated with your company, it’s even better.)

While they’re visiting to search for homes:

  • Send a fruit basket to their hotel. It will make them feel welcome and provide them with much-needed healthy snacks during their stay.
  • Schedule hotel rooms for their stay.
  • Set up interviews at the potential schools.
  • Provide a list of things they’ll need to do before they move from their current residence. Here’s a sample list I created.
  • Compile a list of good restaurants in the area (and perhaps some discount coupons for trying them out).
  • Educate them about how the real estate closing process works in your area. They vary greatly from state to state.
  • Create a home showing guide kit to help them remember the many houses they will see on their whirlwind tour. Provide addresses of each location, photos (when available), and unique home details that will spur their memory. For example: “the house with the blue shutters” and “the one with the great fireplace.”  Otherwise you run the risk of getting to the end of the day and all of the showings being mush in their heads.
  • Remember that when you drop them off for the night, they will be sitting in their empty hotel room with nothing to do, consequently they are likely to go over everything you looked at that day. So expect them to have a lot of questions and they may even start asking about looking at other areas too. Expect a few course-corrections along the way.

After the closing:

  • Offer to contact utility companies so the electricity, gas, and other services will be turned on when they move in.
  • Provide lists of services and providers in the area that you know they’ll need.
  • Give them a list of things they’ll need to do to get settled in at their new location. Here’s a sample list I created.
  • Have pizza, salads, and soda delivered to the house on the move-in day.  Nothing will be more appreciated, especially if they’ve got hungry kids.

Create Information Packets for Clients

Relocation business isn’t the easiest out there. But it is often the most fast-paced and fun. If you’re in an area with a lot of people who are relocating, then it’s makes sense to create packets with helpful information they can browse before the move.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Make trips to the local Chamber of Commerce and the Information Centers on the highways. Pick up fliers and brochures for all kinds of activities to add to my relocation packages.
  • Purchase a bunch of priority mail envelopes.
  • Back at the office, assemble the packages 10 to 15 at a time. That way, each time a person asks for one, you’ll just be able to drop in a letter, seal it up, and send it out. It’ll make a great impression, and save you time in the long run.

I’ve found (and learned firsthand) that relocating buyers and sellers are motivated and energized to an extreme. They have a goal and they’re not stopping at anything to get there. 

Once you’ve mastered the relocation business, you’ll find that your average time from first contact to closing reduces dramatically. And what’s even better is that when you do a great job easing the transition for your clients, repeat business and referrals are practically guaranteed.

Kelle Sparta is the author ofThe Consultative Real Estate Agent: Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals, and Increase Your Sales(AMACOM, 2005). She is also the founder of Sparta Success Systems , a real estate training company.