“I care about my clients.”

This is the most common response I get when I ask REALTORS® what makes them unique and valuable. In fact, in the questionnaires we send out to new coaching clients asking for 10 things that make them stand out against their competition, over 80% mention caring in some context.

And, we have a legal duty of care to our clients and customers under our judiciary obligations.

It seems that caring has a big role in real estate -but what the heck does it mean to care?

What I know about most REALTORS® is that they want to care for the people they serve but there is a lot of confusion about what that means.  Caring isn’t merely wanting the best for them, it’s taking the professional responsibility to create the best possible experience and outcome for each and every client we represent. This means having a high level of knowledge about everything that can affect our clients, applying a high level of attention to their needs and accepting the responsibility for delivering accurate and timely information.

Knowing the REALTORS® want to care is a big part of what motivates me to write, teach, coach and lead my team at The Nature of Real Estate. It matters, but if we want to stay viable and valuable in this evolving technological economy, we need to accept the responsibility associated with our Duty of Care.

Leaving a bottle of wine and a basket of delicacies at the client’s new home on closing day is a nice gesture and does show that you care, a little, but I believe that caring is a whole lot bigger than that.  One of my clients, let’s call her Emma, has an amazing story that I think captures the idea of caring in a profound way.

Emma had successfully sold her clients small home and their plan was to downsize into a condominium building nearby.  There had been several units for sale when they listed their home but they had all sold in the days before her clients were in a situation to offer. No new listings had come up. They had a little over 60 days until closing so no one was overly concerned.

A couple of weeks passed and still no new listings.  Emma had been watching the MLS daily and was surprised at the lack of inventory.  She knew that her clients were likely beginning to feel worried.  While she had been emailing her clients on a regular basis but she knew that it was time to sit with them and look closely at the situation. This conversation was critically important.  It isn’t just a matter of being friendly and saying you are doing everything possible –  it’s about being with your client in their situation.  It’s about making your client feel that they are not alone and that you, the professional, will solve this problem.

Emma laid out the information she had and inquired about how her clients were feeling.  She listened and heard their concerns and felt and showed empathy for them.  She let them know that she too was feeling the pressure and that she would be by their side until the problem was solved.  Emma then laid out the options.  They could hope a unit came for sale, they could look for a short-term rental until a unit came up, they could ask for an extension on their closing, or they could look at different condominium buildings.  She also let them know about a thorough prospecting plan she had to try to reach a seller in their desired building.  This action plan went a long way to making the clients feel hopeful.  They decided to look into each option and Emma was happy to do the legwork.

A request for an extension was made and didn’t look hopeful.  Information was gathered on a number of other condo buildings in the area (none were appealing) and a rental search turned up nothing appropriate.  Things weren’t looking great. The days passed and time was getting tighter; Emma was speaking with her clients daily but she was waking in the night anxious about their situation.

Late one night when she was again tossing her concerns around, she got up and decided to really look at the situation.  She really stretched to see outside of the box for a solution. Who did she know with space that could offer some relief?  She had a friend who had an Airbnb that might work but the cost was $200 per night and it could take weeks or even longer to find a condo. Emma had a vacation property that was sitting empty.  It wouldn’t be appropriate for her clients but her friend with the Airbnb had always mentioned how much she loved it.  It was worth a try.  She called her friend, shared the situation with her and offered to trade time at her vacation property for the use of the Airbnb.  The friend was thrilled – and a deal was struck.  In the end, Emma’s prospecting landed her a couple of leads and she was able to get her clients into the perfect condo within a month of the closing.

This happy ending resulted because Emma took responsibility and used all of her expertise to solve her clients’ problem.  While the short-term profit on a situation like this may be lower due to the extreme time commitment, the long-term gains from taking this caring, ethical approach is invaluable.

Do you care enough to be courageous, highly skilled and completely competent?