4 Online Resources Buyer Agents Can Use to Impress Clients

In a post-National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) settlement world, buyer agents know they will need more than a quick stat or a flashy presentation to win clients. More and more, people are being told that they can find all the guidance they need in a home search on the portals. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant—if you want clients to see you as someone to depend on for the full-service home search profit, you are going to have to prove it to them. And with the new rules in place, you will likely have to do this before you can show them a single house.

With the reams of data and resources already at consumer’s fingertips, you must think much harder about how you will pitch yourself to a skeptical buyer. While focusing on the human, emotional element is a great strategy as well, it will help tremendously if you can wow them with market or property insights that aren’t readily known or available to the public. If your brokerage provides some of these things, great, but there are plenty more available online that a savvy agent can use to elevate their value.

Here are four online tools you can use to wow prospective buyers in your area:

The National Zoning Atlas

A brand new non-profit, work-in-progress map, this free tool provides the kind of granular, digestible property data that can give people vital context for their home search. Quickly find out if a property or neighborhood allows for ADUs (also known as “in-law suites” or “granny flats”), or alert a buyer that one of their favorite neighborhoods might allow a future neighbor to run a “light manufacturing” workshop in their backyard. Relying on a team that scours the kind of public record data that is often difficult to access, this interactive, intuitive project—while far from complete, currently—can help you prove to a prospective client that you using the most cutting edge and expert-focused tools to ensure their home search doesn’t go haywire.

New business registrations

It is great to be able to tell a prospective buyer all about the shops, dining, services and small businesses in the towns or neighborhoods they are considering. It is even better to be able to tell them about the ones that haven’t opened yet. Most states offer the ability to search—for free, or for a small fee—businesses that have been registered to any address, well before signs or ads go up. Using these databases, you can tell your prospective client if there will be new childcare opportunities in their preferred town, or if a big box store is about to bring more traffic to a neighborhood. An ancillary benefit to using these databases is finding potential business partners who are likely looking for connections in the area that you can partner with for advertising or lead generation.

Historic photos

Almost everyone who is considering putting roots down in an area wants to know the history of that place. While portals and other websites offer a plethora of dry property information and basic facts, you can show prospective clients you are a real local enthusiast and expert with fun, fascinating looks at how the town or neighborhood looked decades ago. Websites like historypin provide crowdsourced snapshots and descriptions of landmarks, neighborhoods and towns from year’s past, while local libraries often host online databases of photos or maps that prospective buyers are sure to find intriguing. This kind of personal, visual evidence of your knowledge to a town can do a lot to forge an emotional connection as well.

Seller disclosures

A potential pitfall for any buyer is the question of disclosure. Most buyers assume that sellers will have to disclose certain information about the history or status of a property—and many are wrong. With a lot of misinformation out there, you can tell your prospective buyer the straight story, while being extremely careful to not give any legal advice. But if you can show the buyer exactly what will be, or maybe more importantly, what won’t be on a seller disclosure form, you can help convince them that having a real estate expert to identify important issues is more important than ever. NAR offers resources on disclosures, and other legal databases can help you provide a picture of the complexities homebuyers face in a real estate transaction.

If you’ve been in the business for a while, you probably have your own pitch and priorities when speaking to prospective buyers. But with the NAR settlement changes, it is very likely you will need to make some adjustments. In order to get someone to sign and potentially agree to pay you out of their own pocket, it is vitally important to add to your toolbox of value-added services. The above resources can help with that, and help reframe the conversation around why it is still so important for so many buyers to work with agents.

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