Client-Oriented Real Estate in Action: HomeBuyerTaxCredit.com

The purpose of this blog is to promote the concept of Client-Oriented Real Estate, or C.O.R.E., the idea that real estate agents should be focused primarily on identifying and servicing the needs of their clients. Not only do we think this is a better way to run your business, we think it’s a more productive way to build your business in an era where great service is much more likely to help you develop more clients through social networking and online review sites.

As we develop this concept and apply it to agent productivity, we’re finding all sorts of ways to apply it in the work we do running a large brokerage. A broker, like an agent, should be client-oriented, both from the perspective of the buyers and sellers as clients but also from the perspective of agents as clients.

So last November, when the Home Buyer Tax Credit was revised to increase the income limitations and expand it to long-time homeowners, we were on top of it. It seemed to us that a “world’s best real estate broker” should be able to break down complicated programs like the tax credit for the whole client base: agents and buyer/sellers. So we really dug into it to make sure we could help our clients (agents and buyers/sellers) understand the credit and take advantage of it.

The first thing we realized was that the tax credit was not going to be retroactive, and in fact would only apply to closings the day AFTER it was passed. This was on November 5th, the day the new legislation was announced and passed Congress. The President was signing it the next day, and the legislation itself said that it would only be effective to closings AFTER the signing date. This meant that buyers who might be eligible for the tax credit under the new guidelines but were closing on November 6th, the day the legislation was signed, would not be able to claim the credit — even though if they held off their closing for just one more day, they could be entitled to either $6,500 or $8,000.

So we put out a broadcast email to all our agent-clients, and a blog post alerting all our buyer clients about the issue, and advising them that they should talk to their attorneys about whether they could put off the closing for a few days if they were impacted by the tax credit. And we had a few people who actually did just that, which is “Bringing the WOW!” in a big way. Tough to “Bring the Wow” more than helping a client get a $8,000 tax break….

Once that was done, we kept it up. We came up with what we still believe was the best home buyer tax credit resources available anywhere on the internet. We had an overview, FAQ, list of individual scenarios, a breakdown of the history of the legislation, and even a comprehensive Eligibility Test that clients could take to see if they qualified for the tax credit.

But that wasn’t enough. It occurred to us that the large national franchises and other sites were not doing much to explain this difficult program. We discovered that the domain name “homebuyertaxcredit.com” was available for sale, and we bought it (never mind the cost). We then took the materials we’d developed for our brokerage, and then re-wrote and expanded them for a national audience.

From that, in early January, we launched the HomeBuyerTaxCredit.com resource site, which has by far the most comprehensive treatment of the home buyer tax credit anywhere in the country. Much, much more than the national franchises websites, which have scanty information and actual misinformation in some cases (I won’t name names, but it seems that all the brokers misunderstand what the long-time homeowner tax credit rules are).

Why did we do this?  Remember the C.O.R.E. process: (1) identify the need, (2) figure out a way to service the need, and (3) execute, and establish the relationship.  We identified that clients had a need for the information, and figured out how to get it to them. Then we executed by building a great site that is going to reach thousands of home buyers.

And, of course, we’re hoping to deepen the relationship.  Throughout the site, the client has opportunities to ask for a referral for a real estate agent, an accountant, or a lender.  Those referrals will help us serve our OTHER client base, the agents who work for us, either with direct leads from the site, or outbound referrals that will help us get inbound referrals down the road.   We have no idea how much revenue the site will generate, but we’re hopeful.  And even if we eventually lose money on the site (it cost about $100,000 to build), it was still worth it to execute well on a great idea.  Sometimes, you just have to take your chances.

First, to provide a great resource site for people across the country who want to understand the home buyer tax credit.  We identified a need, figured out a way to service that need, and then executed by putting out a tremendous site.

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