Help! Realtor referral question...

I’ve read a lot of helpful advice here on the forum about realtor referrals. But despite putting different aspects of the advice to use, I’m not having much luck getting realtors to refer me. Here’s the problem: almost every realtor I’ve approached claims they aren’t allowed to refer inspectors.

They say that all they’re allowed to do is give the buyer a list of area inspectors and let the client pick one. However, the more honest ones admit that more often than not, the buyer doesn’t know which inspector to pick or doesn’t have a preference, so the realtor will tell the buyer something like, “Well, I’ve worked with/used inspectors a, b, and c.” In other words, they pretty much refer inspectors while claiming not to.

There is also the matter of actually getting on a realtor’s inspector list, which some brokers here have been really cagey about. What I mean is, they pretty much won’t tell me whether or not they’ll put me on the magical list or not. I give them a copy of my license, some cards, and some brochures in order to be put on the list, but they still won’t confirm or deny that I’m on the list.

Also, it seems to me that if they’re being truthful about not being able to recommend inspectors, then all area inspectors should automatically be on realtors’ lists for two reasons: 1) all inspectors have the sanction/approval of the state and 2) if some area inspectors are left off the list, that’s tantamount to a tacit referral of those select inspectors that are on the list.

And finally, I’m not sure that being on the list would really help that much anyway because the vast majority of realtors around here can’t honestly tell a buyer that they’ve worked with me. That’s because they haven’t worked with me due to the fact that when I approach them they say they can’t/won’t refer me. So I’d likely just end up a name on a list that neither the buyer nor the realtor would gravitate toward.

That’s some catch, that catch-22. Anybody have any similar experiences or know anything about any legal reasons why a realtor can’t refer an inspector? Or is that just a broker policy–of every broker I’ve approached? Or maybe that’s just the law here in Mississippi? Or maybe it’s just a bunch of BS?

Hope I’ve described my problem accurately enough–any comments and/or guidance would be appreciated.

Have you tried donuts or kissing some butt??? Add some soft reports and you’ll get rich like the rest of us.:stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t mind kissing butts, but I don’t know exactly what they’d want me to say or do. By which I mean, I’m not sure what it is I can say that would make a realtor feel as though his or her butt had been kissed.

The only thing I can think of as the ultimate butt-kiss is to verbally tell realtors that I’ll write whatever they want me to write in the report to get the sale to go through in order to make them feel like I’m on their side. Then hopefully that would cause them to break the “we can’t refer you” rule, and I’d then just do the inspection the way we’re supposed to rather than what I told them I’d do.

I have a feeling that some inspectors around here have made such a deal with the devil although I of course have no proof of that. I think such a strategy would be technically legal (i.e. I can verbally tell a realtor anything, as long as t’s their word against mine that I told them I’d go easy on a property yet I do the inspection the ethical way) but ethically unsettling and therefore not the butt-kissing route I’m inclined to take.

Haven’t gone the donut route just yet. My main strategy so far has been to target individual realtors and try to get them on my side rather than having to approach a whole realtor mob at a “realtor presentation.” And that’s where I’ve encountered all this “I’d refer you if I could, but I can’t–sorry” nonsense.

And now that I know that realtors supposedly can’t refer inspectors, a realtor presentation would be worse than useless–if the non-referral policy is for real. I’d just be up there talking about how great I am and how they should use me and they’d all be sitting there thinking “Too bad this guy doesn’t realize we can’t refer him.”:roll:

If you are going to go the realtor route, I would suggest telling the realtors you meet that you are sure they probably already have a relationship with some good home inspectors, all you are asking is that if the other guys are busy that you be considered. Then tell them what sets you apart as an inspector.

That’s great advice, Brian. And frankly, I’d rather not go the realtor route. I’d rather market to and deal with buyers/sellers but no one in this area seems to do that–the only buyer-targeted marketing I’ve seen from other inspectors is their websites and Yellow Pages ads.

I ran an ad for a few months in a local ad rag and didn’t get a single call even though I was the only inspector advertising in the publication. What are some effective ways one go a route other than the realtor route? Because I’ve also read comments from some people on the forum saying they’ve never marketed to realtors but they don’t say what they do instead. I’d love it if I could get gigs without having to market to realtors.

I went the realtor route when I started. Mostly at open houses. These days not much action there. Good web page helps. Go read the marketing thread.

They are giving you a brush off. They all have lists. Most will make at least a subtle referral. Some will out and out refer you. Virtually,none will admit it publically.

Your best shot at Realtor referrals is at your inspections. When a client uses you, do a great job. Be as personable as you can be with the Realtor and try to get to know them a little. Tell them about yourself, and what sets you apart from your competirors.If they like you then you might majically appear on their list. Give them 2 or 3 business cards. This method takes time, but word will get around. (They do talk to one another in their offices.)

I had an inspection Saturday where the client found me on-line. Her realtor was new and didn’t know anyone to reccomend. I gave her some cards. Her client/friend was extremely impressed with my inspection. The clients Dad was there and said he was impressed with my professionalism. The Realtor actually asked for additional cards (in front of her client) because she felt like she needed someone to reccomend.

It’s not about kissing butt. It’s about doing a great job, keeping things in perspective, and establishing relationships.

Clinton,
I am new to interNACHI, so some may agree with me some may not. I have found with realtors, not to pander at their office. If you are there begging for inspections, that means you aren’t out on a job. Direct mail works well in my area, may not in yours. I personalize it as much as I can, but I pretty much make my own stuff and print everything myself. Mail merge works very well for this. I also have a creative wife who loves doing this. So you may need to buy material, or print with someone. Also include testimonials in your letters to the realtors. It shows that you’re out there and people like what you’re doing. If you want an example of some of my stuff, message me and I will e-mail it to you. Hope this helped a little.

Well said Mark and nice job!

Yep!

Hang in there. I tried the solicitation thing when I started out, got stonewalled with the “we can’t directly refer inspectors but we will add your brochures to the lot” mantra and then eventually was directly referred “tryout” inspections from several of them.

This is my experience providing truly objective and thorough home inspections while remaining cordial to the realtors:

  • Received “tryout” referrals from a handful of realtor, often months after my visits, that made me out to be a Home Inspection God
  • Received “suggestions” such as “that large basement wall crack is just a cosmetic defect- the owner says it hasn’t been a problem for over a decade!”
  • If the deal passed through with virtually no major contingencies- half the time I received another referral
  • Whenever a deal fell through, was complicated by contingencies or I objectively explained why deal-threatening conditions of concern were of concern- I was blacklisted by the agency
    *]Now, it is extremely rare for me to land a client who found me via an office brochure or realtor mention
    Unless you are realtor shill, the offices at best are an unreliable source of business. Its best to focus your marketing efforts toward the general public, for the 32 percent pool is a niche that is agressively courted by few …

Yeah, I figured it was a brush-off–especially since they’d mention the name of who they’ve used for years right after telling me they’re not allowed to refer anybody. And they don’t seem to see the contradiction. Or don’t care.

But you guys have confirmed a lot of things for me and given me some good ideas. Usually I have the patience of Job but the FREA bill is due next month and the ol’ office phone hasn’t exactly been ringing off the hook. I’ve just been getting especially frustrated lately at how little control I feel I have over getting gigs.

And yeah, I don’t want to go begging at realtor offices. I try to steer clear of those places.

I was intrigued by this comment and wondered if Nick or anyone else could elaborate on a couple questions it made me think of below:

“Unless you are realtor shill, the offices at best are an unreliable source of business. Its best to focus your marketing efforts toward the general public, for the 32 percent pool is a niche that is agressively courted by few …”

  1. What are some good ways to market to the general public? I’ve read the marketing forum and tried a lot (not all) of those things–the ones I could afford.

  2. If the 32% pool is on the marketing forum, I must have missed it. Could someone recap? (I’ll also go search in the forum)

WPLT, YSMCMSD.

i.e., another quality post by a quality home inspector.

I would modify that slightly and say that the “major offices at best are an unreliable source of business.” So I specifically went after the minor brokerages and found great success, mainly because the major offices are aggressively courted by everyone, so I went and created relationships with those who are not aggressively courted by everyone. It allowed me to create a personal relationship, as well as a business relationship, and that has served me well, extremely well, here in my seventh year.

Exactly! Look like you’ve been in business for decades, and many Realtors will use you when theirs retires, goes on vacation, dies, moves, etc.

Excellent!

I get a 2-5% return on my direct mail investment within 10-14 days. Each 100 envelopes costs me $65, and with my average inspection fee currently being $419.21, 2 inspections (2%) within 10 days at $419.21 average each means that I just made $838.42 on my $65 investment, or a return of 1,289%. No where else in the world (except the lottery) can I make a 1,289% return on my investment in only 10 days.

This is my post from this thread: http://www.nachi.org/forum/showthread.php?t=24939&referrerid=13115 . Besides being a marketing monster, and being my new website HSM has Quadrupled my realtor referals. See this thread for the new upgrades:http://www.nachi.org/forum/showthread.php?t=25590&referrerid=13115
I hope this helps.

Clinton,

What works best in my area is to schedule an appointment with the broker to do a 5 to 10 minute presentation at one of their weekly sales meeting. You should ask the broker how many realtors will be attending and you bring that many copies of your sample reports for them to have. Additionally, come well equipped with bagels, pastries, and donoughts.
As far as the established realtors, you’ll get a couple of them who will try you, and that’s OK. It’s the ones who are new you want to build a relationship with.
Another avenue to take is to register with the local Association of Realtors and volunteer to talk with the newest batch of realtors about home inspections during their seminars. These realtors who are brand new have no idea who to use, but they’ll remember you from your presentation because you will have already handed them your card.

Good luck!

Sorry to bring up an old thread, but I have a little something to share here after being a Realtor for 8 years.

As a Realtor I have always run my business by referral. The point is to always be “top of mind” with your customers, so that they automatically think of you when they think “Realtor” or “Home Inspector”. That isn’t going to happen with one presentation. Statistics show that you have to have up to 9 interactions with someone before they remember you well. Many real estate coaches recommend that we have a “touch” with each of our clients 30 times per year in order to stay top of mind. We accomplish this with monthly mailers, monthly check-in calls, meetings, e-mails, and (very important) hand-written note cards and pop-bys. When it comes time to call a home inspector, a Realtor is most likely going to refer someone who’s information is top-of-mind and most convenient. You can send out an e-mail tip every month, birthday cards, etc. Call every so often to see how they are doing. Send thiank you cards after they send you a referral. The trick is to have a better relationship with them than any other inspector. In my experience- no-one does it. In my area VERY FEW Realtors are loyal to an inspector simply because no-one has bothered to build a relationship with them. It’s not rocket science. I assume that if you get about 100 Realtors that you have a good relationship with and you would do great. Build the relationships one at a time until you get there.
About the pop-bys: That would be a personal visit about once a quarter to your Realtors. Bring them a little tid-bit- even if it’s just a note pad or pen with your company name or cookies at Christmas time. Make sure you deliver it in person.
If Brian Buffini (the nation’s top real estate trainer) ever comes to your area, GO! There will be hundreds and hundreds of Realtors there, and he teaches a 2 day seminar on building your referral business. It will be the best money you ever spend. The website is www.buffiniandcompany.com if you want to see when he is coming to your area.

Hope that helps.

I am fishing around the site because I am trying to talk my hubby into becoming a home inspector. He is a master electrician and general contractor, but he is always throwing stuff in for free, spending more time on jobs than he planned, and letting people talk him down (a lot) on his bids. I figure that with home inspecting he will have fixed prices and the amount of time a job takes will be much more predictable. If someone talks him down 25%- that cuts his profit in half since his bids include materials. If it takes him twice as long as he was planning- he ends up just making 25% of what he should have made. He has done electrical work for dozens of Realtors in town, and I’m betting that we already know close to 100 who would send him referrals.

Make sure that you build a relationship with those Realtors after you see them at the meeting. Send them all note cards to thank them for their time. Stop by the office to visit them here and there. Send out a monthly e-mail with inspection tid-bits. Call them to see how things are going and answer any questions, etc. Real estate trainers recommend that Realtors make contact with their customers 30 times per year. They should expect no less from their vendors. I’ve been a Realtor for 8 years, and I’ve never had an inspector do more than hand me a card and ask for my business. The card typically goes right in the trash. If you’re not going to bother building a relationship with me, I’m not going to bother sending you business.

Thanks Carla, it was nice to get a professional point of view and tips from the other side.

thank you Karla. Good input from a realtor. Hope your husband gives it a try, he may enjoy it.