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The news of the federal government’s investigation of questionable foreclosure methods used by some of the nation’s top lenders has left many people with an unfavorable view of the financial industry. To ensure you aren’t tarred with the same brush as these predatory lenders, consider ways to reinforce your trustworthiness in the eyes of your local market.

According to the NAR 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the highest number of respondents (31%) cited honesty and trustworthiness as the most important factors when choosing an agent. Clients want to know you are looking out for their best interests.

The best way to ensure you are perceived as trustworthy by your clients is to keep your promises. Your client may have unrealistic expectations about the value of their home or the state of the housing market, so you must be honest about their options. Promise your clients only what you can deliver. If you portray yourself or the market unrealistically your reputation may take a beating, but if you prepare them with more realistic expectations, you stand to gain a great deal in their estimation.

Your marketing is another means to bolster your credibility. Ask clients to write testimonials about their experience with you and post these on your web site. Listing your designations on your website and other marketing materials such as flyers and business cards can be another great way to demonstrate your experience and knowledge to consumers. Make sure to explain what each designation means — remember, to the average consumer, “ABR” and “CRS” are just alphabet soup.

An upside to designations is that it will mean the same thing to consumers across the country, so they appeal to out of town buyers as well as locals. According to the NAR 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, only 35% of Realtors have even one professional designation, so displaying your credentials will make you stand out from the crowd.

In the long term, reaching out to your community can be the most effective way to establish a good reputation. Cause marketing or philanthropy marketing is an increasingly popular tool used by real estate professionals to help their community and cultivate a positive image. According to a study by Cone Inc. in their 2010: Cause Evolution Study, 85% of people have a more positive image of a company when it supports a cause they care about. Spending a day building houses for Habitat for Humanity or teaming up with a local animal shelter are small investments with a big payoff.

To learn more about what other agents are contributing to their communities, watch our recorded Webinar, “Building Business, Building Community” from Secrets of Top Selling Agents, sponsored by