What if you knew your neighbors before you moved in?
Prioritizing relationships over personal preferences
Most buyer’s come to me with a home shopping approach of “personal preference” first:
- How many bedrooms do I want?
- What kind of flooring do I want?
- How many square feet do I want? etc.
Yes, eventually these issues will need to be handled but they’re not the place to start for community minded folk.
To compound the issue buyers are likely getting advice from more “experienced” people in their life who are steeped in bigger-is-better dogma…it doesn’t take much imagination to see where this leads.
Bigger is not better anymore. (Tiny Living: The Rise Of Small Spaces-NPR)
Being a point person for community
If you already own a home the most concrete thing you can do is stay. The second, besides making friends with your neighbors, is getting friends to move close to you.
I am going to introduce you to a system Realtors have that can make it easy.
7 steps for homeowners
Traditionally Realtors have used this system to catapult buyers into the ultimate gratification of personal preferences: home shopping. But if reversed homeowners can use it to build community, and provide an alternative for buyers:
- Make friends with a Realtor. They must be willing to help you without getting paid; ideally someone you know or a referral. Ultimately a Realtor you trust.*
- Get on the Auto Email Updater. This is a system Realtors have that is connected to the MLS. It searches properties fine tuned to your needs, and automatically emails you the instant something comes on the market. Any Realtor should have access to this software–it’ll be more accurate than web products like Zillow, and Trulia, and you won’t get obnoxious phone calls from desperate Realtors trying to win your business.
- Criteria: Setup your search to include all houses for sale and lease within the boundaries of your neighborhood, or whatever is within close walking or biking distance to you. In general the broader the criteria the better. You might even include commercial buildings for sale and lease—nothing’s better than a friend starting a local business. Remember, this isn’t just for buyers, it’s for renters too.
- Pick friends you want as neighbors. Once it’s setup you’ll receive email updates. Who do you know who might want to live close to you?
- Refer them to your agent. But don’t surprise them with it. Start a conversation by forwarding them the listing, and ask if they want to be connected to your real estate friend. It’s important that they feel like the decision is their own.
- Email Introduction. I find that the best way to connect a friend to a Realtor is not leave it up to them. Do a quick email intro. From the buyer/renter perspective it establishes a sense of trustworthiness and stability in the process. From the agents perspective doing business with a referral makes them a higher priority, and will more likely bend over backwards for them.
- Watch your community grow!
Homeowners: If you live in Austin and want to get started I’d love to help–just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Realtors: You have an opportunity here to be community builders. I would love to hear how this works in your own neighborhood.
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*One dynamic you must consider is that Realtors aren’t legally allowed to steer buyers into or away from any particular neighborhood.