Making the Most of Referrals

All of the quotes below are from the CIPS private networking group on Facebook (called Official Group NAR CIPS Designees). Referral exchanges happen frequently between designees; in fact it’s one of the most valuable benefits of the designation. Are you prepared for the moment one comes your way? Follow these guidelines and you’ll be ready to accept referral business with confidence.

“I have a potential listing for an agent in the Chicago area. Please contact me for additional information.”

“Looking for an agent in or around Miami Beach for one of my clients.”

“Looking for a REALTOR® contact in Islamabad, Pakistan. Does anyone have any connections they can recommend?”

Best Practices for Making a Referral

  • Make an initial contact with the individual agent to schedule a convenient time for a productive, in-depth discussion.
  • Conduct an in-depth agent-to-agent conversation about the transaction and the client. The purpose of this conversation is to get a feel for the agent’s “style” in handling the transaction and to set expectations.
  • During the interview, ask yourself:
    • Does the agent’s approach to the transaction seem consistent with my own way of doing business?
    • Can I build rapport with the agent?
    • Will the agent have time available to spend with the client?
    • Does it seem lik ely that the agent will communicate at important points in the transaction?
    • Will the agent fulfill my expectations and those of my client?
  • Finalize your selection by reviewing your selection criteria and choose the agent who best matches your standards of service and competency.
  • Discuss compensation issues.
  • Share specific client information with the receiving agent. This is the point at which you firmly establish your part-nership with the receiving agent. Brief your partner completely about the client’s needs and wants so that your clients will not feel like they have to repeatedly explain themselves.
  • Exchange information about real estate transaction procedures.
  • Set expectations for how and when you will communicate.
  • Document the specifics (including the fee and how it will be paid) of your relationship. (Use the CIPS Referral Contract form to open and solidify the discussion.)
  • Prepare the client by describing your contact with the receiving agent and the agent’s firm, background, and experience. Describe the steps you have taken to facilitate the referral and prepare the receiving agent.
  • Brief your client on market conditions as well as financial and real estate ownership procedures and requirements.

Best Practices for Receiving a Referral

  • When contacted by the referring agent, discuss the client situation and gather information about the client’s requirements as well as the referring agent’s expectations.
  • Discuss market dynamics and provide information about your firm’s services. Ask questions that can help you determine how to best meet the client’s needs.
  • Accept the referral if you feel you can meet or exceed the client’s expectations and have formed a good working relationship with the referring agent.
  • Agree on a referral schedule of events and fee. (Use the CIPS Referral Contract Form to open and solidify discussion.)
  • Obtain detailed client information from the referring agent regarding the client’s needs. By asking questions and making suggestions, you can collaboratively brainstorm a successful strategy for the client.
  • Exchange information on real estate transaction procedures and regulations.
  • Contact the referred client. Demonstrate your understanding of the client’s needs and wants by summarizing your knowledge and asking specific questions regarding the transaction.
  • Communicate with the referring agent at agreed times and as the transaction progresses. Immediately communicate the closing date when it is confirmed.
  • Pay the agreed referral fee as soon as possible after the transaction closes. Treat your referral partner as you would your best client.
  • If the experience of working with the referral partner was rewarding and worthwhile, remember to invite future referrals and reciprocate, if possible.
Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.


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Global Perspectives in Real Estate is a resource for global professionals, aimed at helping them globalize their local markets. Produced bi-monthly, this newsletter serves as a how-to guide and is full of useful and actionable tips. A free subscription is given to all Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) designees.

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