When Friends Refer Friends for Real Estate Needs

54: We recently wrote about the important role renters play in the business life cycle at The Gary Lanham Group at Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach Office. As we pointed out, we cherish our relationship with millennials. They first are renters, who later become home buyers. Then, hopefully like others who begin as customers and later become friends, these home buyers become referral sources eager to tell their friends about the exceptional service they found using our team.


Friendships are important in any referral-based business. Actually, friendships - authentic, engaging friendships - are important in life. But when you’re a “listing” real estate agent like we are at The Gary Lanham Group, deep relationships drive repeat business and referrals.

We like to think of our friends as our sphere of influence. Past buyers who entrust us with their real estate needs feel confident in referring their friends our way for their real estate needs. For people who want to buy a home, we become an important, trusted resource.

If those past customers and friends think like us, they’re reasonable people who take a rational approach to life and work. Put another way, we’re kindred spirits. As I’ve heard it said before, “People like doing business with people they like.”

It's an important, timeless lesson in work and life: Deal with people like you.

How Real Estate Friends Referrals Work

With that as a backdrop, let’s explore how that played out recently. This is where referrals come into play. Michael was a long-time ally / friend / customer who knew a couple looking to relocate from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale. John and McDavid wanted to meet a Fort Lauderdale Realtor and establish a relationship just to test the waters and see what greater Fort Lauderdale had to offer.

They weren’t eager to buy just yet. If they bought and closed in Fort Lauderdale by the end of 2020 as they prepared for retirement, that would work.

When we asked where they wanted to be and what they wanted to buy, they knew they wanted a mid-century modern home in greater Fort Lauderdale. They also wanted a home with an interior that had been knocked out and updated.

That opened several communities from Fort Lauderdale to Coral Ridge and Lake Ridge, among others. Beautiful, solid homes that reflect that period of unique South Florida construction.

We also asked their price point and general needs in a home.

With that information - the period and style of home, the area they’d like to be, and their price point - we had what we needed to do our homework.

As they say, the rolling stone gathers no moss. We immediately set out to find their home.

Eileen Mulkey led the charge for the Gary Lanham Group. Eileen put their parameters into the Multiple Listing Service search engine and quickly came back with a few homes. Before she could contact John and McDavid, two days later, Eileen’s phone rang. McDavid had been doing some looking on his own. He had found a midcentury modern home in the Corals of Oakland Park neighborhood that seemed perfect.

Tech Meets Real Estate

This is where the rubber meets the road with relationships and real estate’s use of technology. Phone in hand, Eileen dropped everything and drove to the home. Using her iPhone’s Facetime app, as well as Facebook Live, which we frequently use to showcase listings, open houses, or other live events, we did a “virtual walkthrough” with John and McDavid.

From the curb to the patio to the kitchen and all the common and living areas, we showed them all aspects of the home. As a chef, McDavid was smitten with the kitchen - with its gas range and ample counter space. Even on a live stream, it was hard to get him out of the kitchen.

That was only one significant selling point of this home. At 2,500 square feet, the home showed like a model home, and was unusually large for a midcentury modern residence. These homes usually average about 1,500 square feet, and rarely if ever approach this home’s size.

After our virtual walkthrough, John and McDavid had seen all they needed to see. We put the house under contract and unleashed our professionals to do their work to close the deal.

Using the Best Real Estate Pros Anywhere

As we’ve written before, the Gary Lanham Group is all about relationships. With every listing, we bring in our photography, videography, marketing, and social media team to shoot, edit, post, and pitch the listed homes.

For this purchase, we brought in the other side of our bench: The buyer-side partners. Nick and the team at NJCAT Engineering Inspections Inc. did a thorough inspection to ensure the home passed muster top to bottom and inside out. “Top” was critical. Nick’s inspection of this midcentury home’s roof was vital to securing financing.

A common design and construction feature of homes from that era were flat or slightly pitched roofs. Actually, they may seem flat. But there must be sufficient, though subtle, pitch to ensure rainwater on the roof will not turn to standing water. It should move or evaporate within 72 hours to prevent a roof leak.

Nick gave the roof two thumbs up.

Since John and McDavid were ready to pounce on this house, we didn’t want financing or the closing documents to hold up the deal. Our financing partner, Donn Rubin with Fairway Mortgage was able to get John and McDavid approved in 13 days.

If you know real estate financing, you know 13 days is a fraction of the time commonly required to get financing approved. It’s not just about the borrowers having impeccable credit. It’s about the lender or broker seeing the package through from application to review and approval. The contract allowed for 30 days; Donn did it in less than half that. He and his team are masters at seeing these packages through to completion.

The other key partner we turn to is George Moraitis with Moraitis, Cofar, Karney, Moraitis & Quailey in Fort Lauderdale. George and his team always go the extra step to ensure the property in question has no outstanding liens, or open building or construction permits, and all work has been done according to code. These are surprises no one wants to discover at closing. As a law firm, they are professional and highly skilled closing attorneys.

With the team behind us, and the Coldwell Banker name on our marquee, our office is second to none in high performance work.

Home Closed in 41 Days

From start to finish, this home closed in 41 days. Forty-one days. That’s unheard of in most scenarios.

But with buyers who qualify, a broker who knows how to secure financing, a home that has clean title and closed permits - which we knew because the title attorney went above and beyond in his own research - these are the types of closings our team enjoys seeing through.

As a Realtor, there’s no better feeling than to transfer the keys to a new home from the seller to the buyer. For John and McDavid, this was the start of their lives in South Florida. My team was thrilled to be able to bring that together.

That’s the kind of personalized service we bring to each client. We’re able to because at The Gary Lanham Group, we carry no more than 30 listings. This stable inventory affords us the time to work with sellers and buyers alike, without spreading our resources too thin. We’re a boutique firm that specializes in exceptional customer service for each client we serve.

Then, we turn those listings into closings faster than most other Realtors anywhere in South Florida.

We have the team, the connections, and the skills to make deals like this happen. But we believe our secret ingredient - the true difference maker - is the relationships we build with each customer. Referrals from renters that become buyers, buyers eventually become sellers, and all become referral sources for our office.

People trust us - and entrust us - with what for many is the single largest financial transaction they ever will sign. So if you have a friend who trusts you, know that in the Gary Lanham Group, you have someone you can trust to get the deal done right.

We work with people we know, like, and trust, and thrive on referrals from people who know, like, and trust us. Like I said before, it's an important, timeless lesson in work and life: Deal with people like you.

Gary Lanham Group at Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach Office is a boutique real estate organization offering sales, leasing, and brokerage services to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. A listing agent matches home sellers with buyers and tenants with landlords. While Broward County is our universe, we focus on  real estate in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Ridge, Imperial Point, Coral Ridge Isles, Oakland ParkWilton Manors and Pompano Beach. Call us today at (954) 695-6518 or visit www.GaryLanhamGroup.com.

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