Extending gifts to house buyers and house sellers has become a common practice in real estate. These gifts are a way to keep the relationship going after you’ve closed the deal, although you can also use them as a form of experiential marketing to attract new leads.
To give you some ideas, in today’s article, we’ll review a list of 14 gift types. They are lumped in three different categories: open house gifts, closing gifts for buyers, and closing gifts for sellers, however, these labels are provisional. With a little bit of creative thinking and personalization, you can adapt them to suit many occasions.
The main goal is to have people remember you and your real estate investing business after they’ve interacted with you and refer your business to someone else down the line.
But before we get to the gifts, let’s check how gifts have become important for real estate marketing.
The competition in real estate investing is strong. New investing businesses enter the market and they all use the same marketing methods: direct mail, cold calling, online marketing, etc. This is why many real estate investors struggle to make their marketing memorable.
Also, the attention of the average consumer is already spread thin. Between social media, traditional media, signposts, and banners, people are exposed to hundreds of ads each day. What’s the use of your marketing campaign if house sellers forget about you within a day or a week? A good gift, on the other hand, will help people remember you long after your paths have crossed, and that’s the main goal of gift-giving in real estate.
Moreover, as we already mentioned, this might earn you a referral. After all, whether it’s buying or selling, it’s certainly a big decision that people don’t take lightly – for some, it’s the biggest transaction in their lives, so the importance of referrals can’t be overstated. Referrals are the most influential form of social proof in real estate, and gifts increase the likelihood of getting a referral down the line.
That being said, it’s not easy to secure a referral through a gift in real estate. Just like saying the wrong thing during the sales process can kill a deal, breaking the gift etiquette might make you memorable, but for the wrong reasons. Giving the wrong gift is worse than not giving a gift at all.
Plus, gifts cost money, so if you want a ROI, you’re probably not keen on spending your money willy-nilly on a gift that might end up in the trash. You hold us accountable for the ROI on online marketing campaigns we manage for you, and you can do the same for your efforts in the experiential marketing channel. While you can’t have surefire metrics on the effect of gifts, you can definitely make sure your gifts are worthwhile.
Branding has no place in gifts. While gifts are a form of marketing, you don’t want to put your logo all over the place: this can easily have an opposite effect, i.e. inspire the recipient to throw the gift away, or to hide it from view. Go for a gift that has value for the person you’ve just closed a deal with. If you get this right, they won’t forget that it’s you who gave them the gift, even without visible branding.
Branded gifts are tax deductible, but this is the only advantage of branding.
You are probably considering a gift for each closed deal and potentially for other prospects, too. This may force you to be conscious about the costs, but it doesn’t mean that you should look for cheap gifts. So, if you thought about a key chain or a thumb drive, think harder. The gift should be affordable, but not too cheap.
It’s all about creating a connection, and curated gifts are the best way to do that. The easiest method to personalize a gift is to add a short note, but you can put more effort into it. Also, you can choose a gift that relates to the person’s hobby or some quirky personal whim – this is next-level customization.
Whatever you do, don’t create a stockpile of free gifts because they won’t work for everyone. For example, if you get 100 ashtrays, they will be of little use to non-smokers, or if you hand out gift certificates for a local brewery to those who abstain from drinking alcohol.
And on the other extreme, don’t make the gift too personal either. We talk about curated gifts that relate to specific wishes or needs of the house owner, but this doesn’t mean that you should act like you’re their best friend. So, personalize the gift, but don’t make it too personal; otherwise, you risk presenting yourself as intrusive and this can create an opposite effect (no referral for you).
Gifting an experience is trendy at the moment. And you can choose from a wide range of experiences: dinner at a fancy restaurant, cooking class, gym subscription, visit to an art museum or a natural history museum, wine or beer tasting, etc. The alternative is to give consumable gifts like an edible gift basket or personal cosmetics.
Experiences are good, but the one downside to this gift idea is that it’s over in an hour or two and no one can guarantee that the experience will be memorable.
Let’s check specific ideas for real estate marketing gifts to illustrate this.
When you organize an open house event, you can extend gifts to everyone that took the time to visit the house. It’s a low commitment event, and the gift should reflect that.
You can put miscellaneous items in the basket, ones that people generally like: chocolate, cookies, scents, candles, soap etc. Keep in mind that, as with experiences, these small gifts are consumed within a short timeframe and their marketing effect is short-lived.
Choosing a closing gift for homebuyers is easy to do because these people usually need a ton of stuff for their new house anyway. It allows you, as a real estate investor, to gift houseware, decorative pieces, and tools – objects that are used years after the purchase, and hopefully will bring a referral to you down the line. These types of gifts are great for everyone: homemakers, folks who just moved in from someplace else, families who downsize (or up-size), etc. Let’s see some ideas.
Granted, a mat can come from someone who has a personal relationship with the house buyer, but you can also add a marketing twist to it, especially if you inscribe the doormat with a fun greeting to welcome anyone who enters the house.
Since most of us document our daily lives on social media nowadays, it’s expected that the folks who just closed a contract on a new house with you to post a homebuying selfie. Ordering a custom painting of the property, with or without the selfie, is a great way to make the moment memorable. How likely is it that they will throw away a painting of themselves in front of the new house?
It may sound like an expensive idea, but it’s nothing of the sort. You can easily find an online service that can paint a custom painting for you at an affordable price and on a tight schedule.
Do note, we are talking about house buyers here. Don’t make the mistake of giving a painting of a property to house sellers. Needless to say, if the sellers sold the house because of a death in the family (probate), or a divorce, handing them a picture of their former home might harm your relationship with them.
This is another great idea for new homeowners: frame the history of the place they just bought. It can be an old map of the area (as old as possible), an old photograph, or old documents. There are services that can put together documents about the succession of ownership (a chain of custody type of document) and you can frame it, to inspire them to hang it on a wall instead of throwing it in the attic.
The homebuyers will probably keep the gift, and if they hang it in a prominent place, it will definitely spark conversations with house visitors, increasing the chances of a referral for you.
Speaking of conversation starters, a social game is a great example for gift. Now, it takes a particular type of people who enjoy outdoor or indoor group games, and who are young at heart (or have kids) to enjoy social games, but if they fit the profile, you can bet the game will remind them of you.
We are talking about games like Jenga, Yahtzee, Bean bag toss, and the like – anything that provides entertainment for guests when the homeowners throw a backyard barbeque party.
Tech-savvy people are impressed by smart housewares. Gadgets like a robot vacuum cleaner or smart speakers will be appreciated by homeowners who are into the latest smart tech. Also, these smart gadgets are finally available at an affordable price, which was not the case five years ago.
This is a tricky category. Homebuyers need different types of housewares, and friends and family might beat you to the punch with this one. However, there is a wide range of gifts to choose from. You can go for a coffee table item, like an ashtray, kitchen utensil (cheeseboard), or a wine box (they’ll drink the wine but the glasses stay behind).
Does someone refer their friend or family to a real estate investor because they received wine glasses as a closing gift? Probably not, so you’ll have to establish another layer of connection if you want this type of gift to earn you a referral. For example, give a wine box if you’ve discussed wine extensively with the homebuyer. Or give them a set of knives if they are a passionate foodie.
Another way to connect with people is through their pets. The gear house owners use to take care of pets is in their field of view most of the time. Items like a pet bed (or a crate, it depends what kind of pet they have) or pet toys are used long after the house buyer has closed the deal with you.
Alternatively, you can send them a gift voucher or subscription to their favorite pet supplies.
Another idea is to hand them a gift certificate for a free consultation with an interior designer. This is more on the experiential marketing side of things, but it can create a lasting impression of you and your business. You will need to ask the right questions to find out if this type of gift would be welcomed by the buyers.
Also, most house buyers don’t hire interior designers because that’s viewed as an unnecessary expense (regardless of income level). If you give them a free consultation, the gesture will be remembered.
Obviously, the house has to have a garden for this type of closing gift to make sense. A garden stone engraved with the last name of the new house owner not only adds a great personal touch to the deal, but is also more likely to stay in the yard.
If the homebuyers are passionate about landscaping, you can give them a set of gardening tools – things like gloves, pruning shears, a hand trowel, gardening fork, spade, or a hoe. The kit will be a perfect reminder for your real estate business as they complete gardening tasks.
On that note, you can also present a perennial plant (or a tree) to remain behind long after the contract was signed.
You can also hand them a gift certificate for a local florist, a voucher for a free consultation with a landscape designer, or a subscription for a nursery.
This is for the old souls out there. Most of our mail is electronic, but some of us still send letters via the Post office. If you think your clients will appreciate it, create a custom address stamp and use it as a closing gift for house buyers. It establishes a connection between the person who helped you get the house and the very address of the property – you can bet this gift is a keeper.
When people buy a new home, they are hopeful about the future in their new place. Motivated house sellers are usually in distress, and they probably like to forget about the property. That’s not to say that it is inappropriate to extend a closing gift for house sellers, rather, you have to be more careful when you choose the gift.
Whether they sold their house fast because of debts, divorce, or the poor state of the property, you can give them something that reminds them of the transaction, particularly if you helped them get out of dodge in time.
Donations may seem like an unusual closing gift, but if you contribute to a charity they care about, you can melt their hearts. This is perfect for closing a deal on a house in probate.
For example, if the original owner of the property was a vet his whole life, you can send a donation to a shelter for stray dogs or something along those lines. It’s important to donate to a charity of their choice, or to a cause that means a lot to them for the gift to be effective.
I know, we just said that house sellers want to forget about the property they sold. However, you interact at least a half a dozen times with the seller during the process. If you find out that they want to remember their old place due to all the fond memories created there, a piece of the property that they can take with them to their new residence can be a great closing gift for a house seller.
Of course, these are small movable assets. For example, a jar with sand from the yard, or a framed leaf of their favorite tree in the yard, the door-sign, or the door knocker. You have to listen to them to get this one right.
Often, motivated house sellers are on a tight schedule and the whole ordeal (about the sale of the house) is stressful. Once the deal is closed and everything is over with, you can hand them a gift certificate for spa relaxation. It’s experiential marketing at its best, and it comes at a moment that can seal the memory of working with your real estate investing business.
What’s your take on closing gifts in real estate, now that you’ve checked our list of 14 gift ideas? Experiential marketing is not for everyone, but the real estate investing industry is moving toward a market in which relationships play a big role in closing deals. So, it’s not just about using your PPC or direct mail campaign to reach potential leads, rather it’s about building relationships with people both before and after the deal is closed.
It’s a change in perspective. If you see house buyers and house sellers like people (not like leads), and you have a long-term vision for your real estate investing business in mind, then closing gifts (and gifts in general) are a very natural step in establishing a relationship.
As Andrew Dunn put it one of the episodes of our REI Marketing Nerds podcast:
I’m investing in a relationship, and I always tell people this. I’m not a one-year guy. I’m not a one-deal guy. I’m a 40-year guy… And I think about that 20, 30, 40 years of us working together and building something.
To build a long-term relationship with the homeowners who worked with you, you need to maintain contact after you’ve given them a closing gift. For example, you can use social media channels to touch base with them once in a while. Email newsletter is another great way to keep the relationship alive without stressing about forgetting someone, especially if you feature content with home-ownership tips on your blog (for instance, “how to landscape” or “how to save on power bills”).
And, if you want to take the closing gifts for your real estate investing business on another level, you can schedule a gift in advance, for the 5 or 10 year anniversary of the contract. But first, don’t forget to check if the house owners are still living in the same house after all that time.
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