Eyeball to Eyeball: Know Your Client Image

Eyeball to Eyeball: Know Your Client


The real estate and mortgage brokerage industry is about relationships. Meeting new people, growing new connections, maintaining current relationships and ensuring that the developing business relationships are positive ones.

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, an old-fashioned face-to-face sit down between a client and an industry professional is increasingly uncommon. The question that should be asked, though, is can you really provide competent service to a client or find out what their true needs are if you never look them in the eyes and truly get to know them?

A client may not feel comfortable giving you their personal information if the entire basis of your relationship with them has been through electronic communications. Sure, technology – particularly electronic communications – has improved service to clients in many ways, but the flipside to that is the recognition that there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting and a firm handshake to win your client’s trust.

Meeting and getting to know your clients is fundamental to professionalism and providing competent service. Without face-to-face, personal contact, how can you truly confirm identity? Furthermore, how can you determine a client’s needs, wants and limits, all of which help to shape the services you provide? Without that meeting, it can be more difficult to ensure your role is
clearly understood and, in an agency relationship, knowing the client, asking the right questions and fulfilling fiduciary obligations are all very closely linked. Without that meeting, how do you build the client’s trust and confidence in you?

Getting to know a client on a personal level may also increase the likelihood that client will work with you again and, they may be more likely to refer their friends and family to you. It’s highly unlikely a client will want to work with again if their only contact with you is through your email address or text messages.

Please, never believe electronic communications can replace a personal meeting. Someone once said, “I understand you much more clearly when I can see your eyes.”

Not only is face-to-face time the best way to ensure you get to know your clients and really serve their best interests, it also adds a certain measure of protection for the industry professional.

RECA recently reviewed a mortgage professional’s conduct in a case that involved mortgage fraud, falsified documents and identity theft. That situation arose, partly from, the fact the client and the mortgage professional never met face-to-face. A real estate professional served as the go-between
between the individual seeking a mortgage and the mortgage professional.

The mortgage professional relied on electronic communications, and a trusted business relationship she had previously enjoyed with the real estate industry professional who made the referral. The fake “client” applied for a mortgage through the mortgage professional disappeared completely before any questions could be asked of her.

This particular fraudster may not have been caught or identified if there had been a personal meeting, but we are confident it would have been helpful and the criminal activities may have been identified much sooner.

What steps do you take to ensure you really know your client?