By Anand Patel
One of the most helpful pieces of advice I received several years ago that I continually advise my agents to do today is to recap, in writing, your conversations with clients, attorneys, title companies, appraisers, fellow agents – any and all parties involved in your transactions. These details will help clarify the conversation you have, leaving no confusion about who said what. It will help cover your “assets” if things go sour in a transaction, and it will aide you in solidifying and growing your relationships.
Here’s what I recommend:
Take detailed notes of your phone calls. I keep a notebook by me at the office at all times and also take it on the road with me. When I’m at the office, if I’m on the phone with you, I probably have you on my hands free set and am taking notes at the same time. If taking a call on the road, once I get to my destination I’ll jot down some notes in my notepad (or sometimes in Evernote on my iPad or iPhone).
Things to write down:
- Name of the person(s) you spoke with
- Purpose of the call
- What points were discussed
- Any action items
- Who is going to do what?
FOLLOW UP BY E-MAIL
Recap your phone calls or in-person meetings with an e-mail. By sending a brief e-mail summarizing your call or meeting, both parties are clear on what was discussed and the other party understands your interpretations of the conversations. I really stress this point with my agents who work short sales. Real estate agents are usually the first scapegoats if things go sour in a transaction and you want to be sure you protect yourself by documenting everything. Particularly with short sales, you don’t want to be construed as practicing law – your notes can help you. An example e-mail may include: “Mr. Seller, as per our conversation a few moments ago, although the bank approved Mr. Buyer’s short sale offer on your property, please be sure to consult your CPA regarding any tax implications and your attorney regarding potential deficiency judgments.”
Taking detailed notes and recapping all conversations with e-mails saved a client of mine when I represented them in a $3.2 million commercial deal, which involved an unscrupulous listing agent. This same method also helped another client of mine who was taken to arbitration by a seller in a high-end residential transaction. In both instances we prevailed due to the documentation. This habit will help you with any transaction, regardless of size and dollar value.
Taking detailed notes isn’t just a great way to clarify your conversations and protect yourself, it is also a great way to build your relationships and grow your sphere of influence. When you speak with a prospect or former client, document key points such as birthdays, hobbies, and charities they may support in your contact management system (CMS). A great book (it’s a quick read) on this is Harvey Mackay’s Network Builder.
Have your detailed notes and/or recap e-mails helped you or your clients in the past? We’d love hear your stories below in the comments!
Anand Patel is a broker licensed in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi with Elite REO Services and Elite Premier Properties. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa; Facebook: www.facebook.com/livingelite; LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1 or on the Web at www.anandsblog.com.