Real estate closing gifts are not a new phenomenon, but sometimes real estate agents aren’t sure what to give. Let’s face it, our clients are all our businesses really have. Showing appreciation is not just polite but critical for keeping and building upon those relationships. Over the years we’ve learned a lot from our many friends in Real Estate, most of whom have built hugely successful practices, and we’d like to pass that wisdom along. Below are some important guidelines and some great ideas for your next closing gift.
How Much To Spend:
We suggest you spend between $40 and $100 on closing gifts. Spend more for big, complicated sales and less for smaller and simpler sales. When my husband and I sold one of our houses over the summer our Realtor gave us a simple, inexpensive, but very thoughtful gift. Our family has worked with this agent for over 20 years and probably bought and sold 20 houses with her. This particular sale was small, simple, and very fast so a small thoughtful closing gift was perfect. She hand-wrote a thank-you note with a $25 pizza gift card and also brought us a soft cooler full of water bottles. Every time we take the cooler to one of our daughter’s swim meets we think of our agent and how she even kept in mind the season when showing us her appreciation. It was a small token but had a big impact – nothing more was necessary.
However, if spending more is in your budget or fits your market better, go for it. We know an agent who spends $100 every time on fancy closing gift baskets and another one who always mails a $50 restaurant gift card and a bouquet of flowers. Both agents do this consistently regardless of the size of the sale. We also know an agent in the luxury market who will take the homeowners (or sellers) out for an expensive dinner to celebrate. Each sale brings in quite a bit of commission, so spending a few hundred dollars and a few hours of his extremely precious time makes sense. Most of the time we see agents spending more money on larger sales or sales that took longer or had more set backs. Whatever you do, don’t go too cheap, especially if the closing gift is generic. Generic gifts are easier to forgive if they’re pricier.
What to Give:
Buying a home, either for the first or umpteenth time, is a deeply personal task for anyone. Be sure that your closing gifts represent not only your personal relationship with your client, but also represent how building a personal relationship with your clients is something you always do. The gift should provide your client with a lasting impression of how much importance you place on your client relationships. Because your clients are your best source of new business, your closing gifts should say: “I know you, I care about you, and I’ll get to know and care about your friends and family just as much.”
Be Genuine and Thoughtful. This one is crucial, and happens long before closing. After all the time you’ve spent with your buyers or sellers, you probably know a lot about them. If they don’t volunteer personal information early on, be sure to ask. Ask about their kids and how they spend their weekends. Are they the indulgent type, or more practical? Religious? Artistic? Are they into wine, coffee, beer, sports? Are they gaga over their pet, or perhaps expecting a new baby? Tailor closing gifts to your client’s personality, stage of life, and preferences. For example, my husband and I are practical people with a bunch of kids, so pizza and a soft cooler resonated. My single, fun-loving sister, however, received gourmet coffee, a funny mug, and an Amazon gift card when she bought her first home, which was perfect.
If you have a good sense for your client’s personality, here are some creative ideas:
Young families: Think about closing gifts that will become part of the household, so you are thought about often, or things that make the hectic business of raising kids a little easier. You could also go the kid angle; parents are really moved when someone goes out of their way to make their kids happy.
- Game Night basket; this is a great idea that we stole from an agent we know. You’ll have to put it together yourself because I’m not aware of a retailer who offers this. Load up a big basket with board games, Pringles, a sixer of IBC, and a gift card for pizza delivery.
- Movie Night basket; this you might actually find online. A few family-friendly DVDs, a bucket of popcorn, and few movie-theater candy boxes.
- Personalized Door Hangers; get Mom and Dad and each kid a personalized nameplate to put on the door to their room. This can be a nice-looking sign or a doorknob hanger they can flip to “Do Not Disturb.” You can wrap them in a gift box and present them with a nice housewarming bouquet.
- Holiday ornaments; select a special ornament for each family member and wrap in a beautiful box. This gift will make a very sweet impression, and perfect if your client is the sentimental type.
Obsessed-with-the-pet People: The fastest way into the heart of people who treat their pets like their children is through… their pets. Pet-related gifts should always be given with something else, like flowers or a restaurant gift card. Write in the Thank-You card how you wanted to get a little something for Fluffy because you know this will be a big adjustment for him.
- A box of gourmet dog treats; some specialty pet stores or online retailers sell cute treats that look so good you’d want to eat it yourself
- A personalized nameplate they can put on a doghouse, if they have one
- A dog or cat bed monogrammed with the pet’s name; this is especially appropriate since they are moving into a new home, and the pet will have their own special place
Expectant parents: If clients have their first baby on the way, this is a great opportunity to personalize your closing gift. Soon-to-be new parents are usually pretty over the moon about their little one, so anything baby related will be a hit. But like with pets, be sure to also give something for the parents or household, even it it’s just flowers. Warning: stay away from baby gifts for clients expecting babies number 3 or 4; for these parents, think of gifts that will help them to relax and unwind.
- Monogrammed baby blanket; before selecting, be sure to ask about the nursery colors and try to find one with a “Home Sweet Home” or “Welcome Home” theme to tie it back to their new house.
- Growth Chart; look online or at Babies R Us for a wall-mounted cloth that records the child’s height over the years. There are some you can stick photos in, and you may be able to have it monogrammed too.
- Don’t get: baby clothes. They will never remember who gave them what outfit because they’ll receive so many, and the baby will outgrow the clothes in about five minutes.
Empty-nesters: If you’re helping an older client whose children grew up long ago or a couple whose last child recently moved out, sentiment and thoughtfulness are probably more important than practicality. Think of gifts that remind your client of the important things in life, or helps a couple reconnect after years of rearing children.
- Romantic evening out; give them a gift card to a nice restaurant with a heartfelt letter expressing how much you hope they enjoy this next chapter of their life together. For the right couple, something fun like a ballroom dancing lesson or couples massage might be appropriate.
- Gardening gift basket; assuming they like gardening, fill a basket with seeds, a colorful book on gardening tips, tools, gloves, and maybe a watering can or lawn ornament. This is doubly appropriate since it relates to homeownership.
- Personalized mantelpiece with a family portrait and picture of the new home; this may be tricky because you need to stealthily get a family portrait. You may find one on your client’s Facebook page, if they have one and shared it with you, or you may need to ask. Simply tell them you’d like to frame a family photo for their new home. You can do a side-by-side of the new house and the family, or have a picture of the old house with the dates they lived in it, the family in the middle, and then the new house with the move in date inscribed below.
Compassionate bleeding hearts: People who live to make a difference are often turned off by flashy presents and sometimes even feel guilty accepting them. You can spot these types by their modest home decor, church involvement, and how often they talk about others.
- Donate to a charity in their name; we got this idea from an agent in Ohio and she says her clients are usually very touched by this. Make sure the charitable cause is something they believe in – or, better yet, a charity or church they are already involved in. Make sure they have a plaque or another physical item to commemorate the donation, and we recommend you also give them a small gift.
- “Adopt” a family (or child) in their name; be sure to get a photo of the family or child being helped, and also make sure they know how much money or what items were given to them on their behalf.
If you really don’t have a sense for the client’s personality, here are our favorite standbys:
- Welcome mat; this can be customized with the family’s last name
- Treat basket; everyone loves a basket of goodies and there are thousands of retailers out there putting together great baskets. Warning: be sure you know about any food allergies, or if your client is vegetarian or vegan, a super health nut, or avoids gluten. If you’re including alcohol or coffee, be sure to first ask if your client partakes.
- Restaurant gift card; all you have to do is ask where they like to eat. You should always accompany a gift card with something tangible, like flowers or a box of cookies.
- Edible Arrangements. Yum! Fork over some extra cash to get them one with lots of chocolate-covered pieces.
A Final Caution: Now that you know what to give, here are a few “Definitely Don’t” gift ideas:
- Cheap branded stuff. You know what I mean. It’s fine if you want to give them a refrigerator magnet or a $2.00 calendar with your face all over it, but stick stuff like that in with the closing documents and also give a real gift.
- Nothing. Bad bad bad. You must give a closing gift.
- Babies. They are cute, but not practical. Plus, I think it’s illegal.
We hope you’ve found this useful! Please share your thoughts and what gifts you give.