Here’s the reality. When I started in real estate, I took several different approaches.
I’d meet with people who were in financial problems. Maybe they were facing foreclosure, or they were behind on their property taxes.
I gave them a completely free consultation on how to avoid foreclosure. I’d talk to them for 30 minutes or an hour. Sometimes, I got a listing. Sometimes, I didn’t. Everybody told me I was crazy to do stuff like this.
Then, when I really got aggressive with FSBOs about two years ago, I started offering them free professional-quality pictures of their house.
Whenever I did, I got a really good return on investment. I ended up taking pictures of four different houses. I got two listings. It took about 40 minutes of my time and resulted in a pretty good return on investment.
There’s a psychological law that says that when you offer someone assistance — whether you offer them free pictures of their house, or give advice to help them resolve their property tax debt — they’re likely to offer you something in return.
Eighty percent of the time, these people still have to sell their homes. And most of the time, when they do relist, I’m the one they choose to list the house
A university professor named Robert Cialdini wrote a book, Influence, where he talks about the law of reciprocity.
“There is an obligation to give, an obligation to receive, and an obligation to repay.”
This law is so powerful that people actually risk harm for it. In the book, he talks about a German WWI soldier who was instructed to crawl to the enemy’s side and capture another soldier for questioning.
He crawls over to the other side and finds a soldier to capture. This soldier is sitting by himself, eating some food. He jumps into the trench, surprises the soldier, gets him to hand over his weapons. Then, the soldier he was about ready to capture does something interesting: He offers him a bite of his food.
Let’s just imagine you’re a soldier. You’ve been ordered by your commander to crawl across enemy lines, capture a soldier, and bring him back for questioning. If you don’t come back, your general is going to come down on you. You could be called a traitor and thrown in jail.
What would you do?
Because the other soldier offered him food, the German let him go, crawled back to his side, and had to face the consequences of failure.
What’s my point? If the law of reciprocity can save a hard-nose soldier from being taken prisoner, it can also help you get more listings.
Every once in a while, people might take advantage of you. They’ll take your pictures and give you nothing in return. I’ve offered free consultations to people that were behind on their property taxes and never heard from them again. But the listings you DO get make up for these unscrupulous people.
But don’t just take it from me. In the next chapter, you’ll hear from an agent who put the Law of Reciprocity into action.