About nine or ten years ago, when I was still pretty new in the real estate business, I had a couple of luxury listings that I was advertising in some national magazines (Robb Report, DuPont Registy, etc.). I wrote a post back in late September about some of the odd characters that came out of the woodwork from these ads:
During that time, I was also contacted by a man and woman who claimed to be representing a famous actress who was interested in purchasing property here in the Austin area. Sandra Bullock was already living here, so I knew that it wasn't her, and I think they actually confirmed that much, but they wouldn't tell me who it was.
Needless to say, I was skeptical about it, since I had been burned by a series of "wealthy" clients around that same time.
I offered to sign a confidentiality agreement if they would divulge who they were working on behalf of, but they declined. The woman stated, "Believe me, you will know who it is when she comes to your office to give you a check for the property."
Since I was in my late 20's at the time, this was certainly a tantalizing prospect. Who could it be? At the time, I think our best guesses were Ashley Judd and Drew Barrymore based on the limited information we had available to us.
I was simply too suspicious of their behavior, so I never ended up meeting with them in person. Also, the types of properties that they were interested in seeing were very high-end and required days of advance notice in order to set up appointments.
Later, I was speaking with a friend of mine who remains one of the top agents in Austin. She is someone that I have tremendous respect for, and she has been in the business for about 30 years now. I asked her about this situation because I was interested to hear her "take" on this. I am glad that I thought to ask, because it was a lesson that I haven't ever forgotten.
She told me, "Jason, even though these people sound a little odd, I would go ahead and meet with them. If nothing comes from it, you can at least see some interesting inventory that you might have missed out on."
This was insight that I needed to hear, and it has always served me well. Even if the client is not serious, we can always learn about a new area just by showing them around a little bit.
Another related technique that I have taught my agents is to just meet with any client who wants to look (if they are pre-approved, of course), even if the purchase is months away. This gives you an opportunity to develop an early rapport with them, and they will remember your effort on their behalf when the time is right. Also, you should weigh what you were planning to do against the idea of meeting with a real prospective client. It is likely the best use of your time. It beats sitting in a cubicle! Look at that poor guy to the right!
So, even though I didn't get a chance to sell a home to a starlet, I learned a valuable lesson from a helpful friend. Maybe this will help you, too.