Today’s homebuyers and sellers are working harder and have less free time than ever before. As a result, realtors have taken to offering “concierge services” as a way to assist busy buyers and sellers with real estate-related needs—and endear themselves to their clients. Concierge services connect clients with vetted vendors and ease the process of moving into or out of a house. They include everything from help with preclosing services like title insurance to post-close needs like painting and utility setup. Offering these services shows that “a firm is willing to go the extra mile to help every client have the most positive outcome and least stressful experience when going through the home buying and selling process,” according to Joe Houlihan, co-owner of Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate Services in Bronxville, a leader of the trend here in Westchester.
Like many realtors embracing the concierge model, Houlihan & O’Malley has seen a nice business boost from the service. Here, he shares some details on the trend.
What does it costs your company to provide these services? What’s the payback for the firm?
Joe Houlihan of Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate Services, Inc.
Houlihan: It doesn’t cost us much monetarily to provide these services, but it takes a lot of time and effort. Things don’t just ‘happen’ for our clients—we make them happen. Here’s an example: We had a home sale in Yonkers that happened to have excess land on it. With the sellers consent, Houlihan & O’Malley was able to get the proper permits and zoning to make it an extra building lot. We went through a lot of work, but in the end we had two assets, and there were two sales instead of just one. In the end, the client made an extra $150,000 by creating the additional building lot.
How has offering concierge services helped you grow your business?
Offering concierge services has really boosted Houlihan & O’Malley’s reputation from seller to seller (and buyer to buyer)—and referrals drive a lot of business. Financially, I would estimate it has generated about 25 percent of our referrals.
What types of concierge services do you offer to your homebuyers?
Think about anything you would need when you move into a house—an electrician, a plumber, handyman, painter, gardener. We have a tried and true list of service providers that we are happy to share with our clients. It’s made up of companies that are dependable and highly recommended by our staff and former clients.
What concierge services seem to be most helpful to sellers?
Probably the most important service we can offer is arranging for a pre-inspection of your home. It is very important for the seller to hire an inspector to go through his or her house before putting it on the market. This inspection is specifically for the seller so there are no unwanted surprises when the buyer comes to inspect your house. I like to say it’s the best insurance policy you can get to protect you from the consequences of buyer’s remorse.