By Ross Wilson

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you get an internet inquiry, it’s a little different from a phone call in that at least at the outset, you have to rely solely on a variation of a phone script.

Digital messages are notoriously misinterpreted because of the intrinsically cold anonymity. It’s for almost impossible to emote in print, to inject warmth, charm and natural magnetism – your charisma – particularly someone with deficient writing skills. However, the intent is the same; trade information. Because there’s no voice inflection or casual remarks, no smiles thrown into the mix, choose your words and phrases carefully. You may have one fleeting opportunity to connect. But look on the bright side – you got a request for more information. And unlike a possibly anonymous phone caller, by default, you got their contact information – their email address – and sometimes their name.

If they gave you some contact info like a phone number or last name and where roughly they live, prior to contacting them, learn a little about them. For example, perform a reverse phone number search and determine if their home is for sale or sold. Check the sales history of their property. Knowledge is power. If they ask for a reply by phone or email, call them. The odds of establishing a personal connection with your digital voice are far greater than with anonymous digital ink.

In a written reply, skip the boasting verbosity. Be courteous and succinct. Introduce yourself and thank them for their inquiry. Carefully answer all their questions and, as with a phone inquiry, follow each of their questions with your own. Don’t be too aggressive or personal. Keep your questions general and few. Since many people don’t read much beyond restaurant menus, a long reply may not even be read past the first answer to their most pressing question. Offer your help with any other properties, no matter with whom those homes are listed. You could provide a little information about yourself, adding that you’re there for them, and include a link to other comparable listings. Offer to call or meet with them for a personal, free, no-obligation consultation. Here’s a sample reply:

Dear Jane:

Thank you for your email inquiry. Here is the information you were seeking. (List their questions, followed by direct answers in a straightforward point-form or narrative format. If you’ve created an e-brochure with photos, include it as a link or attachment in a popular file format. Or offer to mail it to them, for which you’d need their postal address.) Due to a hectic schedule and ample showing activity, I have no open house planned. However, at your convenience, I would be pleased to arrange a private viewing for you. This home has numerous quality features, so many that a quick inspection during an open house would not do it justice nor provide you with all the information necessary to make an informed decision.

It’s situated on a pie-shaped lot on a quiet court located in the heritage district of Small Town. Is this the focus area of your home search? It’s a short walk to the theatre, schools, public transit, a wonderful park system and several fine restaurants and shops. If you wish, I have an extensive colour brochure that I could mail to you (or it’s attached). Would you be interested in receiving it?

I realize you might only be at the information gathering stage and not yet ready to share information about yourself or your needs. Be assured that I will respect your online privacy. Aside from one follow-up contact to confirm successful receipt of this message, I will only reply to your further requests.

If and when you are ready to explore your real estate needs, I will be pleased to help. Thanks for your interest. I hope to hear from you again soon.

Offer your complimentary search service. To personalize your message, attach a head-shot to your signature. A link to your website where they can view a virtual tour or more photos is also a good idea. If they don’t reply within a day or so, contact them, preferably by phone, to ask if they received your message and if you answered their questions. If they reply, you’re in the game. If not, at least you got off the bench to bat.


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