Who thought giving a closing gift would be so complicated? Things like when to give a closing gift can be an “it depends” situation. Don’t worry, my realtor friends, I have you covered!
Learn about realtor closing gift etiquette such as the best time to give a closing gift (and not to), and special touches to make your closing gift to clients extra-special.
As a real estate agent, you work through tough decisions with clients, and support them on the emotional roller coaster of home buying/selling. Their success is your success, you become a team.
To learn more about the advantages and psychology to giving closing gifts, refer to “Why Realtors Give Closing Gifts.”
Table of Contents
- Etiquette: when not to give a closing gift
- Closing gift mistakes to avoid
- How much to spend on a closing gift?
- When to give the closing gift
- What if it was a fast close?
- What if the seller moved out of state?
- Can realtors give gifts to clients who offer referrals?
- Commercial property closing gifts
Etiquette: when not to give a closing gift
Let’s keep our common sense in check. Closing gifts are something that is associated with the buyer and seller process across multiple scenarios.
Realtors offer valuable services besides buying and selling houses, such as locating tenants for leasing, and finding apartments for rent. These types of services are very transactional and even ongoing.
This is where the gift-giving ends. True, there will always be those unique situations that may warrant an extra-special gesture of thanks. Rule of thumb, if it’s business as usual, refrain from giving a gift.
Don’t miss our MEGA LIST of realtor closing gift ideas!
Closing gift mistakes to avoid
One carelessly given closing gift can undo all the trust you have built with your clients. Mistakes happen, but at least reduce the chances by avoiding these closing gifts:
- sweets if there is a diabetic in the family
- alcohol when a buyer or seller is an alcoholic/recovering alcoholic
- alcohol when a peson doesn’t drink alcohol
- foods that trigger allergies
- gifts that require too much responsibility (like a pet)
- a one-sided gift that appeals to one person, but not the other
- gifts the client has to assemble
- cheesy gift cards or coupons
- scents/candles (scents can be very unique to each individual)
- humourous gifts (that’s reserved for close friends)
- gifts that are too personal, leaving the clients feeling awkward
- gifts that are excessive or overly expensive, again making the client feel uncomfortable
- cheap gifts that end up cheapening the whole experience
- glaringly branded gifts with your advertsing, like t-shirts, pens, mugs
This is not to say that you can’t do a “rinse, wash, and repeat” gift. Why not continue to give a closing gift that has proved to be popular? Every experienced real estate agent has their go-to gifts, but they’re ready to pivot if a better idea comes along.
Lastly, gifts are very subjective. What you think is a great gift may seem insensitive to your clients. As an agent, you need to pick up on clients’ nonverbal clues, get feedback from other agents, and grow your own gift giving skills.
How much to spend on a closing gift?
A common question new realtors ask is how much to spend on a closing gift. Realtors spend anywhere from 1%-5% of their total commission of the transaction on a closing gift.
Put another way, budgets can land between $20-$200. The ceiling can even creep up to $500 on multi-million dollar properties. Consider these variables:
- the value of the house (one buyer spends 150k and another spends 600k – different gifts are in order)
- is this a repeat customer?
- is this a home purchase, luxury real estate, or a commercial property purchase?
Different gifts for different situations makes sense. Closing gift etiquette suggests that the budget is not excessive but the gift thoughful.
Believe it or not, spending more money does not necessarily result in higher customer satisfaction. It really is the thought that counts.
Closing gifts are simply token gifts. They are a gift of appreciation, not a major gift. Some situations may not even warrant a gift.
I’m not going to get into tax deductions on closing gifts. It’s common knowledge that if you put your name/brand on the gift, it will qualify as a tax deduction, and unbranded gifts, not as much. Don’t put so much weight on the tax-deductible amount, as the thought behind the gift.
When to give the closing gift
It would make sense that the closing gift comes when you hand the keys over to the client. So when is the best time to give the closing gift? One realtor shuddered when another agent presented a gift in front of the seller after the papers were signed. Awkward!
As stated previously, the agent should meet new homeowners at the house when the keys are handed over (see celebrating the home closing). The best option is to always give the gift in person, if able to.
Don’t forget the Realtor Thank-You Note!
Client Giant suggests the idea of giving gifts throughout the length of the transaction. This could take the form of bringing clients coffee, or a plate of gourmet cookies when you head out to look at houses. Nice!
Realtors will get a feel when a closing gift is warranted. It may not be as grand as a closing gift for a home buyer – and the situation is different. The client is busy packing, adding to the pile is not very considerate. Paying for a cup of coffee or a meal while you discuss business may be the right move.
What if it was a fast close?
How do you gift if you barely know the client? Your clients could have bought the first house they saw and the entire process went so quickly that you couldn’t get a good feel for them as individuals. This makes trying to customize a gift almost impossible.
Buying something local, sharing the “best kept secrets” of the region, relying on crowd-friendly favorites such as restaurants, food products, or experiences will be the way to go. This gift angle gives you a chance to be the first one to introduce them about the best-loved highlights of the area.
What if the seller moved out of state?
Having a seller move out of state means that closing gifts will need to be sent instead of hand-delivered. Make an effort to know when they will be home so you can arrange a meal delivery or bouquet of flowers. Getting a gift card to a home improvement store in their next city is also an option.
As mentioned earlier, it can be as simple as taking the client out for coffee if a person-to-person meeting is still possible.
Can realtors give gifts to clients who offer referrals?
Gifts for referrals should never fall into an exchange of goods for economic benefit to the realtor. This can be seen as payment for the referral, and that, my friends, is crossing into illegal territory.
A small, token gift, seen simply for the thank you that it is, is acceptable. One guideline to follow: the gift should not be considered or discussed in advance. Thank your client from the heart, and your sincerity will speak volumes about your character.
Commercial property closing gifts
EvaBot, and AI-powered platform for sales teams, mentioned that “For commercial property, you need to gift the company and group of employees.” Hmm, interesting. I’m writing this whole article from the perspective of a home owner, but I’ve got plenty of ideas to chip in here, too.
In past employment at a nonprofit, I’ve had the good fortune to partake in a gifted platter of treats. We would, on occasion, get these treats from thoughtful donors. How cool is that? Of course the employees swarmed the break room!
Think of what an impression you would leave waltzing in with a cheese and meat tray, a basket of snacks, or a yummy treat platter or dessert assortment! How about a a catered lunch for the office on move-in? You, my friend, have just multiplied your marketing reach 10x over.
Of course, every situation is different. A plant with 100 employees might not be so doable, especially if they have limited knowledge of the business transaction. You can still give a closing gift, but it may only be targeted to the decision makers of the company.
Another variation includes the small business owner. Are they starting a new business? Maybe a small bakery or pet store? This is an entire topic for another article, and I can’t wait to share it with you!