BUILDING RAPPORT AT THE TOWN HALL
Any real estate investor who wants to be successful knows that he/she must know their market, sub-market and property(s) better than any of their competition. There are many ways to obtain market information. The internet, local broker(s) and property managers to name a few. But one of the best ways to gather information about a market you are thinking about investing in, is from the local leadership.
No one knows a market like the local Town Hall. Most of the employees have lived there for their entire lives and literally make a living off of their knowledge for the city/town they call home. Assessors can give you up to date, filtered property reports to help streamline your search. Economic development leaders can give you the Master Plan, path of progress and population/job data. Building Inspectors can give you reports and trends for construction growth. The list goes on and on. Working in tandem with a Town Hall can put you head and shoulders above your competition. So why not learn how to get the most out of your relationship with a Town Hall?
I have spent the last decade of my life in the construction business and a large part of my job requires me to work hand in hand with the local Town Halls in order to be successful. I’ve learned a lot over the years about how to work with them and have built many long lasting, productive relationships. People often ask me ‘Ed, I can’t seem to get anyone to respond to me at the Town Hall, how do you do it”?
The truth is, it’s easy. Just follow these 4 tips and you will be well on your way to solidifying a great partnership with your local Town Hall.
#1. Be polite and positive
Most Town Hall employees are on the phone or meeting all day long with unhappy customers. People only want to talk to them when there is a problem. Being polite and positive can go a long way. A “Happy Friday” greeting on a Friday morning or a “I really appreciate you looking into that for me, it’s a huge help” can go a very long way to someone that has just dealt with (5) customers in a row who are complaining about why their building permit isn’t ready for pickup yet.
#2. Follow up but don’t be pushy
Let’s face it, if you are trying to get information on a new project from the local economic development committee or attempting to acquire a property report from the assessor, you are just one of one hundred phone calls/emails that they received that day. It’s very important to follow up, but not be a hound. People like someone who follows up with a friendly reminder. For instance, “Hi Sue, thank you for taking my call yesterday, I just wanted to follow up and see if it would be possible to obtain a copy of the city’s Master Plan today?” If you send an email that reads “Where is the information you promised me!” chances are, your request is getting moved to the bottom of the pile.
#3. Go down to the Town Hall
Better than any phone call or email is simply getting into your car and driving on over to the Town Hall. I know technology is wonderful, but you will always have the most success when you go down to the Town Hall and meet with them in person. It’s easy to ignore a phone call but no one wants to let someone down when they are standing right in front of them. One time, I was in a real rush to obtain a building permit so I could start a construction project and I had a building inspector’s administrator tell me “we are so backed up today that I have a better chance of marrying Tom Brady than issuing you that building permit sweetie”. I drove over there an hour later, asked really nicely and she called the inspector on his personal cell phone who then drove to the Town Hall to issue me my BP. Like I said, in person is always better.
#4. Send em something
Assessors, development directors, building inspectors, everyone likes gifts. If you happen to be in the area of the Town Hall, drop-off some cookies or coffee. If you don’t live in the area send them a platter. Especially if you plan on working in that market for the foreseeable future and you know you are going to need support from the local leadership. If 3 people ask the local assessor for a 50-page property report and 1 of those 3 brings a dozen donuts to the assessor’s office, I don’t have to tell you who is getting that report back first.
About the Author: Michael Sjogren is an active real estate investor and Co-Founder of SNA Captial. He is dedicated to helping people achieve financial freedom to pursue their passions. Get more content from Michael by visiting the SNA Capital blog.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.