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Gift giving in the real estate world

by TYLER WILSON/Special to The Press
| December 13, 2020 1:00 AM

When people fantasize about winning the lottery, you often hear them say they’ll buy a home for (insert beloved friend or family member here). It’s a rarity in real life, of course, so in the real estate world, it’s probably more prudent to scale down those holiday gift-giving expectations.

Not to go too far on a tangent, but not even magical beings buy houses for other people. In both film versions of “Miracle on 34th Street,” for example, Santa merely facilitates the purchase of a home. He’s not conjuring the house out of thin air, nor is he maxing out the limit on his Visa Platinum-tinsel card.

Anyway, gift giving in real estate comes in many forms, including various stipulations that become elements in a formal contract. Buyers, sellers and agents often “gift” closing costs in order to sweeten an offer, or there’s money, appliances or repairs exchanged to facilitate a sale. Sure, contracts and negotiations don’t seem very festive at face value, but it is interesting to think about how these forms of “giving” became so etched into the industry.

Closing gifts from agents are also a longtime custom for agents. They can be as simple as a gift certificate or something much more specific to the agent-customer relationship. It’s a nice gesture, of course, but it serves as a means of cementing a positive experience that may also lead to future business and referrals.

If agents are ever in need of a good idea for closing gifts, consider some of the options from an article earlier this year on The Close, an educational and motivational website for real estate agents.

Their No. 1 suggestion to gift a seller is a custom house history poster or book, which can serve as a memento of the home they’ve just sold (you can also gift actual pieces of a home — like some slice of old wallpaper or a piece of the door frame marked with a kiddo’s height at various ages). This type of gift isn’t always appropriate, obviously. People probably don’t care much about a piece of wallpaper from their 2019-built house, or agents may not have that kind of friendly relationship with buyers. Anyway, you can check out the entire list at Theclose.com/real-estate-closing-gifts/

Looking for a gift for someone who just bought a home? Assume they’ve just spent a BUNCH of money and may not be budgeting for luxurious items or experiences. In these cases, a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or spa services can be a thoughtful gesture.

While it isn’t particularly original, champagne or a nice bottle of wine also works for buyers, sellers, agents and probably also random folks on the street. In this case, however, you do want to make sure the person is 1. A drinker and 2. Not an alcoholic.

New homeowners also probably have several projects to do their new place, be it repairs, renovations or decor needs. It may seem impersonal, but a gift certificate to a home improvement shop or a big box store offers options that cater to different needs and styles.

Yes, it seems wrong for a local newspaper to suggest a gift certificate to a big box store (even though, honestly, everybody shops at Target), so here’s your perfunctory suggestion to “shop local” when you can. The more you know the person, the better you might be able to find a more specific gift from a local vendor. I’m just saying… everyone needs light bulbs and whatnot, and in a pandemic year, it’s nice to have essentials on-hand to eliminate superfluous excursions.

Whatever gift you come up with for that buyer, seller or agent in your life, make sure it comes with a personal, written form of appreciation. Yes, a simple and sincere “Thank You” is always needed, even if the person in question says it doesn’t matter to them. Words of affirmation and encouragement go a long, long way in maintaining valuable and lasting relationships.

Telling someone how much they mean to you, even in a professional sense (limit your declarations of romantic love in these situations), is what the holiday season is all about, and in 2020, we all need a little more kindness.

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Let us know about standout neighborhoods and developments that we may feature in an upcoming Neighborhood of the Week. Contact Tyler Wilson at twilson@cdapress.com.

Real Estate Agents, take advantage of Neighborhood of the Week by sending in your suggestions for featured areas and new developments, including sites outside the normal confines of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden.

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Photo by TYLER WILSON

You may not be able to buy someone a house, but there's plenty of opportunity to select thoughtful gifts this holiday season for buyers, sellers, agents and clients.