By Nicole Etter
Ask agents what a key part to their success is and they will most likely say the preferred affiliates in their “little black book,” who agents often depend on.
While the concept is simple, it can take years for an agent to build up a good “book” with quality contacts. “Building your book is an ongoing process; unfortunately, people get removed and new people get inserted in their place,” said Mark Vaccaro, an agent with Century 21 in Tinley Park. “Eventually you find people you can trust. It’s extremely important that I have a good bond with my affiliates. I need to know them on a personal level. I need to be able trust them.”
Vaccaro, who has been an agent since 2003, found out just how valuable his little black book can be on two separate occasions. A few years ago, Vaccaro was working with a younger couple who was looking to purchase a townhouse. After looking at multiple homes, the couple put an offer on one. After several rounds of negotiating, their offer was accepted and the closing was scheduled.
“It was a rainy, cold Friday afternoon late in the day when we were scheduled to close,” Vaccaro said, and everyone was sitting around the table when the lender asked them about the missing termite inspection. “I looked at the seller and told him that it was in the terms of agreement. The seller then crossed his arms and told me, ‘you guys asked for it, we didn’t agree to it.’” Knowing that they couldn’t close without it, Vaccaro called Allen Hotwagner with Data Pest Control in Oak Forest. “I called Allen over there and told him the situation, and he said he would be there in 20 minutes. He completed the inspection and called in the report to the office before 5 p.m., and we were able to close,” said Vaccaro.
On another occasion, Vaccaro had a couple come to him looking for a home. “Like with all new clients, I asked them if they had a lender that they wanted to use, and they had one that was referred to them,” Vaccaro said. “I talked to the lender and he had pulled the appraisal, but after that, I couldn’t reach him. My clients couldn’t reach him either.” With two weeks until closing, Vaccaro went to the mortgage company and was told that the lender had left the company, but the ﬁle had been transferred to another lender. “The lender opened the ﬁle and found nothing had been done except pulling their credit report,” Vaccaro said. He then took the matter into his own hands and told his buyers that he had a lender that they could use. “I called Russ Bonnema of First Mortgage Corporation, and with 10 days until closing, everyone stepped up to the plate. Russ basically dropped everything and got done what needed to be done.”
Vaccaro stressed it’s important for him to know all his affiliates on a personal level – he needs to be able to trust them to do what he asks, and sometimes on short notice. Vaccaro knows Hotwagner from Data Pest Control through a personal friend of his, who is also an attorney, and Century 21 uses First Mortgage Company as an exclusive preferred lender. “If I throw them the impossible, I have to know if they’d be able to do it,” said Vaccaro.
Some agents might expect something in return from the affiliates they refer clients to, but Vaccaro has a different mindset. “While it’s refreshing to know that one hand will wash the other, I don’t expect anything in return. My job as an agent is to provide good quality customer service” – which sometimes means calling on an affiliate for help.