Real estate closing gifts are a necessary expense at the end of every real estate transaction. As real estate agents, we know that a past client’s referral is worth its weight in gold. Obviously, the best way to ensure a client is satisfied is to work diligently throughout the entire process. However, as we have all come to know, a classy and unique real estate closing gift can go a long way.
One quick note, my real estate team does not always give our buyers and sellers a closing gift. For example, if a seller is moving out of state we generally do not give them a gift. In other cases, if we have cut our commission or have taken on the listing at a reduced rate, we skip the closing gift. If the clients were referred to us by another agent, we sometimes ask that they chip in on the cost of a gift too.
The Purpose of a Real Estate Closing Gift
The overall goal of a real estate closing gift is to leave behind something that our buyers and sellers will remember us by. In other words, we are giving them a long-term marketing piece. Yes, we are thinking about the future. Therefore, any real estate closing gift we give to a buyer or seller must meet three basic criteria.
- Our gift needs to stand the test of time. This is because we want the gift to still be in the owner’s possession when they need to hire an agent again. As of now, the average homeowner moves ever ten years, and probably a bit longer in our area. Ideally a real estate closing gift will last this long.
- Our gift needs to stay visible, but not be tacky. If our gift is perceived as tasteless, then it will likely be stuffed in a closet or thrown away. An oven mitt would be a great gift for a friend or for a Yankee Swap (for readers who are a fan of The Office), but would not convey professionalism.
- Our gift must be home or real estate related. Everyone could do with a socket set, but an owner will likely forget that it came from our group as it has nothing to do with real estate.
Below are my top 5 best (and worst) gift ideas for sellers and buyers alike. Please note that the referenced prices below are from third-party websites, and therefor are subject to change.
Top 5 BEST Real Estate Closing Gifts
1. Zip Code Pillow ($40) – This is our default closing gift. We love it for a few reasons. First, it is reasonably priced, about $40. The second is that no matter the homes closing price, the gift will not appear tacky or cheap. For example, we have given this gift to new owners of homes priced between a few hundred thousand and three plus million dollars. In many of the homes, the pillow is still being displayed. As an added bonus, this gift is often used in living rooms, bedrooms and family rooms, not bathrooms or garages.
2. Homemade crafts (within reason) $Free – A quality homemade birdhouse, piece of furniture or knitted item can be a great real estate closing gift. But, the important word here is quality. If you browse Etsy and think, “Hey, I can sell my tablecloth here!” then your gift should be appropriate. If your homemade craft looks like something your third-grader would bring home from school, it probably belongs in your home and not your clients.
3. Local art store painting/decor/sculpture $100+ – Artwork is always a classy and unique real estate closing gift, especially with more expensive homes sales. People love art and people love a good story behind said art. A piece of art that is connected to the neighborhood is a win-win.
4. Houseplants $10-$50 – Houseplants are a great gift for a new home. As many buyers come from out of state (and different climates), they often leave their houseplants behind. Make sure you get something that is easy-to-care for so it stands the test of time.
5. Coffee table book – As long as Kramer didn’t make it, a coffee table book usually sits on a table for years. Bonus points if you buy one with photos of your local city or region.
Top 5 WORST Real Estate Closing Gifts
1. Cash $100 – If you want to give cash back to a buyer or seller, simply reduce your commission by the amount you were going to gift them. Ohh, you were only going to give them $100 back on a $16,000 commission? Tacky and cheap!
2. Gift cards $50+ – Gift cards are cash minus freedom. Cash is bad, therefore so are gift cards. However, if you are in a small town and there is one very highly-rated restaurant that new homeowners are more than likely going to go to at some point, then it may not be a terrible idea to turn them onto it with a gift card.
3. Cheap toolkits $50-$100 – When I went to the NAR REALTORS® Conference & Expo 2018, there was a booth offering customizable toolkits. An agent could add their name and photo to the toolkits and then gift them as real estate closing gifts. Here is the problem (and imagine me saying this in Clint Eastwood’s voice from Gran Torino) a good toolkit has many quality tools. And if there is one thing that anyone using a tool hates more than anything else, it is when one of the tools breaks when they are using it. Do you really think you can get a quality toolkit with 15 items for $69? Of course not. And when you buyer is trying to install his or her new bathroom mirror and your screwdriver head breaks, they are going to see your photo on their real estate tool bag. Pass!
4. Wine/alcohol $75 – This is a controversial addition, but I think alcohol is a poor gift. The first reason is that it will not stand the test of time: Two weeks after your closing the bottle with be in the landfill, whether your clients like it or not. The second is that a shockingly high number of Americans are alcoholics. About three years ago we stopped giving alcoholic beverages as a gift for these reasons. As an exception, if your buyer (or seller) and you have discussed your mutual interest in alcohol, then of course consider a good bottle of wine or champagne as a gift. But I doubt you would be reading this article if that were the case.
5. Sports tickets $200+ – Another gift that will be used right away. Good quality tickets are also very expensive, unless you are gifting tickets to minor league teams or in nosebleed seats; in which case cheap out on a Zip Code pillow, not tickets to the Flint Tropics B team.
Factoring in the Sale Price of a Home
One last thing to consider when buying a real estate closing gift is the home’s sale price. A few succulents are not going to cut it on a three million-dollar sale. Also consider how the gift will be perceived by everyone moving into, or out of, the new home.
At the end of the day, it is the thought that counts. My favorite gift of all time is a Leatherman, which is a multi-tool. Correction, a quality multi-tool. A Leatherman cost about $50, and I have used it for the past decade. I received many gifts on that occasion, but the Leatherman has outlasted all of them, and is still useful to this day. In conclusion, think about the future when buying a gift for the present.