It’s finally spring (A snowstorm here or there notwithstanding) and its time to shake off the slow pace of winter and get active. Watching things come alive and grow got me thinking about gardens…planting seeds…cultivation.

You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with real estate?” Stay with me here, there are a few parallels.

This is a relationship business. Don’t underestimate the importance of creating a strong relationship with a broker in your market. This is how you’ll see deals that haven’t yet hit the marketplace yet. Another great source for deals are your potential property managers. They’re in tune with what’s happening with local owners and often will tell you the things that the brokers may “forget” to mention. Personally, I don’t ever seriously consider any property without a local property manager’s input.

Broker relationships need to be cultivated. If a broker sends you a deal that doesn’t fit your parameters make sure you follow up and thank him for the opportunity while reminding him of the specifics that you’re really focusing on. When you visit properties with him be sure you follow up with a thank you and possibly a small token of appreciation. Small gestures can go a long way. I once bought lunch for a broker and I was shocked to hear from him that over his 30-year career no one else had ever done that for him. This was a few years ago and I still get deals from him.

Staying in touch with brokers keeps you fresh in their mind. As I had mentioned earlier, this is how you will see deals that haven’t yet come to market. Even if a deal that you’re interested in goes to someone else, be proactive. Reach out to your broker to find out how the deal is progressing. The broker that you create a relationship with will be the one that calls you when the deal heads south, affording you a great opportunity. Deals fall through all the time and if you can be situated to capitalize, you’re ahead of the game. Brokers want to close as much as anyone involved in transaction. If you show them that you’re a real buyer they’ll often go to bat for you with the seller to get the deal done.

Now get out there and do some gardening!