As a wave of new investors begins to buy real estate at auction, educating them on what to expect becomes more important than ever. Robert Behrend, senior vice president of customer engagement at Auction.com, explains how his company is making communication with buyers and sellers a top priority.

HousingWire: How is Auction.com’s approach to disposition different from a traditional disposition strategy?  What is Auction.com’s solution to disposition?

BehrendRobert Behrend: Our solution to disposition centers on a holistic strategy which centralizes the use of an online transactional platform, asset management services, and engagement with local real estate agents into one unified place. 

Our approach is to the take the expansive reach of our online transactional platform and partner with the expertise of the REO asset management company along with the local market intelligence from the real estate agent community. As a result, this provides for a more streamlined and optimized disposition strategy.

We are the nation’s leading online real estate marketplace and have invested significantly in servicing and educating buyers. An example of this continued investment is our Customer Engagement team, which works to meet the needs of prospective and returning buyers.

The team delivers a multitude of services including customer service for buyers of distressed assets, guiding high value buyers through the VIP team and educating all buyers on properties and the auction process. The Customer Engagement team’s work provides ample resources and partnerships to build a healthy ecosystem for both sellers and buyers to “Bid with Confidence, Win with Confidence and Close with Confidence.”

HW: What does each of the Customer Engagement Team’s responsibilities entail? And how do they help buyers and sellers?

RB: Our Customer Engagement team works to deliver the best results for both the asset buyers and sellers. Within our Customer Engagement team, Customer Care, the customer service arm, gains valuable insights through buyer feedback, which allows us to improve our strategies, technology or other processes that help buyers achieve their real estate goals.

In any given month, Customer Care fields over 50,000 in-bound calls, makes over 8,000 outbound calls, and coordinates upwards of 10,000 chats and emails from buyers with feedback that is valuable for us to know and share with sellers.

Additionally, Customer Engagement’s VIP buyer team helps 1,200 of the top buying customers, who purchase multiple properties during any given month or year, find the best properties that match their portfolios. Through this approach, we not only help buyers, but also gain ground-level insight around the environment of the local market, property conditions, and more, which we pass along to our sellers in order to help them optimize their strategy and support their decision process with the goal to ensure positive return or outcome.

VIP buyers can range from individuals with lines of bank credit, to private equity firms and institutional buyers, however, each possesses a presence in their local communities.

We believe each interaction with buyers is an opportunity to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information available. This education is not only carried-out through our inbound calls and communications, but also through outreach with our buyers to build awareness and promote properties that may interest them.

This outreach is paired with our “Go Beyond the Question” strategy, which gives us a much more in-depth understanding of what buyers are looking for in properties. Real estate investors, especially newer entrants into the market, are excited to invest, but need information and guidance to help execute a well-formed strategy that ultimately allows them to bid and hopefully win assets in our marketplace.

HW: What is Auction.com’s “Go Beyond the Question” strategy? And how does it help both buyers and sellers?

RB: The “Go Beyond the Question” strategy drives additional questions back to the buyer to help shape their understanding of both the particular property they are interested in as well as the process itself. So whether it’s how the bidding will take place on the site, or how they should consider approaching a valuation model, to considerations when setting their own max bid amount, we work to help make them as “auction ready” as possible so they can be successful.

We are seeing sizeable growth among burgeoning investors who have aspirations of real estate investment and as you might expect, those newer entrants into the market have questions, yet don’t have the experience to know which questions they should be asking about an asset.

We are constantly communicating with buyers, whether face-to-face at a foreclosure sale or concierge event or through inbound requests from buyers that are consistently bidding on – and hopefully winning – assets in our marketplace.

Buying investment through a foreclosure auction or online sale is quite different from the traditional purchase of an investment property and requires buyers to operate in a manner where we look to provide them with as much information as we can and set their expectations in order for them to be successful during the auction event.

The mantra of “Going Beyond the Question” continues to drive our team every day as we strive to help buyers achieve their real estate goals and ‘Bid with Confidence.’