Hello Agents. Do you ever feel like you're a free tour guide? I've heard so many agents complain that they've shown a buyer over a dozen homes and then the buyer decides not to buy anything at all. Let's stop the madness, and start having some fun!
First things first. Be safe. Before you even think of meeting a customer and showing them property, make sure you have looked them up. Too many scams going around. Use a company like BeenVerified to gain information about prospects before letting them into your car and taking them to a vacant house. Okay, with that out of the way, let's jump into the fun part of working with buyers.
Tip #1 - Set Clear Boundaries
As a real estate professional running your own business, an independent contractor/agent, you need to decide, and be clear, about how you run and operate your business. I know a lot of newer agents will do whatever it takes to get and keep a client, because they NEED the business. When you allow your needs to dictate your actions, you will certainly do whatever you think you have to do to satisfy those needs. Trust me, this is not the healthiest way to start or run your business. It will put food on the table for a day or two, but this business model will not sustain you. You will not be a happy camper, and you will soon burn out, and say the hell with real estate. You will want to go get a job at a big box store for less stress and health benefits. But you won't be happy.
I got into real estate because I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. This makes me feel good, it makes me happy. Even if you got into real estate just for the money, you know the wonderful feeling you get when you've closed a deal, did a great job, and your clients give you a great review. This makes you feel good, and I know it makes you happy too.
The need to please has to be balanced! To get your needs met without depleting your life force energy requires getting clear and setting clear boundaries. When you honor your boundaries, you will gain the respect of your clients. Those who cannot respect your boundaries, are NOT your clients. Save yourself. Refer them out to someone else, collect your referral fee and move on.
What are some of the boundaries you need to have in place?
Do you allow customers to ride with you, or follow you in their vehicle?
Do you allow smoking, children and pets in your car?
What are your service areas and are you willing to drive further?
Are you available 24/7 or do you have family time and strict hours of operation?
Those are just a few of the boundaries you may want to have in place. You may think of others. Now that you are clear, it's up to you to manage your customer's expectations. They don't know what to expect of you if you don't tell them. When I get complaints from an agent that they've shown too many houses all over the world and back, my first question is, "did you let your customer know how you work?" Most of the time the answer is, "no, but..." No buts, you can't blame your customers for your lack of clarity or communication.
Tip #2 - Help Your Client Get Clear
I can't tell you how many times I've met with a couple and they want different things. He wants a "house" with a rustic/farm feel and a man cave. She wants a more modern "home" that's warm yet trendy, near a shopping center. Yes, sometimes, opposites do attract, and as a Realtor, your job is to help them find a middle ground. Here's what I do:
I ask them if they truly want to live together. You may laugh, but it's a valid question. It brings awareness to the fact that if they want to live together, they will need to make some compromises.
Next, I ask them to each grab a piece of paper and a pen. I ask that they draw a line down the middle to create two columns. In the first column make a list of "must haves" and in the second column make a list of "deal breakers."
Then I have them hand over their list to their partner to review in silence. When they have each had a moment to digest what's truly important to the other, I ask what type of homes would they like to see. They may need to discuss this a bit, but they do get on the same page before we go shopping. This simple exercise will save tons of time.
Offer to be the mediator if needed. Keep in mind that buyers moving to the mountains from a big city who want a view, may not be aware of what the view will cost them in terms of travel time and winter weather.
This exercise works well for any buyer who is not clear about what they want in a home, or a location. Just because someone is single does not mean they are clear. A single person can have you running all over town just like a married couple whose trying to figure out what they want along the way.
Now it's time to show them homes from the internet to get an even clearer picture of what would work for them. Once they have picked out a few homes to see, it's time to go shopping and have some fun! But wait.... there's more!
"The power of clarity makes the road to success much smoother and a lot shorter – Coach Wanda Marie.
Tip #3 - Educate Your Clients
If you have a new client, education them. Unless you're working with an investor, it does not matter if your clients have purchased a home in the past. Educate them on the buying process as well as the current market.
You don't need a fancy powerpoint presentation. It's nice if you do, but you don't "need" one. You just need to explain the buying process in simple terms, and what's happening in the current market (buyer's market, seller's market). This is once again, managing client expectations.
Let them know if you will show them up to 3 homes a day or more. After viewing 3 homes, most people start forgetting the details of the first home. Confused people don't buy. Avoid confusion by not overwhelming your customers. Even if they want to see 10 houses in a weekend, because they are visiting from out-of-town, make sure they are serious buyers before you schedule 10 showings. Are they pre-qualified?
Let them know that sellers are asked to leave their homes in order for them to preview their property. This is an inconvenience to sellers and the listing agent, so we hate canceling a showing at the last minute unless the house is vacant.
Let them know that many sellers have cameras in their home, so buyers should keep their comments to themselves until after they exit the home.
Let them know that sellers typically expect a non-refundable due diligence fee up front when they put in an offer.
Now, you are clear, your clients are clear, they know what to expect - it's time to go SHOPPING!!!!
Tip #4 - Have Fun!
The more informed your buyers are, the more fun you will have taking them shopping, looking at the different homes, comparing notes, etc. All of my buyers receive a folder with a printed copy of the listings we will be seeing that day. On the back of the listing sheet I print what I call a Property Score Sheet. At the top, it says rate this property from 1 to 10 with 10 being I'm ready to move in! Then there are two columns, the first is to list what you liked most about the property, and the second column is to list what was a dealbreaker. I also make my own notes for each property, without sharing my thoughts with the client at that time.
After a day of showings, it's not unusual that my clients will ask if I'd like to grab a bite with them. If I don't have other plans, I'm happy to break bread together. This is the time where we all sit back, relax over a glass of wine, and compare notes. I will share my notes and my thoughts only after hearing theirs. It's always a fun and productive day when you're working with the right people toward a common goal.
Tip #5 - Close the Deal
Because your clients are clear about what they want, ready, willing and able to buy, you have only had to show them 2 or 3 homes before they make a decision to purchase. You have saved them a lot of time and energy so they are excited and ready to move! Your job now, is to educate them on the process from contract to close. This is where stress and high emotions enter the game. This is where you will truly earn that great review.
If you ever feel like you're an unpaid tour guide, showing too many homes, it simply means there's a lack of clarity or communication. You just need to stop and start over. Let your clients know you all need to regroup and begin again. For a buyer that is clear and focused, they will buy after seeing 2 or 3 homes. For a buyer that is not clear, they will typically make a decision after seeing about 8 homes. That's too many and too much wasted time. However, some agents will end up showing many more than 8 homes if they don't stop and regroup.
Finally, make sure you're working with the right people so everyone is having fun. Real estate transactions are stressful enough, you must work with only those clients where it's a good fit for you, and you are a good fit for them. Enjoy the process!