Category Archives: Sellers

Client Knows Best

bfde9ad766297d20f829ded2996ab3c2Selling real estate can be one of the most rewarding careers around. What other profession affords its members so many opportunities to become proficient in a variety of disciplines? Brokers and agents alike often find themselves wearing many hats during the course of a transaction. Aside from being a parent, I cannot think of many jobs that require the level of flexibility and expertise that real estate professionals do. 

I frequently work with first time home buyers. They are my favorite to serve but often require a greater scope of expertise than a seasoned home buyer. As real estate agents, we must be prepared to adapt and deal with a variety of emotions, situations, and circumstances each time we meet a new client.

Keeping abreast of the changes in real estate law and with new ways to stream line business is something most of us do without thinking. Being skilled and informed in these areas is the key to achieving and maintaining a successful real estate business. However, we also need keep in mind the important role that our approach to each client plays and also be mindful of the importance that strong interpersonal skills play when working with people of all types.

Taking steps to learn and understand as much as we can about what makes each individual client tick often makes the difference between a successful close and a lead that drops of the radar. Listening to a client who may be afraid or unsure will go a long way towards them feeling comfortable with their decision to sell their home. 

What approach works for one, will not work for others. The aggressive sales approach often will frighten a new buyer who is in the beginning stages of their journey. Letting the client dictate the pace and rate that information is disseminated is something that we all need to consider. Some clients do not want to be contacted immediately when a lead comes in.  Others call every ten minutes with a question or concern.

Shifting our approach is not easy, but is a critical part of the equation. The range of people we encounter can vary from those who know everything to those who are clueless. 

Being able to add the skill of discernment to successfully meet a client wherever they may be in their process is sometimes more important than having all the right answers about a home’s features or the steps involved with buying and selling a home. Remaining mindful of their needs is a sure fire way to keep buyers and sellers feeling confident in not only our abilities as agents, but in our abilities to relate to them on a personal level.

Agents who understand that the job is equal parts business operations, law, customer service, and psychology will be in an excellent position when their referral business begins to grow. Word about how we interact and our level of patience and understanding will get around. Creating connections with our clients does not mean becoming their therapist, or best friend. That is a completely separate blog.

It means doing everything we can in our power and scope to leave every customer feeling like they are the only one. It means holding their hand, offering guidance as the transaction moves along, and giving a high five at closing when the keys are handed over. Every effort agents make to this end will increase the chances that when they pass along your name to their friends and family it will be done with a smile on their face.

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Changing Seats at the Real Estate Negotiation Table

I have worked with many home buyers over the years and done my fair share of real estate contract negotiations. Many eventually call me when it is time for them to list their home for sale. These repeat customers are the highest form of compliment an agent can receive. When a past buyer contacts an agent to sell their home, it conveys their confidence in my expertise and I successfully earned their trust and built a positive relationship with them. The buyer then becomes the seller.

There are many types of home buyers and sellers. Each specific category brings its own unique perspective when looking to purchase a new home. First time home buyers can sometime require a greater degree of hand holding as they navigate the home buying process for the first time.

They are often unfamiliar with the process and need to feel reassurance as the transaction moves from offer to closing. More seasoned buyers may not need as much information as a first timer, however still need an agent that has a proven track record of negotiating, a keen sense of the market and valuation, and strong communication skills.

For buyers, agents are tasked with ensuring that the buyer’s sales price is as close to market value possible and to facilitate the successful completion of the transaction. For sellers, agents are relied upon to come up with an accurate valuation of market value and to get the home in front of as many potential buyers as they can.

In a real estate transaction, the perception of the buyer is often that they are in a subordinate position. The seller has the final say about what offer they will accept. When a buyer turns into the seller they can often get drunk with power.

I noticed an interesting trend developing when past buyers become sellers. The mindset, perspective, and attitude is definitely influenced by which side of the transaction they are on. How a particular client is as a buyer does not always indicate the kind of seller they will be.

real etsate negotiationsI chuckle when a seller is unwilling to repair something that their buyer has requested and believes that the buyer is being petty or inflexible. Negotiations can go off the rails when ego take over. I often have to remind them of their requests when they were purchasing the home.

When they put the selling hat on they can be offended when a buyer asks for closing costs, even though they received closing assistance when they purchased the home. In fact many of them could not have purchased the home in the first place without the seller concessions.

When a buyer is making an offer they ask for the moon and hope to get a star or two. Buyers feel that sellers should help cover closing costs and accept an offer that may be below market value. Sellers feel that it is not their job to give up any of their profit for the sake of a buyer. Understandably, sellers want to walk away with the most money possible. Round and round it goes. This is the challenge that agents face regardless of which side of the transaction they may be working.

Tips for better real estate contract negotiations.

When the buyer becomes a seller, it is my job to remind them that moderation and compromise are a part of a successful outcome for both parties. Walking a mile in the seller’s shoes may take years for a past buyer to experience. Watching a loyal and satisfied customer experience both sides of a transaction can be frustrating and even amusing at times. The opportunity to see things come full circle is a reminder that walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is one of the most effective and powerful teaching moments in life.

 

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Old School Real Estate

Recently I realized that there is no better way to test the skills and commitment of someone who sells real estate for a living than to work with a customer who does not travel on the information super highway, at all. As real estate professionals, we rely upon technology, the internet, our smart phones and the variety of time savers known as CRM systems on a daily basis. The art of selling real estate is evolving not only for our customers but for us as well. Each month I come across many articles and suggestions about how other Realtors are utilizing the latest Apps, email marketing plans, advertising, or leads management systems. The business model is changing and adapting as more informed buyers and sellers quench their need for information at lightning speed. Social media has become an invaluable tool in staying connected to our sphere of influence and in communicating with the public. These are all wonderful things and greatly enhance our overall productivity on most days, but what happens when your client is 100% unplugged?

This is what I call Old School Real Estate. I have been working with a very lovely man, who happens to be an octogenarian. He sought me out specifically as a result of an old fashioned mass mailing that I grumbled through at the beginning of the year. My reluctance was related to how expensive it seemed at the time and that I did not believe that it would yield any real leads or contacts. I especially questioned my decision as I sat at my dining room table for over 6 hours folding, stuffing and stamping over 1200 envelopes with a personal brochure and a letter. No one in the family would help me, so I was on my own on this one. I was certain that after this I could say that this kind of marketing method was going to be a bust. Come on, it is the age of technology. Who does mass mailings anymore? I came to find out that he had gone into our small office and spoke to my broker and informed him that he was only interested in working with me. I was pleased that the information contained in my mailing made that much of an impression on him. Within moments I quickly found out that he was completely unplugged. No computer, internet, wi-fi, smart phone or even a fax machine. This is a very common situation when working with elderly customers.

I set an appointment, got the listing, brushed off my old school real estate suit and began the work. For this customer, my typical way of operating was not going to work. I have to say, that overall, I prefer this way. The act of selling his home and finding him a new one was one of the most challenging and enjoyable I have had in months. We communicated by phone and I used no less than 12 reams of paper as I printed out listings and disclosures for weeks. Each time I called I was greeted with a “What’s up doc?” and every time we hung up he would tell me “Over and out.” It was sweet. In the end, after sending apologies to the forest that was sacrificed for this sale, we toured a total of 5 homes. He was relying on my judgment in choosing the homes based on what he had expressed as important features. I had to listen more and talk less. I realized that I was his only way to get information. He was a very sharp gentleman and I had to be on my game. I was both pleased and humbled when he said to me, “You done good” at the end of the day. That is a good day as a Realtor if you ask me.

I have noticed that when working with this age demographic things that may cause 90% of younger buyers to voice an objection, i.e “I wanted granite, stainless, open concept”…blah blah blah…are not in play. This generation is concerned with functionality and actually enjoy a home that may be deemed outdated. Wallpaper, border print, mauve walls are just not that big of a deal. Where they may be more laid back in terms of décor or layout the opposite is true when it comes to their expectation of superior customer service, patience and professionalism. In dealing with this transaction I was reminded of the value in returning to the old school way of selling and helping customers buy.

When I was a teen, I helped clean my uncle’s real estate office for extra money. The one image that has forever stuck in my mind was the table that housed the giant machine that was used to input listings. I also remember the room with the 7 inch thick books with listings in them that were the only way an agent knew what was on the market. It was a labor intensive process to sell homes in the “olden days,” as my kids would call it. Real estate sales has come a long way since I was a kid and as a Realtor I am grateful for the role technology and social media play in today’s marketplace. Even though technology is changing how we work, in order to be truly successful we must remember that we can still be “Old School” in our relationships and effort with each customer. There is no substitute for good old fashioned hard work, customer service and listening to our customers. Over and out.

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