Although Realtors sometimes choose to work exclusively with buyers or exclusively with sellers, the expert Realtor certainly knows how to work both sides of the equation. To work with either side effectively, you need to employ some very different client management techniques.
To begin with, there is one huge similarity between buyers and sellers: they are both under a great deal of stress. In either transaction, a large amount of money is at stake. The seller wants the most he can get, and the buyer wants the perfect home at the lowest possible price. Instant anxiety–which translates into the need for you to be both efficient and empathetic. Much head-patting and hand-holding may be involved.
The differences in mindset between buyers and sellers may be a little harder to pinpoint. Let’s look at how you can manage both buyer and seller concerns for positive outcomes.
When a client decides to sell their home, they often interview several Realtors from different firms to determine which one will suit them best. They want a Realtor who is a great marketer. They want to avoid low ball offers. They hope for lots of showings, and ultimately lots of qualified buyers. As a Realtor and potential listing agent, you need to manage expectations when the client calls. Here’s how to do that:
- Know your market
- Be a realist
- Show your creative side
Know your market. When the phone rings, be ready with answers. Don’t frustrate a potential seller by telling her you have to “check the computer” and call her back. Have a good feel for comparables in the general area. You should also look for an opening to share your qualifications with the client, including your sales results for the last six to twelve months, your listing-to-sales ratio and any other positives you have to offer.
Be a realist. Do NOT be guilty of telling the client what you think he wants to hear. Practically every seller on the planet thinks his home is worth more than it really is. If you suggest a listing price that’s well above market in order to get the listing, both you and the client will be the losers. You also need to be realistic about the property itself. Most homes are not in “show” condition when the seller calls. Accentuating the positive is a good way to start, but you need to coach the client in eliminating the negative as well. The best way to do this is with a standard “Getting Ready to Show” handout sheet as part of your package. Include things like decluttering countertops, cleaning out closets, and how to spruce up the front of the house for better curb appeal.
Show your creative side. You should have a general marketing plan in writing, which can be customized to suit each client’s circumstances. This will include your Internet marketing strategy, MLS listing procedure, video tours, broker and public open house plans. Case histories of marketing plans for comparable properties are a big plus.
Unlike the seller, the buyer often stumbles upon the Realtor almost by accident. This usually happens because they are surfing the Internet looking for a particular type of property and they come across your listing. The buyer is making a big investment. He or she wants to avoid buyer’s remorse at all costs. Here’s how you can make that happen:
- Know your market
- Be an educator
- Make them feel at home
Know your market. The buyer’s point of view about the market is quite different from the seller’s. You are the matchmaker. Start with the client’s wish list and clearly understand both their “have to haves” and their “nice to haves.” Then match that up with homes you’ve already previewed in the area. Perhaps they’ve spotted a great house on the Internet, but you know it backs up to a busy street and they want a quiet neighborhood. You can save a lot of frustration by steering the buyer away from homes that aren’t suitable.
Be an educator. There are a lot of first-time buyers in the market today. And even experienced clients don’t understand all the fine points of the buying process. Be prepared to walk them step by step through the process, including the loan qualification and application, the home inspection, and the closing. Be reassuring about those bumps in the road that are bound to happen.
Make them feel at home. Buyers aren’t just purchasing a house, they are buying into a community—your community. You need to be a combination of Welcome Wagon and Chamber of Commerce. Let them in on little secrets of everyday life, like which coffee house has the best cinnamon rolls or where the new skate park is located. Be prepared with referrals to painters, dog sitters, and gardeners.
It all boils down to relationships. Whether you are wearing your listing agent hat or your buyer’s agent hat, make it your goal to meet each client where they are and to be there for them until the transaction is complete.