As an accomplished real estate agent, you’re so experienced at buying and selling homes that you probably feel like you could do it in your sleep. Even though each transaction has its nuances, the more you do, the more you begin to recognize the similarities and also realize that whatever roadblocks or challenges come your way – you’ve seen it before and you have GOT this.
Your client? Not so much. In fact, many buyers and sellers enter the home-buying process a little shell-shocked. After all, for a newbie, the process is complicated and the reticence is compounded by the fact that this involves a lot of money. That’s where the best real estate agents realize that no matter how confident they are in their skill to handle the entire experience, they need to bring their clients along with them.
We talked to some savvy real estate agents about how they make both buyers and sellers feel more empowered, understood and confident throughout the process so that it’s a great experience for all. “I believe that my role as a counselor is equally important as my role as a real estate expert to create a positive outcome for the client,” says Chuck Vosburgh, an agent at NextHome Gulf to Bay in Petersburg, Florida.
Here is some additional insight that can help agents put themselves in their clients’ shoes.
Understand Their Motivation
Clients want to feel as though they are really heard and understood, and much of that starts with knowing what they are looking for and how you can help them.
Before a buyer even sets foot in a house, REALTOR® Fiona Dogan with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Westchester County, New York, sits down with the client to understand why they are buying a home, which helps her customize the experience. For example, she’ll ask such questions as: Are they looking to downsize? Do they want to be near top-ranked schools? Is waterfront proximity important? What’s their budget? “Anyone can open the door and show someone a house; a professional REALTOR® will delve into the psychology of the buyer with a heart-to-heart conversation to understand their end goal, which helps them tailor the real estate search,” she says.
The same philosophy applies for a seller, where you want to give advice that resonates with their personal circumstances, says Vosburgh.“It’s tone deaf to tell a seller to remodel the kitchen so they can increase the price by an extra X percent if they don’t have the capital to do it,” he says. “Make sure they feel like you understand their situation so they don’t decide you are only out for your commission.
Walk Them Through The Entire Process
You know what comes next throughout the transaction, but they don’t, points out Melissa Okabe, a real estate agent with Alta Properties in Gardena, California. “As agents, we do transactions so frequently that it’s easy to forget that this is all brand-new to our clients,” she points out.
Therefore, she recommends making them feel empowered by taking the time to explain all steps of the transaction and paperwork thoroughly, including all the terms that are second nature for you, from the language on the purchase agreement to mortgage options to what contingencies they should consider. Also, make sure to provide insight into the timelines regarding inspections, escrow, closing, etc. so they have realistic expectations about how long each step will take.
Show You Know Your Stuff
Demonstrating your market knowledge puts clients at ease, says Chase Michels with Baird & Warner in Downers Grove, Illinois.“When working with a buyer or seller, knowing everything about other properties that are on the market is imperative so we can address other listings in the area and help them sift through them without seeing every single one.”
It also gives you a bead on current pricing so you can offer sage advice. “Present a professional, well-researched comparative market report on the first meeting, recommends Dolly Hertz, licensed associate real estate broker with Engel & Völkers New York Real Estate, LLC..“I include printed reports and brochures on the brokerage, as well as on my experience, including testimonials from clients.”
Clients feel confident when you share other important market knowledge, including being conversant about market trends in your area. Andrew Sanchez, a REALTOR® with Wardley Real Estate in Las Vegas, Nevada, creates a buyer’s packet with everything they need to know to buy real estate in Vegas, including specific contingencies that protect buyers in his market.
Remember That The “Little Things” Count; In Fact, They Are Really The “Big Things”
Returning to the fact that your client is potentially doing this for the first time, you have to show that they are your No. 1 priority in order for them to feel understood. And that starts with creating an air of professionalism so they know they can count on you, says Hertz.Always be on time – forthe first meeting and every meeting.
Then respond to every email, text and phone call as soon as you can, ideally within 10 minutes. “Even if I don’t have a complete answer right away, I let my clients know I have received their message and am prioritizing it,” Hertz says. “I keep them updated every few hours until I have a full response. They know I’m in their court, and it alleviates unnecessary anxiety.” Proactive updates are best. “They should never be calling me to ask where they stand, and I remind them that no question is ever too small.”
Build Assurance By Getting Them The Answers They Need
Karen Parnes, owner and managing broker at NextHome Your Way in Rockville, Maryland, was walking a client through homes when the client told her that she’d visited that particular property before, but still had questions. “She mentioned she had asked her previous agent to find out how old the roof was, and she never heard back from him. I texted the listing agent while we were still at the property and by the time we finished the tour, I already had an answer for her.” That quick response assures clients they are a priority.
Help Them Make Connections
Hertz maintainsa list of professionals she has personally worked withover the years to help her clients with whatever they might need, whether it’s a real estate attorney, inspector, contractor, stager, landscaper, plumber, electrician or roofer. Then she goes the extra step and makes sure she isknowledgeable about services in the neighborhood, from the best dry cleaner and supermarket delivery option to schools and babysitters. That local knowledge underscores to clients that she is working for them – and doing everything she can to make the transition go well.
The bottom line? Letting clients know that you are on their side. “I’m an interpreter, a liaison, a therapist, an investigator, an expeditor, and ultimately a jack-of-all-trades problem solver,” says Michelle Mumoli, REALTOR® and CEO of The Mumoli Group in Jersey City, New Jersey. And often that’s what it takes to help clients feel confidence and ownership in the process.
What steps do you take to empower your clients? Let us know in the comments below.
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