Your real estate success toolbox is filled with everything from area knowledge, to expertise in negotiating, to skill in writing property descriptions, and much more. If you stop and think about it, you could probably write a long list.
Understanding should be on that list.
This tool is double-sided. It begins with your understanding of your client. It extends to your client’s understanding of the process and the paperwork. When you accomplish understanding on both sides, the end result is usually repeat business and referrals from happy buyers and sellers.
How do you add your own understanding to your real estate success toolbox?
Start by asking questions.
Several months ago I wrote about asking more questions to get to a “yes” when showing homes. The questions I’m talking about today are different. These are to help you gain insight into your clients’ true motivations.
I’m sure you already ask plenty of questions that can be answered with yes or no – but dig deeper. Ask questions that require more in-depth answers. You will, of course, have to adjust your questions to specific circumstances, but for sellers consider things such as:
- Why do you want to sell?
- What are your plans for after the house is sold? Will you relocate here in (city) or will you move to a different community? (Could lead to a discussion about you finding them a new home!)
- How soon do you want to sell – is there a reason for urgency?
- How soon can you have the house ready for photographs? (A good time to discuss staging.)
- How much time or money are you willing to invest to receive top dollar for your house? (This, of course, is if you see needed de-cluttering, cleaning, repairs, or updates.)
- What arrangements will you make for your pets’ safety when the house is shown? Will you take them with you, use pet daycare, or do you have kennel cages for them?
Buyers can be a challenge to understand, because sometimes they aren’t clear on their own motivations. Your questions will cause them to think and consider what they really do want – so you’ll be helping them as well as helping yourself.
Consider questions such as:
- Do you prefer a single level or multi-level home? Why?
- What is your favorite type of floor plan?
- How important are room sizes?
- Do you need an extra room for an office, home gym, crafts, music, or other activity? If so, what?
- What is your favorite time to be outdoors? If appropriate – to use a deck or patio.
- Where do you like to go for recreation?
- Where do you work?
- What other places do you go regularly? Think of family, friends, volunteer facilities, health clubs, dog parks, hiking trails, equestrian facilities, airports, etc.
- If there are children, and if there is a choice – Which school district do you prefer for your children?
You do need some yes and no questions in your real estate success toolbox –
Is there anyone else who will need to give approval before you proceed with a transaction? (That one is for both buyers and sellers. I’ll never forget the man who asked me to hurry up and sell his house before his wife returned from a vacation.)
Also for sellers: Is there anything attached to the house that you want to take with you when you move. If so, what? (Explain about real property, etc. Then recommend replacing those items before the first photographs are taken.)
Think back to times when you’ve thought “I wish I’d known…”
Then use those experiences to add questions to your real estate success toolbox.
Part two of understanding: Making sure buyers and sellers understand.
This means taking time to explain the whole process – all the steps they’ll take from beginning to end. Sometimes, they’ll need to know why certain things are necessary. For instance, some get unduly upset when a lender asks for more and more documentation. They need your assurance that it is normal procedure.
It means stressing the importance of deadlines – and making sure they understand the risk of missing them.
It also means going over every paragraph in a purchase and sales agreement with them, so they understand what each means.
When you’re dealing with multiple offers, it means taking the time to do the math on each offer, so they can see and understand why a lower offer might mean more money in their pockets. Of course they also need to know the bottom line when looking at just one offer.
For buyers, it means making sure they understand the math and know how much money they’ll need at closing. I know that’s the lender’s job, but… I do recall one young couple who found out on the day of closing that needed $2,400 more than expected. Luckily, they had it.
For sellers, it means explaining why it is important for them to get out of the house during showings – and why they must take their pets with them.
For people from some cultures, it means making sure that they realize that once the contract has been signed, the only further negotiation that will happen will be with regard to problems found after an inspection.
Again, think back to past transactions.
Have you ever heard a buyer or seller say: “I didn’t realize…” or “I didn’t know…?” If so, put those items on your checklist to go over with each new buyer or seller.
Setting boundaries is part of understanding…
So many agents have advertised 24/7 service that some buyers and sellers believe that’s how it “should” be.
It isn’t. You do have a life to live outside of real estate.
To avoid misunderstandings, set your boundaries from the start.
- Let them know your working hours.
- Tell them how long they might have to wait for a return call, email, or text so they don’t get mad when your response isn’t instant.
- If you’re going to be away for a few days, tell them, and give them an alternate contact person in case they have an urgent concern.
When you add understanding to your real estate success toolbox, your life will be happier.
You’ll have an easier time finding the right home for buyers. You’ll understand your sellers’ motivation.
And… you won’t be putting out preventable fires, pulling your hair over misunderstandings, or trying to smooth a buyer or seller’s ruffled feathers.
Ask questions courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos.net
Consultation Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net