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Lifestyle checklist reveals what homebuyers really want

Determining emotional needs the key to showing right inventory

Your prospects tell you they want a 2,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home for around $250,000. It must be near good schools on the east side of town. You show them five homes over two days that meet their requirements. They show little interest.

Does this sound familiar?

It seems like you get all of the qualified but indecisive prospects, right? Are buyers lying to you?

Not at all.

The issue is not that they are not buying. The issue is they don’t want to see anything you showed them a second time.

We are talking about one of the biggest reasons agents leave the business. Is it because they don’t know how to sell? No stats back me up here, but I believe it is because agents don’t show the right inventory.

There is only one reason prospects do not want to see a home the second time: They have not seen a home they can picture themselves living in that satisfies their emotional needs, like convenience, safety, fun, pleasure, and pride of ownership.

Don’t get down on your ability to sell. It is not about your selling skills — it is about your showing selection.

How many times have you had a call or email like this: "We would like to see the home again that you showed us last week. I don’t remember the address, but it is the one where we could watch sunsets from our kitchen window."

You show it to them a second time and they buy it, or they choose between it and a second one you showed them. It could be the one with the fireplace in the bedroom, or near the bus stop, or whatever.

To these buyers, "location, location, location" also includes a "kitchen sunset."

Why didn’t the buyers tell you this earlier? Why didn’t you ask earlier?

In other words, you never thought to ask how the buyers would like the home sited, or facing.

Here’s the real issue: If a backyard sunset is one of the "critical few" wants, why would this home be the only one of five you showed them that had a kitchen-view sunset?

Multiple listing service data provides invaluable data. But it cannot provide the most important information you need to make a sale — the prospective buyers’ feelings.

We become so focused on their ability to pay and their urgency to buy that we overlook what they are willing to buy.

The question is not, "What you are going to show your prospects?" The question is, "What are you going to show them that they will probably buy?" If you cannot answer that question for sure, why waste your time and theirs?

Here’s a fun way to build trust, to better qualify your prospects, and to hear what the couple discusses about what is important to each of them, in front of you.

The next time you are qualifying your prospects, work with a "lifestyle checklist."

On this list, put the words "sunrise," "sunset," "fireplace," "backyard," "porch," "bus stop," "trees," and other items related to your location. Ask them to rate the words as "important," "very important," or "not important."

Have some fun with the discussions. At the same time you will be learning what they will buy, not just what you can show them.

Listen intently for the points on which the couple disagrees. One thinks having trees is very important. She thinks convenience to school is more important.

As you go through this exercise, you are doing a very important thing: You are talking in terms of their interests. You are building rapport and commonality while focusing on their emotional needs.

When you complete the exercise, review your understanding of their needs, then ask one critical question, before you develop your showing schedule: "Based on what we have discussed, do you believe I understand your needs and your wants?"

If they say "yes," they have just given you permission to sell them, and have told you precisely what they will purchase.

David Fletcher, a licensed real estate broker and lifetime achiever, is founder of EMentoru, a company dedicated to helping real estate agents and homebuilders help each other make sales. Contact him by phone or text at 407- 234-2349, or by email at

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