‘My home is my castle’: 4 tips for understanding Americans’ unique real estate needs

What we value in US is not the same as in other countries

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a four-part series.

How does marketing to and negotiating with U.S. clients differ from working with global clients? Understanding the difference and adapting your style can dramatically improve your income in 2014.

Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

Global buyers and sellers continue to be a growing segment of the U.S. real estate market. A critical step in serving this market is being able to identify the unique cultural needs of your clients. The next step is to adjust your marketing and negotiation style to fit their cultural background.

The reptilian always wins

Psychologist and marketing specialist Clotaire Rapaille’s research shows that the brainstem, rather than the cortex, has the greatest influence on buying decisions. This area is sometimes known as the reptilian brain. It lacks words, yet it regulates virtually all of your vital functions.

When you can discover what motivates a person’s reptilian brain, you greatly increase the probability of making a sale. As Rapaille puts it, “The reptilian always wins.” In other words, the brain’s desire for food, comfort and other basic needs outweighs the logical decisions made in the cortex.

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Here’s a classic example of how this works: You show your buyers a great home in a great location and they decide it’s not right for them. You then show the same buyers a house that has street noise, needs a substantial number of repairs, and yet the buyers make an offer. The reason? The house reminds them of their favorite house from their childhood.

... When you work with American clients, remember that bigger is better, independence and individuality are core values, and that they want a safe place to retreat from the stress of modern life."

To market more effectively to your U.S. buyers, here are four key tips.

1. Safety matters
According to Rapaille, Americans are extremely concerned about safety. Rapaille’s research shows that the U.S. is a fear-based society. We want safe neighborhoods for our children, security systems in our homes, and plenty of safety features in our vehicles. Consequently, it’s important for you to make your American clients feel safe and secure.

This is especially true for the ultrawealthy. They often will avoid placing their listings on the MLS. Many also refuse to allow interior photos or videos of their properties since they fear burglary and/or kidnapping.

2. ‘Top of the heap’ syndrome
Have you ever wondered why hillside houses are often more expensive than those in low-lying areas? The way the “lizard” brain responds is by wanting to appear bigger and more powerful. Living on top of the hill satisfies this need.

Another excellent example is the widespread popularity of SUVs. These large vehicles allow their drivers to look down on others. This gives the driver the sense of feeling safe, secure and more powerful.

The need for dominance also translates into a need to win at the negotiation table. This is especially important in the U.S. and barter-based countries. The challenge for agents is that they have the same need for dominance and winning. To be more effective when you negotiate, release your need to win. Use powerful closing questions instead.

Here’s how this approach works: First outline the client’s alternatives. The next step is to ask if there is a different alternative that you might have missed. Finally, ask which alternative would work best for them.

For example, assume the seller has countered your buyers higher than they want to pay for a property. You could explain their options in the following way:

“Mr. Buyer, you have three options. First, you can make a new counteroffer at a lower price. Second, you could reject the counteroffer and walk away. Third, you could accept their price but ask for other concessions such as the big-screen TV, refrigerator, and the washer and dryer. Is there any other option that you see? If not, which of these options is right for you?”

This approach allows your clients to feel as if they are in charge. In truth, because you framed the options available to them, you are actually controlling the negotiation.

3. Supersize that, please
Supersizing is part of the American way of life. Big cars, big refrigerators and big garages are considered luxuries in the U.S., but not in most other countries. While people in other countries buy their food fresh each day, Americans want their food pasteurized, wrapped in plastic, and storable for days, weeks or months. This means we need more space in our kitchens, refrigerators and pantries. We also need larger garages for our SUVs.

4. My home is my castle
Due to the stresses of daily life, Americans are looking for ways to escape. A common shift among builders is to promote “the owners’ retreat” as opposed to the master suite. In the luxury market, this could include a home gym, steam room, sauna, or other elements that allow the owner to close the door on the outside world, relax and recharge.

Consequently, when you work with American clients, remember that bigger is better, independence and individuality are core values, and that they want a safe place to retreat from the stress of modern life.

Do you want to know about how to negotiate more effectively with global clients? If so, don’t miss Part 2 on Thursday.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.


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