Did you sell a home to a prospective buyer this week? No? Did you ask anyone to buy a house this week? Sometimes that’s all it takes to get a deal in the works.

Closing the deal can be a huge barrier in the home-selling process. Agents, especially inexperienced ones, don’t recognize closing signs and don’t know what to say to push the deal to a finish. It’s a good habit to ask buyers the simple question, “Do you want to buy this house?” after every favorable showing. Here are some common buying signals:

  • Lingering on the property

  • Sitting down on the furniture

  • Choosing children’s bedrooms

  • Mentally placing furniture

  • Discussing changes to paint or carpeting colors

  • Taking notes or measurements

  • Becoming protective toward the house or the yard

  • Criticizing the property and then finding ways to defend it

  • Using the word “when” instead of “if”

If buyers demonstrate any of these signs, finish the showing by saying, “Well, folks, what do you think? Do you want to buy it?” If you don’t ask this crucial question, you are actually hampering the buyers’ efforts to buy! They will hem and haw and postpone the uncomfortable moment of decision-making. Reassure your clients that your job isn’t to sell them on any particular home. It’s your job to introduce them to homes that fit their criteria and then help them make the right decision. Once they feel the pressure is off, they will open up and discuss any concerns, which you can then address. This is the beginning of the closing process.

If the prospect mentions the condition or color of the carpet, ask, “If this carpet were replaced with a color and style you liked, would this be a home you would buy?” The same goes for concerns about paint, wallpaper, landscaping, outdated appliances or big repairs. If you know your buyers cannot afford big-ticket fix-its, you can ask, “If the seller agreed to repair the roof, would you buy this house?”

They want to “keep looking”

Supposing you’re seeing buying signals, but your customer just wants to keep looking. Some people are what we call “C”-type, critical/analytical personality types. They love details and aren’t satisfied until they have compared a home they like with every possible option on the market. Lisa Mix, an agent and daughter of Alexis Bolin, who heads up Old South Properties in Pensacola, Fla., said this situation may take a change of game plan. Determine if some feature of the house or the neighborhood is the problem. If it’s the neighborhood, show them another one to see if they would consider looking at homes there. If both the house and the location seem right, you can appeal to the spouse. “The spouse is usually not the same personality type, and we try to let them know that we would be wasting their time and possibly lose a home that’s just right for them if we delay by looking in areas that do not meet their needs,” Mix said.

Handling the “let’s wait for a price reduction” objection

Buyers may tell you, “We like the house, but we just want to wait and see if they will come down in price.” In this case, Mix tells the client, “That is OK with me only if you are not going to be upset or angry with me if the home sells before they lower the price.” This phrasing encourages the buyers to think a little more carefully about the situation, without pressuring them.

The “we want to think it over” stall

Advise the buyers that they may lose the house, explaining there may be someone else writing an offer at that very moment. If that doesn’t work, Mix says this: “If losing this house is OK with you, it’s fine with me. But remember, we have looked at numerous homes and this is the one you want.” Unfortunately, some buyers have to lose their first choice before they realize that stalling is unwise and that you have their best interests at heart in urging them to act quickly.

What to do when they say, “We love it, except….”

You have found your clients the perfect house, but they are worried about the school system or don’t like the noise of a nearby interstate. In this case, sit down and go over the pros and cons. Try to help them evaluate the depth of their concern with questions such as, “How much does background noise bother you?” Discuss any options available, for example, sending the kids to a private school. Ultimately, they have to live there. If they are sure they can’t tolerate a particular feature, you may need to keep looking.

You can avoid some of these challenges by taking adequate time in the initial counseling session to understand the buyers’ needs well. Hold some in-depth conversations with them about the features they have liked in past residences and everything they want in their new home. Ask them to rank features in priority, and be sure they are prepared to make tradeoffs, for instance, a higher price in return for proximity to downtown jobs. Advise clients during this session that if you are able to clearly understand their needs, you will only have to show them five or six houses before finding one they love.

One last tip: Before you hop in the car to show homes, ask your buyers if they have their checkbook, because you might find the right home today!

Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.


What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

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