• Be adaptable to the way clients want to search for their homes.
  • When they request to see certain listings and expressly say they don't want to see others, don't hijack the day.
  • Buyers are more and more willing to do their homework, and they need and want your expertise when they have questions.

Years ago, the average homebuyer used an agent to handle the entire purchase process — show homes based on set criteria, execute and negotiate the purchase contract and lead the charge through closing day.

Today, buyers are hiring agents as a partner in the process while embracing all available research tools online to be knowledgeable about what they want.

Consumers want expert guidance from someone who will keep their best interest in mind and ensure the process runs smoothly, but they also want to feel in control of the process and be able to bring their ideas to the table.

It would be understandable for experienced agents to balk at this shift in the agent-consumer relationship, but those who adapt to the ever-changing environment will reap the rewards.

For those unsure how to make the transition, here are some tips on how to work well with today’s educated buyers:

Stay open-minded

Be adaptable to the way they want to search for their home, even if it’s not the way you prefer to do it.

For example, millennials are comfortable researching and narrowing down their options online before ever stepping foot inside a home.

Don’t fret; rather, help them do it the right way. Point them to the listing websites that are most accurate and discuss the various red flags to watch out for on listings up front.

Realize they will have already seen listings online — potentially on competitors’ websites.

Stay positive and guide them without criticizing the others. This will set a strong foundation for the working relationship.

Hear and truly listen

When they request to see certain listings and expressly say they don’t want to see others, don’t hijack the day by peppering in your other recommendations.

You can always expand the search later if their listings don’t work out. When they have specific must-haves and deal breakers, don’t try to downplay or talk them out of their preferences, though you can and should help them see a home’s potential.

Pay close attention when they speak, ask thoughtful questions and make every effort to show you understand what they are saying.

Be prepared to talk details

Buyers are more and more willing to do their homework and understand the ins and outs of homebuying, and they need and want your expertise when they have questions.

Be ready to explain each part of the process in great detail, and be sure to tailor your explanation per client, based on their level of understanding and how deep they want to dive.

The key is thinking ahead of time about how to explain the complex issues using easy-to-understand terms without talking down to them or using industry jargon.

Consumers have a choice who they select as their agent, and following these steps will help increase the likelihood they refer others to you and they return when they’re ready for their next transaction.

Kacy Bell is the 2015 president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors and works at Keller Williams. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Email Kacy Bell.

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