LAS VEGAS — “With all of my objection handlers, it’s really about educating the consumer,” said Anne M. Rubin at a session at One21, Century 21’s conference. “It’s not about giving them what they want.”
She offered 21 common objections that potential clients might offer up, along with responses for each of them.
1. We’re not ready to list yet because we’d like to find a new home first.
What you say: “Let’s figure out what you need. Do you need to sell your current house to purchase a new home?
“If I help you find your dream home before you’ve sold your current house, that offer would be contingent on the sale of your current property. Most sellers don’t want to deal with a contingency, and even if the sellers accept your contingency offer, you’ll have to pay more. Do you see why that’s a weaker negotiating position?
“Also, if you’ve signed a contract to buy a home and then you put your house up for sale, you’re more likely to take less money for your current house because you’ll want to get it sold in a hurry. Do you see how buying before selling could lead you to losing on both ends of the transaction?”
One note: Always end with a question and make sure you’re leaving time for the client to respond. Don’t ever ask a question and then keep talking — wait for a response.
“The reason you end with a question is you don’t want to tell them what to do,” noted Rubin.
“You can’t tell the buyers and sellers what to do; you have to help them understand and get to the answer themselves, so you demonstrate and then you ask them the question.
“And then the hardest thing for all of us is to what? Keep our mouth shut.”
2. We’re interviewing other salespeople and we’d like to think over the decision of listing with you.
What you say: “I’ll call in a day or two to see if you have additional questions. Is there something in my presentation you’d like me to cover in more detail right now?
“I understand this is a big decision — but I know you’re looking to sell quickly. If you sign a listing agreement tonight, I’ll have the time to do an open house this weekend.
“Here’s a thought: We can do the paperwork now, and I’ll postdate it. If you don’t want to work with me, I’ll rip it up. And if you do, we’ll be ready to go.
“I can appreciate that you want to compare real estate agents. Let’s set up a follow-up appointment so I can answer any concerns or questions you may have after you meet with the other agents.”
3. Another agent said they could get us more money.
In this scenario, said Rubin, “you need to have run the stats. It’s not about what you say or what the other agent says; it’s about the market.”
What you say: “Here’s exactly what’s happening in the market. We have X houses on the market right now, and we have X selling per month. That means we have X months of supply for buyers to choose from. You told me you wanted to sell your house in X months — correct?
“With X properties coming on the market every month, not to mention the number of foreclosures and short sales, wouldn’t you agree that accurately pricing the property is important today?
“Your home does have many upgrades; and many of the houses I showed you have similar upgrades. That demonstrates what buyers are willing to pay. Do you have any reason to believe that buyers are offering more than the recent closed sales?
“The MLS data is all the same — but some agents will tell you what they think you want to hear just so they can get the listing because they’re desperate to land your business. What kind of agent do you want to work with?”
4. Even though we like you, you’re the first agent we’ve talked to. We should probably interview others.
What you say: “I understand — your house is probably your most valuable asset and you want to make the best decision. I do have a favor to ask, though: I really believe I can do the best job for you, and I’d like a chance to see if there’s anything else I can do for you before you make a final decision. Would you be willing to meet me again tomorrow after you’ve talked to the other agents?
“What would you like to see in the marketing plan or in the representation of your agent and their company that I didn’t discuss with you?
“What would make it possible for you to make a decision tonight?
“Is there anything you believe another company or agent could do for you that I haven’t offered to do?”
5. Zillow told us our house is worth more than you’re stating.
What you say: “Are you familiar with how Zestimates work?
“Zestimates take the deed recordings in a geographic area to determine the number. That includes refinances and deed transfers from family members, and they don’t include the condition of the home or any upgrades. They can often be too high or too low.
“I will supply you with accurate information from the MLS, which includes interior photos, of the properties that are most likely to be seen by buyers when they are also looking at your house. In addition, I can show you the recent sales in the area that appraisers will look at when they’re determining the value of your house from the buyer’s mortgage company.
“Don’t you want the best information available when you decide how to price your house and when to place it on the market?”
6. We only want to give you a 60-day listing.
What you say: “I’m sorry, but our company policy is X months.
“What concerns you that you are only willing to sign a shorter-than-normal listing contract? Let me review our seller service pledge*, which actually turns the contract into a 10-day contract. Does that make you feel better?”
* The seller service pledge Rubin referenced is specific to Century 21.
7. We decided to save the commission and sell it ourselves.
What you say: “I agree that you can save on commission by selling it yourself — but did you know that today there are X houses for sale and that last month only Y actually sold?
“That’s an X-month supply of houses if no other homes come on the market, and only 2 percent of all houses sell by owner, which means 98 percent of houses listed are sold by real estate agents. Don’t you want more than a 2-percent chance of selling your house?
“Most top agents and ‘A’ buyers** will never look at at an FSBO [for sale by owner], and the buyers who will consider buying a FSBO will want to save the same commission that you’re trying to save. Statistics show that FSBOs sell for almost 10 percent less than houses listed with a professional. That means you could have me market the house and pay my fees — and still walk away from the settlement table with more money in your pocket than you would if you sold on your own. Are you ready to put me to work?”
** You may need to explain the concept of an “‘A” buyer.
8. Let’s list high; we can always come down later.
What you say: “I understand you want to leave room to negotiate, but have you considered the problems this could create?
“Most people won’t even bother looking at properties out of their price range. You’ll have fewer showings and receive fewer offers — and they will be lowball offers.
“The best opportunity to sell your house for the highest and best price is in the first two weeks that it’s on the market. If you price the house according to what you expect to sell it for, from the beginning you will have more showings and could end up with multiple offers.
“In a multiple-offer situation, you will have the opportunity to have buyers bid up to the best possible price. Don’t you want to maximize your selling price?”
9. I have a friend in the business.
What you say: “I hope all my friends are as loyal as you are! But let me ask you a question: Are you serious about selling your house, or just helping your friend get a listing?
“If this is your most expensive asset, don’t you want to choose the best agent and not the agent you’re friends with?
“It’s important to be loyal to your friends, but because your home is probably your most valuable asset, you owe it to yourself to choose the professional who can best market the house and best represent you to get you the highest and best price and terms for your house. Wouldn’t you agree?
“Plus — if you have a problem with your friend’s performance or services, how will you be able to criticize or fire your friend? Who would you rather yell at — me or your friend?
“And then there’s the fact that you might need to reveal more about yourself to your friend than makes you feel comfortable. When you start to negotiate and prepare for the settlement, you’ll be discussing your finances, life, your bottom line and opening up some warts and blemishes in the process. Are you sure you really want to expose that much to your friend?”
10. You haven’t sold any houses in our area.
This is a good opportunity for new agents to shine, suggested Rubin. “Take it away from yourself” and talk about your company. Even a brand new agent probably knows more about buying and selling real estate than the average consumer.
What you say: “That’s a valid concern. The reason to choose me is not just for my knowledge and expertise, but for my company.
“My company has listed and sold many houses in this community. When you sign the marketing agreement with me, you’re signing up with my entire team. You’ll immediately have your property exposed to potential buyers from all over the area — and exposure to potential buyers is the most important thing about selling your home. Wouldn’t you agree?”
11. What do you do to sell homes?
What you say: “I have a 21-point marketing plan in writing.*** Can you show me the other agent’s written marketing plan so that I can compare what we will do to what they have promised to do?
“There are passive agents and active agents. I am an active agent — which means that when you hire me, I will spend my time actively marketing your home to the public, to the agents active in your area and on the internet, where 96 percent of all real estate transactions start.”
*** This 21-point plan is an asset Century 21 provides agents.
12. We will list with you if you reduce your commission.
What you say: “Let me explain a little bit about how the commission works. Think of the total commission as a pie.
“The pie gets cut in half immediately. Half of the pie is offered to the buyer’s agent’s office, while the other half stays with the listing agent’s office. Then those halves get cut again and are shared between the office and the agent.
“The difference in my pocket between 1 percent and 2 percent is very little, so I would have no problem reducing the fee, personally. However: The difference in your pocket can be huge because most agents are motivated by dollars, and with X houses on the market, buyer’s agents are going to show their buyers the houses that offer the greatest commission.
“So if we offer a discounted commission to the other agents, what that means for you is fewer showings and less qualified buyers. That can result in a lower sale price or other issues during the transaction. Do you really think that is worth the perceived savings?”
13. We are not ready; we want to fix the house up first.
What you say: “I think that’s a great idea! Let me come by and walk through the house with you to discuss the items that will be important to consider doing in preparation for selling. I wouldn’t want you to spend money unnecessarily. Would today or tomorrow be best for me to come by?
“That’s a good idea — we want your house to be 100-percent ready to show when it goes on the market so we can maximize its impact. Let’s get the paperwork signed now, and then we can pick a target date for putting it actively on the market. How much time do you think it will take to complete the items we discussed?”
14. I want to wait to buy until mortgage interest rates drop.
What you say: “What is your primary motivation for considering buying a home? How long do you plan on living in the home?
“Real estate truly is a long-term investment with tremendous tax benefits; your home is also the place where you will live life and build memories. We have no way of knowing when or even if interest rates will drop. They are still at one of the lowest points in our history. But the longer you wait, the greater the chances are that rates could go up.
“If we can find the home that meets your personal needs and we can negotiate the best value, why wouldn’t you consider buying now?”
15. I need to talk with my significant other first.
This objection is entirely avoidable, noted Rubin. “Make sure you’re meeting with everybody who needs to be part of the decision making,” she advised.
What you say: “I can understand that; this is an important decision. Would later today or tomorrow be best for me to meet with both of you and answer any questions and review our plan?
“When will you be speaking to your significant other? Let’s set up a time to meet afterward so I can address any questions and concerns.”
16. I don’t like using a Realtor.
There is likely a history here, warns Rubin. “You can’t answer this objection until you understand what the objection really is.”
What you say: “Can you share with me why you aren’t interested in using the services of a real estate professional? What have your past experiences been with real estate agents?
“I understand how you feel — because if I were not in the business and wanted to sell my house, I probably would do the same thing you are doing. However, statistics show that 84 percent of sellers who start out marketing their house on their own end up using an agent when they recognize the benefits of listing with an agent. Would today or tomorrow be best for me to stop by and review those benefits with you?”
17. You are asking questions I don’t feel comfortable answering.
This one likely comes from buyers who haven’t yet been qualified, notes Rubin.
What you say: “I apologize if anything I said made you feel uncomfortable; my intent is to gather information so I can help and guide you through the process and find the right home for your needs. Can you share with me which question made you feel that way and why?
“You probably didn’t intend to answer any questions when you called to learn more about the property — I understand that. Our sellers are assured, though, that we will not just walk anybody through their house, but that we will do our best to confirm who the prospective buyer is and that they have the financial ability to purchase the house.”
18. No other agents have asked me to sign a buyer’s contract.
What you say: “I’ve heard before that agents are willing to allow buyers to believe they are being represented when there is resistance to signing a representation agreement. In our area, though, if there is nothing in writing, an agent is not legally representing you.**** Do you want to work with an agent who’s willing to ignore the law?
“In this market, it’s imperative that you work with the most professional and knowledgeable real estate agent available. I’m one of them. I apologize that others in my profession have not educated you about the law. Don’t you want an agent who’s knowledgeable about the real estate contracts and laws in our area?”
**** Check your local laws — any information should be 100-percent accurate if you are sharing it with a client.
19. I want to look at houses but I don’t want to commit to a specific agent.
What you say: “What’s your concern with making a commitment to a specific agent?
“I can understand that you might be uncomfortable making a commitment to someone you don’t know. Why don’t we make the representation agreement for a short time frame so you have the opportunity to see how we work together?
“Let’s just make the representation agreements specific only to the properties that I show you and give you time to feel comfortable with being represented by me. Will that work?”
20. I am just gathering information for a friend.
Don’t give any information to someone with this objection, suggests Rubin.
What you say: “Your friend is so lucky to have someone willing to do the legwork! Are you going to be involved in the buying decision or participate in the purchase with your friend?
“If not — often the house you call about might not fit your friend’s needs. Can you see why getting some information directly would be advantageous? And your friend’s name is …?
“I have a list of questions that need answering — once I have the information, I will be able to send you a whole list of properties that might work. Would you like to get me the information from your friend, or would it be best to contact your friend directly?”
21. I don’t want to give out my contact information.
What you say: “It sounds like you might have had a problem in the past with giving your information to an agent. Would you mind sharing with me what your concerns are regarding giving out your contact information?
“I can understand that you might be concerned with what could happen to your email address or phone number. Let me share with you what I will do with it and how it will be used.
“May I follow up with you in a couple of days to see if you have questions or need any additional information? What method of contact do you prefer?
“I have a free newsletter that keeps you up to date on the market, interest rates and real estate trends. What email address would be best to send that to?”
One more pro tip from Rubin: “When it’s a seller, you have a house. When it’s a buyer, you have a home. A home is a heart; the house is the head.”