In this crazy world of real estate, you will encounter people whose choices will blow your mind.

  • As real estate agents, we should never put our clients in a place where they must decide between following our advice or doing what they want.

In this crazy world of real estate, you will encounter people whose choices will blow your mind.

For example, I personally hate a three-level-split. Why anyone would want a living room that sits high above their dining room and hides their kitchen from the rest of the house, I’ll never know.

But what I do know, as a real estate agent, is that hundreds of thousands of people find this floor plan attractive — appealing enough to buy and build these homes.

Another thing that gets me is when I’m on the road between showings and I see a beautiful brand new home that’s grand and glorious with a long driveway and amazing curb appeal — nestled next to a freeway.

Why would anyone choose to build such a luxe and grandeur home with the view of a highway? I don’t get it.

An agent’s job

A great agent understands that his or her own preferences, personal choices and opinions simply don’t matter when it comes to advising a client in a real estate transaction.

A savvy agent will learn to see what motivates each particular client and then work through the process wearing the client’s glasses, in that, the client’s preferences and values become the agent’s durning the transaction.

What do you do when a house has a leaky basement and our buyers are still in love with it? How are we supposed to react when a buyer has been told that a house is severely overpriced, but they want to make a full-price offer anyway?

Many of us — being incredibly well-intentioned — will make the wrong decision here. Trying hard to protect our clients, and our own reputations, we will fight them, kicking and screaming, and do anything we can to keep them from doing whatever dumb thing they want to do.

Think about it: You know you’ve done this with your clients, maybe only with clients who are friends and family — but you’ve done it.

Against all advice

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that people are going to do what they want to do. I recently wrote about how people will flock to sites like Zillow, despite our warnings about bad data and having their information sold to the highest bidder.

People are going to use that odd-ball lending program. And they’re going to build that brilliant home right on top of the busiest railroad tracks in the state.

They will almost always find a way to do what they want to do — no matter what we say.

And in my mind, they should.

Why shouldn’t they be the ones to decide that having a highway view is less important than granite countertops and that basement ball pit for the kiddos?

After all, they are the ones who have to live in their choices and be bound to them for something like 30-years worth of payments.

Confirmation bias

Something I share with my agents all the time is a psychological principle called “confirmation bias.” Essentially, it says that people inherently believe what they believe (not shocking), and they filter all data through that lens.

We all do this.

If I think Mr. President is a great guy, I’ll likely agree with people who like him and think they are intelligent. I’ll l likely view those who criticize as unintelligent, uninformed or just plain blind.

What we think will always color what we hear.

In real estate, this simply means that if a client wants to do something we think is dumb, even if it is dumb, they will filter our advice through their confirmation bias lens.

They will decide whether we are competent in our job, partially based on how we approach their desires.

So if they’ve fallen in love with a floor plan and the only lot they can afford to build has unobstructed views of I-94, and we tell the that it’s a terrible idea, they’re likely to just discredit us or think that we’re pushy.

To them, it might not be a terrible idea based on their goals, hopes and dreams.

Info, not opinions

So what am I suggesting? Should you just shut up and be your clients’ “yes person” throughout the process?

Of course not.

Just be aware that our job is to provide information and professional opinions. Our job is not to provide personal opinions or to force decisions.

It’s critical that we provide our clients the information they need about a home, like the fact that a home that shares a gas station parking lot might be a tough sell later.

But if, with this information in tow, they decide to buy anyway, let them!

As real estate agents, we should never put our clients in a place where they must decide between following our advice or doing what they want. Reread that last sentence please. Memorize it.

Absolutely give clients all the facts, but then let them make their own decisions. It’s their house after all.

Matt Ashworth is the broker/owner of Ashworth Real Estate in the Twin Cities Metro area. Follow him on Facebook.

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