Until recently, I wasn’t a homeowner. I hadn’t experienced the process of searching for a home, deciding on a fair offer or wading through lengthy, wordy home inspection reports for myself.
However, that has never stopped me from helping plenty of clients navigate the process as a trusted adviser in my real estate career. After all, my job as a real estate agent is to find ready, willing and able buyers and sellers and help them achieve their real estate goals.
So how do you successfully sell a home to others or help buyers find the perfect place when you haven’t been in their shoes yourself?
What do you do when you can’t relate on a personal level?
It’s actually pretty easy because it isn’t about you at all. It’s all about your clients.
The key to successfully guiding others through the process is realizing that, at the end of the day, you aren’t really selling or buying houses at all. You’re helping someone achieve his or her dream, the idea of home — a concept that means different things to different people.
You don’t have to own a home, or necessarily even want to own a home, to understand this and successfully build a business accordingly.
In my experience, all of our clients want the same thing: a safe, comfortable place to call home. Sometimes it’s a house, others a condo or co-op. Home isn’t so much about the four walls you live in — it’s about the life you build inside those walls.
When guiding your clients through the homebuying or selling process, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
1. Understand what’s important to your clients
When you do that, it’s easy to help them. You don’t have to like what they like or believe what they believe, you just have to listen and help them navigate the steps toward achieving their homeownership goals.
The easiest way to do that is to sit with them for what is commonly known as a buyer consultation and get to know them on a personal level. Find out what their dream home looks like. Learn what’s non-negotiable on their wish list or key to their lifestyle and needs.
2. Consider that for some clients, buying a home is a strategic decision
Many people feel that buying a home is the best return on a very large investment. They believe that a home purchase is a very important step in their future financial wellbeing and that buying property will provide stability and financial gains down the road.
As an agent, understand that it does not matter if you agree. What matters is that you understand the driving force behind their home purchase, and then use that information to help your clients achieve their goals.
3. Know the local market
It’s up to you to interpret local market trends and provide helpful guidance that takes it into consideration.
Even if you haven’t purchased a home yourself, as a real estate professional you are plugged into the local broker community and nuances of the market in a way that can help clients make the best decisions for what they ultimately want and need.
Don’t underestimate this expertise or stop cultivating it.
4. Have the money talk
Introduce a mortgage broker to the conversation early on to help determine what a client’s financials look like:
- How much he or she can qualify for?
- What programs are available?
- How much money is on-hand for a down payment and repairs?
Going into the process with clear expectations on the financial front ensures the client is looking at properties in his or her price range and maintaining realistic expectations.
There’s nothing more devastating than falling in love with something you can’t make work within your budget, and our job is to help our clients focus on what they can afford to ensure that never happens.
5. Share the ins and outs of local life
This is the fun stuff. Introduce them to the local lifestyle. When your clients tell you that they want to sample the local music scene, it’s your job to point them in the right direction.
Do they have dogs? Tell them where the local dog park is and where the doggie boutique can be found. Know where the restaurants are or where the banks, schools, daycares, hospitals and grocery stores can be found? These are the details that can help a buyer really begin to envision life in a new home (and help you close the deal).
Helping someone find a home is all about local market knowledge, listening to your clients and navigating the process on their behalf. Even if you haven’t personally had the experience of buying a home, arming yourself with the necessary information (and always asking the right questions) will go a long way toward a successful homebuying experience for both you and your clients!
Tiffany Kjellander is the president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate PorchLight Properties.