Every homebuyer has unique wants and needs in mind when shopping for a home, and prioritizing those wants and needs will always call for the assistance of an experienced real estate agent with local expertise. Here are five tips for having the needs versus wants conversation with homebuyers.

Every homebuyer has unique wants and needs in mind when shopping for a home, and prioritizing those wants and needs will always call for the assistance of an experienced real estate agent with local expertise.

Here are five ways real estate agents can help buyers focus only on what they need right now.

1.  Create a list, and reference it often

A checklist

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The possibility of owning a home and affording all the items on a wish list could lead to internal renegotiation of wants and needs. Once a buyer realizes the actual cost of a home, including other fees and expenses, the list of wants usually diminishes.

When touring open houses, buyers will go into a home instantly knowing the changes needed to make it acceptable to their standards. The list of things could be costly and even seem out of reach.

Ask buyers to identify the top five things they need in a home before touring. Reminding them of their top five will keep them on track and stop them from getting distracted by things that could improve later.

Suggest important choices such as location, space, favorite room, garage or fenced in yard as their focus.

Revisit the top five list after each tour, and soon you might end up with a top three.

2. Consider commuter costs

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For the working class, location may be the No. 1 factor when commuting to work. Buyers might consider the different transportation options.

We all know purchasing a car normally involves a car payment, insurance, gas and maintenance. The cost of driving versus taking public transportation could influence their budget decision. Choosing to take public transportation could help the buyer achieve a better buying budget.

In a highly populated area, public transportation could even reduce the time spent in traffic, affording more time at home rather than sitting in a car. For some, public transportation may not be an option, but it’s an option that is often ignored if never considered or brought to the attention of the buyer.

Finding a home that is less expensive is great, but the costs associated with commuting could hurt their budget tremendously. Calculating mileage and rush hour traffic might help buyers realize the more expensive home might be the better deal in the long run.

3. Suggest alternative options

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Sometimes buyers can be too optimistic. Watching too much HGTV can motivate buyers into thinking certain home repairs or additions are possible when they aren’t (at least not at the moment).

Many homebuyers are not equipped to fulfill the arduous tasks of home improvement, and remaining realistic is normally a concern with DIY bingers as finance options might not allow for the purchase of a fixer-upper; most lenders require a home to be move-in ready as buyers are unable to do repairs before the close of a purchase.

Alternatively, buyers can opt to ignore immediate cosmetic updates until after the close of the sale. Suggesting the possibility of getting estimates for the smallest cosmetic repair or update could seal the deal.

4. Build trust through honest communication

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It’s important that buyers don’t take over the search and that they always allow the agent to offer insight. And a good agent will make sure their buyers get the most for their money.

Have a face-to-face discussion about where they are in their life’s milestones. Get to know them by asking questions related to current lifestyle and future lifestyle aspirations. You might have suggestions beyond the main focus and bring light to options that could help save money over time.

These suggestions should be presented in a conversation that makes buyers feel comfortable and confident in their agent’s expertise.

Give your clients enough information to make decisions based on facts. Having these types of conversations can only bring forth in-depth exploration of possibilities and might redefine your buyers’ initial standards, perspectives and attitudes.

5. Suggest ways to research their potential investment

An older couple talking to a broker

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Having local expertise means understanding the direction of a community, including future developments and infrastructure changes.

Normally, buyers moving into a new area are not in tune with the community goals and future plans unless they inquire. It’s best to advise buyers to sit in at least one community city hall meeting to gather information regarding resident concerns, complaints and future direction.

All bases should be covered, otherwise regrets could settle in. Suggest that they walk around their potential neighborhood at different times of the day, and drive through it at night. Tell them to ask potential neighbors questions if there are concerns.

Provide documented facts within the scope of your work. Use reputable reports and give them the opportunity to choose what works for them. Also let them know the different ways they can conduct their own research.

In the end, you want your buyers to be happy with their investments. Finding the perfect home for your clients can be challenging, especially when they are unsure themselves. Keeping them on track by communicating your expertise with options and alternatives will keep them informed and allow them to make the best decisions and find the most affordable home.

Robin Carter Bryant is a Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Cherry Hill. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

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