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I tell many of my buyer clients buying a home is much like having a child — an emotional roller coaster created by excitement, anticipation and most importantly, the unknown.
The questions can snowball quickly. I have found that taking the time to explain what is to come and forming the correct expectations can really help alleviate these stressful situations. Here are my top five tips for setting buyer expectations.
1. Start from the beginning
During my initial introductory conversation, I set the standards of what to expect from me as their representative. We all offer different skill sets and ideas of what these standards might be, just make sure your clients are aware of what yours are, and make sure you do what you say you will.
For example, if I tell clients I will be sending them an emailer of properties that night and following up with them the following day at 6 p.m., I do just that.
2. Summarize the negotiation process
As the experienced professional you know what to expect going into negotiations, but your clients might not. And let’s be honest, it’s not always like what they see on TV.
Take the time to explain the best way to structure a deal based on days on market, comparables and their financial needs. Help them to understand the sellers’ options of accepting, rejecting or countering.
Here’s an excellent resource for spelling out comparables for buyers.
3. Setup inspection
The inspection signifies the end of the short honeymoon phase. An inspector’s job is to give the property a thorough evaluation, and things will come up. Prepare buyers to expect bad news of some sort, and prepare them how to handle the issues they see fit.
4. Make mortgages easy
Maintaining happy relationships is so important for any business, particularly stress-inducing ones such as ours. Taking the time to set up your loan originator for success makes the process smoother for everyone involved.
Because it’s the most time-consuming aspect of any transaction, keeping the process smooth keeps everyone in a positive mood. Make sure the clients understand what is going to be needed from them, stay on top of the appraisal, and be sure clients are aware of the upcoming contingency date.
5. Prepare for closing
This should be the most joyous step for everyone involved. Sellers are selling, buyers are buying, the professionals are getting paid.
Just remind your buyers about needing a photo ID, bringing a bank check for any funds needed and anything that will help their organization — keep the stress level below the excited one.
I have found that the best ways to go about setting expectations is simply having a quick informative conversation with buyers about each step as we approach it.
For example, when I am notified that an inspection has been scheduled, I will arrange a five- to 10-minute phone conversation with my clients about what they can expect.
Once we embark into each phase of the process, I refer to that introductory conversation to remind them of what will unfold and revisit examples. Using this strategy, my buyers are less shocked by normal proceedings, and they gain trust in my ability to prepare them for what is to come.
Being intentional in setting expectations in your transactions can take getting used to, but it will prove to be a habit worth forming. Smarter buyers are better for us all, and happier clients equal referrals and less time wasted in stressful situations.