Anyone working in real estate knows that clients experience hesitation — and who can blame them? Whether they’re putting a property on the market or looking to buy their next home, they’re preparing to make a potentially momentous transaction.
I’ve been helping clients sell and purchase homes throughout the Salt Lake City area for almost 20 years. In that time, I have worked with many individuals who initially seem to know what they want, but then they pump the brakes. They hesitate. They’re suddenly not sure what they want — and that’s perfectly normal.
At any price point, real estate deals can be an uncertain experience for clients. There are lots of factors that can be unclear or confusing. So how can you help alleviate your client’s trepidation? Here are my top four pieces of advice.
1. Keep the client in the know
My personal philosophy is this: if I don’t communicate with a client, they can’t tell how hard I’m working on their behalf. Radio silence feels like indifference or failure, and that’s why it’s so important to stay in touch on a regular basis.
So how often should you communicate? Ask your client how and when they would like to hear from you. A text message whenever there’s news? A nightly email? A weekly phone call? Learning their communication preferences will enable you to package your services in a way that’s tailor-made and meaningful for them.
2. Walk your buyers and sellers through the process
Agents can fall into the trap of thinking their clients understand the buying or selling process better than they do — when in truth, they’re unsure and unfamiliar with what’s next. By recognizing that the sales process can break down when our clients become unsure, we can refine our efforts to communicate the process more clearly.
The best solution to this problem is to talk clients through the journey so that they’re not confused. For example, buyers may want to know specifics about a property upfront, when the items they are inquiring about might be better researched during the due diligence process after a price has been negotiated. Asking too much of the seller upfront may hurt negotiations.
You need to help your clients get a good sense of what happens when and why; reassure them that you’re not trying to rush them and that they don’t need to come to a decision. But they do need to know the step-by-step process of how purchasing works.
3. Don’t assume anything
When agents or brokers try to make decisions on their own, they may miss the mark. I’ve seen agents over-negotiate on behalf of clients who would prefer to take a lower-risk approach, and I’ve seen them hold back when their clients would rather be more aggressive. The right thing to do is have a meaningful conversation with your client around how they want to handle things so that you can act accordingly.
There’s a lot to explain to clients, and sometimes you have so much insight and information to impart that you find yourself doing all the talking. Don’t let communication devolve into a one-way channel. Be a conscientious listener and ask lots of questions: it will help you figure out where they are in their decision-making journey — and it will bring much-needed clarity to the concerned client as well.
4. Ask trial closing questions to see where your client stands
The trial closing question is one of my favorite sales skills. It’s not focused on closing a deal or making a final decision; instead, it’s focused on seeking an opinion — on taking your client’s temperature, and finding out how ready they are to make a decision.
The client is already nervous enough now that they’re on the path to making a real estate purchase, and they don’t need the added pressure of feeling like a transaction is being forced on them. So when they express interest in a property, for example, don’t just blindly take them to the listing — ask them why they like the property and what about it piques their interest so that you can better understand their needs and provide more tailored options for them in future.
For some, “sales” has taken on a negative connotation because they believe salespeople are naturally pushy, aggressive, and trying to persuade them to do something they don’t want to do. It’s time to change that perception. The objective of sales in real estate is to create mutually beneficial outcomes for buyers and sellers, and our job is to be effective communicators who deliver exceptional service.
During my time as a sales agent and as President and Principal Broker with Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, I’ve come to realize that luxury isn’t defined by the price point of a property; it’s the quality of the experience we provide our clients.
Since 2008, Thomas Wright has been the President and Principal Broker of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. Since he stepped in as the managing partner, the company has become the top brokerage in the Park City resort community and a leading brokerage in Utah. To achieve this market position, Thomas has brought his relentless work ethic, creative thinking and vision, and an invaluable understanding of the real estate brokerage industry. Thomas has become a nationally-recognized speaker and advisor, and he continues to be a top-performing sales agent specializing in the greater Salt Lake City area.
About Sotheby’s International Realty
Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit www.sothebysrealty.com.
The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.