Real estate is a problem-solving business. As an agent, being able to turn a “no” into a “yes” is a crucial skill to have under your belt. Here are nine ways to do it.

Whether it’s a client who objects, an unrealistic seller or an appraiser who under-prices your listing, being able to turn “no” into “yes” is one of the most important basic skills every real estate agent needs to master.   

Real estate is a problem-solving business. If you would like to improve your ability to get from “no” to “yes,” here are nine ways to do it. 

1. The workaround

Over Memorial Day weekend, Greg McDaniel helped move his girlfriend out of her rental and into her new home in San Francisco. Instead of using a mover, she decided to pack a storage pod. Moving day was May 23, but the pod delivery people decided they couldn’t deliver the pod until June 6, a two full weeks later. How would you have handled this situation if you were her agent?

One of the most important problem-solving approaches you can employ is the “workaround.” Workarounds are often less than optimal ways to deal with an issue, however, they get the job done. 

In McDaniel’s case, he began searching for a large truck he could rent. It was the holiday weekend, and he finally found one in Oakland. After they picked up the truck, they had to go the pods’ storage location, unpack the pod, load everything onto the truck, and then unload everything at her house which was located on a steep hill in San Francisco. In other words, they had to move her twice, the second time up a steep hill. 

To employ workarounds in your business, brainstorm as many solutions as possible, no matter how ridiculous or difficult they may be. Write them down. Once you have identified as many options as possible, select the best one, and implement it. What matters is that you solve the problem, even if the solution isn’t optimal. 

2. Objections are buying signs

When clients object to a feature in a home, many agents interpret that to mean, “No, I’m not interested in the property.” The exact opposite is true. When your buyers object to a feature in the property, they actually are envisioning themselves living there.  

For example, how would you respond when the buyer says, “I hate the tile floors”? If you’re like many agents, you’ll believe it’s time to move on to the next showing. 

Other agents will try to overcome the objection by telling the buyer how to solve the issue. “We could ask for a carpet allowance, or I could refer you to someone to install new hardwood floors.”  

Rather than trying to fix the problem, a better approach is to use what I call a “move-them-into-the-property-close.” 

Tell me, would you replace the tile, cover it with carpet, or replace it with the same type of hardwood floors that you have in your current home? 

No matter how they respond, they have answered your question as if they are the owners of the property. 

3. Shift your prospecting approach

When many agents prospect, they ask, “Are you thinking about buying or selling a home?” A better question that greatly reduces the number of “no” answers you receive is to ask:

Who do you know anyone who is thinking about buying or selling a home? 

Even if the person you’re speaking with isn’t interested in transacting now, approximately 10 percent of the people they know will be moving in the next year. 

4. Offer a service

Constantly bombarding your sphere about your current listings or services, generates “no” responses. Instead, offer an “equity checkup” that updates them on the value of their home and includes reports from NARRPR.com and HomeDisclosure.com 

McDaniel decided to have some fun with this approach and came up with the following photo that could be used for print marketing on a blog, a social media post or as a part of a YouTube video. Anytime you can make someone laugh, you’re much more likely to get a “yes” than a “no.” 

5. Make a VIP offer of service

McDaniel has created what he calls a VIP listing program that has worked exceptionally well with his sellers. He took a listing back in 2019 where the owners said “no” to staging their home

Once McDaniel realized that the real issue was financial, he agreed to cover the $10,000 in costs to do the staging. The sellers would reimburse him from their sale proceeds. 

The results speak for themselves. The property sold for $200,000 more than it would have if it hadn’t been painted and staged. Furthermore, not only are these sellers customers for life, McDaniel will be representing them on their next purchase. They also asked him to list an investment property and to represent them on finding a replacement property. 

6. ‘No’ is their starting point in the negotiation

In many cases, a client’s “no” is simply an opening position in the negotiation. Other times, it’s only “no” for now or “no” to a service you are providing. 

For example, if you’re negotiating and the sellers are adamant about getting a specific price, delay tackling their price objection. Instead, list all the areas “where we are in agreement,” like closing date, title or other terms. Remember, each “yes” moves you closer to eliminating that “no.” 

A different way to tackle “no” is to ask, “Is that ‘no’ for now?” This is particularly effective with FSBOs who may want to try selling their property on their own. This approach lets you dig deeper to see if they’re willing to list with you if they are unable to sell the property themselves. 

7. Persistence pays off

Several years ago, I interviewed a very successful agent about how he handles for-sale-by-owners (FSBOs) who slam the door in his face. He shared a great story about what he decided to do when one rather angry FSBO slammed the door in his face.

He went to the back door and knocked on it. He stood there waiting with a big friendly smile on his face. The FSBO was so taken aback by the agent’s persistence that he decided to talk to the agent. When the FSBO didn’t sell, the agent got the listing.  

8. Ridiculously low offers

A major mistake most agents make is trying to justify why their buyers wrote such a low offer. While you may be tempted to call the buyers bottom feeders, chiselers or some other pejorative name, all you’re actually doing is making it harder to get to “yes.” Try this proven script instead. 

Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I would have liked nothing better than to have brought you a full-price offer, however, the buyers opted to write an offer substantially less than your asking price. What I’ve found is that about half the time we can put these deals together. Please give me a counteroffer to see if these buyers are part of the 50 percent who will ultimately go under contract on your property. 

If the sellers are so livid that you’re worried you could lose the listing, I’ve used this approach a number of times, and it worked.

If you’re so upset that you never want to ever hear from these buyers again, you can counter them back over asking price. 

Some of my sellers actually did this. In fact, they were actually gleeful about countering back over their asking price. 

9. Cut them off at the pass

Low appraisals are the bane of the business. A simple way to make sure the appraiser has all the comparable sales, especially if they’re from outside the area, is to take the lockbox off the property so the appraiser has to meet you there. Also, if there were multiple offers on the property, have copies available to support the price your sellers obtained. 

Be sure to listen in to this week’s show which is packed with even more scripts and strategies to help you stop being stopped by “no.” 

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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