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The real estate industry is hyper-focused on constantly generating new leads. The issue is converting those leads into prospects who will ultimately transact. If you want to generate more “offer-ready” buyers who are willing to transact now, you must first know the explicit and implicit behaviors that indicate a buyer is ready to transact and then couple that with “offer-oriented” communication and exceptional customer service.
I recently interviewed Andrew Flachner, the co-founder and President of RealScout, about how to generate more “offer-ready” buyers, i.e., buyers who are ready to transact right now.
According to Flachner, agents often think they need a huge bucket of leads to succeed. The truth of the matter is that if you look at the transactions you have closed in the last 12 months, most of them came from past clients, referrals, and your sphere of influence.
Here’s what you need to do to identify more offer-ready buyers and significantly increase the ROI for your business.
Explicit vs. implicit buying signals
Generating offer-ready buyers begins with recognizing the buying signals that indicate a specific buyer is ready to transact now. These signals break down into two categories: explicit vs. implicit buying signals.
Explicit buying signs are easy to discover. Examples Flachner cites include:
- Willingness to be pre-approved for a mortgage.
- A definitive date when the buyers want to close. This may be tied to a job transfer or kids starting school.
- Willingness to write an offer with no contingencies.
- How quickly they respond to your texts and phone calls.
Implicit buying signals are less obvious and rely on identifying how buyers are going about the search process. You can access this data from a company like RealScout, your local MLS or an IDX website provider. Examples Flachner pointed out include:
- Repeated searches for the same features which often reveal the buyer’s primary criteria, their lifestyle preferences, and “must-haves.”
- The number of times the buyer searches the same property, especially on the same day. When you see this pattern, reach out to these buyers immediately. They may be ready to write an offer.
- On the other hand, if their search activity has dropped significantly, follow up with them to determine if they’re still actively looking, if they have placed a property under contract or have decided to step back due to some other factor.
Recognizing that a buyer is ‘offer-ready’
Flachner says offer-ready buyers have been pre-approved for a loan, are actively searching for a home now, and in most cases, are writing offers. Your goal is to provide them with exceptional service.
It’s better to offer exceptional service to a smaller sampling of those people than to cast too wide a net and dilute your efforts. By the way, I sometimes say spreading yourself too thin is the enemy of premier level service. If you work too many clients, you’re not going to be able to offer the same level of exceptional service.
Offer ready clients require ‘offer-oriented communication’
Flachner says offer-ready clients have very different communication needs as opposed to the looky-loos or tire kickers who are just browsing. Here are some guidelines to follow.
- First and foremost, communication should be personal. Batch emails, texts, and generic property alerts are not personal.
- You must also be adept at determining and analyzing the buyer’s true wants and needs. In my experience, the best way to uncover this information is to conduct a Buyer Interview when you first begin working with a client.
- Your communication must also be timely.
During a buyer interview, you inquire about the features the buyer wants in their next home, their lifestyle, how they spend their time when they are home, what they like to do for recreation, etc. This allows you to distinguish between the buyer’s “wants,” (what they would like to have) vs. their “needs” (what the property must have if they are going to purchase it.)
Flachner also advises that once you identify an offer-ready buyer, you should engage in “offer oriented communication:”
Identify what clients are willing to negotiate on, including financing fees and closing costs, letting homeowners remain in their house after closing, etc. The key is to orient your communication around offers. If you’re not responding quickly to clients in this market, you lose their trust. There’s some serious FOMO (fear of missing out) in this market and your clients are counting on you to respond to emails, text messages, and phone calls very quickly.
It’s important you choose clients that are a good fit for you
While a buyer may be offer-ready, are they a good fit for you or should they be referred to another agent? Some signs a buyer may not be totally “offer ready” or is a poor fit for your business include:
- A decrease in search activity on your website and/or the MLS.
- Their criteria are constantly changing.
- They tell you they want a specific price range and neighborhood, and then start looking outside the price and neighborhood parameters they initially gave you.
Focus on “whose closest to the money”
Ideally, you’re searching for clients who want to transact in the next one or two weeks. For example, they may have created a search account on your website but have yet to contact you for more information. In this scenario, Flachner recommends reaching out to them and saying,
Hey, thanks for creating an account on my site, I’d be happy to help you and share some strategies on buying a home in today’s market.
This in turn becomes the impetus to schedule a buyer interview.
Red-hot conversion moments
When a buyer looks at a property multiple times on your website in a short period of time, Flachner calls these “red-hot conversion” moments. This is what to say:
It looks like you really love 123 Main Street. Here’s some information I was able to pull on that property and why I think that if you are serious about this property, we should move quickly.
When a buyer zeroes in on a single property, you must remain in constant contact with them. Check with the listing agent to see if there have been any offers. Also ask about what the sellers would like to see in an offer such as the closing date, a rent back after closing, choice of title company and/or escrow, etc.
How many of your buyers are suffering from “buyer fatigue?”
According to Flachner, the demand is so high and so many buyers have lost out multiple times on the offers they have submitted, that buyers have become completely exhausted with the process.
When you have a big pipeline of clients, you may not be attuned to which of your buyers are getting fatigued and which ones are not. This goes back to identifying those (explicit and implicit) signals. If your clients are searching on Zillow and Redfin and you have no visibility into that behavior, it makes it really difficult to prioritize your pipeline.
The biggest pitfall agents face
Flachner reports the biggest pitfall they’re seeing among their clients at RealScout is that they’re spending too much time with buyers who aren’t ready to transact now.
It’s easy to do because you’ve been taught your entire career to work every lead until you can’t work that lead anymore. You have a finite amount of time that you can invest into your clients. If you’re able to tap into some of those implicit buying signals to see how active they are, how their activity has changed, which properties they’re looking at in which neighborhoods, and how their search has evolved, that’s going to enable you to prioritize your pipeline and get a higher ROI in your business.
The bottom line
Flachner’s final piece of advice is:
Most agents are flying blind with all leads, all prospects and all clients looking the same. Because you have a finite amount of time to work those clients and work those leads, it’s important that you pay attention to those implicit buying signals, either by investing in technology, leveraging your MLS and some of the functionality it offers, or simply keeping closer tabs on your clients.
Data and the technology are available to easily help you identify the top-tier buyers who are ready to transact now. Couple this with “offer-oriented communication” and premier service and you have a winning formula for your business that requires less work and produces much better results.
Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with more than 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.