'5 whys' help agents really understand buyers' needs

Being the local expert means going beyond just home features

“Home” isn’t measured in square feet. With all of the technologies and national search portals available to homebuyers today, anyone can search by bedrooms and bathrooms. What sets today’s killer agents apart is their ability to understand what is truly important to the buyer: exceptional local knowledge and expertise. While not a new concept, this “algorithm” for success remains one that few agents have programmed to perfection.

Technology is an important part of any agent’s arsenal, yet technology will never replace the real estate agent. In-depth, local knowledge of the communities you serve and the ability to understand and foresee your clients’ wants and needs is still paramount. There isn’t a code base out there that can deliver what you can.

So what is it about agents who seem preprogrammed for success? Below are some of the best “code snippets” from the most successful real estate agents out there, to help you create your own “killer feature” set and become the indispensable agent your buyers need.

Anticipate wants and needs to WOW your clients

Don’t just react to what your clients say they want and need, anticipate them. Getting out ahead of your clients is one of the best ways to show that you understand and are working for them, not just taking orders. For example, a buyer tells you they need to be close to the train station for work. Knowing where they work, you take it a step further and pull homes that reduce their commute time.

That’s a good start, but could you go further? If you know where they work, can you find homes closer to their company shuttle stops or popular rideshare locations? Or find homes with low-traffic routes that make it easy to bike to the office? When you’re able to connect the dots between your buyer’s wants, lifestyle needs and the surrounding area, you can create a short list of homes that feel perfectly suited just for them.

Share the good, the bad and the ugly — make your buyers feel at home by sharing neighborhood insights that give them more context to how the homes they’re considering fit into their lifestyle.

Does your buyer love to cook? Perhaps the neighborhood has a seasonal farmers market that foodies rave about. Maybe your buyer is an avid yoga enthusiast and the local park hosts open-air classes twice a week. Is there a flight path overhead that can create a commotion early in the morning? Key insights that aren’t obvious through online searching can make your buyers feel comfortable calling a new neighborhood home.

Use the “Five Whys” to really understand why

The Five Whys is a technique that sales professionals in all types of industries have used for generations to get to the root of what their clients are trying to accomplish. It’s based on the idea that if you ask why enough, you’ll get down to the real cause of anything.

If your buyers say they want to live in a certain neighborhood, ask why. “Because we need to be close to our mother-in-law.” Ask why. “Because when we have kids, she’ll be watching them during the week.” Ask why. “Because we both plan on continuing with our careers after the baby arrives.” Whether you get to five whys or not, you’ll learn a whole lot more about the real reasons that are driving your client’s decision-making process when you ask why.

Take the couple above, by asking why, you’ve learned your clients are planning on having kids, and that the mother-in-law will be an important supporter, helping both of them fulfill their professional aspirations. Maybe now you’ll focus their home search in a great school district, looking for properties that include a mother-in-law suite, a park around the corner and are close to the business corridor. Getting to the bottom of what is important to your clients can provide opportunities to make your expertise shine. Tweet this! Getting to the bottom of what is important to your clients can provide opportunities to make your expertise shine.

Be the neighborhood detective

It’s not enough to say that you’re a neighborhood expert — you have to actually be one! Tour as many homes as you can when they come on the market. Take notes on floor plans, features and price changes. Nothing says expert like being able to rattle off the features, benefits and pricing history of neighborhood homes. Attend city planning and zoning meetings to keep current with changes to the real estate landscape.

Tweet this: It’s not enough to say that you’re a neighborhood expert — you have to actually be one!

What is the community like during the morning, afternoon and evening? Learn everything you can about the neighborhood’s amenities like dog parks, local farmers markets, tennis courts and the best place to watch the fireworks on July 4th. Becoming a true neighborhood expert is a time-tested winning strategy.

Use technology to step up your game

While it can’t ever replace an agent, smart use of technology can help turn your local knowledge and expertise into superpower skills. There are dozens of tools out there that give you new ways to uncover what clients want. For example, use your clients’ search histories and saved properties to cue you in on changes to their desired amenities and pull new properties to meet their changing needs.

Go beyond basic search by bed, baths and price to allow your buyers to search homes using the criteria that matters most to them — schools, proximity to work, local grocery stores and more. Being cutting-edge with your buyer alert system and real estate technologies can help you anticipate the needs of your clients and will prove you’re the expert you claim to be.

You can see in our #NorCalDreamin’ infographic below that being the local expert means going beyond just home features to truly helping buyers search and find homes that fit their lifestyle.

When executed correctly, this agent algorithm will leave your clients knowing you’re the true expert in town. What “killer features” do you provide to stand out from the crowd as the real estate professional your clients need and love?

Andrew Flachner is the co-founder and chief real estate enthusiast at RealScout.