By David Fialk
RISMEDIA, July 19, 2010—There are simple truths about selling real estate, truths that exist whether real estate sales activity is brisk or slow. Some real estate professionals might refer to these truths as Real Estate 101 or even something as simple as getting back to, or paying attention to, the basics. The truth is, by any name, these concepts are something all real estate professionals must understand, realize and continue to fine tune and practice. In order to be successful, a real estate agent must always enhance their real estate knowledge and skills.
Real estate agents should never under estimate the value of basics when selling. And yet, they seem to overlook them when their business is thriving and the real estate market is good. In good markets, they may not even be aware of the shortcuts they are taking when dealing with buyers. They are putting transactions together and they have consistent sales income. They are working with many buyers, so not converting one buyer inquiry and losing one buyer might not be so important.
However, in a slower and tougher real estate market, like we have witnessed beginning in 2006, many agents have experienced the lack of business and substantial drop in sale transactions and income. In the current market, just one missed opportunity, just one lost buyer, could be the difference in putting a new transaction into escrow for the month or not for many agents.
It is very easy for agents to place blame on external factors, things beyond their control, such as the financial market collapse, the job market, unemployment, tighter mortgage underwriting guidelines, the extreme volume of short sales and foreclosures among many others. These factors are contributing to the decline in sales transactions. However, if a specific real estate market is down 20% in closed sales transactions, many agents will not concentrate on what they need to do to increase their share of the 80% of the transactions which are being put together and are closing.
There is no secret to selling real estate. A buyer inquiry must be converted into an appointment. A relationship must be established during the first appointment where the buyer is financially qualified and their needs, wants and desires discussed and reviewed. Suitable homes must be presented and shown which result in another appointment(s) to find the right home. Upon finding the right home for the buyer, the agent must then provide the guidance and assistance in helping the buyer structure their contract offer to get it signed, not rejected.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? However, many agents do not realize, or will not accept, that it is what they are doing or not doing which can be the factor that results in the break in this chain of events and the missed opportunity to sell a home. It’s the little things that can make a difference.
Initial buyer inquiry: the first opportunity to make an impression with a potential buyer
- Buyer Truths: Buyers don’t call on schedule, they have more information than ever before, they often call the listing agent directly, they are interviewing the agent and controlling the phone conversation. They don’t understand the MLS and they are calling multiple agents. They think they are going about it the right way, they are not familiar with the home-buying process and they need an agent in order to see the home.
- Buyer Realities: Always keep in mind that the buyer has most likely called other offices, spoken with other agents, may have driven by a few homes, may have even seen a few homes and may be receiving e-mail from each agent they spoke with. In other words, they were not pleased with the knowledge or assistance these other agents provided and are still looking for an agent who can help them.
- The Challenge: Being more knowledgeable and more prepared to provide enough information to obtain an appointment instead of being stuck in follow-up mode. Knowing more about what is for sale than the buyer does and using that knowledge to convert the call to an appointment. In other words, are you prepared to be different from and better informed than the previous agents the buyer has spoken with?
The first appointment: the first step to selling a home or the first step to not having a second appointment
- Be prepared. Have the desk cleared, have the MLS open and know what you want to accomplish.
- Respect the buyer appointment. Turn off your cell phone, avoid interruptions and warm up with conversation about the who, what, where, when and why needs of the buyer.
- Explain how you work. Show how you search for homes, explain the MLS, explain the home showing process and review appointments set and or review search results in setting additional appointments.
- Provide agency disclosures. Review and discuss mortgage qualifying, mortgage payments and closing costs.
- Have the buyer ride in your car and return to the office to review the appointment.
- The Challenge: Establishing a relationship with the buyer where they believe you can, and will, provide the assistance they need in their home search and purchase.
Preparing and presenting contract offers: there’s more to it than just filling in the blanks
- The listing agent is the gateway to the contract presentation. Obtain available disclosures in advance and quiz the agent for the seller’s closing date needs, if any offers are currently being negotiated and if any offers were refused. You might be surprised with the information you can get by being professional.
- Prepare and inform the buyer about the contract preparation process. Explain the contract presentation process, what you do and what the listing agent does. Provide a buyer’s market value analysis and be sure to explain the seller’s options as well as discuss multiple contract situations.
- The Three Parts to a Real Estate Contract Offer: Price, Terms and Conditions. When negotiating a real estate purchase offer, the seller wants to sell at the highest price and the buyer wants to buy at the lowest price. However, price is not the only factor in negotiating a sales contract and obtaining a signed contract. That is why it is called negotiating the contract.
- The Challenge: While price is an important consideration in contract negotiation, it is not the only factor in obtaining acceptance. Selling agents must understand that the structure of the contract, terms and conditions, more often than not, can be what makes an offer acceptable and is the most overlooked aspect when preparing a contract offer and in contract negotiation. Selling agents need to provide guidance in helping their buyers help themselves in structuring a contract, terms and conditions that are not questioned by the seller or their listing agent. The longer it takes to obtain acceptance, the more of a chance there will be additional offers for the seller to consider.
- Important Considerations: Real estate agents should keep in mind what type of pre-approval letter is most beneficial to the situation, the amount of binder and earnest money deposit, mortgage contingency date, inspection clauses and dates in addition to the closing date as well as other contingencies.
There’s no secret to working with buyers and selling estate. It’s your job, so know what you need to know, put it into practice and be professional in offering real estate services to buyers.
Licensed since 1971, David Fialk, CRB, CRS, ABR, GRI, e-Pro Certified Internet Professional, is Broker/Owner of a real estate company in Iselin, NJ and provides Real Estate Sales Seminars and Training. He can be reached at 732-283-3400, www.SalesTraining.DavidFialk.com.
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