The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).
A seller counseling session occurs at the beginning of your relationship with a current or prospective seller client and is a strategic activity that helps ensure a high-quality experience for everyone involved.
The consequences of unprepared sellers cannot be overstated. In a recent article in REALTOR® Magazine, agent Ryan Zwicky outlines some lessons learned the hard way, one of which was about setting appropriate expectations from the start. Zwicky says, “I learned that trying to please the seller only harms them in the end. It is better to be completely honest and open from the start.”
A seller counseling session is a powerful expectation-setting tool. It can be a sit-down meeting in person, a virtual web-based teleconference, or even a long phone call—all supplemented with a print resource to help guide the conversation. The mode of communication that you use for it is not quite as important as your ability to carve out uninterrupted one-on-one time for yourself and the seller to get to know one another a little more deeply, and to go over how everything will work.
There is no one set way to do a seller counseling session, but there are some best practices and resources—home-grown or for-purchase—that can help you plan the conversation beforehand so that you don’t forget any aspect that needs to be discussed. For example, the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI), an affiliate of NAR, offers sets of customizable PowerPoint® presentation templates to help with structuring the conversation. The slides can be re-organized and adapted as needed to your situation.
For those that want to take their seller representation skills to an even higher level, REBI also offers its Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) Designation Course online at NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development. It also offers the course for classroom delivery, and a schedule of upcoming courses is provided for you here.
Regardless of the exact structure and the exact resources used, a seller counseling session is an invaluable strategic tool that will help you succeed as a seller’s representative. Below are 10 reasons why.
- Demonstrate Your Value – The session helps you showcase your service package by giving you the opportunity to highlight and explain your business background, your education qualifications, the extent of your experience, and the value you bring to the process. Your expertise and service orientation will help your client feel at ease and taken care of.
- Set Expectations – The session will help you set expectations so that in the long run there will be fewer surprises (and therefore fewer delays and less confusion). The client will come to understand their role, your role, and the roles of everyone else along the way. Things will run more smoothly. Smooth transactions lead to more referrals.
- Get on the Same Page – As confusion and potential misunderstandings are addressed and cleared away up-front, the session will help put you and your client on the same team so that you are working together with each other, and not at odds or toward opposing goals.
- Reduce Risk – Because of this meeting, there will be fewer chances for confusion, missteps, breaches, and conflict. Whenever processes are made clearer at the outset, the risk of veering off into antagonistic or dangerous waters is greatly minimized.
- Explain What You Can and Can’t Do – An important aspect of further reducing risk is addressing what you as the client advocate can and cannot do. By addressing this early, there will be fewer or no client expectations or demands that you do something which is unethical, illegal, uncomfortable, or just plain fishy. You can go over how agency works in your state and all of the seller disclosures required. You can also discuss what the REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires of you, your fiduciary duty to your client, and what that looks like in day-to-day practice.
- Outline the Process – Your client will be a more calm, confident, and cooperative partner once they have a big-picture scheme in their mind about what the entire process will entail. So do this for them in the seller consultation session; give them the big-picture, 50,000-foot view. This may be second nature to you, but to them, the entire process may be foreign and disorienting. They may not need as many check-ins along the way and it will be less likely that they will become upset with you if you have explained the overall process beforehand.
- Position the Property – Having an in-depth conversation about the property, its current position in the market and what can be done to improve this position, like staging (and what can’t be overcome), will help you down the road when you and your client have to deal with price reductions, price negotiations, concessions, contingencies, multiple offers, deals that fall through, and so on.
- Explain Fees – Understanding the line items of the different services clients are paying for will head off a number of questions, objections, and frustrations down the road, especially if things get challenging. Having a talk about fees, as connected to the value of what you do to help the property succeed in the marketplace, is key.
- Gather Preferences – The seller counseling session is a great time to gather information to help you understand how your client prefers to communicate and be treated. Do they want a daily or weekly check-in, by phone or text? How would they prefer open houses be handled? What makes them stressed and what puts them at ease? You’ll want to gather this information to help you serve them in the way that works best for them.
- Provide Resources – The session will provide you the opportunity to share resources that the seller can take home with them, review in detail on their own time, and ask questions about later. The value of takeaways and reading material as time-saving educational tools cannot be underestimated. The seller counseling session helps you present and offer these materials so that the seller knows they exist and understands how to review them.
To learn much more about seller representation and seller counseling sessions, consider obtaining REBI’s Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) Designation. This entire month of March, the SRS Designation Course online is offered at 25% off its regular price at our online learning platform—a savings of over $70!
For more information, please visit RISMedia’s online learning portal from NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) and the Learning Library. Here, real estate professionals can sign up for online professional development courses, industry designations, certifications, CE credits, Code of Ethics programs and more. NAR’s CRD also offers monthly specials and important education updates. New users will need to register for an account.
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