Negotiation is about settling differences to reach an agreement, and every part of the home-buying process is about doing precisely this. Your agents practice this skill when they convert prospects into clients, help buyers prioritize needs while touring homes, and when they liaise with the seller and listing agent to finalize the deal. Negotiation is in everything you and your agents do. Read on for a few lessons in negotiation to pass along to your team.
1. Negotiation is about understanding buyer motivations. It’s imperative that your agents truly understand buyers’ priorities and motivations for purchasing so they can guide them through the decision-making process before negotiation with the other parties begins. Is it most important that the home is near a job, school, or public transportation? What’s the budget? Do the buyers have special access needs? Are four bedrooms required? Do they require assistance with closing costs? Help buyers define and prioritize needs early on so you all understand which property to fight for when the time comes.
2. Negotiation is about navigating emotions. Remind your team that, sometimes, being a buyer agent is like being a therapist. There’s a lot at stake, so clients will get emotional. In these instances, agents should observe, ask questions and practice empathy to show that they understand buyers’ needs. Encourage your agents to acknowledge that the buyers’ emotions are legitimate and to help clarify the situation. Sometimes buyers may want to vent; agents should listen quietly, and then offer suggestions, alternatives and choices. They can remind buyers that they have been in similar situations before, and that they can offer guidance through the process.
3. Negotiation is what you do for—and with—your buyers. Negotiation isn’t always practiced with the seller; sometimes buyer agents must negotiate with clients, too. Remind buyers of the ultimate goal and respond to objections with positive perspectives. If location is an objection, remind buyers that there are cost benefits to investing in an area that isn’t yet fully established. If buyers say the price is too high, remind them that an added $20,000 divided across the life of a 30-year mortgage will add a negligible amount to the monthly payment. Determine the root of the objection. If the real issue is that they have a limited down payment, discuss asking the seller for closing costs. Encourage flexibility by offering a variety of options to close the deal.
4. Negotiation is practiced throughout the transaction process. When the right home is chosen, agents must balance buyers’ goals with sellers’ interests. To prepare for the offer process, they must identify minimum and maximum price ranges, required contingencies, and whether there is wiggle room on closing dates. When negotiating issues that arise in the inspection report, agents should identify problems the seller must solve and those issues that the buyers are willing to address. If it’s necessary to make a major concession, agents can offer a trade-off that will benefit the buyer. All along, agents should anticipate seller responses and arm their buyers with responses.
If negotiation is an art, tools of mastery include confidence, authority and professionalism. As an ABR®, you have access to webinars, networking groups, scripts and helpful buyer tools on REBAC.net to develop these traits, market your brand of excellence to prospective clients, and get you and your agents in top negotiating form.
Marc Gould is vice president, Business Specialties, for the National Association of REALTORS® and executive director of REBAC. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 30,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who work directly with buyer-clients.
For more information, visit www.REBAC.net.