Too often, agents try to manage buyer-client’s expectations in real-time, as it’s happening, which is very stressful and not recommended.
Adopting a proactive customer service mindset, where you pre-counsel them on the process and address steps before they happen, is the key. This will not only make the process smoother and stress-free for your clients, but also more enjoyable for you and the other agents in the transaction.
Follow these tips to help you better manage client expectations, from financing and preapprovals, to the home search and home inspection resolution process, to the closing and move-in date. With these, you will help your team master their communications so that they are helping their clients ahead of time. Everyone will be less stressed, more sales will come together—and, even more importantly—stay together and everyone wins.
No one likes surprises.
Letting your buyer know exactly what they can expect during the home search and purchase process way ahead of time will (honestly!) change your life, and create more time for you to enjoy personally, or make more new business calls. Letting your clients know what to expect before it happens means that they aren’t surprised when it happens. Use phrases like, “We see this all the time,” or, “These are the outcomes you can expect to happen, and then we will look at your options and make a decision.” For example, when you explain radon to a buyer ahead of time and what is involved to mitigate it, when it comes up, both seller and buyer clients are prepared and aware of the remedy and cost associated with the repair. No one is “surprised” or emotionally thrown-off. They knew what to expect, because you told them about it before it happened.
Provide a Home Buyer Guide or packet with one-stop services and steps.
This is the greatest lost opportunity I see agents make today. Prepare your buyer-clients with all the services you offer them. From obtaining a preapproval to explaining earnest money and all the other steps in the home-buying process, the Home Buyer Guide will allow you the ability to show your true value. You take all the guesswork out of the process and help them by managing their expectations ahead of time, allowing for a smooth and stress-free purchase.
Explain the purpose of home inspections and material defects.
The most important discussion is explaining the purpose of the home inspection, and what it is for: to make sure the home is structurally sound and not falling down; to identify material defects, like a cracked heat exchanger or a leaking faucet; and/or safety issues and hazards. There is a huge educational component for understanding the inner-workings of the house, such as where the shut-off valves are and the emergency turn-off for electric. At this time, it is also important to stress that the home inspection is not a chance to renegotiate the entire terms of the deal. It is meant to find actual material defects, and not ask for a laundry list of maintenance items. Taking control of this process will eliminate the chaos and minimize the drama of the home inspection process.
Explain the negative effects of lowball offers.
Sometimes buyers have a negotiation strategy that just may not be in their best financial interest. Of course, every buyer wants to get a home for the best terms and lowest price possible, but having a conversation with them about a good strategy to negotiate helps manage everyone’s expectations better. Explaining the process of how the negotiation will go, and then what their options are and the risks and benefits of each, is so important. Sometimes, going in at a more reasonable price will help generate a better counteroffer from a seller, instead of going in too low and getting no counteroffer, or, what I call a “high counter” from the seller, which many times will result in the buyer having to pay slightly more in the end than if they had started a little higher.
Top salespeople listen to emotion, not facts.
Always counsel your buyer or seller client in-person, if possible. Second to being in-person is talking on the phone. While 55 percent of all communication is body language and 38 percent is tone of voice, it is impossible to translate someone’s emotional state when texting or emailing. This has resulted in more bombed sales that should have come together than I like to think about. Remember: This is a highly emotional, most expensive purchase most people will every make in their lifetime. It is where they are going to live, raise a family perhaps, and it is extremely personal. Our job is to help diffuse the emotional reactions and decision-making, and we do that through managing expectations in advance. You will be happier, and your clients will be thrilled with your amazing service ability and refer you to everyone they know.
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Sherri Johnson is CEO and founder of Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting. With 20 years of experience in real estate, Johnson offers coaching, consulting and keynotes, and is a national speaker for the Homes.com Secrets of Top Selling Agents tour and the Official Real Estate Coach for McKissock Learning and Real Estate Express. Sign up for a free 30-minute coaching strategy session or visit www.sherrijohnson.com for more information.