Buying and selling homes is an emotional process for people, and at times can be frustrating. Buyers get frustrated after putting in 12 offers above asking price with none accepted. On the flip side, Sellers get frustrated when their house sits on the market too long and they have to consider a reduction.
As an agent, how do you minimize client frustrations?
While we might think these frustrations are out of our control and caused by market conditions like low inventory or a cooling market, this couldn’t be further from the truth. You actually hold the power to keep your clients happy!
People get frustrated when reality doesn’t meet their expectations. But I have some good news for you. On the whole, people are more likely to be reasonable when they know what to expect. So, educating your Buyers and Sellers throughout the entire process becomes key to guiding expectations, and ultimately ensuring their satisfaction.
Buyers and Sellers have a bunch of preconceived notions built up from years of being exposed to real estate in one way or another. Whether it’s through family members buying a house, or maybe their cousin who’s “in real estate” everyone thinks they know a little something about the business.
Keep in mind though, if they’ve just selected you as their agent they see you as an expert who can help guide them. This makes your start to working with a client the perfect opportunity to set expectations. But how do you set expectations to ensure your clients are happy? We suggest following these guidelines:
Don’t Assume Anything
As I mentioned above, your clients come to you with preconceptions and it’s really just not their fault! However, it is your opportunity to align their perception with yours, and you can’t do that effectively if you assume what they already know. You know what they say about assumptions, right?
So let your clients know early in your meeting that you’ll be covering topics that might seem basic, or that they might already know, but you’re doing so to make sure they have the best experience.
Cover the Core Frustrations
People tend to get frustrated primarily for the same reasons, so make sure you cover the core triggers when you educate your clients.
Time is one of, if not the most, precious resource any of us have, and we hate when it feels like it’s being wasted. So, make sure you explain the full timeline to your clients leaving a little buffer time between each task. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver, especially if you’re trying to minimize frustrations.
Whatever you do, DON’T try to sugar coat things in the hopes you can sell a home quicker than the market will allow, or that you can find your buyer’s dream home in that unrealistic price range overnight. Instead, help your clients understand what’s reasonable, and more importantly why they’re spending time on each item.
People’s perception of time changes greatly when they feel like it’s being used for a valuable purpose. So when explaining the process always include why. For example – “This time is used for the title search which can protect you from becoming liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims against the property.”
For the vast majority, buying or selling a home is the largest monetary transaction people ever make. For them, just seeing this amount of money on paper is emotional to begin with and they have little to no experience negotiating at this level.
Your job is to help educate them about the entire process from things like negotiating in large increments of say $5k to $10k, right through the costs and fees along the way to closing. This might seem self explanatory but what always surprises me is how people will waste $10,000 because they’re frustrated about a $200 fee they didn’t see coming.
Many times people aren’t mad about the dollar amount itself but the feeling of being taken advantage of with a cost they didn’t see coming, or that wasn’t justified beforehand.
Save yourself some headaches and make sure all of the costs, fees and value for each are outlined so clients feel like they got something out of every cent they spent. Often, working with a great mortgage professional will help this process.
- Hidden Headaches
Speaking of headaches – every market has their own unique set of challenges to overcome that might not be apparent to everyone. Perhaps the mid-market is exhausted and highly competitive for buyers, maybe there’s been a sharp decline in active buyers because of housing affordability and offers just aren’t being made. Make sure you educate your clients about any hidden frustrations you can think of, especially any that are specific to your market.
Provide a Healthy Outlet if Things Get Frustrating
While proper education and preparation will keep the vast majority of your clients happy, even the best agents have frustrated clients from time to time. Your best bet is to prepare for these odd situations by giving your clients a healthy outlet before small frustrations become full blown anger.
Let your clients know that if they ever feel frustrated they should reach out and let you know what’s going on. You’re there to help guide them and work through any challenges. In most cases, if you catch it early on you can avoid the whole deal going wrong and clients expressing their frustration in reviews and on social media.
Keep in mind though, you’re not a punching bag and want to set that expectation as well. On rare occasions you may need to fire a client and we’ve covered that in depth. For more information about how to avoid problem clients and fire them when necessary, check out our article here.
Food for Thought…
Last week, we asked our private Facebook group “What’s the biggest Real Estate challenge you’re facing in your market this year?” and while the vast majority answered “Low Inventory” I would have to agree with Jason Steele’s response: “Nothing, we create our own challenges and disruptions.”
The most powerful tool we have to combat these challenges is our ability to educate and guide our client’s expectations.
Did we miss any expectations that need to be set? Do you have any best practices for setting expectations? Let us know in the comments below!