By Renae Virata
I recently came across a home buyer who was interested in building a property on a sizeable lot nestled within a gated Dallas community of modern homes. It was the ideal spot for the mid-career professional and her fiancé. However, the area around them seemed, in her eyes, “sketchy”, so she decided to call the Realtor for advice on the property and neighborhood.
Soon after, the couple met a neighbor who, coincidentally, worked for the same firm as the Realtor selling the lot. They discussed their qualms about the location with her, and she offered her advice. Feeling confident that they could rely on her expertise, and being so close to them, they decided to work with her to help them gain a better foothold on the Dallas scene. She offered to not only give them the scoop and a tour of the area but also recommendations for other homes and neighborhoods that could fit the bill.
The real estate agent neighbor did her due diligence by asking about what the couple was specifically looking for: property type, price range, proximity to downtown, etc. After another round of clarifying emails, the couple felt assured that their neighbor would find them properties they would not have otherwise been able to find. To their surprise, it was the complete opposite! Instead of the modern homes in the upper-six-figure bracket that they had clearly outlined, they received email after email of fixer-uppers in “transitioning” neighborhoods in the lower-six-figure bracket. Needless to say, the couple was turned off and decided to “go in another direction”.
So what did the real estate agent do wrong? It’s pretty obvious, but it begs to be said out loud: she didn’t listen to her clients.
Are you guilty of wanting to merely push properties on your clients in the hopes you’ll see a glint when they see a property you recommend that they thought they didn’t want? Or do you send properties that don’t make sense when you can’t find what they are looking for right away, fearing that fast engagement is better than no engagement? In any case, it’s a real turn-off to clients to feel as if they’ve been heard but then don’t see the results as a product of the conversation.
You may not be aware of such a situation, so it’s important to look for cues that tell you what your delivering is not in line with the client’s expectations. It’s clear when a client shoots down your recommendations, so take a moment to reassess their needs and ask them directly what it is that they don’t like about the properties you are sending them. This keeps them engaged and brings back some confidence that you are at least paying attention.
Doing your homework in advance will give you credibility, too. If you realize that your client is in search of a particular home or area, take the time to dig in and research what will and won’t work. Have a map and clear description to present to them, giving your advice on how your recommendations do fit their needs.
And, finally, be honest and upfront. If you can’t locate a property in an area that they desire at just that moment, then let them know. Tell them you are working hard to find just the right fit and that you’d like to come to them with as many options as possible but that it may take some time. They will appreciate that you are truly working with them to meet their needs. They are people after all and will understand the situation – they’re just happy they don’t have to do it themselves!
Your clients look to you as an expert in real estate, especially when they are new to a city, so don’t let them down. Building relationships is your strongest bet for success in this business, so really listening to your clients and showing and putting in your best efforts will yield better returns for you, and for them, in the long run.