It’s no secret that buying or selling a home can be a complicated and even confusing process for your clients. Whether they’re buying a starter home or trying to get the most money out of their existing home, the process can cause sleepless nights, irritability, and tension in a family. And finding the right home in a community they desire where they can afford property taxes and insurance without being house poor can be an arduous process.
But experienced brokers throughout the country have developed their own styles and methods to ease their clients’ anxiety. Here are five of their best practices to reduce clients’ worries.
1. Create a list. Too often, real estate professionals forget that they know the process inside and out, but their clients don’t. “Even an experienced seller or buyer needs reminders of what’s going on,” says Andee Post, broker-associate at Keller Williams Valley Realty in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. One of the best ways to alleviate stress for buyers or sellers is to have the plan laid out in writing that they can take with them. This could be a list of the buying or selling steps, allowing clients to follow along. “I even have a check box, so they can check off what we have done,” Post says. But remember, not every deal is the same, and sometimes going off the checklist is inevitable. You can always navigate your way back and get on track to closing.
2. Set up presale inspection. The real estate industry hasn’t fully embraced this concept yet, but George Fotion, broker-owner of Call Realty Best Palos Verdes Homes in Palo Verdes Estates, Calif., hopes it will catch on. “I decided this was a great idea when one of my clients in Palos Verdes was moving to the San Francisco Bay area,” he says. The process of buying a home there was intimidating to his client. Buyers often make offers on very expensive homes with no contingencies and no inspections in the Bay Area market. The listing agent that Fotion worked with on the other side of the table provided a presale inspection to ease the buyer’s overwhelming feelings. “I thought it was a terrific idea,” Fotion says. “In the normal life of an escrow, the stress can be high with negotiations over price and terms.” Now he recommends the practice of getting a presale inspection to his sellers, which leads to a more competitive listing and smoother closing because it usually removes potential contingencies from an offer. The buyer feels more comfortable that the seller that isn’t hiding anything. Agents feel better because they can count on the sale moving forward. An inspection in his area costs between $400 and $600, he adds.
3. Keep emotions to a minimum. “We, as agents, have to keep our cool and stay level-headed, no matter what any of the other parties are doing,” says Kirk West, broker-owner of West & Woodall in Durham and Hyco Lake, N.C. You are representing your client, but you still have to be courteous and professional with the agent on the other side of the table, even if you disagree with them at times. Everyone deserves respect. Also, remind your buyers “not to fall in love with the house, because the house will not love you back,” West says. This helps keep emotions in check and puts things into perspective for clients. While it can still be an exciting and fun process, at the end of the day, if your clients don’t get the house, you’ll find them another one.
4. Work face-to-face. Building a relationship with clients helps German Llanos ease their frustrations and worries. As owner and managing broker of 24 Hour Real Estate LLC in Chicago, he believes that face-to-face meetings are the cornerstone of developing that trust. “Breaking bread, drinking coffee, and getting to know each other is everything,” he says. When Llanos trains his agents, he tells them that texting isn’t going to build a relationship.
5. Be upfront. One of the most important practices for West is being open and honest with his clients. “I tell them that I’m not here to tell them what they want to hear. I’m here to tell them what they need to hear. This is why they are hiring me,” he says. For instance, he’s not afraid to tell his sellers exactly what needs to cleaned up, changed, or fixed in their home before listing. It’s all for the sake of getting them top dollar.