Did you ever have to get a spinal tap?
I have, so I can tell you that I hope you never have to. They suck. They are scary and painful and have a ridiculous, splitting headache as a possible side effect. So, in addition to the fear of something being wrong with your health, there is panic induced anxiety of having a giant needle inserted into your spine. I will spare you the rest of the details. But rewind to me in a hospital bed at 28 years old, kind of freaking out about the impending procedure. The doctor approached me and I asked a bunch of questions and I admitted I was nervous. “Don’t worry, I do this everyday”. I immediately wanted to run the Hell out of there in my hospital gown. Hey Dr. Feelgood, you might do this everyday, but I don’t.
Fast forward to me out of the hospital and out with a buyer. A first time, nice yet needy buyer. The kind who asks questions about all the forms and isn’t sure about any part of the process. The kind who calls a lot. I found myself losing patience one day and caught just a flash of panic in the buyer’s face. I flashed back to that hospital bed and realized, in that moment, that my buyer was lying in his own hospital bed waiting for a scary needle. I vowed to always strive for empathy, and I make sure that every time I work with a client, I remember that this transaction, whether they are buying or selling, is probably the biggest, most expensive, and possibly scariest experience that have gone through in a really, really long time, if not ever.
Closing deals is great. Getting paid is fun and makes eating a whole lot easier, but there is way more to selling real estate than closing deals and getting paid.
Here is a list of 12 things you can do to make your buyer’s transaction less scary and pain free:
- KEEP TRACK OF DATES AND TASKS: I always start with the execution date and count the days from there. I send an email to the listing agent to make sure we are on the same page, then I send to the buyer. Be sure to give them an overview of the list and then actually explain and discuss the items in detail as they require action. Set reminders in your calendar to be sure you are on top of tasks and in constant contact with your buyer. As most of us know, missing a deadline can be costly to our client and is totally unnecessary.
- CLOSING COST ESTIMATE- When a buyer is getting serious about a property, complete a closing cost estimate and send to them. They need to know how much money they need to complete the transaction as well as what their monthly payment will be. It is easy enough to do on MLS. Take the time to learn how to do it rather than relying on the lender.
- PREVIEW PROPERTIES- When time allows, preview properties before you show them to your buyer. This will get you familiar with the property before you show it. For buyers who are busy, it can also save time by crossing houses off the list that you know won’t interest them.
- BE PROACTIVE- Aim to never make your buyer wait for an update by staying in contact with them and updating them every step of the way. No news is not a reason to not call them! If you have no news to report (no reply from seller, nothing new on the market) at least let them know so they don’t think you disappeared.
- FOLLOW THEIR PREFERRED METHOD OF COMMUNICATION- Whenever possible, follow the client’s lead. If they never answer your call but text you right back, take the hint and text them next time instead. There are times when you must use a phone call or an email, so just text them to let them know the call or email is coming. And my personal pet peeve- someone asks you to contact them back in a specific format, but you ignore them and choose another method. Ex. Client: Please email me back You: text text text . If you can’t listen to a simple request to email them, how can they trust that you will listen to what they want in buying a house???
- THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW-Most buyers don’t even know what the difference between homeowner’s insurance and title insurance is, let alone why they are getting it or how much it costs. Make sure to explain it to them in a simple and easy to understand way. Go over the lending process as well as home inspections. Keep them informed on all aspects of the transaction so they are comfortable in what they are signing up for. Assume they don’t know anything and start from there.
- INTRODUCE THEM TO PROVIDERS THAT YOU TRUST- Share your network of lenders, inspectors, title companies and insurance companies with them. In order to be fair to your client and to protect yourself from liability, aim for 3 suggestions in each category. Be extremely leery of providing only one name. Let the buyer decide rather than you deciding.
- SETTLEMENT CAN BE SCARY- By the time she’s walking into settlement, your buyer is probably a mix of nervous and excited. The room can be intimidating if you look at it from the buyer’s perspective. There is a giant table surrounded by a bunch of strangers and mounds of papers to sign. Be calm and smile and introduce your client to every person in the room and explain what their role is. When going over the documents, be sure to give thorough, easy to understand explanation of what they are signing as well as why they are signing it.
- REFRAIN FROM USING LINGO-You are dealing with a buyer, not swapping war stories with your office buddies. Use plain language instead of work lingo that they won’t understand. Not only will it confuse them, it can make you appear obnoxious and unreachable. Be nice and friendly instead.
- GET THEM A GIFT- Buying a home is super exciting and a cause for celebration. Make the day even more special by giving them a small housewarming gift. Use your creativity and try to get them something personal that they will love for their new home. Have a standard gift on standby for the situations where you can’t think of anything. Do not let indecision be an excuse for not celebrating this most joyous event!
- DON’T DISAPPEAR AFTER CLOSING- Follow up with your buyer several times after closing to make sure they had a great move and to stay in touch. They might have questions or need recommendations. You should be the one they come to. By the time they get to settlement, you have probably developed a relationship and spent a lot of time together. Don’t just disappear on them because you got your commission check. Keep in contact and show that you really do care and you will not only have a client for life, but maybe a friend too!
- VALUE YOUR CLIENT- This is a short list of ways to make your client feel comfortable through a potentially scary process. At every step of the way, try to remember what it was like when you bought your first home or did your first few real estate transactions. Treat your client with care and respect. Let them know that you encourage their questions and comments and that no question is a dumb question.
Real estate is a people business. It is not about houses. Building relationships with people is how they become clients, and building good, solid relationships is the path to repeat business and referrals.
Do you have a special tip on amazing ways to treat your buyer? I’d love for you to share it in the comments section below.
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