Managing real estate client expectations can be a challenge for brokers, especially when working with first-time buyers or sellers. Here are five tips that will help keep the process on track and help you build strong relationships with your North Carolina real estate clients.
1. Be genuine and honest
Being genuine may be a fundamental principle of providing client services, but it is all too easy to forget. You may say “yes” to please your client when saying “maybe ” or “no” might be the better reply. Being realistic when a client wants to sell a property for twice the market value, or when a buyer wants to find a bargain in a hot market, pays off in the end. You never want to hear a client complain, “But you promised me a buyer at my required sales price.”
2. Educate your clients
Clients often go into buying or selling with little knowledge of real estate. Thanks to the Internet, as well as TV programs that show clients easily finding their dream house after just looking at a few homes, clients have access to a lot of information—some of it quite inaccurate.
Take pricing, for example. Jamal Asskoumi, owner of CastleSmart, an online real estate agency, says, “The common misconception that many homebuyers come into the process having is that price can be negotiated to what they want.” Most homebuyers are looking for a home with a specific budget in mind, and if they see a property they love, they will want to make an offer that is sometimes unrealistic.
“Some buyers will insist on making incredibly low offers, which unintentionally are disrespectful to the seller and a waste of time for both parties,” he continues. He makes sure to sit down with his clients before making the offer to advise them on what might be realistic, even though the decision is ultimately theirs. “Most of the time, they take my advice after this discussion.”
Clients also need to be educated as to just how much house they can afford. Dr. Shawn Council, an attorney who is also a licensed broker in Connecticut and Maryland, points out that buyers often do not know their credit scores. He adds that they often do not know what the average house costs in their desired neighborhood. Moreover, they often do not know the current fair market value of the house that they currently occupy.
He says, “As a real estate professional, I try to help them navigate between their desires and their home buying or selling reality.”
3. Stay in touch
When working with new clients, find out their preferred communication method. Some clients may prefer face-to-face meetings while others are too busy and prefer emails, phone calls, or texts. Find out how often your clients want to communicate. Do they want updates on a daily or weekly basis? Or would they prefer you not call until you have an offer in hand? Establish this from the beginning to avoid miscommunication.
Nathan Garrett, a Realtor with Garretts Realty Group in Louisville, Kentucky, likes to follow up with his clients at least once a week, even if he has no new information to share. “Reach out to them and let them know what they can expect in the coming weeks ahead,” he advises.
4. Be a good listener
Listening is an important tool in dealing with clients. In real estate, clients may be unsure of what they want, or they may be unable to articulate it. It’s up to you to listen carefully so you can identify what is being conveyed. One good method for doing this is to repeat what you believe you have heard from your client to confirm its accuracy.
Do not take anything for granted based solely on your observations. For example, just because your buyer currently has a three-car garage, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want their new home to have the same size garage. Don’t count on observations to determine what a client may want in a new home; ask questions—and listen to the answers.
5. Show empathy and compassion
It’s easy to forget what it’s like to enter into the complex world of buying and selling real estate without a lot of experience. Sellers may be selling even if they do not want to. Buyers might be downsizing because their children have moved out. Buying and selling real estate can be an emotional process, and your clients have more going on in their lives than just this transaction. Having empathy and compassion for what they may be experiencing will make you a more effective real estate broker.
Good communication is key to managing client expectations. Keep these tips in mind to help ensure your North Carolina real estate clients enjoy the process and look to you when it comes time for their next transaction.