My mind began to race. The guy for what??? How to miss a three foot putt? How to become a 30 handicap? How to burn a beautiful piece of meat on the grill? (And some other stuff I won’t mention)
Joe went on to say I would be helping him in his next real estate transaction. From this conversation and many others with prospective clients, I’ve come up with four things home buyers want from their agent in today’s ever changing real estate landscape.
The goal here is twofold-
- Help would be home buyers find “the guy” or “the gal” that will be their biggest asset in what is likely their largest financial transaction
- Help other agents become that asset while generating a load of repeat and referral business
1) They Want an Agent Who Actually Listens to Them
That’s right; we were created with two ears and one mouth for a reason. From the first contact, establishing the buyer’s goals, needs, wants and desires must be the primary objective. How else can you truly help them and how can you help them if you aren’t listening? The listening part isn’t just about gathering information so you can then respond back and show them how great or smart you are, but about getting on their level, empathizing with their situation and placing yourself in their shoes. After all, “they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
If in the back of their mind they are thinking “He/she is only after their next commission”, then they’ll see right through you and move on to the next agent who will listen. Today’s home buyer is more educated and sophisticated than ever. They already have access to the MLS. What they want is an advocate to teach them to interpret the data, help them make intelligent decisions, and navigate the process while avoiding the pitfalls they may not think of on their own. To boil this down, they want their agent to truly understand how serious their role is in their lives. Our job is to help people, not sell them.
2) They Want an Agent Who is an Area and Market Expert
This can be established before you ever meet in person. If the buyer is relocating to your area, where should they stay? What are the best restaurants? What should they do with their time when not viewing homes while in town? What are the area’s best schools? What if they want to rent a home in the area for a time before buying? The complete agent will want to be a community resource, anticipate these questions and make suggestions before they’re asked.
Do you have weekly market reports or monthly sales data on your site or blog? Do you have the tech savvy to set up a dedicated search with automated updates to keep them informed and on top of the market? If not, do something about it- NOW. How is your understanding of national economic trends and their effects on your market? How about the influence of Federal, state and local government policy? Not into that kind of stuff? You should be, as it impacts your business. Yes, it’s hard work. It takes a lot of time. Ever met a successful REALTOR who said this business is easy?
3) They Want an Agent with References and Favorable Reviews
Every business person has heard the term, “word of mouth is the best advertising.” It’s one thing to tell someone how wonderful you are (even your spouse and kids won’t believe that), while it’s quite another to have previous clients make the effort to post a testimonial on your website, reviews on Google, social media, etc. If they’re going to take the time out of their busy lives to do that, they must really like you and want to reward you for a job well done.
When a prospective buyer with a thousand questions (and even more doubts) sees this, it will give them great comfort that your track record proves you are up to the task. A sizable stack of handwritten cards and notes from past clients is in plain view on my desk for anyone to see. For some reason, wet stuff gets in my eyes whenever I read them.
4) They Want an Agent They Can Trust
This easily could have been first on the list, but without the other three it doesn’t mean much. Depending on the given market, home buyers may have hundreds (or even thousands) of agents to choose from. What is it that makes you stand out from most of the rest? Trust. I once heard someone say “Your word is your worth and your worth is your word.” If you say you’ll call them at an appointed time, do it. The same goes for emails and meetings. If they can’t trust what you say, what business do you have helping them with one of the biggest decisions of their lives?
I’m a huge fan of personal finance expert and author Dave Ramsey. Dave says, “When getting help with money, whether it is insurance, real estate or investments you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” So, what’s it going to be for your career, a teacher or a salesman? We as real estate agents have an uphill climb to put our industry into a more favorable light, especially when a potential buyer has already heard some horror stories from family or friends.
We also have a duty to the public to be the best we can be on their behalf. In time, those that do will be rewarded handsomely, both personally and financially.