We’ve all been here – at your wit’s end with a buyer. I have an agent who was beyond frustrated with one of her buyers. His goals kept changing. His price range kept getting lower. And no property seemed to fit the bill. In fact, there was a complete disconnect between what he wanted and what he was prepared to pay for it. But, it didn’t stop him wanting to see almost everything new that came on the market, whether or not it filled his previously identified criteria.
My agent came to one of her coaching sessions with me wanting to discuss how to fire the client. It pained her that this was where she was with this client. She had spent a great deal of time and energy helping him to find the right property but she had reached a point where all she felt she was doing was wasting her time.
We talked about what was really frustrating her about the process and the client and it became clear to me that the issue really lay with two things:
- The client’s lack of clarity about his true goals
- The agent’s lack of information about what was going on for the client
The agent and I discussed how she might resolve these two issues. She decided that a face to face meeting – outside of any property viewings – would help her talk to the client and ask some questions to obtain more information. We rehearsed how the conversation might go and came up with a list of questions she could ask him.
The end result? My agent was able to help the client re-establish his goals for his home purchase. Her questions challenged him to clarify what was important for him and together they came up with a new list of criteria for his ideal home. The relaxed format of the meeting also encouraged him to open up a little and he admitted that he had not received a bonus he was expecting and that this has caused him some anxiety about what he could afford. The agent encouraged him to talk to his financial advisor and to his mortgage officer to clarify the price range he wanted to keep within.
Of course every situation is different, but before you throw in the towel with a client who doesn’t seem to be able to make up his or her mind, try these few things first:
- Set up a face to face meeting, preferably in a location that is comfortable for the client.
- Acknowledge how frustrating the search must be for the client (chances are, if you are frustrated, they are too).
- Talk about the facts – “You tell me that you want to live in this location and that you want to spend this much, but all the homes available in your desired neighborhood are priced higher than your comfort level.” Don’t talk through your emotions, “You are unrealistic about what you are going to get for your money!”
- Ask questions, and, more importantly, listen to the answers. “What is MOST important for you in your new home?” “What are you prepared to compromise on?” “What have you learned so far in your home search?” Keep asking questions. Get the client to really think about the answers and open up.
- Remind your client that you are on their side, working to help them.
This is the part of being a real estate agent that requires sophisticated interpersonal skills. This is where you prove to your client that you are more than just a door opener.