November 22, 2009

What Do You Expect - Part II

In our last blog post, we focused on the expectations Buyers may have when searching for a house and how to best handle them. Now let's talk about the expectations we might encounter from the Sellers we will work with.

It's been said that most Sellers want the same five things when utilizing the services of a Realtor in the sale of their house - Price, Time, Convenience, Communication & Diligent Effort.

They want the highest price the shortest amount of time...with the least amount of inconvenience. They also want to have good communication between themselves and the agent they hire and they would like to see a diligent effort by the Realtor.

Would you say that those factors are important and should be addressed with every Seller we work with? I think so, too. I also feel that in exchange for our ability to deliver on those expectations that we should be fairly compensated for it. So if we're hoping to obtain a fell fee for the full services we are asked to provide, let's discuss how we can address these five expectations of most Sellers.

Get Me the Highest Price Possible

Pricing is perhaps the hardest thing we do in our jobs when it comes to Seller representation. If we really knew the exact price the house would sell for in the exact time the Sellers wanted, we would have a long line of clients waiting to work with us.

We must first use a blend of statistical analysis (Competitive Market Analysis) and personal experience to determine the proper price for a home. Remember the old saying that says "a house is only worth what the best offer obtainable from the best Buyer available in the current market is" so we must focus on attracting the "best Buyers available."

Use Logic, Not Emotion

Every sale involves both logic and emotion. When selling a house, what do you think the Seller will have more of? That's right...emotion. So which do you think you, as the professional, should have more of?

Try not to get emotionally sucked in to the Sellers emotions of raising their children in the house, feeling their pain of their financial pressures or riding the "ego train" to be the highest price in the neighborhood. You've got to share the logical information that will best position the house to attract that "best Buyer available" that we mentioned earlier.

What About Building in "Wiggle Room"?

Remind your Sellers that most Buyers don't negotiate to market value, they negotiate from market value. When today's savvy Buyers find a great home at a price that is at or close to "market value," they are less focused on negotiating the Sellers down as they are focused on not losing the house to another market savvy Buyer. If it starts out too high, those same savvy Buyers will keep looking until they perceive some value.

It's a Matter of Timing

If Sellers start the process thinking it's going to take them 9-12 months to get their house sold, do you think they are realistic about their asking price? Have they watched other homes in the neighborhood hit the market at one price only to drop their prices monthly and eventually sell for 85-90% of their original listing price after a year? Yet, they want to start their listing at the same price as their neighbors original asking price because "their house is better!"?

Come prepared to show them how that neighbor ended up costing themselves - in lost opportunity, added mortgage and carrying costs and possibly savings on their next home.

Easy Does It?

Sellers often don't realize how stressful it could be to sell a house. Let's share with them all that it takes to prepare for showings...and that's just a start. The house remaining clean and available to unknown buyers and agents on a daily basis can get old real quick. Making sure the house is ready to show at any given time might be the best chance to avoid missing the next "buyer." Consider using a professional home-stager as well as suggesting the Sellers order a pre-inspection of their home to avoid any unforeseen issues once the property does sell. And now might be a good time to let them know that once it gets "into contract" that the work is just beginning. Getting it to the closing table is a whole separate level of work.

Let's Stay In Touch

If there is one common complaint we hear from most disgruntled Sellers or from those listings that have "expired" with their last listings agent, it's that they "never heard from their agent." Please don't let this happen to you. Establish at the initial meeting how the client prefers to be communicated with. Do they prefer phone calls? E-mails? Text messages? In person?

Once you know how they want to be communicated with, establish the expectations of how often and why you will communicate with them. Then it's up to you to fulfill their expectations.

Here's what I suggest you say or do:

"Mr. & Mrs. Seller. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with you and help you get your home sold and your family to Atlanta"

"I pride myself on my communication and feel that it will be important for us to have a regularly scheduled time to talk each week so I can keep you informed and up-to date. On those weekly calls, we'll discuss the happenings of the market, specifically our competition - what's sold, who has dropped prices, what has gone pending and any listings that may have expired or been withdrawn."

"We'll also discuss the weekly marketing efforts we will make to attract the best Buyers and keep you informed of Buyer activity in your neighborhood and price range as well as any other factors which may affect your homes perception of value in the market."

"Right now, I make those Seller Update calls on Monday or Wednesday afternoons, between 4 and 6pm. Which time slot will work best for you?"

If you did this on a regular basis, do you think it would eliminate the ability for your Sellers to say they never hear from you? If they had a concern and it was Tuesday evening, do you think they may just wait until you call them on Wednesday during your regularly scheduled call?

You might be surprised that you hardly ever have to discuss "repositioning" their home from a pricing standpoint. After sharing with them news about their competition dropping prices, going into contract or new homes hitting the market, just ask them if their time frame to get to their next destination is still the same. They'll begin to get the idea that they need to be properly priced to attract those "best buyers."

Are Your Trying Your Hardest?

Realtors are not magicians. We can't make houses sell just because we or the Sellers want them to. What we can do is be honest with our clients, provide them with the necessary information to make good decisions and then deliver on the promises we made to our clients to provide truly remarkable service.

Establishing these expectations at the beginning of our relationships with Sellers and then always reminding ourselves of those expectations will help us continue to offer full service efforts. When we under promise and over deliver with today's Sellers, it sure does make it easier to cash those checks for our full fee. When we give the clients what they expect, it seems fair that we get what we expect, doesn't it?

Until next time, keep building relationships...solving problems...and having fun!