If you want to truly be in control of your business, it's a really good idea to make sure everyone knows what is expected of each other when you begin a new relationship, don't you think? It doesn't matter what the situation is, this is a good rule to live by.
~ At your job, shouldn't the boss outline his or her expectations of the employees so all parties are working towards the same goal?
~ At a restaurant, is it fair that the customer expects good service to go along with tasty food and at the same time, be willing to pay a price commensurate with that service and food quality? Add in a comfortable atmosphere and ambiance and both parties win?
~ Don't relationships seem to work out better when everyone knows where the other person "is coming from"?
Understanding and establishing the proper expectations of Buyers and Sellers is one of the first things we should seek to do when working with new clients. Let's take a look at some of the basic expectations we should clear up at our initial meetings with prospective clients.
"Are Buyers Really...Liars?"
Have you ever heard that saying before? I hear it a lot but it's usually "behind the scenes" in the back hallways and workrooms of a real estate office. It seems to be said more often by agents who haven't taken the time to have a serious conversation with their Buyers before starting the process.
It drives me crazy that Realtors would think that their Buyer clients would actually set out to lie to them, wasting their own time and that of their agent. I just think Buyers don't really know what they want, where they want it or what they can afford.
There are three main areas of expectations we should focus on with Buyers:
Price Range - How much house can they get for the amount of money they are willing to invest in the transaction? If you've ever heard the expression "champagne taste and beer budget," then you've probably worked with a Buyer who just doesn't know what their money will get in a given market. By establishing this up front and educating the client on locations, house styles and amenities, many of the frustrations that Buyers and Realtors experience will be eliminated.
Time Frame - Is the client ready to be a "buyer" the first time they go out and start looking at houses or are they just a "looker"? What is their current living situation? Are they currently in a lease for the next 9-12 months or is their urgency such that they need to find a home sooner rather than later? Figure this out before you start driving around town "kicking tires."
Let Me Show You How I Work - Do you think that some buyers might have some misconceived ideas of what the role of the Realtor is? Take the time up front to explain how agency representation works in your local market, how showings are set up and how the MLS system might work with property feeds in comparison to Internet sites like Realtor.com, ColdwellBanker.com and other branded websites or your local company sites.
When a client knows that you have access to the most up-to-date information through the MLS and what they may see on the branded sites might be 48-72 hours old, perhaps they'll leave the searching to you...instead of finding homes out of their price range, in areas/neighborhoods they had no interest in or without the amenities they stated they "must have." We've all heard it before, right?
"We just want to take a look."
"Sure, it's out of our price range by $40,000...but the Sellers could always come down, couldn't they"
"It's not really that far 'out of the way', is it?"
Another thing to take into consideration with Buyers is what they expect out of the house they're purchasing. Here is a great video that I found on Coldwell Banker On Location. It comes from the folks at This Old House. It is ideal for that nervous Buyer that needs to know how long things may last in their new home. After watching it, it might be a video that you add to your Buyer Counseling Sessions or email to your clients after starting to work together so they have some of the knowledge they will need to make good decisions. Imagine something so simple as a 3 minute video helping remove some of that Buyer Remorse they may experience after writing a contract?
What other expectations do you think Buyers have when purchasing a home in today's market that we can establish or understand at the beginning of the transaction, instead of trying to "make it up as we go."?
We'll discuss Seller expectations in our next blog post.