The phone rings and a buyer is on the other end asking about the price of a home located at 111 Pick-a-name St. Because this is your listing you can, in great detail, describe the home from the tile flooring to the new shingles on the roof. However, the buyer only wants the price.
Your initial response to the buyer’s question is probably going to be along the lines of:
My name is Greg Staker. This is a great home you have called about, and may I ask your name. Or your response might be; let me pull this information and send you an email or give you a call with the information, your contact information is?
Your goal is to get the buyer’s contact information, find out what they want and then sell them what they want. More often than not you find out quickly that the person calling is not concerned about your goals.
Your goals are not the buyers
You are most likely one of several agents this buyer has called today or this week, asking about a house. There is an old saying, why buy the cow when the milk is free, and this is played out daily in real estate offices throughout the country. Inexperienced and less successful agents are more than happy to act as information providers without requiring any commitment from the buyer. List prices or addresses are offered up freely to anonymous persons on the other end of the line. In return, the potential buyer is unwilling to offer up the information you have requested and will counter you with any of the following excuses.
I just want to know the price.
I am looking for a friend.
I want to drive by the home.
When encountering those excuses, many agents offer the buyer the same service as other agents in hopes of starting a customer relationship with the buyer. How many times have you said or heard someone say this to a buyer?
I have access to all of the listings for sale in this area; there is no need for you to call anyone else.
It is better for you to pick an agent and let them do the leg work for you so that you don’t miss out on the latest listings?
A few agents even give in to magical thinking; somehow, someway this buyer will just call them back. The only thing of “value” the agent offers is their cell phone number.
I’ll provide you with my cell phone number and if you like the home or see another home you’re interested in, give me a call.
When you offer the buyer the same value as the agent before you, and the agent after you, what reason would the buyer have to commit to you?
If they commit to you in the small things, the big things will follow.
The buyer does not know you. There are no reasons for the buyer to feel comfortable enough to commit to anything. Fear creates trust issues. Buyer fears are based on their uncertainty, inexperience, bad experiences, or feelings of being rushed into a decision. Establishing a relationship with the buyer or getting a commitment from them is best handled in small steps.
The first step in relationship building is in letting them know right from the start that you can provide them with something of real value. Immediately after their initial inquiry about price or location you may want to respond in a manner similar to the following.
You may be happy to learn that my services as an agent are free to you. Additionally, I am able to provide you with the information you need to purchase the best home for the best price.
You just told them you can provide them with what the 2009 National Association of REALTORS survey indicated that buyers want most from a real estate agent. Help in finding the right home to purchase. Initially, you’ve not asked for anything from them, which helps to ease their fears, you have also eased the fear of uncertainty as it relates to what this is going to cost them by your use of the word “free”.
From your initial offer you will then move to the next step in helping them feel at ease. When a buyer feels at ease, it helps them to open up to the possibility of their trust and commitment to you. I suggest holding back from boring housing statistics which could result in you coming across to the buyer as cold and uninvolved and instead replace those stats with a story about the home or neighborhood that a friend might tell over a glass of tea.
Let me provide you with the specific information you have requested. By-the-way, my name is Greg Staker. You are asking about the price of the home at 111 Pick-a-name St.? I love that area. I remember walking down that street on my way to school or the community park is a great place for picnic, or my granddaughter took her first ride on a swing close to the house you’re asking about.
If they are residents of your community, you might then add a follow up question, perhaps asking what school they attended or you could ask them a “do you remember when” question about the city or community. If they are new to the area, then your follow up might include an additional highlight about the area; you could tell them they will want to visit the local library or a popular downtown store.
So far, in addition to offering them something of value, you have shown them that you know the area, live in the area and can help them get to know the area. You spoke to them about growing up in the community and a few of the good features to be found. This helps to take you from a salesperson in their eyes and turn you into more of a neighbor/person.
Your next step is to ask one small favor of them.
Ok, I have the information here. I am sorry, when I introduced myself I did not ask you for your name?
At this point it is reasonable to expect the buyer feels comfortable enough to offer you their name. Once you know who you are speaking with you can proceed with building a relationship by again offering them something of value.
By the way Mr. Buyer since we are talking about price, did you know that the median sales price of a home in this area is $$$$? That is right, $$$$. Half of the homes sold this year have been lower and half have been higher than $$$$! Is it your goal to purchase a home lower than, higher than or around the median sales price?
You are hoping to spend lower? Great, there are 1,000 homes listed right now for sale that are lower than the median sales price. The particular price of the home you’re inquiring about is $$$. If you’d be willing to provide me with your email address/phone number, I’d be happy to screen the current list of homes in your price range. I can also include size and location or other criteria you’re seeking and provide you with the addresses and prices, if that would be convenient for you?
Earlier I discussed how every agent the buyer speaks to will offer to provide them with information on all houses for sale in their area. But you are the only agent who will offer to provide them with more.
Not only can I provide you with a list of homes for sale in that area, I can take it one step further.
- I can provide you a list of homes that are being sold with a home warranty for your added protection against costly repair work after you move in.
- I can provide you a list of homes that have had new roofs or tiling or carpet or windows, etc installed within the past year.
- I can provide you a list of homes where the seller is offering to pay a portion of your closing costs.
- I can provide you a list of homes where the seller has indicated they are motivated to sell, perhaps resulting in a better deal for you.
- I can provide you a list of homes complete with a comparison chart of what similar homes have sold for so that you are comfortable you are not paying too much.
You can go on and on adding to the list or including features or concessions that the buyer has indicated is important to them, thus providing even more value to a task that everyone says they can do, it is just that you can do the same task, better.
Once the buyer gives you a name and contact information, you are half way there to commitment, to allowing you to assist them with the purchase of their home. The rest of the way will require that you continue to offer them service and care of real value that other agents do not offer.
Using the steps above will help you get a commitment that allows you to start building a customer service relationship from buyers who call you while on floor or from your advertisements. – Remember to listen, listen, listen and be sincere with your potential customer, instead of sounding like you’re reading, well, a script. – From there it is up to you to continue providing the buyer with reasons to trust and have confidence in you in order for you to maintain that commitment with them throughout your sales career.