Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Michael Dailey, a real estate broker with Tri View Property Investments, on how agents should communicate with clients.
In many professions, you can spend more of your time doing your work amongst people who are all participating on the same level of understanding. In our business, most customers are coming in without a lot of knowledge of how a real estate transaction works, how to find a property or how to get a fair price.
Communication is key, because you are their guide and translator in an unfamiliar world. Tax escrows, attorney reviews and earnest money checks can create a lot of stress in a homebuyer or seller if they’ve not been explained before the rubber hits the road and they’re under contract. The more you know about them the more likely you are to find that perfect home and close a smooth transaction.
With all the other things an agent must focus on to build business and keep their deals on track, here are some things to remember when communicating with your clients:
3. Who – Most experienced agents will have a quick rundown of who they are and a basic outline of their experience in the real estate industry. Once you’ve shared that with your clients, don’t forget to ask questions and listen so you can learn more about them. Agents like to talk. We can yap on for days about just about anything and forget to ask questions. It’s easy to just chat about what the client wants and then move on to setting up showings…without taking the time to get to know their motivation for buying or selling.
Obviously, you don’t want to get overly personal, but you will need to know as much about your clients as possible to ensure you find a property that will match who they are and where they want to be. Are they looking for vintage fixer upper or a low maintenance modern? Do they live to entertain guests, or prefer being close to nightlife in the neighborhood? If they’re selling, what did they love about their the home and the neighborhood? When getting to know your clients, ask easy questions and listen really hard.
2. What – It’s easy to forget, when you are going through another deal, that most of your clients have little or no knowledge of how a real estate transaction works. And why would they? Any guy that’s ever gone engagement ring shopping will probably tell you about how he became an expert on diamonds for about a week and then completely forgot all about it once she said “yes.” Even someone who purchased a home 10 years ago will be entering into a very different environment in the ever-changing world of residential real estate.
Go over the whole process with them so they understand the steps. Stop to ask questions along the way to make sure they understand. Don’t let them just tell you they know all about it. Unless they have a lot of recent experience under their belt, they will need you to lay out the groundwork so there are no surprises once you get into the thick of it. Once the transaction is under way, make sure to sign post each step along the way and remind them of what’s coming next. Remember that to you, it may be just another transaction, but for them, it’s one of the most important purchases of their lives. Whatever their preferred method of communication, make sure to check in often along the way, even if it’s just to say you’re still waiting to hear from the attorney, the lender or the inspector.
1. Where – Now that you’ve got a feel for who they are and explained what they should expect over the course of their transaction, the pump is primed and you are ready to start looking at property. Unless they just won the lottery or inherited a billion dollars, most buyers have to deal with the tension between what they want and what they can afford. You can save yourself a lot of wasted time by finding out not just where they would like to look for a home, but why. Maybe they say they want to look for homes in Fancyville Village, because they love being able to walk to nice resturants and be near a commuter train.
But they also have told you they are on a tight budget. If you know what they love so much about Fancyville Village, you can recommend they look in Up And Coming Town, where they can get everything they want for a lot less money. Anyone can show them a house in Fancyville Village but you prove your worth when you can listen, learn and use that information to find the perfect match.
Michael Dailey is a real estate broker with Tri View Property Investments. With more than 10 years experience working with buyers and sellers of residential real estate. Michael’s background as a former mortgage broker and construction manager gives him a unique advantage to assist anyone looking to purchase property in the improving, but sometimes confusing landscape of today’s market. Additionally, Michael is a noted actor, and is the associate artistic director at Strawdog Theatre Company.