Get to the Root of Buyers' Objections

How you overcome objections shows your strengths and experience as a real estate practitioner.

August 1, 2004

In any market, buyers will have objections when you show them homes. One of your most important skills as a salesperson is to know how to overcome those objections. If you don't, you could spend your real estate career driving people to hundreds of homes without ever closing a sale.

Not all objections are the same. Some are deal breakers, but most aren't. And with enough experience under your belt, you'll know that even deal-breaker objections can be overcome under the right circumstances. So listen when your buyer tells you they don't want stairs, swimming pools, or zero-lot-line properties. But don't be surprised when they buy the biggest two-story on the block with—you guessed it—a pool.

How you handle objections shows your strengths and experience as a real estate practitioner. The best approach is to listen to the buyer and acknowledge his objections, but also test the boundaries a little. Ask the buyer: “Is this a wish list? Which items are not subject to compromise?” A play yard for the kids probably is written in stone, so it doesn’t make sense to waste your time showing that buyer infill townhomes.

Remember, by asking questions all you are doing is establishing a place to start, not to finish.

When you get to the homes, that's when most objections will start. If you can't overcome the objections and find yourself showing house after house, while both you and your buyers grow in frustration, chances are you weren’t following these guidelines:

Educate the Buyer, Ask Enough Questions, and Listen.

Get your buyers prepared to buy, financially and emotionally. That means getting them prequalified by a trustworthy lender and sitting them down for a reality check. Let them know what they can expect to find within certain price ranges, types of homes, and neighborhoods. You also need to tell them about the extra or unexpected costs of buying a home, like how much property taxes can increase from year to year. Then you need to get their wish list and no-compromise list, and put together homes to view.

Let's say you have a single female buyer who wants to buy close to her job downtown, but also wants a quiet neighborhood that's safe. You know this request is going to be hard to fulfill because it’s full of contradictions. It's best to speak up now by telling her the closer she gets to downtown, the noisier and more crowded it’s likely to be. However, she could feel really safe and have more privacy in a high rise or a gated townhome community. Ask if she would consider either of those options.

Work Towards a Compromise.

Let's say you take her shopping for homes in the city, and she likes the homes but still complains about the street noise. It's the urban setting she said she wanted, but now she's uncomfortable with the reality of what it will really mean to live downtown.

Ask her if she can hear the street noise when she is inside the home. If the windows are old, suggest she replace the windows with double-pane, noise reduction windows. Ask if she would want the home if the seller were to replace the windows. Find out if she likes the convenience of the location, except for the noise, or if she would rather trade convenience for a home that is a little further away from the bustle.

Let the next home you show her be a little further away, and then she can decide which is more important. You may end up selling her a high-rise condominium or townhome after all.

Test Your Buyer’s Objections.

When you think about it, the most sincere objection is simply: "I don't want this. I want that." But most objections are phrased more like this: "But this home has this problem or doesn't have that feature." Most problems and lack of features are easily solved. It's just a matter of determining at what cost.

Have you ever heard this one? "I love the kitchen, but it doesn't have granite." Since most objections come from not thinking a situation through, a buyer will voice an objection off the top of his head. It doesn't mean it's a real objection, but if you take it at face value, it certainly becomes one.

So test it. Ask the buyer, "Except for the lack of granite in the kitchen, do you like this home? Would you buy it if we could get the seller to install granite for you, or would you rather offer a little less and install your own selection?"

Don’t Follow the Crowd.

The multi-tasking nature of real estate sales means you’re going to have to cut corners somewhere. Knowing your neighborhoods shouldn't be one of them.

For example, there's an area of Dallas that is near a hot Tudor-home redo market near downtown and also has a blue-ribbon elementary school. The homes are getting very expensive and now crime is creeping in with car and home break-ins because this neighborhood is near major highways into downtown.

Yet, real estate practitioners are reluctant to show homes north of Mockingbird Lane, which borders this neighborhood, because homes in that area aren't Tudors, but ordinary 50s-style ranch homes. Overall, the area offers better values, safer insulation from the crime-ridden highway, and also happens to be in the same blue ribbon school district.

But these homes languish in a lower trading range primarily because of the prejudices of practitioners who pass along their upturned-nose objections that this neighborhood isn't as desirable as south of Mockingbird. If real estate professionals were looking at other factors, rather than listening to their peers, they would have happy clients moving into bargain homes and setting new areas on fire with rising home values.

Recently, the school district redrew its boundaries and nearly half the Tudor homes in the "hot" area will no longer be in the blue-ribbon school district. But the homes north of Mockingbird will be.

So if your buyer offers you an objection that they don't want to be north or south of a certain street, especially when they can't afford where they think they should be, you know they have been listening to the wrong real estate practitioners and you have the opportunity to help them.

Encourage Buyers to Keep an Open Mind.

Instead of dwelling on what they can't afford, suggest that they let you show them something that might open their ideas a bit. You know that Tudors are on their way out and California ranch homes are in. Just look at the latest Pottery Barn catalog and you won't find a single Elizabethan stick of furniture in it, but you'll find plenty of low-slung, mid-century modern furniture ideal for ranch-style homes.

If you take your buyers to a really well-decorated ranch home, you might be able to sell them a home they can afford, their children will love, and they will enjoy decorating.

If you are really doing your homework, you're not only keeping up with trends, you're setting a few of your own. Let other real estate professionals follow your lead.

(c) Copyright 2004 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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