Use Your Selling Skills With Buyers

Follow these tips to help make the home search go more smoothly for your buyers.

December 1, 2004

Just because you work with buyers doesn’t mean you can turn off your selling skills. To truly thrive at helping clients find and buy a home, you need a different type of selling talent; you must be able to provide the right information so they know what to expect and feel confident to make a decision. It’s also your job to make sure they don’t miss out on properties that could be great fit.

Here are some things you can do to make the homebuying process successful for you and the buyer.

Dispel Visions of Perfection

Don't allow buyers to waste time with unrealistic expectations of perfection. Before you start showing homes, explain to buyers that all homes—even brand new ones—need some kind of work. There’s no such thing as a maintenance-free home that doesn’t show wear and tear, and there rarely are homes that perfectly suit a buyer without a little bit of customization.

Pictures can help buyers overcome their fears of making improvements. Show a few before-and-after photos of homes you've sold or remodeled so that they can see that remodeling isn't scary and a few changes can make a huge difference. Show various types of updating: paint and decor only, minor remodeling, and major gutting and rebuilding. Your buyers will see the dramatic differences a little or a lot of work can make on properties. They will view homes with a more open mind and the ability to make a decision.

Prepare Buyers to Compromise

Getting the right home at the right price, the right condition, and the right location often requires some compromise on one criteria or another. Maybe the right home is located in a different neighborhood than the buyer thinks he wants, yet is priced right and in near-perfect condition. Or it can need a lot of work, but it's located right where the buyer wants to be.

Let the buyer know that it’s normal to make compromises when buying a home, and encourage them to keep an open mind about properties that don’t fit all of their specifications.

Know the Inventory Personally

A lot of confusion, disappointment, and wasted time can easily be eliminated through previewing. Virtual tours are a good way for practitioners to skip MLS tours and show their buyers an advance peek at homes. But nothing compares to showing a home you’ve already seen yourself, especially when you can compare it to other homes in the neighborhood that you also have seen personally.

Take copious notes and keep feature sheets on all houses you view and file them by address so that you can easily compare notes on homes later. Don't throw out your notes on homes that sell, as you may find those homes may come back on the market again in a short period of time. You never know when you will be called upon to show a home that you have a lot of information about. You can answer your buyer's questions with authority because you’ve seen the other options. Your buyers will be impressed.

Explore Fixer-Uppers

Buyers have all kinds of reasons for buying a home, even one that needs so much work it makes you want to hold your nose. All communities need the revitalization that buyers bring to older homes and neighborhoods, keeping cities and towns vibrant instead of stagnant.

Updates and maintenance show pride, and pride helps homes and neighborhoods retain and gain value. Improvements help homeowners gain equity quickly, which is good for the community, economy and for you when it comes to resell the home.

Make an Effort to Be in the Know

Practitioners sometimes operate on old news because they don't take time to do the research necessary to remain current. One thing you can do is visit local schools and businesses to find out the latest accomplishments.

Also, watch the newspaper for leasing space to see if employers are moving people in or out of the neighborhood, and talk to the local chamber of commerce for news about company relocations and how business and city services impact your area. You'll be more up-to-date than your competitors and your buyers will be impressed with the extent of your knowledge.

Be a Leader By Getting Involved

If you want to be respected by your buyers and your peers, then be a practitioner who leads instead of follows. You may see colleagues promoting one neighborhood while you see the charm and value in another. So show the neighborhood you like with enthusiasm, and set the pace by pointing out the strong points to buyers and investors.

Be the one to tell city planners what you need to promote neighborhoods in your area. If your area has potholes in the street or needs more street lamps, get in touch with your city council representative.

You also could sponsor a Saturday clean-up of the local park, or write a real estate advice column for the local neighborhood paper. Start an online discussion group for your neighborhood and list resources like local events, news, and contacts so buyers will have a place to meet people and learn about the community on their own.

(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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