Real Estate Journal, April 2012
by Tina Liptai
Whether you are a residential sales or buyers’ agent, how you manage a client’s stress and anxiety can make all the difference to a sale.
Your approach to dealing with a vendor’s anxiety and stress can not only smooth the path to a sale but also make it a positive experience.
For many people, buying and selling property is one of the biggest financial transactions they will make in their life.
When the sale is the result of difficult personal circumstances, like a relationship breakdown or financial trouble, then the whole experience can become a tumultuous ordeal.
The changing market and price negotiations are something you navigate everyday. By showing a vendor they can be confident in your expertise, you can significantly reduce their stress about the process.
Danny Grant, sales consultant at Ray White Lower North Shore, said being aware of and avoiding possible trigger points which could cause stress for a vendor was important.
“I have a rule in my campaigns: no mistakes,” he said.
“I try to avoid doing anything that could result in my client taking their stress or emotion out on me. You’ve got to be confident and do everything right the first time.”
Establishing clear rules and a routine for reliable communication is also very important to building a good rapport with your client.
Being sensitive to a vendor’s individual circumstances and emotional state is also important and may require you to be flexible to tailor the routine to their needs.
“Usually, I meet face-to-face with clients once a week and I speak with clients on the phone almost daily, usually in the evening. For some particularly emotional clients, you might need face-to-face contact more often,” Danny said.
“Weekly written reports that are detailed are also really important, so the vendor knows exactly what is going on. After an open house, a face-to-face meeting is useful; I find the face-to-face meeting can prevent a lot of angst in vendors.”
While prevention of a stressful situation is always better than a cure, being honest with your vendor should be a priority.
“Some agents seem to think it’s beneficial to shield the vendor from what is happening,” Danny said.
“I think it is much better to tell the vendor how it is very early in the campaign because the longer you go on without correcting any problems, the worse it is going to be.”
Control your emotions
It is important not to get too caught up in a vendor’s personal circumstances or let it impact on your ability to act professionally.
“We deal with so many different types of owners who are in different circumstances, from needing to sell the property because of divorce through to clients who have already bought a new property and are stressed about selling for the right price,” Danny said.
“You need to have empathy, but also realise they got themselves in that situation not you.”
Danny says it’s important to always offer the best professional advice to your clients, even if it’s not what they want to hear.
“We are professionals and we have to give clients our professional opinion, even if vendors don’t choose to take our advice,” he added.
Being able to steer a client through the ups and downs of purchasing a property can be a delicate balancing act for even the most experienced buyers’ agent.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take on the role of ‘counsellor’ to help a client through the frustrating moments of a property search.
Jacque Parker, buyers’ agent and Director at House Search Australia, said it’s important to be receptive to each client’s needs.
“Almost every homebuyer that engages our services, ends up developing into what we’d class as an ‘emotional buyer’ despite their best intentions,” Jacque said.
“Every personality is different and some buyers are also quite adept at hiding their emotions, while others can be an open book.
Learning to cater for and deal with different personalities, and reactions, is most definitely a skill as a buyers’ agent.
“Guiding homebuyers through the disappointment of missing out on a home means we certainly play a role in a counselling capacity at times.”
There is always another property
While it’s understandable that clients may get emotionally attached to certain properties that ‘tick all their boxes’ it’s important that agents remember they are there to provide a professional and calming influence during the process.
This is especially important when a client has had a number of disappointments on the road to securing their ‘dream’ property.
“One of my clients had missed out at four auctions prior to utilising our services, and was quite exasperated by the whole process,” Jacque said.
“She decided to engage a buyers’ agent to both remove herself from part of the process and to secure a property, hopefully without having to proceed to auction.”
When a search revealed one property that was especially promising, the client was so keen to attain it that she instructed, against advice, to offer a sum $80,000 over Jacque’s maximum appraisal prior to auction.
“We knew, however, with this particular sale and the circumstances, that our best bet was to wait until auction,” Jacque explained.
“It took some lengthy discussions, assurances and determination to stay the course, but in the end we bought her dream home at the auction three weeks later for $20,000 less than our maximum appraisal.
“Needless to say, she was elated with the result, thanking us later for calming her down and getting her back on track.
Our motto is ‘there’s always another property’, but it takes homebuyers time and experience to realise this.”
Plan of attack
When starting out on the journey with a new client, Jacque said it’s important to talk frankly with clients about the problems that can come with emotional attachment to a property.
“We also discuss how to handle themselves at inspections, to attempt to hold their emotions in check and consider the facts about every shortlisted property,” she said.
“It’s also imperative to respect that these buyers are often emotional and it’s our privilege to be looking out for them during what can often be one of the most stressful periods of their lives — buying a home.
“We guide them through the process, assuring them that if their expectations are realistic there is a home out there that will suit them, even if it does take a little longer to find than they hoped.
“As buyers’ agents, our job is as much about pointing out the negatives of a property as well as the positives as we are not attempting to sell anything, but instead are looking out for their best interests.”