If CoreLogic’s 2016 Buyer Perceptions of Real Estate Agents survey reveals anything, it’s the crucial habits agents need to exhibit if they want to be avoid being tarred and feathered as a rage-inducing real estate cliché.
Indeed, with just 14% of buyers rating their agent experience as excellent, it makes a lot of sense to identify the practices that facilitated outstanding buyer experiences as it is these agents that really stand out and have a competitive advantage., Here are the behaviours guaranteed to facilitate happy buyer journeys.
- Be knowledgeable
Knowing what you’re selling is a non-negotiable for buyers. But while you won’t win any gold service stars because you do know you product, a lack of knowledge, will result in you being instantly dismissed by buyers and all credibility lost. So know what the building is made of, how big the land is, as well as the dates and specifics of any renovations or structural work. It also pays to have a good knowledge of the neighbours (including their names and jobs), and be able to provide information about the local council, local businesses, local schools and public transport. Make sure the information you provide about a home is emotional, not just transactional to create a connection with buyers.
- Be honest
When it comes to naming a price or price range, always tell it like it is. Don’t get into an argument over pricing, demonstrate pricing expectations with data proof points, using recent comparable sales to support asking prices. Also direct buyers to other reports so they can make informed judgments about what to offer. And still on the subject of transparency, always highlight any negative issues regarding a property and provide a list of vendor-approved quotes for repairs or remediation work. Scared buyers always catastrophise the cost of repairs and will lower their offer accordingly.
- Communicate respectfully
If you say you’re going to call a buyer back at a certain time with a piece of important information, do it! And once an initial offer has been made, always respond. Most importantly, always give buyers the option to make one final offer in a negotiation. It’s all about realising that although you’re working for the seller, the buyer is the one who’s actually paying a lot of money for the property. It’s not unreasonable for buyers who are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to expect service levels that are at least the equivalent to a half decent retail experience.
- Be empathic and caring
Listen to and understand the needs of buyers and take their personal circumstances into account when recommending properties to view. Don’t try to force fit them into listed stock that puts your business interests first. Rather, be happy to offer realistic suggestions of places that will meet their needs and accommodate their budget – even if you’re not the agent actually selling them.
- Be engaged and interested
Take every buyer seriously at open inspections – even if they look like something the cat dragged in. Ask them if they’re buying, browsing or researching. Also ensure that you’re easy to talk to and that you’re happy to answer any questions buyers may have. But even more importantly, demonstrate a strong interest in building a relationship with them as potential long-term client. Remember: today’s buyer will almost certainly become a vendor in need of an agent some time in the future and with properties in short supply, many potential vendors are now looking to buy first and then sell, so open for inspections are becoming auditions for agents.
- Go the extra mile
Always do your best to bend over backwards to accommodate a buyer’s personal circumstances. For instance, arranging after-hours inspections and post-sale visits to fit in with work schedules makes frantic people feel ‘heard’. Be prompt and responsive to inquiries and and always keep buyers up-to-date and informed with each step in the lead up to settlement which can be particularly stressful.
- Always follow up
According to the data, most agents forget all about buyers as soon as the auction paperwork is signed, or the offer accepted. Don’t fall into this trap. Your buyer has just spent more money than most of them have ever seen – it’s a cause for celebration, not making them feel like a fool. Senda congratulatory gift (champagne, chocolates, gift bag) but most importantly stay involved in the purchasing process all the way to settlement, endeavoring to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Even when it’s complete, continue to keep in touch via regular emails detailing current market updates in the area to make a buyer your client for life.
Kylie Davis is the head of property services marketing at CoreLogic. Follow her @KDavisCorelogic