Here are our top tips for having tough conversations with your real estate clients.
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
Whether you are fresh on the real estate scene or a seasoned veteran, you probably share the same anxiety about those inevitable, tough conversations with your clients. Oh, they come in many forms, from disagreements over listing prices to the discoveries of property defects to the stressful delays in transaction processes. It sometimes feels like you’re walking on a tightrope between commiseration and professionalism, and you are.
Much like preparing for an all-important listing presentation, entering into difficult conversations requires a blend of tact, knowledge, and finesse. It's not just about avoiding the 'no.’ You must also steer the conversation in a more positive direction where your client feels validated in their concern and empowered to take the next step.
The reality is that you won't win them all. However, you can try.
In this guide, we’re giving you pointers on how to handle challenging conversations with your real estate clients without losing your cool or your client. You might not be able to predict every twist and turn, but with the right preparation, you can steer the conversation towards a satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved.
In the rollercoaster ride that is the real estate business, difficult conversations are the loops that sometimes catch us off guard. To be truly successful in this industry, you must expect these loops because they will come. In this section, let’s look at the most difficult conversations you’re likely to encounter, as well as advice on how to prepare yourself to have them.
Sellers are notorious for having high pricing expectations. You’ll eventually find yourself explaining to a seller that their pricing expectations are too high and do not align with the market trends.
You must strike a delicate balance between managing the expectations of your seller client and the realities of the market. It can be tough to present facts without appearing unsupportive. Your client may feel disappointed or even offended because they have an emotional value attached to the property. This emotional component is what causes them to overprice their property.
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Appeal to their logic. Approach the conversation with clear market data and comparable sales to provide a rational basis for your pricing suggestions. Make sure to acknowledge the client’s attachment to the property and emphasize that your ultimate goal is to help them get the best possible outcome.
A house may look great cosmetically but hide a multitude of flaws. When it’s time to inform your client about unexpected issues or flaws that come up during the home inspection, they will be understandably upset. It might even negatively influence the transaction. They may second-guess their decision and may even second-guess your abilities as an agent.
You need to communicate potentially deal-breaking issues without alarming your client unnecessarily. But how?
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Provide comprehensive details and potential solutions. You may even recommend experienced professionals to fix the identified issues. Ensure your client that these are common hurdles and that together, you can navigate them successfully.
Sometimes a buyer isn’t able to secure financing. That’s a gut punch, but it happens. And when it does, it can potentially derail the deal (and usually does). It’s up to you to break the news. And when you do, your clients will feel frustrated and stressed out. They may even take it out on you. That’s because they were emotionally invested in the property.
What do you do?
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Offer alternative solutions, such as looking into different financing options. And be ready to negotiate terms with the sellers, if necessary. Show empathy and understanding towards your client's situation and reassure them of your support.
The market is constantly moving. You may find yourself having to explain sudden shifts in the market that adversely impact the sale or purchase price. You’ll need to do this to prod your client into adjusting their buying or selling expectations.
For your clients, adjusting to market realities can be tough. This is especially true when it involves modifying their financial plans or expectations.
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Offer regular updates about market trends and their potential impact. This can help in setting realistic expectations from the beginning. Also, offer guidance on how your clients can adapt their strategy to the changing market conditions.
Sometimes, there are delays in the transaction process. This can be due to various reasons, such as paperwork issues or lender delays.
As an agent, it can be particularly difficult to manage delays because you have the undesirable task of keeping your client happy in the process. Delays can escalate your client’s stress levels and create a sense of uncertainty. They’ll be ringing your phone off the hook for updates. And, if you’re not careful, this can drive you crazy.
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Stay calm and keep the client informed about the reasons for the delay and the actions being taken to resolve it. Your proactive approach and regular updates will help to alleviate their stress.
Sometimes, negotiations can get pretty unreasonable. You may find it challenging to mediate between parties when demands are unrealistic. No pressure but it’s up to you to keep the deal alive without compromising too much. Your clients can be uncompromising and might feel like they’re getting a bad deal.
What do you do?
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Gently guide the client to understand the potential consequences of their demands. Propose alternative solutions that could be more acceptable to all parties involved.
As unyielding as some clients may be, it’s still up to you to encourage them to compromise at times. Whether this compromise is on location or budget, it may need to happen if a client is truly serious about buying a home.
But convincing clients to compromise can be a tough sell, especially when it comes to their dream home. Your client may feel like their settling for less than what they had envisioned and this can be emotionally difficult.
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Help clients visualize the positive aspects of a property and how it might align with their essential criteria. Encourage them to weigh the pros and cons objectively. Assure them of your commitment to finding the best fit for their needs.
Discussing complex contractual issues or contingencies that arise during the transaction process can be tough. Keep in mind that it’s not just tough on you; it is also stressful for your clients. As an agent, you must navigate legal intricacies delicately while also protecting the interests of your client.
Here’s how to approach this conversation: Bring in your broker or a legal expert, when necessary, to explain the complexities and potential solutions in layman’s terms. Your priority should be to protect the client’s interests.
Sometimes, you need to change your client-agent relationship. This may include terminating your agreement due to dissatisfaction on either your end or your client’s end. Of course, this can be difficult to discuss. You must tread lightly or else your professional reputation could be negatively impacted.
Here’s how to approach this conversation:` Maintain a calm and professional demeanor. Be willing to listen to your client’s concerns and address them adequately. Show that you value the relationship above the contract and are willing to work towards a resolution that is satisfactory for them.
By equipping yourself with these strategies, you stand a better chance of navigating difficult conversations with ease. You can also maintain your professionalism and foster long-lasting, reciprocal client relationships. It's not just about making a sale. It's also about crafting a positive home-buying/home-selling journey for your clients.