Tips for Handling the Emotional Side of Real Estate
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
Think selling real estate is all about facts, figures, and rational decisions? Think again.
Buying a home is an emotional experience. So is selling one. It can be exciting, stressful, sad, scary, confusing, and gratifying— all on the same day. During the process, buyers and sellers will cycle through a range of emotions. Since you’re leading them through this process, you better buckle up for an emotional rollercoaster.
Part of your job as a real estate agent is to be empathetic to your clients. You need emotional intelligence to navigate the ups and downs of the house buying and selling experience. For example, you'll need to balance anxiety and excitement when dealing with first-time homebuyers who come to every showing with a meager budget and a lot of unrealistic expectations. You'll also need the emotional tools to tactfully handle newly divorced sellers who may not be ready to let go of the home and their dreams. What if they’re still wrestling with bouts of sadness? Are you ready for that?
Well, you've got to be if you want to succeed in real estate.
The majority of your clients will be affected by their emotions at some point during the process. Even if you're working with investors, there's still an emotional component that motivates a buyer to go with one property over another.
Instead of attempting to ignore the emotional journey that your client is on, acknowledge and prepare for it. Here are tips on how to emotionally support your real estate clients.
Setting expectations may not be your favorite part of the job, but it is necessary. Whether you’re dealing with first-timers or veterans, you still need to prepare them for what to expect during their partnership with you. You may do things differently than their previous agent or, if new to the process, their preconceived notions. Take the time in your initial meeting to educate your client on the buying and selling process. This can eliminate many of the negative emotions, such as anxiety about the “what ifs” or the “what happens nexts.”
Even though you probably want to be optimistic with your clients, it’s still important that you share worst-case scenarios, too. What happens if the seller rejects an offer? What happens if the house doesn’t sell right away? If something goes wrong with the inspects, what happens then?
Don’t wait for those worse case scenarios to happen before you respond. Believe me, they’re already thinking about those “what ifs” now. Instead, give it to them straight by confronting these possibilities before they happen. You can reassure your client that you’ll know what to do if the worst actually happens, and it could relieve a lot of stress.
You and I know that buyers purchase homes because their emotions tell them to. But your seller client may not know this.
The inverse is also true. Sellers often follow their feelings when deciding how to price a home and whom to sell to. Does your buyer know this?
Let your client know that emotions are an unavoidable part of the process. While buyers often think they’re making an informed decision based on research, hard numbers, and logic, they’re subconsciously choosing to purchase because of the way they feel about a property. In fact, research shows that 44% of buyers are willing to spend more on a home just because they like it— no other reason.
For a large percentage of buyers, emotional connection to a property is more important than its resell value or interest rate.
Encourage your sellers to use the buyer’s emotion to their benefit. Never miss an opportunity to tell a story with your staging. Stories, no matter how simple, can be emotional. Prospective buyers should be able to see themselves living in a space, not the previous.
Also, be sure that the seller reduces friction and increases the home’s perceived value by making those little repairs around the home.
You can be emotionally supportive and assertive at the same time. Be sensible, wise, and considerate as you guide your clients through the process. This is the reason they’ve come to you instead of going it on their own. You’re the real estate professional. Unlike your client, you’re objective. Help your client cut through their emotions and find what they truly want.
This advice is for both buyers and sellers. Listen closely to what they tell you about their goals. And also read between the lines.
Your client may be absolutely, positively certain that they want to purchase a home in a specific neighborhood. But their budget doesn’t work. Find their reason why. Perhaps they’re emotionally fixated on this particular area because of its reputation. By understanding their attachment to a neighborhood, you can offer firm advice (e.g. highlighting other trendy neighborhoods that provide a similar vibe within their budget).
Being emotionally supportive doesn’t mean that you cave to your clients. Be willing to guide them as the level-headed expert.
It’s easy to lose perspective when dealing with clients. You know a good deal. You want your client to hop on that good deal. But they’re hemming and hawing through their emotions.
Before you get frustrated, take a breath and a step back. Try to see the situation through your client’s eyes. Although it’s your business, it’s their life. They want to make the best decision possible. How would you feel if you were facing the biggest financial decision of your life?
Be sensitive to this as you advise your clients. Acknowledge their feelings during the process. They may be tired of looking at home after home. Wouldn’t you? They may be frustrated with lowball offers. Wouldn’t you?
Allow your clients to vent and don’t take it personally. But always encourage your clients to be patient with the process.
Throughout the house hunting/ selling process, be sure to check in with your client. Ask them how they’re feeling.
They may feel disheartened by the process, and you don’t know it. By asking this simple question, you may be able to proactively save a client from leaving you. Emotions can often cloud their judgment and sour the process. You can diffuse their negative experience by offering hope and a professional perspective that they don’t have.
Like Kenny Rogers says, sometimes you gotta know when to walk away.
Some clients aren’t ready for the process. Give them space to get comfortable with the idea. Don’t pressure them into a decision that they may regret (even if you think it’s the right option for them). If your client is unsure about what to do, offer them your best advice and then tell them to call you when they’re ready to move forward.
And of course, don’t let your relationship dissolve into dust. Stay in touch with the client regularly via email, text, or phone calls. This will keep you at the top of your client’s mind once they’re ready to resume the process.
The journey to buying or selling a home is an emotional one. Be sensitive and sensible as you guide your clients.
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