7 Reasons Pre-listing Inspections are an Absolute Must

Just as a buyer needs to do their due diligence, a seller needs to do theirs so that bad judgement calls don’t derail their deal
By Cara Ameer for Inman

Cara Ameer, a top-producing broker associate from Northeast Florida, writes about working with buyers and sellers, sticky situations and real estate marketing in her regular Inman column that publishes every other Wednesday.

After several days (or weeks) of negotiating, an agreement between the buyer and seller is finally reached! The buyer is excited that they’ve found their new home, the seller is glad they will be able to move on to whatever is next and the agents are glad that their goals for that listing have come to fruition.

Contrary to what might be depicted on television or what many real estate agents think, when a contract is executed is not the time to begin celebrating. It marks the beginning of a long and uncertain process to a potential closing. There are almost always inspections to go through as well as an appraisal, if the buyer is getting financing. Much can go wrong with so many hands in the pot, and the fear of the unknown is real. Murphy’s Law is alive and well in real estate, and if the other shoe can drop, it will find a way.

The best way to increase a seller’s chances of crossing the closing finish line is to have a prelisting inspection done before ever coming on the market. Here are seven reasons why:

1. What you don’t know can hurt you

Knowledge is power, and surprise is never a good thing. It is easy for sellers to have a superficial and inflated view of their home. What could be wrong, they think? They’ve lived there for x years and if there was something seriously wrong, they would know it. Or, they just bought the home four years ago and had it inspected then — why would they need to do this now?

You see, it is those very thoughts that can come back to bite sellers. When was the last time your sellers went on their roof, looked in their chimney, crawled around in their attic or basement or under the foundation? Do they know how old their water heater and HVAC are? If they live in an older home, what about the plumbing and electrical systems?

This is exactly why you should have a pre-listing inspection. So you can get a grip on the physical health of your home.

2. You might not have to fix everything

Having a pre-listing inspection does not mean your sellers have to fix every item that comes up — but they do need to disclose everything. This is where you — the agent — come in to strategize with your seller on a plan of attack and what makes the most sense given the market, your competition, time frame for moving, etc.

Some things might need to be fixed in order to give comfort to a buyer or to qualify for the kind of financing they might be doing. For example, if there are buyers obtaining FHA or VA financing on homes in your area, any wood rot or termite damage will need to be fixed before the buyer can obtain the loan.

There might be items that are major vs. minor that you and your seller will need to take into account when pricing the home as they can definitely have an affect on what a buyer is willing to pay. Homes with older roofs, HVAC’s and water heaters on top of other repairs, coupled with a home that needs cosmetic updates can be viewed as “a money pit” in the eyes of a buyer.

If you are faced with a multitude of expensive items nearing the end of their life, you might need to consider replacing at least one and be willing to offer a home warranty to provide some coverage to the buyer for the first year of their ownership. The 15-year-old HVAC might be working great now, but that does not mean it won’t fail in the near future.

3. Disclosure is not an unpleasant surprise

Many sellers fear that by having an inspection, they will then have to disclose everything to a buyer which may cause them to pay less for the house. The truth is, a buyer is going to find out anyway, but it will be after they’ve already agreed upon a price and terms that they might not want to pay after the outcome of that inspection.

Avoid buyer’s remorse by shifting the knowledge of the home’s condition to the front end of the transaction rather than after the negotiation. Although a buyer will still have the property inspected by their own inspector, the information found will not be a surprise.

All houses have “things” that are found on an inspection. Even new homes that are under construction or nearly complete have items that need correction by the builder after they are inspected — this despite having a project manager who oversees the subcontractors working on the house.

4. It can keep the deal together

Back to the “surprise is never a good thing” concept, when you leave discovery of the home’s condition entirely to the buyer is when problems arise. The seller has already agreed upon a price and terms and depending on your home and the time of year it is on the market, the actual time to go under contract may have taken longer than what you thought.

You will have grown weary from numerous showings, second showings and “almost offers” that have never materialized. Now, you finally have a buyer and the transaction may be in jeopardy because of the outcome of the inspection.

The buyer wants to renegotiate the purchase price and/or ask for all repairs to be made or a huge concession to account for what was found. The sellers don’t feel like giving anymore, especially when they might be selling for less than what they thought (which is how most sellers often end up feeling). They could be paying closing costs on behalf of the buyer in addition to agreeing to leave certain appliances, such as the refrigerator and/or washer and dryer.

Everyone goes into full-on crisis mode trying to obtain estimates for the repairs and it is a hurry-up-and-wait game trying to get contractors over to look at the findings and then even more waiting to get their written quotes.

Keep in mind that buyers and their agents don’t always have a realistic handle on the true cost of repairs found from an inspection and might inflate or over-exaggerate the potential costs on purpose as a way to beat down the agreed upon price or force the seller to make repairs. Buyers might seek opinions from overpriced vendors trying to upsell, and sellers will find themselves running interference with this information trying to get their own quotes.

All of this chaos ensues while the clock keeps ticking on the inspection time frame as set forth in the purchase contract. Most contract time frames never take into account the real world of waiting on repair specialists.

Although most transactions are handled this way, it doesn’t mean that they should be. By being proactive, you can help your sellers avoid the stress of the unknown and level the playing field between them and the buyer by recommending a pre-listing inspection. Wouldn’t it be better to have done your homework, know what you will or won’t fix (or in some cases have already tackled it) and obtained estimates on all else?

What is unknown is simply an excuse most times for not taking the time to find something out ahead of time rather than after the fact. Sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich and being in denial of any inspection issues is not going to help get the home sold.

5. Incompetent inspectors can ruin a sale

This one is starting to become a serious problem in our industry. Just as the swell of real estate agents has increased as the market has improved over the last few years, so have the number of home inspectors.

What is required to become a home inspector varies from state to state and just because some states require licensure does not automatically grant that inspector sound judgement and the ability to legitimately diagnose/interpret a home’s condition. A license is never a substitute for competence — ask any seasoned real estate agent who has listed properties the amount of times they have had to run interference with an inspector’s report that was full of misdiagnoses.

The prospect of rookie inspectors who have only been functioning as an inspector barely a year or two — and who are running their own shop with virtually no support system and a more experienced inspector to mentor them — is cause for concern. They are crawling through someone’s largest investment and they don’t know what they don’t know and only know enough to be dangerous.

Newer inspectors often discount their fees as a way to build their business, and so what looks like a bargain compared to what more experienced and savvy inspectors charge is often at the expense of the transaction. Buyers might shop by price alone or an agent gives them a “coupon” that the inspector sent out in an email blast to agents hoping that it would generate some referrals. The agent might be newer and might have not vetted the inspector and doesn’t realize all inspectors, like agents, are not the same.

I have run interference with incompetent inspectors more times than I care to remember. It has been as simple as claiming a microwave in a newer home was not operable to the more serious: an allegation that a metal roof was improperly installed on a home that was located across from the ocean and was literally one good storm away (inspector’s wording) from being blown off. The roof was installed when the home was built, and it was a newer home.

After that buyer walked away, a few months later a category 2 hurricane hit(it was projected to be much larger on impact to the area) and the home sustained no damage whatsoever, and the roof was still standing. A roofer came to examine the roof after the first inspection and determined it needed some minor repairs but was properly installed.

An inspector with little knowledge of metal roofs made a bad judgement call. This not only scared the buyer but also the seller who was in “shock and awe” by the discovery and went into a tailspin calling the original builder, the county building department, etc.

My favorite inspector misdiagnosis was an inspector who had barely been licensed about a year claiming a nine-year-old house with a three-tab shingle roof, located 20 miles from the ocean and a 40 minute drive away, needed the roof replaced, because in Florida, those roofs have a shorter life. After that happened, two other home inspectors checked the roof along with a roofer and concluded no such thing.

There were some shingle repairs that needed to be made largely as a result of solar panels that had been installed on the roof about two years ago. That buyer walked after wanting to find a way to claim “hail damage” as a way to get a new roof installed, trying to push the seller to contact their insurance company. We did get another buyer and the second buyer did their own inspection, after which their inspector determined the roof did not need to be replaced.

Although buyers have the right to choose whatever inspector they want, having your own inspection done by a vetted, experienced, adequately insured and credible inspector can be a huge asset when you run into situations like this. That inspector will be available to consult with you during the home sale process and can assist with running interference should an incompetent inspector cross the home’s path.

6. You’ll have a smoother transaction and a faster closing

All parties want a purchase and sale process that is free of hitches and can close within a reasonable period of time. By getting a pre-listing inspection, the risk of the unknown is eliminated and the parties will enter a negotiation feeling confident and empowered.

If a seller is unable or does not wish to take on repairs, the property can be priced accordingly. At the same time, if a seller has replaced a big ticket item, like a roof or HVAC, it might help the home sell faster as the buyer might be willing to make an offer and pay a higher price because of it.

A significant portion of time that is normally eaten up by the inspection period and all of the back and forth trying to resolve repairs is reduced since everyone is aware of the issues and has a handle on what will or will not be done.

7. The home will be more insurable

Some repairs might have to be made for the next buyer to get insurance or they will likely need to have them done within the first 30 days of owning the home in order to get a lower insurance rate. If a seller has an an older home with knob and tube or aluminum wiring, for example, a buyer might run into a snag getting insurance or the quote might be much higher than anticipated.

The seller might have lived with older electrical or plumbing and not had any issues, however, this can become an issue for the next buyer. It is easy for sellers to become numb to issues that don’t concern them. Unfortunately, real estate transactions don’t work like that, and these are serious concerns any buyer would have before sealing the deal.

Buyer’s are often hesitant to take on significant projects, like a whole house rewire or re-plumbing, unless they can get it at the right price or a seller is willing to pay a significant portion of their closing costs to offset the amount such a project will cost.

Why risk a seller’s home sale while an unknown inspector could potentially wreak havoc on the home’s condition and ultimately thwart the entire transaction?  Knowledge is power. Just as a buyer needs to do their due diligence, a seller needs to do theirs so that bad judgement calls don’t derail their deal.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.Article image credited to SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com and Inman

Are You Winning Or Is The Customer?

It is one of the most difficult skills in real estate to master, the skill of objection handling. Many sales professionals struggle terribly to know how and what to respond to with a customer and their defense. So, ask yourself, are you winning or is the customer?

I am always reminded that we as agents need to have the mindset of a child. When my kids were growing up and even to this day they are relentless when it comes to getting what they want and won’t take no for an answer.  How many of us know what I am talking about and have those kids?

Are You Winning Or Is The Customer?

Let’s first start with the awareness factor. The skill of knowing whether the customer is responding to you with an objection, stall or condition. So what is the difference?

Let’s start by recognizing the Stall or the statement they use to get you to go away. Classic stalls are “we will call you” or “we will talk about it” or “we want to interview others.” All of these statements are what the customers use to get you to go away and keep from you the “truth” or the real reason they chose not to do business with you at that moment in time. Your job is to be aware of the stall and owe it to your self to dig deeper and probe more to get to the truth and handle what is holding them back. In all my years experience the stalls usually come out when they are not sure they trust or like you. They don’t like your listing price or they don’t feel your marketing plan is good enough or they want a concession in your fees. Most agents hear the stall and pack up and leave and lose the business. Most top producing agents are like “children” and probe, dig and stick around to fight for the business.

Now that you recognize a stall let’s look at the next important item, the Objection. The objection is normally the “truth”, what they are running to (pleasure) or what they are running from (pain). The customer uses a stall to buy themselves some more time or get you to leave and hide what their “truth” or what their real reason is. So how do we get to the truth? Using the 5-6-7 technique is how! Most agents don’t probe and question more than once. The best of the best learn to probe and dig deeper and ask questions at least 7 times. The 5-6-7 technique is as simple as “so why is that so important?” Or “interesting can you tell me more?” For at least seven questions deep. This allows you to get to the heart of their reason for buying or selling and identify the truth or objection source. If you don’t help them identify their pain or pleasure then you can’t move a customers emotional meter and you then offer them the solutions.

The final piece to this skill is the condition. A condition is something that takes agents out by the knees if they are not aware of the condition well in advance of meeting with the customers.  Here are the classic conditions.

  1. There are other decision makers involved.
  2. They can’t net as much money as they hoped.
  3. They are not certain what they are doing next or going to buy.

Every agent should know if these factors are a concern prior to meeting with customers and be prepared to handle all three or you just won’t get the customer’s business. The trick is to ask them in advance of getting together.

So there you have it. The three most important factors to objection handling and being aware of the difference between a stall, objection and condition. Having the skill to be able to handle any one of them at any time and win the sales war like your own relentless children!

The Silent Killer in Real Estate

What is the silent killer in real estate? If there is such a thing, would you want to know? If you knew, would you do something about it?

Astronauts flying into space in a  rocket ship are basically in a bomb with a few people inside waiting to explode as a result of the smallest error.  Astronauts ask themselves the question during every step, “What is the next thing that can kill me?”.   Astronauts need to be excellent at what they do to stay alive and what they do is complicated.  It takes decades of high-level training to be prepared to go to space.   I am continually surprised by the mediocrity of people we encounter in work and in life.

“There is a North American sub-culture of pretense, where watching Top Chef is the same as knowing how to cook”.    -Chris Hatfield

The Silent Killer in Real Estate

When flying rocket ships, good enough isn’t good enough.  Pretending you are good doesn’t work either. Pretense, or pretending to be good at something is rampant in our society and this is nowhere truer than in Real Estate. Licensing courses don’t even scratch the surface of teaching and evaluating the skills needed to represent a buyer or seller during these important and complicated transactions.  Most of the learning after getting a real estate license is focused on lead generation with very little attention paid to the actual skills needed to represent our clients.

While this is a sad state for our industry, it creates an enormous opportunity for people who are excellent, or want to become excellent, at what they do.  When you are excellent at something, it’s obvious and people will flock to you, recommend you, and refer you.  You will have more clients than you know what to do with.  Have you ever hiked around the rim of the Grand Canyon?  You would definitely be reminded there is a “Grand Canyon” between wanting to be good at something and being good at it.

silent killer in real estate

There are two ways to approach this canyon.  You can try to convince everyone you are good – this is like snapping a few photos from the strategic viewpoints or buying a souvenir at the gift shop, or you can understand and do the hard work of becoming excellent – this is like hiking down into the canyon, exploring its many remarkable characteristics, and climbing back out.

Excellence is the new currency.  As Tech tools take over the easy mundane jobs,  we are freed up to do the important work of emotional labour, negotiation, strategic planning, problem solving, building relationships, developing networks, understanding the psychology of decision making, communicating and having the courage, persistence and confidence to protect our clients during this important process of buying and selling Real Estate. Don’t let the silent killer in real estate keep you from your deserved excellence.

I leave you with these questions to ask yourself today. “Am I delivering excellence in real estate? Could I be doing so much more as an agent?”

What Is Your 5 Per Cent Work?

Did you know that anything we do really only requires 5 per cent of you? Which means we are not using 95 per cent of ourselves and those activities should be delegated or outsourced to someone else or something else and in turn leaves us more time on the 5 per cent of our gift and talent work.

Let us look at this analogy of a winery and selling wine. We start with the expert who grows the grapes for the wine with incredible attention, care and nurturing of those grapes and the growing of the grapes only represents the 5 per cent of the wineries success. Then the winery has someone else pick those grapes and has them crushed, squeezed, fermented, bottled, distributed, marketed, sold and money is collected. Really only 5 per cent of the wineries success is about the growing of the grapes. Just like only 5 per cent of a real estate agents success is what they do best and the agents gift and talent and they personally should be doing that 5 per cent activity every day.

So, what is that activity you ask?

I would say this is people or relationships!! The rest can be automated, systemized or delegated just like the wineries and what they do with those grapes and someone or something else’s expertise.

You should only do three things in your day that you are an expert at and only one of those activities at a time. The rest of it you delegate, systemize, automate or outsource.  You may think it’ sounds crazy but try delegating the other 95 per cent.

Ask yourself these questions:

1) What is your highest value contribution to your business success?
2) What is your 5 per cent?
3) Where do you need to hire, systemize or delegate the other 95 per cent of your business success to allow you to focus on your 5 per cent?

Stick to growing grapes and what you are gifted and talented at in your business. Imagine your days just doing the 5 per cent where you are in your sweet spot and can do effortlessly with expertise. What kind of impact would that have on you? Your business? Income?

 

Learn About the Next Huge Wave of Up and Coming Real Estate Consumers.

Travis Robertson an expert on the next generation of real estate consumers recently gave a fascinating talk on the importance of knowing who this next generation will be, what they want, what they need and how they like to be served.

Let me begin by explaining the generational history.

1945 Or Sooner – The silent generation from WW1 and sometimes referenced as the Traditionalists.

1945-1964 – The Baby Boomers. Until now the largest wave in history.

1965 – 1976 – The Generation X. The shooting of JFK was the life event that identified this generation.

1977 – 1995. The Millennial Generation. Also known as the Echo Boomers (children of the Boomers) The explosion of the Challenger space craft identified this generation.

So why do we need to pay so much attention to the Millennial or Echo Boomer generation in real estate?

What does that have to do with you?baby-boomers_2613902b

Good thing you asked.

The North American population statistics tell us that the population of the Baby Boomer generation was 85 Million.

The next generation or wave, Gen X population was only 45 Million.

The estimated population for the Millennial or Echo Boomer generational wave is now estimated at over 92 Million.

This is why we need to pay great attention to this wave of real estate consumers… they are the future of real estate.

As a generation shrinks the wealth needs to go somewhere. We need to transfer wealth from generations to generations.

For example down payments for purchasing real estate. The Millennial or Echo Boomer generation is very large and will be a generation that is very wealthy as well because they will receive this benefit of wealth transfer from the Baby Boomer parents.

35% of transactions and rising were Millennial or Echo Boomer on one end of the transaction or the other. They estimate that number will grow to 70% of the transactions in North America within the next 5 years.

So how do we emotionally connect as real estate professionals with this huge wave of real estate consumers?

  1. Work Life Balance –Their parents worked way too much to try and keep up with the Jones’ which defined their parents success.
  • 61% more income.
  • 24% more hours worked.
  • Divorce rate up more than 200%
  • 50% of all Echo Boomers parents are divorced and the #1 reason they are divorced was because their parents house was too big and made it easier for everyone living there to hide and not communicate.Therefore our next wave of consumer is wanting a smaller home on a smaller lot to avoid the same generational problems.
  1. Collaborative –The Millennial – Echo Boomer are from the generation that everyone wins. There are no losers, trophies or ribbons.

On report cards they have changed the RED ink on failing grades to PURPLE which is a more calm and soothing color identifying failing grades.

Therefore this group of consumer will take 1 day to pick an agent and 175 days to buy their home and they want more than anything the proper amount of time to process and make decisions like for years they were told to go to their room and think about what they did.

The next very important tip is the second showing will always be with mom, dad, siblings and BFF’s to allow the community to show up and be a part of this whole experience.

67% of them want to live close to their friends and their family if possible.

  1. Multicultural –Before baby boomers, most of the population lived in urban areas and the baby boomers began to migrate to the suburbs and the inner city living began to fall.

These suburb and rural areas were diverse and multicultural areas of race, religion, culture and friendships. For this reason the Millennial wants to be in a diverse cultural area and the suburbs are just too boring to them now.

  1. Eco Sensitive –The Millennial has grown up hearing about the carbon footprint, global warming and have bought into the importance of biking, walking and public transit.

57% of them buy into environmentally friendly homes and really focus more on the Walkability to people, places, amenities, work and more of their next home or what Google commonly refers to a Walk Score.

  1. Urban Setting Shift –Interesting enough we have the Millennial and the Baby Boomers wanting to now move into the urban city centers at the same time. Driving the urban prices up and forcing the Millennial to have to move into the suburbs now due to affordability in most places in North America.

We are now seeing a trend for the Millennial to purchase small single family homes on a small lot with a bunch of amenities close by to create that urban lifestyle in an affordable suburban area of communities.

This my friends is a great niche for marketing for agents in the next 5 years and for developers to consider building where possible.

This now gives us a bit of background for you to better understand the next wave of real estate consumer.

  1. Education Based Marketing – Educate, Mentor and teach them because they just despise being talked down to. Their top 3 hero’s are Mom, Dad and their teacher. Give them the education they are looking for. We are not the gate keeper. We are the interpreter and advisor. How do I communicate with this next generation of consumers you ask? “Don’t call me just text me generation.” The baby boomer remember William Shatner as Cpt. James. T. Kirk and the Millennial knows him as the Priceline guy.Millennial is all about speed when it comes to communication vs. the depth of the conversations and why carry on one single conversation when I can carry on 10 conversations at one time. Adapt to their needs.How do you know what their needs are? Ask them!!
  2. Social Media, Social Proof, Reviews –Be top of mind with them and don’t worry about what to say but just respond, like or comment. Just use the tools is all they need to feel comfortable with you. Instagram lifestyle photos or 15 second video messages on the market, tips, best buys. The bar really isn’t that high out there.
  3. #1 Marketing Strategy for a Millennial – MMFI – Make Me Feel Important. Go against the grain and think who can I make feel important today and how can I make them feel important today? That is leading edge marketing my friends.

We Royal LePagers love to see trends and be in front of what is coming next in the real estate business.

We cannot ignore the importance of being Millennial and Echo Boomer ready in our real estate business the next 5 years.

Those who are not are going to miss the biggest wave of real estate consumers coming into this market in history and that definitely has my attention and hopefully yours.

I trust this will give you the insight and edge to build and service your business around the next wave of real estate.

 

Why you? Why your Company? Why now?

Is there any competition in your marketplace? We all know there are a ton of real estate agents out there! There is this myth that all agents and all companies are the same and do all the same things.

The challenge is how to separate yourself from the competition…

Here’s the truth… If you’re not unique, then you’re weak! Be committed to creating a better experience for your customers because you know your unique factors! What unique factors do you have that create a better experience for your clients? What is your value proposition and how are you communicating it, Fast?!

It is amazing to me how so many agents struggle responding to the questions so Why you? Why your company? Why now?

Let’s talk about Your Super Bowl Commercial. Imagine if you invested $5,000,000 in a Super Bowl commercial! It would be 30-60 seconds long and be seen by 114,000,000 people. What would your pitch be? What would you say about yourself and why should the customer want to work with you? On a smaller scale you are advertising yourself every day… When someone says “you are in real estate?”, what do you say? Is it unique? Remember if I am not unique, then I am weak!

How do I create my powerful Pitch?

#1 Start with a problem. This is a hook, and the reason a customer should be interested. The goal here is to articulate a problem that connects with the kind of customers you want to serve. When you speak to people through their problems, you are speaking life into them engaging with you.

#2 Amplify a problem. Use quick examples… Say something like “buying a home is easy…” Then list out some of the problems most of your customers might face. Remember to think about this from your customer’s perspective, and the types of questions they are asking… Questions like: So what? What’s in it for me? Can you prove it?

#3 Offer Your Solution. Talk about facts, data, proof, and credibility. You can even use a script. “Clients work with us because we have the experience, we sell homes faster, and get our customers more money. We pride ourselves on customer experience and relationships, and we have 7x times more five star reviews than any real estate agent in our marketplace. Our number one aim is to make sure you are our next five-star review and we want to deliver that experience to you. These are my competitive advantages (restate them) that you can hold me accountable to.” Remember even if you are a brand new agent you can still use the facts and data from your office (be honest and disclose that) to offer the solution to your customers.

#4 C.T.A. You’ve got to have some kind of call to action! It could be something like: visit our site, like our page, schedule an appointment, or sign the contract. Remember if you don’t close you can’t win!

The Most Persuasive Words. Have you heard of the 12 words that are considered to be the most persuasive? They are:

  • You
  • Money
  • Save
  • New
  • Results
  • Easy
  • Health
  • Safety
  • Love
  • Discovery
  • Proven
  • Guarantee

Think about your marketing presentation; are you using those words? The most engaging agent’s know the words to say and how to say them and get people’s attention and stand out!

You and the Competition. Listen, when you follow all of these steps you are creating a degree of separation between you and the competition. When you can articulate your uniqueness and how you can solve problems for your clients you are standing out from the competition! This makes it much easier for your clients to choose you over all those other agents in the marketplace. Take the time to really invest in your pitch and identify what it is that make you and your experience unique? What are the problems that buyers and sellers are facing today in your marketplace? What do you do to provide solutions to the buyer and seller? You only have seconds to engage, persuade and differentiate yourself from the competition. I challenge you to work on your power pitch and really stand out from your competitors.

Are you the Agent the Leads think of first?

Are you the first agent your leads think of when they want to buy or sell a home?   There are many  agents who are driving down the street and see a house they know sold by another agent or someone an agent knows bought a house from another agent. You CAN stand out among the competition when you follow the 4 Step Lead plan!

What is the 4 Step Lead plan?

It is a simple 4 step plan you can do to stay top of mind with all your leads…

The top of mind 4 step lead plan for more Referrals is:

1. Call or Text

You want to connect with your clients every 90 days. Don’t just call to talk about real estate. Bring relevant news, check in, and have it be to the point your database expects your call! Stats say you get a 23% chance of response with email, 43% chance of contact with a call and 97% chance of response with a text! Do you have your leads and databases cell phone numbers?!

2. Weekly Email

Send weekly emails for open house invitations, events, and other updates. Emails need to contain value add and focus on content that offers insight to the challenges in today’s market or something every consumer has questions about. Email is not about spamming but enhancing, pulling and adding value to the leads and thinking that was really great and helpful content you sent.

3. Two Direct Mail Pieces

Send out two direct mail pieces every month. One of them should be a “just listed/just sold” or “we have a buyer”. If you’re new to real estate you can use your company’s stats, listings, sales, buyers (just be sure it says that on the mailer or get permission from the agents. Your other mailer can be: “Curious about the value of your home?” This makes you the expert they think of and you provide them with the information they are looking for.

4.  Activate Your Base, the Secret Weapon

Do a Facebook Live video and you’re instantly connecting with your leads.  Show your base you are the local market expert.

4.1 Know Your Unique Selling Factors

There are four things you should know to boost your confidence and swagger. You may not use all of these stats, but you should have them ready when you talk to customers.

1. We sell (x) times more…

2. We sell our homes (X) times faster…

3. We sell our homes for (X%) more on average…

4. We have (X) more five star reviews than any other agent in the marketplace.

When you use these unique selling points you can use a script like this….

“Clients work with us because we have the experience, we sell homes faster, and get our customers more money. We pride ourselves on customer experience and relationships, and we have 7x times more five star reviews than any agent in our marketplace. Our number one aim is to make sure you are our next five-star review and we want to deliver that experience to you. These are my competitive advantages (mention points above) that you can hold me accountable to.”

Remember if you are a new agent, you can use the stats from your office/team. You can leverage their numbers to support more customers.

Are you following the 4 Steps Lead plan? Or are you comfortable having $15 billion being spent from really large companies who want to take your clients and have them go somewhere else? Remember your strategy matters, and now more than ever, your ability to stay top of mind absolutely rules!

 

If we List we will be Homeless but we Can’t Buy until we List!

Are you a REALTOR in a market with low or no listing inventory? Are you finding sellers are resistant to listing their home in fear it will sell quickly and they will have no-where to go? Do you hear that sellers can’t find what they are looking for because the selection is so low but they can’t buy because they don’t have their own home listed and sold?

So how does an agent today deal with this vicious cycle where sellers are not selling, they can’t buy because they don’t have their home sold and there is nothing to buy and it is sold too quick so we are planning on holding until the market changes? We are seeing a trend in so many real estate markets where the seller is in control of the market and buyers are having to snatch up a good listing quickly and pay top dollar for their home but we can’t meet the demands of the market unless we solve the problem of getting the product to market. We have all heard the sayings “talk is cheap” and “don’t tell me, show and sell me.”

There’s a powerful sales tool and visual to start handling the fear, challenge and problem of sellers not listing and therefore not buying because they are in a market that requires them to have their property sold (or pending at least) first! Here is a solution for today’s market challenge called “The Home Sellers Protection Plan” and now we as agents are able to market and list their home for sale on the MLS system and protect and ensure their home does not sell from underneath them leaving them homeless with nothing to buy or move into to.

If you click the link below you can see a sample Home Sellers Protection Plan document giving you an idea of how you can create your own similar visual aid for your clients.

Click Here for the Seller Proctection Plan Document

Add the contingencies mentioned in the above PDF to the schedule A of their listing agreement. This is a visual tool agents can use to “show and sell” the potential seller and create more listing inventory in our markets which in turn creates more sales.  Use this tool with your database of clients and educate them, get someone off the fence who has this fear to finally list their home. Use it for an expired listing to get them to put their home back on the market again and handle the fear of being homeless and nothing to buy objection. Use it at you listing presentation as part of your marketing plan for them to feel secure to list right away, even though they don’t have something else to buy yet.

I trust this powerful tool will begin to break the cycle in your market and allow you to overcome the objection and fear of the sellers and begin to provide some inventory to the market place and start to see more sellers becoming buyers.   We would love to hear any other strategies you are using in your own markets where you are having similar challenges please post or comment below and share your ideas and strategies with all our AgentSalesTalk followers.

 

The Truth about Real Estate Buyers and Buyer Agents

We have all heard or said the comment “Buyers are liars” and that is the furthest thing from the truth if we really take the time to understand them better and how they really want to be served. Let’s look first at the common buyer agent and their issues buyers say about them.

1) They don’t listen

2) They don’t understand our needs & wants

3) They have no process, they wing It and they are reactive

4) They wait vs. create a buying opportunity

5) They get us to buy what they think we should buy

6) They can’t communicate their value proposition

This week we are sharing the 10 easy and effective steps to better serve your buyer in today’s market. Taking the time to follow this step by step process will allow you to convert more buyers than you have in the past…….

Ten Step Buyer Process to get the Commitment Every time

Step 1)  The Initial Meet and Greet

Option 1 – Meet Buyer At A Listing

Option 2 – Meet Buyer At The Office (TIP – Prepare and coach receptionist to greet buyer as follows: “You must be [Customer’s Name]. We’re really glad you are here. [Agent’s Name] is looking forward to meeting with you.”

The Critical First Two Minutes – Connection & Control. Your goal is to get the buyer to like and trust you and not to rush this process. Here are simple tips on “How To Connect”

Step 1: “How are you today?” Then listen and engage with their response.

Step 2: “Thank you” or “welcome” or “compliment”

Step 3: Introduce yourself

Once you feel you are connected (nod and see if they nod back) take control of the process. “If it is alright with you, what I’d recommend we do first is sit down and get acquainted. I would like to ask you a few questions that will help me help you find the right home. Will that work for you?”

 Step 2)  The Meet – Choose a different Location (Fresh Energy!)

  • Office (Like Bringing Them Into The Death Star)
  • Meet Them Where They Are At
  • Easier To Get Them To Meet At Coffee Shop
  • Presentation On Tablet
  • Offer a gift (drink? Pen?)

Step 3) The Buyer Interview

  • Tip (Have a file made up with their name on it.)
  • “I would like to ask you a few questions that will help me help you find the right home. Is that okay with you? Is it okay if I take some notes?” (Power of the Note Pad)
  • Follow the proper question sequence: Did You Know??

a) Rapport questions

b) Foundational (prior learning) questions

c)  Diagnostic questions – who, what, when, where, why, how?

d)  Solution (closing) questions

 Step 4) Pre Buyer Packet

“I prepared a packet of information for you that has everything you need to buy real estate in [place].” Briefly review packet, point out contracts and finish with agency disclosure. (Confirm they are not under contract with another REALTOR®.)

 Step 5) The Funnel Process

“Our goal is to help you find the right home and, at the same time, make sure you don’t miss anything or pay too much. We have a process called “The Funnel Process” that will help us accomplish those goals. Would you like to see how it works for you? Great.”

“Let’s start with what you have so far. “Do you have a list of homes you have found you are interested in?” Review what they have. “Have you gone inside any of these homes?” “If it’s alright with you, let’s start by putting these homes into what we call the ‘funnel’. (Draw a funnel) To make sure you don’t miss anything, let’s also put into the funnel any home you might consider. Will that be okay? Discuss: o MLS o New Listings o New Construction o For Sale by Owner

“Once we have everything in the funnel, we’ll start a simple process of elimination to remove those properties that don’t work for you. We’ll use the comfortable process of elimination versus the often frustrating process of selection. This way we’ll make sure you don’t miss anything.”

“We’ll go from 1,000’s of properties in the funnel to 100’s and then to dozens as we begin to eliminate those that don’t work.” “Some we will look at on-line, some we will drive by, and some we will decide to make an appointment and go in. You will be in control of the decisions.”

“As we go through the process, our goal will be to find our top three favorites that could work for you (and this can be a rolling top three).” Once you have identified your favorites, I’ll do a simple market analysis showing you sold properties to help you get a feel for value. Our goal is to make sure you don’t pay too much.” “Does this look like a process that will work for you?”

 Step 6) Scale of 1 to 10 Technique

“Just for fun, to give me an idea of where you are in the process, on a scale of 1 to 10 (with a 1 being you are just starting the process and a 10 being you would like to find a home today) where would you rate yourself?”

“What would have to happen for you to be a 10?” Drill down on each item – ask questions and listen (3 Deep)

  • “What specifically about…?”
  • “Why is that important to you?”
  • “Tell me more about that.” – Take notes. (Power of the Note Pad!)

 Step 7) Pieces of Paper Exercise

(Give each person a piece of paper) “If it is alright with you, I would like each of you to make a list of the things you want in a home. After you have made your list, put stars beside the three things you can’t live without.”

Step 8) What & Why?

Features and benefits.

(What) Features

(Why) Benefits

Remember: People buy their “whys” (benefits) not their “what’s” (features). Explain the concept of the “85% perfect home”

Step 9) Cash? Loan”  House to sell?

“Will you be paying cash for this home or will you be getting a loan?” If getting a loan: “Do you have a loan arranged? Do you have a lender?” “While I’m doing the computer work for your MLS® search, would you like to meet with my [Name of Lender] for a second opinion?” “There is absolutely no obligation to use [Name of Lender]. However, it will give you a second opinion.” Benefits to them of second opinion? Do the preliminary MLS® search while they meet with the lender.

Step 10) If we find it…What will you do? (story)

So there you have it the 10 simple powerful steps to convert and get a commitment from a buyer in today’s market. I challenge you to try changing up how you are dealing with buyers today and follow this tried and true buyer system and see your experience with buyers go to a whole other level.

 

Learn the Art of Seller Counselling – 9 Tips.

In the early 90’s when I first started in the real estate business it seemed like every seller counselling session I had for the first five years of my career was about Mr. And Mrs. Seller paying too much, needing too much or wanting too much.  images

N.A.R. reports that around 80% of people don’t use the same real estate agent more than once because they never hear from their agent again after the sale or after giving the agent their listing.

Another common reason we hear is “We felt our real estate agent really didn’t do that much for us.”

When we are getting paid a large sum of money for our services, isn’t it fair for the seller to expect some kind of advisement and service throughout the process before, during and after?

  • Establish a plan – clearly set out for the seller the level of communication they can expect from you throughout the process. Then exceed that expectation. Kill them with communication.
  • Don’t focus on their price, rather focus on determining what their hot button for selling truly is. All of us are motivated by either pain or pleasure. How many of us have asked our sellers a minimum of 7 deep questions to find out their true desire for moving? It is always about something they are running to or running from and they consistently need to be reminded of that pain or pleasure button. That is how we “move them” to want to sell and not choosing to stay.
  • When nothing is happening, this is the time we communicate even more! How many of us have nothing to say and therefore just choose not to communicate with our seller? There is always something to say… you just need to find it.
  • Prepare and educate the seller in advance of the paradigm shift in virtual showing vs. the physical showing in today’s market. With the use of modern technology we are able to qualify even better than before and allow the buyer to virtually tour your home and not have to waste your time with so many physical showings to find the right buyer. Saves you from them getting upset about having fewer than expected showings.
  • Show them your system for pre qualifying the prospect. I truly believe they hire us to market to cooperating agents who have the buyers and qualify them and qualify any other buyer before they enter the seller’s home. I would show the seller a list of questions I would ask to prospective agents and buyers qualifying them prior to viewing their home.
  • Have them come in weekly, bi weekly or worse case scenario 3 weeks and sit down to discuss online activity like website traffic. Share with them all the marketing that has taken place in the past and what is planned moving forward in the future. Discuss sign calls, ad calls and any other leads that have been generated on their home from your marketing efforts.
  • Review a classic sales tool from Floyd Wickman called the Saleability Checklist. Every week share with your seller a creative idea or two that they could possibly implement to help their listing become more saleable other than lowering their price from this fantastic checklist. They hired you to be the creative marketing expert and dropping their price is not what they had in mind. For example, suggest to them a technique from the list called a “Dutch Auction” where you would agree to create a market buzz by pre signing price reductions for every week for an agreed upon amount until the home is sold. Buyers become interested in the listing watching the price drop week after week until finally a buyer pulls the trigger before they feel it sells to someone else first. Although a Dutch Auction involves asking the seller for a price reduction, this technique at least is actual creative marketing that can create a buzz and interest around a property. If explained properly this can offer the seller hope and get them excited again, whereas simply telling them to drop their price is frustrating and discouraging.
  • Take the seller and play the game by David Knox called “The price is right”. You tell them you are picking them up for a ride and that you are buying coffee and dessert. Drive them by the 3 most recent sales similar to theirs and read them the feature sheet and show them interior photos but don’t tell them the sale price and let them guess the final sale price for each. Then take them to preview the top 3 homes for sale that compete directly with theirs and again don’t let them know the asking price until you come back to the car. After the 6 homes and the price is right game then go for coffee and desert and discuss how they feel their home compares to what they just saw.
  • My final tip is to review all this information and really deliver value to the seller in all your seller counselling sessions during the listing period. I always ask them these very important questions…

1) What do you think we should be doing different?
2) What should we be doing next, moving forward?
3) What are we waiting for and why are we not doing anything about it?

  • I then pull out 2 forms and a pen. One paper is a price reduction form and the other a listing cancellation form. I explain to them that I cannot afford to disappoint them and fail them at selling their home and I need them to either reduce their price or release me of my responsibility of selling their home.

I hope you find these tips and the checklist incredibly helpful with your seller counselling  and begin to sell more homes and not just list more homes. We are in the business of selling homes and not just listing them and you want to be known for the selling.