By Ross Wilson
In the final installment of the open house series, I wish to address the all-important prospect bonding process. You’ve invested your precious irreplaceable time, hopefully not in vain, and established that your visitors are buyer orphans – that is, not under contract with another brokerage. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’ve succeeded in making a positive connection with your guests?
As you near the end of the showing, during which you’ve been gently asking probing questions and actively listening to replies – verbally and non-verbally – you’ve deduced a lack of interest. Before even asking how they feel about the property, you might voluntarily opine that this property is probably not for them (unless, of course, it is, in which case you perform a trial close).
The couple may have exchanged a momentary look during the showing that shouted their longing to escape at the first opportunity and may be pleasantly surprised and relieved that you sensed their feelings. Released from the unpleasant task of telling you it’s not for them, they might hang around a little longer to chat. Once again, it’s about bonding, about connecting on an emotional level.
As you approach the front door, if you’re unclear about their feelings, ask them how they feel about the home – not what they think about it. The two questions will illicit distinctly different answers. Ask for their thoughts and they’ll probably reply that it has most of the basic ingredients they’re searching for, but they’re unsure. Inquire of their feelings, however, and they’ll often honestly say whether or not they like it or that it’s lovely or they hate it. Thoughts will be about the property, whereas feelings will be about them.
Make it about them – not the house. Buying decisions are based primarily on feelings – not thoughts. Feelings rule. If you feel you understand their wants and needs, as you all return to the foyer, in a natural and spontaneous way, verbally summarize the answers they gave to your various questions sprinkled throughout the viewing.
“So, John and Jane, you want a large master suite with a private bathroom and three other bedrooms for Jimmy, Judy and Jodie. You prefer a main-floor family room with a gas fireplace and a big kitchen. You appreciate the benefits of a main-floor laundry and prefer the spaciousness of a double garage for all the family bikes. You definitely don’t want a swimming pool, but a finished basement would be a definite plus for a kid’s play area. Because of your daughter’s allergies, you prefer hardwood floors instead of broadloom. Walking distance to a public school is a priority. And it’s a bit more than you prefer to spend. Have I got that about right?”
I guarantee they’ll be impressed. They may not show it, but they’ll be pleased that you made the conscious effort to not only remember their names, but all they had shared during the showing. They’ll appreciate that you paid attention. You may even have helped them clarify their own needs. This is your chance to shine.
Ask them if they’d permit you to save them a ton of time, effort, frustration and fuel exploring a never-ending series of open houses held at unaffordable or unsuitable homes and constantly perusing newspaper ads and websites. Offer to email them every new listing, including details, photos and virtual tours of homes that might meet their specific needs, price range and preferred neighbourhood. They’ll not have to lift a finger (except for their mouse) or load the kids into the car on futile jaunts every weekend.
If their wants and needs are unusual or unique, or they’re luxury or rural home buyers, offer to personally preview the listings for computer-unsearchable features to filter them further. For example, your visitors may be avid non-smokers who cannot tolerate odorous smoke residue. This isn’t normally indicated in the listing data (yet). You can save them precious irreplaceable time. Your quality service is all about them.
If they already own a home, do they have an estimate of its market value? To provide further opportunity to enhance your bond, offer them a complimentary Comparative Market Analysis. By agreeing to accept your service, they’ll have a more accurate estimate of how much they can realistically afford to spend. Unbeknownst to them, they may qualify for an even better place! The clincher is that your buyer agency service will not likely cost them a dime. If you’ve impressed them with your charming attention, how could they refuse?
Dress comfortably to suit the environment. Be yourself. Be genuine – not pitchy. If you’re able to establish a congenial connection, they’ll recommend you within their sphere of influence – and be less likely to demand full service with discounted fees. And charging full fees is how one builds a profitable real estate practice.
“Everybody has a world and that world is completely hidden until we begin to inquire. As soon as we do, that entire world opens to us and yields itself. And you see how full and complex it is.” – David Guterson