Trust is vitally important with our clients. In fact I would make the argument that it is the ONLY thing that matters in any client relationship; but with first time homebuyers, real first time home buyers, it is an absolute imperative. It is never comfortable to take advice from someone you just met. Imagine how it feels when you don’t even know what to ask or how to evaluate the answer!
The great majority of my business is referral. Yep, I’m lucky. I’m also very experienced. But there would be no referrals if my clients didn’t trust me. This is not about what to do to MAKE my clients trust me. It’s about earning their trust through my actions. It’s about understanding where my clients are coming from and giving them the information they need, as intelligent human beings, to be certain they do not have to wonder whose side I am on.
In this world of high tech, immediate gratification, ‘tell me something I couldn’t find out on the internet’, there is still a place for experience. So how do we get them to not only listen but expect that advice? You absolutely must put yourself in their shoes…walk their walk…I’d say talk their talk but I’m a southern girl and not everybody talks my talk. But they definitely understand my point. My point is that their best interest is central to my agenda!
The average age of the first time homebuyer has gone down, way down, since the advent of technology. And why not? First time homebuyers have access to information the rest of us only dreamed about when we were their age. Heck, I don’t think I even dreamed about it. They can check facts, evaluate information and ask for opinions with the click of a mouse. I had to ask my folks. Which brings me to my first point…young people today STILL ask their folks for advice.
I address, pretty quickly, the fact that I know they will be asking for input from parents and others. I invite them to do so and to let the influencers in their life feel free to either join us or contact me if they have any questions. The amount of information I give a first timer is extraordinary and to expect them to be able to present it succinctly to a parent, once they are excited about a house, in such a way as to assure the parent that I have their child’s best interest at heart, is asking a lot. (I know I said child, but I’m the 50+ ‘child’ of my parents and some things never change!)
At our first substantial meeting I do a very thorough and easy to understand explanation of buyer agency (If I do say so myself) and how the process works from today all the way through moving in. I explain the job of all the professionals they will come in contact with throughout the process. It’s a long meeting but TRUST is the goal here.
The time comes swiftly when I need to make my promise to advise, good. We have all been there when a buyer has told you they want x, x, and x….absolutely…and then they fall in love with something completely different. I never judge because sometimes the process is, in itself, the change agent. But would I be doing what I promised to do if I did not point out the disparity? If they know they have made the decision because they are educated, let’s rock on. If we have lost our way, let’s get it back.
When first timers fall in love with things I know they can buy cheaply later (like new countertops or pretty bathrooms) but those things are in a house that will be a tough sell in a few years, I will tell them; absolutely. And I will make sure they hear me when they are picking a home in an area that has any number of other issues: builder controlled HOA fees that will need to go up quickly when the project is built out, highway noise in a market that doesn’t have to accept it, a family home in an area that has less than stellar schools … you name it. My clients can trust me to play devil’s advocate. It is not my place to tell them what they want. We all learn and adapt with more and better information. But my job, no, my obligation is to tell them what they need to know to make an informed decision.
I will never be sorry to list a property I have sold to a client. Never. Can I predict everything that will ever happen? Hardly. If I could I’d be doing something besides selling real estate. But do my clients trust me and send me referrals? Absolutely. Trust is an imperative. It isn’t anything new and it isn’t exciting. Is it novel these days? I hope not.
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