Working with Buyers... It's a Process!

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

SWS RocksI just started working with my wonderful graphics gal on the cover design of my next book, Prospect with Soul. I have a wide variety of visions of how it's gonna look; what elements I want to include, what message I want the cover to convey, what font I want to use for the title and subtitle, etc.

We're in Phase One right now. I just sent over a whole mess of stock photos I grabbed online with explanations of why I like each and think it would be a nice concept to consider.

So, as it stands at this very moment, the cover of Prospect with Soul may include my SWS Zen rocks... an ecstatic woman throwing her hands in the air... a businesswoman in a yoga pose looking out over the ocean... a beautiful sunset... a glorious blue sky... some bamboo... my SWS Daisy... a starburst... some water ripples that wrap around the book and... and... and...

In other words, I'm all over the board. In the end, the cover of my book will likely be something completely, utterly different from what I have in my mind's eye right now.

Is my graphics gal frustrated with me? I don't think so. She knows it's a necessary part of the process. To explore different concepts, try them on; see how they feel. I throw out an idea; she sends me back a mock-up of it. She's perfectly aware that everything we're tossing around today will likely be tossed right out the window tomorrow. But she's not rushing me or pressuring me to commit to a concept just yet; she's playing along, again, because she knows, yes, it's part of the process.

It's the same with home-buyers, of course. They come into the game with an idea of what they're looking for, perhaps based on nothing but where a friend told them they should live or a fantasy of what they always imagined their dream house to be.

As you show them homes, their vision of that dream home may change and evolve. They may want to explore other neighborhoods or school districts. They may want to consider other property types or floor plans. They may want to raise or even lower their price range. They might even, <gasp> decide that they want to change their timeframe.

It's all part of their process and we aren't going to rush them through it. Or, at least, we shouldn't; it's not in their best interest, or, frankly, in ours. If the buyer feels uncomfortable pressure from his real estate agent to make a decision before he's ready, he may very well find himself a new real estate agent. Or perhaps he'll make an offer on a home he doesn't really want, and later have an attack of buyer's remorse (and we all know who gets blamed for that!).

Respect the process. And everyone wins!

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Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

Hey there!  I'm looking forward to that new book, whatever you decide to put on the cover!

Happy New Year!

Jan 03, 2011 12:59 AM #1
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

JA - the Zen rocks are a telltale for me but their precarious perch doesn't fit what I've learned from you this year.  Enlightened and flowing is what I feel, thanks for that!

Jan 03, 2011 04:33 AM #2
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ


I would imagine that it is difficult to pick a cover...  but I like the idea of carrying a theme from one book to the other so they are easily recognizable as a JA work of art!

Jan 03, 2011 04:42 AM #3
Ritu Desai
Samson Properties - Ashburn, VA
Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949

Happy New Year Jennifer, I like you cover picture. I have worked with buyers who dumped their previous agents because either they pushing and buyers did not feel comfortable working.  Good luck with your book

Jan 03, 2011 05:03 AM #4
Tanya Nouwens
RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC. / Tanya Nouwens Inc. - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

I couldn't agree with you more, Jennifer.  It's a process...and it's their future HOME they're looking for, for goodness sake!  How dare we rush a person's search for their future HOME.

Jan 03, 2011 05:20 AM #5
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Its interesting Jennifer - I've had buyers continually change the game plan  and the bottom line is - none of these people ever buy - EVER. I've had a ton of them in my car and it has resulted in literally thousands in gasoline.  I finally cut them loose because I simply can't run a business that way.  Two years later - I find they've exhausted the patience of four other agents they still haven't bought.  This type of buyer has to be watched for and avoided if you want to have a viable business. Because if you don't watch it fully 3/4 of your buyers will be in this category. It's a matter of simple math.  If I need to show 4 people 50 homes each just to get to an offer - I've got a serious problem in terms of time, gasoline and wear and tear on my vehicle.  From the time constraint issue alone - the problem is daunting.  It means that I'm only working with one real buyer about every two months or about 5-6  a year.  So my antenna is up for this sort of person and I do cut them loose.

This might be a function of our particular market.  We've had an 18-30% drop in prices depending on location and what you are buying.  The media has hyped the "big bargains" and they see almost new homes on TV in foreclosure - so all too many hope to snag a steal in the form of a turnkey home complete with granite and hardwood. This, of course, is pure fantasy.  And the battle with unrealistic expectations begins. It's frustrating because at this point affordability is unlikely to get a  lot better.  If anything these people are in for a shock when interest rates go up. I can say that until I'm blue in the face -but they think somehow that if they wait they will steal gold.

A real buyer has a spring in their step - a sense of purpose and will play by most of the rules - once they understand why we have them.  They get their ducks in a row and the work with the market that we have and are willing to adjust expectations.  They may start out narrow - then broaden their net (I encourage that so they know all the viable options) But generally after about 2-3 weeks, they narrow their field and hone in on an area, property type or something that brings the options down to something sane. They may see 30 homes, but you sense movement towards a goal - not the endless spinning of wheels.

The same holds with your book cover -which sounds AWESOME by the way - but the fact remains that you will eventually pull the trigger and your graphics person probably realizes that.  If I see that people are heading towards a sale - I'm fine, but if I sense they are really spinning my wheels - I have to move on.


Jan 03, 2011 05:24 AM #6
Kelly Cordova-Armer
Cornerstone Real Estate Professionals - Ogden, UT
Selling with Soul amidst the Utah Mountains!

JA - Can't wait for the new book.  Great analogy!!  :O) It's all a process- and we can't rush a good thing!  We'd love for you to come to UTAH - I was just talking to my Broker about getting you out here.  :O)

Jan 03, 2011 09:56 AM #7
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Kelly - I'd love to come see you! Make that happen...

RM - I really haven't had that experience and since I've been a buyer several times, I know that it takes time to figure out what I really want, especially in an unfamiliar market. Of course, there's a difference between someone who is simply using you to entertain them, but frankly, I've found that my buyer clients value their time just as much as I value mine, so if they're indecisive, it has nothing to do with abusing me and everything to do with their own situation. But I will ALWAYS err on the side of accommodating my buyers' need to go thru the process. If I'm so busy that I can't do that, then I need to get help or refer, I suppose.

Tanya - I know! Can you imagine if your real estate agent implied that they fully expect you to take no more than 3 hours of their time on such an important purchase? I'd be finding me a new one!

Ritu - ME TOO!

I was thinking more about this analogy - that my graphics gal understands the process we'll go through, so it's factored into her fee. If, upfront, we'd agreed to something different - that is - she'll provide 3 ideas and I must pick among them, then that's different; and she'd probably charge me less. Similar to our compensation structure - we're paid very well when our buyer (finally) finds The One; if we wanted to better "protect" our time, we could work hourly or something... BUT that doesn't change the fact that the buyer WILL go through that process with or without us!


Jan 04, 2011 12:30 AM #8
Randy Elliott
RE/MAX Gold - Lodi, CA
REALTOR : Lodi / Stockton, CA

Yes jennifer, it's a process and the buyers can change their direction of that process multiple times throughout.  But that shouldn't keep us agents from constantly taking new notes to stay on top of what the clients needs are day-by-day.

Jan 04, 2011 10:33 PM #9
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Sometimes it's the client, sometimes it's US.  While we think we are being accommodating by dragging our clients around to everything on the market, isn't it just possible sometimes WE are not listening carefully enough or spending enough time picking up on nonverbal cues so that WE can present houses to our clients that even THEY don't know they want - yet?  Just a thought.

If I look back at my earlier clients, they definitely took more of my time than my clients today.  Are my clients today more decisive?  Nope.  I have gotten better at honing certain skills.

It IS a process, absolutely, and one in which people are spending a rather large amount of money.  They need to be sure they are getting what they want - and need. 

I have never had a client drag me around endlessly and then not buy.  Not sure why that happens to some agents, but apparently it does.  I'm just lucky, I guess.


Jan 05, 2011 04:08 AM #10
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

I love this post, because it's so true! It IS a process, especially for first-time homebuyers. I just visited a past client of mine over the Christmas holidays, and we laughed about how she told me in the beginning of their search "Don't even show us ranches. I hate ranches!" Then of course a ranch showed up in their price range, and she said, "Ok...I guess we can go look." And yes, they've now been in their house for almost 3 years and absolutely love it.  

Jan 05, 2011 09:37 AM #11
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Jennifer - I've said before that our market is very difficult - and probably  different from others.  Some buyers are really angry.  "I deserve a 2 BR condo with a granite kitchen and 2 mable baths, 24 hour doorman, indoor heated parking, laundry in the unit, an in-house gym a block from town and half a block from the train!"   But they can't afford all of that.  Prices are down about 25% - given the location they aren't going down much further.  With interest rates rising - further price reductions are probably a moot point.   So I try to get them to adjust their expectations and "loosen the criteria."  Certainly those criteria take out about 98% of the available inventory, and a whole world would open up if they were willing to walk a half-mile to the train or were willing to forego that extra BR or if they were willing let go of the need for a doorman or indoor parking or walk a little further to the train or  something.  Compromise is part of the buying process and a consumer who isn't willing to adjust their wants and needs to fit the budget is not a buyer.  

No one can continue to run a business with 3/4 of their clientelle refusing to pull the trigger.  so you do have to cut these people loose.


Jan 05, 2011 10:46 AM #12
Ken's Home Team LLC. | 360.609.0226 | Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA Real Estate Team
Ken's Home Team LLC. - Vancouver, WA

hey great Post, I hope that your new book will be good.  I just downloaded Sell with Soul, and I will have it read by tomorrow.  Thank you!!

Jan 08, 2011 05:15 PM #13

There are a lot of home buyers that just want to see everything and have no idea what they want. It's not fair for the realtor. It can help all parties involved if you sit down with pen and paper and go over the "must haves" and the "wish fors" to get a better picture.


<a href="">Scottsdale Homes</a>

Jan 14, 2011 02:58 AM #14
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