Buyers aren’t liars, you may just be a horrible listener!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Respect Realty LLC 200311024

I love buyers and sellers, they are very different though. Sellers know one thing, they want to sell their property. Buyers know they want to buy something and your job is to help them find what they are looking for.

I hear it all the time in sales meetings that buyers are liars and I completely disagree. I used to think this until I stopped talking and listening to what they had to say. Each time you enter a home, buyers talk, they tell you what they need by showing you what they don’t want.

Buyers aren't liars, you just aren't listening.

If you continue to show them what they don’t want then they are lying to you, you are lying to yourself about being a service to a buyer. Recently I had a buyer that told me what she was looking for and I was sending her MLS listings and on our first venture out, we looked at 8 homes. (Only because they were all within a mile of each other)

I listened to what she told me on the phone and then I let her show me when we were looking at those homes. By the 5th home, I knew what she described on the phone and online was not what I had heard, I misunderstood. After we got done for the day, I took what I had heard at the showings and also what I saw on her face during the showings. Quickly changed the search parameters and set up an appointment with her for the next day. We looked at two homes and she put in an offer and thanked me for knowing exactly what she was looking for.

She had bought other homes in other cities before and was expecting this to take months because she could never find what she was looking for and ever home she went to see was completely off what she had described. She said “You were the first agent to ever listen and learn rather than open the door and say check it out, if you need me I’ll be here by the door to answer your questions”

So, follow your clients, watch their faces, listen to what they are saying and you will have happier clients and faster sales.


Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lane Midgett 12/28/2010 05:30 AM
  2. Gwenn Tanvas NMLS# 274839 12/28/2010 08:23 AM
  3. Karen White 12/29/2010 03:37 AM
  4. Phyllis Borchardt 01/02/2011 01:05 AM
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Farooq Khan
Pacific Realty Partners - Newark, CA
Real Estate Broker - CDPE

listening is key to success.

Dec 29, 2010 07:42 PM #136
Pam Sitterly
CRS Magnolia-Tomball Texas

I really enjoyed this post and all the comments. For myself, I will say I do not believe buyers are liars, and when I became a better listener, I became a better REALTOR. I also ask more questions. Thanks for sharing.

Dec 30, 2010 01:49 AM #137
Sandra Ormerod
Sotheby's International Realty - Sonoma, CA

Listening is key!   Ever change your mind after you've gotten a bit of experience?  Buyers do as well.   They aren't always liars, just trying to figure things out.   Our role is to read the signals and help clients get to what's right for them.

Dec 30, 2010 02:29 AM #138
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Often times buyers do not really understand what they want until they have looked around.  A good agent will help them sort through the proccess.  I think some buyers lie to us about thier real budget as they feel they need to negotiate with us as well as the sellers.

Dec 30, 2010 05:14 AM #139
Henry Pailles
Chula Vista Realtor,Short sale,Eastlake Real estate,Realtor - Chula Vista, CA
San Diego Real Estate, San Diego Realtor, Chula Vista Real Estate

I agree, the skills that we need to develop, have to deal more with personality styles, and projecting to the buyer or seller a picture that matches more closely what they were expecting to find in an agent.

Dec 30, 2010 06:53 AM #140

It is so refreshing to hear someone say this.  I have always disliked "that" phrase about Buyers.  Why would anyone insult the very people that make up a good portion of our business?  Thank you for your post Todd.

Dec 30, 2010 07:07 AM #141
Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux
Keller Williams Suburban Realty - West Orange, NJ
Where Buying & Selling Works

Hi Todd, you said it well and so did #11, sometimes buyers don't know what they want until they realize what they don't want.

Buyers expect us to use our expertise to translate their verbal and non-verbal cues into the place that's right for them if it's out there or tell them what the problem may be.

We pride ourselves on doing that and it sounds like you do, too.

Dec 30, 2010 07:25 AM #142
Agnes Tabor


I agree, neither buyers or sellers are "liars" they just are not sure of what it is they want. Like many who have replied to your post, buyers and sellers get caught up in the entire process, more confused than anything. When I first started in Real Estate even the instructor used that comment more than once so, who is really confused.

I love working with my buyers and sellers and will basically take them at their word with my ear to the ground for any new information. It's human nature the uncertainty of any situation sometimes can sound like a lie.

Appreciate your starting this process you have certainly turned a few "ears".

Happy New Year!

Dec 30, 2010 08:05 AM #143
Dustin Oldfather
Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty - Rehoboth Beach, DE
Delaware Ocean & Water Front Homes

The term "listening" gets tossed around frequently in real estate, but to me it is as much about resisting the urge to talk too much. It seems we all get so excited to diagnose what a client wants it is hard to just be still and silent and really listen. After listening to a wonderful Brian Tracy seminar, I tried out his theory on making "white magic." We found that something magical does happen when we turn off our phone, eliminate all distractions, are fully prepared and polished in appearace for an appointment. And, then concentrate all of our energy on truly listening to the client and not interrupting or trying to immediately overcome an objection. Listening, in this context, is just as much about creating a warm energy and environment for the client to feel comfortable and open to sharing from the heart level versus the head level. That brief honest exchange can anchor a relationship through thick and thin.

There is just so much noise in the world now, people are grateful to sincerely be heard by someone who honestly cares about them.


Warm Regards to All,

Dustin Oldfather


Dec 31, 2010 03:40 AM #145
Dave Leiderman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Ocean City, MD
ABR, SFR - Realtor - DE & MD Beaches

Todd, a great post.  We all need to be better listeners with our clients and customers; that's just a given.  But do we really do it?  I always try my best to minimize my words, eliminate the "white noise", so to speak, and listen to what my clients say as well as what THEY DON'T SAY.  Your blog post reminded me of a sale I had at the beginning of the year.  I had a client referred to me whose criteria was not much more than price.  On our first visit we toured all the properties I prepared for her to see.  Half way through the day I began to realize by her expressions that she was not interested in anything in her given price range.  After exhausting almost all of the different buildings and units on tour I asked her to bear with me as I wanted to veer away from the "plan" for the day.  She complied and I showed her a listing of mine.  I explained that although higher in price, I wanted her to see other properties and that I could tell she was turned off by everything we had seen.  She loved the listing and at that point told me she could go up in price (which of course had me shaking my head).  She eventually bought in that building although not my listing.  Based on that experience I wholeheartedly agree with your post.  Thanks for sharing.  Best of luck in 2011!


Dec 31, 2010 05:14 AM #146
Kathie Burby
Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate - Sonora, CA
REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide

Todd - great post! I also hate the term "buyers are liars". I have found that the agents who proclaim this the loudest are the ones who don't listen (to anyone). Sometimes buyers just don't know how to express what they want until you listen long enough. It really is all about listening and listening and listening.

Dec 31, 2010 01:33 PM #147
Ric Mills
Keller Williams Southern Az - Tucson, AZ
Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge

Greay advise.  I always ask at each home I show what they like and dislike at each house. Thsi helps narrow it down to what they really want.  Listen, Listen, Listen  let them tell you and better yet show you.

Dec 31, 2010 03:11 PM #148
Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

I hate the term "buyers are liars" also - don't even know how that got started. Listening and watching your client's reaction is key. Great post!

Jan 02, 2011 01:09 AM #149
Jeff Harris
Austin, TX
Selling Austin. Every Day

Yes indeed we must listen.  Not only to what buyers do say, but what they don't say.  What we may think would send them running, they might not have an objection to at all.

Jan 05, 2011 04:51 AM #150
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Todd: Listening IS important but when a buyer informs you that they CANNOT afford more than $900,000  (and would have to borrow to get that)and ONLY want one area... and they end up buying (from another agent) a property for $1.1 in a  different area... I would have to say that (at least some) buyers are indeed liars.......  Best, Gay

Jan 05, 2011 10:36 AM #151
Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904

Todd- You hit the nail on the head. Hearing what a buyer is saying and listening to what they are saying are indeed two very different things. What they say may not be what you hear. If your mind is racing while they are speaking you are not listening,nor are you hearing what it is they are trying to tell you. Good listeners can concisely summarize what the speaker has just said. In doing so, it re-affirms to the speaker that you have beem listening, and understand what it is they are trying to convey.

Jan 06, 2011 09:00 PM #152
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Todd, I refuse to use that statement.

You are so right on. We are not hearing what the buyers really want or need. Until we learn how to ask the right questions and listen very carefully to the answers and then ask more questions and show a few homes and ask more questions will we recognize what the buyer is asking for. Many times they have no idea what they want and need that good agent  to narrow the search and then really listen for the buying signals!


Jan 07, 2011 02:24 PM #153
Jan Laurie
JL Residential Styling & Staging - Nanaimo, BC

Great post Todd. A good example given from a position of humility. Listening/hearing is important to every relationship, isn't it?

Jan 10, 2011 12:15 PM #154
Eugene Lew
RE/MAX equity group - Happy Valley, OR

I have found that to be the case, that buyers are liars, but not in every case. Sure, if a buyer is looking for a single family home, I don't show them condo highrises downtown. If they're looking on the west side of the river, I don't show them way far east. However, I have found buyers who want a $500K home, will buy a $350K home. Sometimes they want a 1 level, but buy a 2 level.

What's very aggravating is that you show them one house, and they dont' like it, then you don't work with them, and 6 months later you find they bought that house.

Jan 15, 2011 07:21 AM #155
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL

Todd, I couldn't agree more.  I can't tell you how many times I have picked up clients because they were frustrated by their Realtor sending them the wrong kinds of properties.  They ask for $200-$250k, with 4 bedrooms, and they get 3/2's under $150k.  It seems unbelievable that agents could be so dense, but the usual culprit is their insistence on sending OFFICE listings, instead of what's best for their client. 

Also, as you said, sometimes buyers don't know what they want until they really get out there and start looking.  If you pay attention, after about 2-3 showings you can basically tell when you walk through the door whether they will like it or not.

On another note, how weird is blogging?  I know you're a big superstar here on ActiveRain, but I've commented on a few of your posts, and you've reciprocated...and now I almost feel like I know you.  I can now see how buyers could get that same feeling by reading my posts...and could really begin to know, like, and trust me to the point of wanting to do business.  Eureka! 

Aug 17, 2011 06:09 AM #156
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