Do Your Clients Speak Real Estate?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Crescent City Living LLC Licensed LA RE Commission

My 16 year old is a junior at a high school that believes in keeping parents informed about grades throughout the year, not just when it's progress report or report card time.  They have a dedicated website for parents to check the grades of their child at any time.  They send emails every time a new grade is posted.  Very cool for me as a mom, not so cool if you are a 16 year old struggling in French.  French stop sign

I have watched my daughter's French grade go up and down, up and down over and over again.  Finally, one day in frustration I asked her, "Why, why, WHY are you failing French?"

She gave me that look.  The one that all teenagers have perfected.  The one that says my mother is apparently the dumbest creature on the face of the earth and I can't believe I am wasting my time explaining this.  Her completely earnest (albeit sarcastic) reply was "Uhhhh....because I don't speak French".

Funny?  In hindsight, yes.  But, you know what?  She's right.  She doesn't.  And in her mind, this is completely the fault of her teacher for not taking all of the time that she needs in order to understand the language.  To grasp the nuances of pronunciation.  To - horrors - conjugate the verbs correctly.  To become proficient enough to pass the class, which is the end result we are all hoping for.

 

When we, as real estate professionals, are talking with our clients, are we really communicating with them or are we effectively speaking French?

languageWhen we explain the market to a seller, are we throwing out words like CMA, comps and absorption rates?  Or are we taking the time to make them really understand the market...the nuances of price, condition and location?  Do we talk about "chasing the market" or do we really explain why the price we recommend is right, no matter what the house next door is listed for or how much the guy down the street got 6 months ago? 

If you are representing a buyer, do they truly understand earnest money, buyer brokerage agreements, agency, or predicated offers?  Buying a home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make.  How many times do we have to hear "My agent didn't tell me that" to realize that perhaps we, as an industry, need to stop assuming that the average person understands the ins and outs of home buying and selling.  It is our responsibility to act as a translator...to teach them the basics of a new and foreign language.

This doesn't just apply to agents, either. 

Lenders speak another language altogether.  Latin, perhaps.  And they have just as much of an obligation as an agent to be sure that YSP, ARM, escrow, closing costs and APR are not foreign words to their clients.  We keep hearing all of these stories about consumers that didn't know what they were signing when they got over their heads on their adjustable rate mortgages.  Could it be because the lender did not explain it to them in a language they understand? 

Educating our clients is, to me, one of our primary functions.  If consumers don't understand, if they are confused by what we are saying, they will never fully appreciate what we bring to the table as industry experts and professionals.

The next time you meet with a client, think about it....What language do you speak?

Lisa Heindel

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
1,976,473
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker
It is so easy to get out of touch with what it is like to be a buyer brand new to all the jargon. Good post!
Dec 13, 2007 04:11 AM #73
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

Svetlana, your ability to be able to explain the meaning rather than just translating the words is exactly what I'm talking about.  That is providing true service to your clients.

Andrew, it is, isn't it?  Sometimes we just need to remind each other ;)

Dec 13, 2007 04:25 AM #74
Rainer
209,246
Marc Grossman
Marc It Sold! - Longwood, FL
GRI, Greater Orlando Real Estate Broker
Lisa,  I try to speak to people in plain ordinary terms or at least explain things if this can't be done.  Yet, I won't deny that I've caught myself in so-called realtor speak.  Now, the other side of the coin is that you will find some people doing this because they need to feel important and possibly in control, but then it's obviously just being insecure on their part. 
Dec 13, 2007 06:35 AM #75
Rainer
290,167
Cindy Lin
Staged4more School of Home Staging - South San Francisco, CA
Host, The Home Staging Show podcast

I think this is a great post. Most of us who are so engrossed in the industry we don't realize that our jargons can be difficult to understand, and sometimes come across as arrogant. Often, direct and simple communications work best ;)

Cheers,

Cindy 

Dec 13, 2007 07:47 AM #76
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

Marc, LOL...pretentious doesn't look good on you :)

Cindy, I bet there are a lot of staging terms that could confuse clients as well. 

Dec 13, 2007 07:59 AM #77
Ambassador
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Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Excellent!  We do sometimes take for granted the terminology we use, and we can sometimes inadvertently make them feel stupid - we have to be careful not to do that.
Dec 13, 2007 10:19 AM #78
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Margaret, thank you!  Just a hunch, but I don't think that making a client feel stupid is going to keep them around very long.
Dec 13, 2007 10:49 AM #79
Rainer
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Gail Gladstone
Gladstone Group & Long Island Business Brokerage - Huntington, NY
Brokering Success

Lisa, every industry steps into the same pitfalls...we hear the words so often, we assume everyone knows what we are talking about.

The greatest successes in listing properties that I have had can be attributed to educating the consumer to empowerment.  Everyone wants to be with the teacher.

Gail Gladstone, Long Island Realtor

Dec 13, 2007 11:37 AM #80
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Gail, too true.  It's amazing how much information consumers DON'T have (until they take the time to sit down with a professional, of course)
Dec 13, 2007 11:50 AM #81
Rainer
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Sally Zatkoff
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty - Fairfax, VA
Making a Difference

Great post, and very true. We do have to step back and and try to put ourselves in their shoes. Explaining things as though they are hearing it for the first time because they probably are...

Dec 13, 2007 10:39 PM #82
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

Sally, thank you.  That's an interesting comment...even if they have bought and sold a home before, they may not have had an agent or lender that really explained the process.  Approach each client like a first time home buyer - I like that!

Dec 14, 2007 12:24 AM #83
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
Lisa - I just wanted to let you know that I included this post in the weekly wrapup for Family Ties.  Thanks!
Dec 14, 2007 07:04 AM #84
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Jason, thank you!
Dec 14, 2007 07:41 AM #85
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Julie Neerings~Lifting Hearts ♥ Building Dreams~
Agent Referral - Salt Lake City, UT
Lisa-What a wonderful post! I choose to speak from the heart and that simply allows me to give my clients the information they need and want to know.  All those acronyms mean nothing to people who aren't living and breathing real estate everyday. 
Dec 14, 2007 10:40 AM #86
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Julie, thank you so much!  You are so right...we can have the entire alphabet after our names and throw out all of the acronyms we want.  It doesn't mean a thing to people outside of our industry, and we are doing our clients a disservice if we don't explain everything.
Dec 14, 2007 02:18 PM #87
Rainmaker
456,426
Sandi Bauman
Chico Homes Real Estate - Chico, CA
Chico CA Realtor
Excellent analogy....  loved it!  I had to laugh at the part about the lenders-  when one of them starts talking to me about too many technicalities, I can literally CHECK OUT.  
Dec 14, 2007 03:51 PM #88
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Sandi, me too!  That's why I was sure to include lenders...they start talking in their lingo and I'm lost half of the time.  What does the consumer think?
Dec 15, 2007 01:39 AM #89
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201,353
Mana Tulberg
805 County Real Estate - Camarillo, CA
Real Estate Agent - Camarillo CA
Lisa, What a great post. Sorry I missed it on the day it was featured. I hear you sister and I can tell you there are so many times clients tell me "oh, my previous agent didn't tell me that" and I think well maybe he/she did, but he/she just did not explain it in everyday language where non-realtors can understand. 
Dec 15, 2007 03:55 AM #90
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Mana, thanks!  I hear that all of the time too and I'm thinking the same thing you are.  There cannot be that many agents that don't explain things, but there might be that many that don't explain things WELL.
Dec 15, 2007 04:13 AM #91
Rainmaker
413,255
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
David, thank you!  I appreciate you stopping in to read.
Dec 17, 2007 01:00 AM #93
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Lisa Heindel

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