When my respected Colleague Gina asked the question below “when was the last time I showed buyers what felt like an endless number of homes? The question really triggered some hard learned lessons about overcoming individual’s irrational fears!
A few weeks ago my Cousin called me from the East Coast of the United States with a challenge she needed me to help her overcome.
She lives in a College town area, trying to procure better rental housing for her and her spouse. She has earned a PHD and both are College Professors. As I share her story it is amazing to me she was encountering this pitiful level of thinking in what is suppose to be an environment of higher learning and thinking.
She was getting very frustrated about the many homes she was touring, and being told the same thing over and over again “sorry we have already procured another renter.” We mutually thought if that was really the case why the Landlord would still be showing the home?
We both came to the agreement what this was really all about.
In the movie “Something New” the script writer introduced a new term prior to my viewing the movie I never could give it an official name, called
“The Black Tax!” Because of the color of her skin, she was encountering Landlords who were not willing to even consider the content of her character.
I thought about what I do when I present offers for my Buyers in making them very irresistible to their potential Sellers, I include with the offer a very strong pre-approval letter, plus I make the effort to inform the Seller’s Agent my high level of confidence and trust in the Buyer and their Loan Officer.
I suggested to my Cousin to create her own application package complete with a cover letter biography, a pre-filled in application form, and a copy of the United States, her local State, and local County and/or local Town fair housing law. I told her to state upon introduction to the Landlord, “as a professional courtesy I have prepared this pre-qualification packet for you!”
Good News: Using this form of introduction she procured exactly the home she wanted to rent!
I explained to her real estate can be such an emotional experience for the Owners, requiring her to move them pass their emotional thinking. Please understand it breaks my heart to share this story in this day in age 2017.
I would like to suggest in every high school and college curriculum it would be mandatory for every student to take a human anatomy course requiring them to either experience or participate in dissecting a human cadaver. I did in college. I can tell you it forever settled the ridiculousness of racism in my mind, because once I peeled back the skin, I could no longer tell the race of the person.
I can remember four specific times in my long long Career when I encountered Buyers who ate up all my valuable time in touring homes. I hope you are sitting down when you read my story. I lived this!
The Gentleman, who wanted to tour an endless number of condos in the Village of Homewood:
Early in my Career, I wasn’t granted many opportunities to work with Buyers who didn’t look like me. I had experienced all kinds of levels of prejudice, so finally when this Caucasian Gentleman told me he wanted me to exclusively help him to procure a condo purchase; I was so excited I totally let my guard down in not having him qualified by a trusted Loan Officer.
About the six time touring condos with him with our nearly touring every condo on the market, I started reflecting back on all the questions he had asked me. I am embarrassed to admit it took all that touring to realize his real purpose was to occupy my time to insure I was not selling any condos in his town. More specifically, to any Buyers who looked like me!
There was one specific question he asked me that hinted to an underlying racial tone which gave away his intention. It caused me to remember my accidentally being invited to a meeting supposedly sanctioned by the Village Administration, in which the purpose of the meeting was to interview a group of Brokers to determine if there was a need for concern about the number of minorities wanting to purchase in the Village. During the meeting an Associate in my office whispered to me I should be appalled. I stayed cool fascinated to see how carefully the Leader would choose her words to really express the fears in the Community Residents.
As this Gentlemen comfortably road in my vehicle all those times and gave me every excuse how every one of the condos did not fit what he wanted, I pulled over to the nearest curve, turned off the engine, turned to him politely informing him I do this for a living, and would appreciate if his honest intention was to waste my time, I needed him to stop it now. Then, I gave him my “I’ll go to heaven via jail look!”
I shared we have looked at everything on the market. You have not even extended me the courtesy of showing you are even qualified to purchase, so what is your real story here? He carefully thought about how to answer my question, choosing to not give me a response. He was so lucky I did not curve him right then and there. In silence I drove him back to the office never to hear from him, or one of his committee members again.
Can you imagine, a group of Residents formed their own Committee with the purpose of posing as sincere Buyers to keep the Minority Agent’s days busy with touring homes they never had intentions of purchasing as an effort to control who would be purchasing in their community. The dumb part of their plan was they never thought to include the Agents who looked like them who were selling homes to Buyers who looked like me!
In the movie “Forest Gump” there is a line “Stupid is as Stupid does!”
Unfortunately, I have a similar experience in touring homes with a Buyer in the Beverly Community of Chicago.
May I share first when “tester-Buyers” are serving non-for-profit Fair-Housing Organizations; they perform a positive protective role in discovering if the Fair-Housing-Law is being violated.
I majored in Communications in College so I knew how to generate publicity. I began to notice after an article was published promoting me, I would get these unusual home purchase requests like “can you find me a home adjacent to a forest preserve,” or “can you find me an English styled Cape-Cod?”
I would make every effort under the sun to find these Buyers exactly what they requested, and would succeed in finding the exact home and/or environment they described to their surprise. The fun part and their “tell-tell confirmation” was their body-language communicating their deceitfulness.
Let me tell you what a funny moment when they scrambled to give me a legitimate reason why it is not the house for them, when all along I paid very close attention to the racially toned questions they would ask me. May I add these were Buyers who looked like me asking how many who look like us lived in the neighborhood, and do I show these homes to others who don’t look like us?
Another moment when I pull over to the curve, turn the engine off, reminding them if they remember on our initial introduction I shared with them, to make a habit to visit and/or contact the Community Relations Director of any Village they were considering to discover all the details important to them. To also visit the schools assigned to the address to determine if the curriculums and learning environment are the right fit for their children.
I shared you know I made every effort to fully explain how I conduct myself as a professional and carefully adhere to the Fair-Housing-Law in our initial introduction, so why does it take this many tours of homes for you to figure out what I am exactly all about?
Then, I would relate to them the story of my own Parents who when they were looking to have a home constructed brand new, how their green money and excellent qualifications did not matter to nearly all the communities in the Chicago-Southland they wanted to consider. Back in the early 1960s they were limited to only a few communities welcoming them to reside without hostile violence.
I related how my High School Counselor and her prosperous Entrepreneurial Spouse, while attempting to tour homes with their Realtor in the villages of Dolton and South Holland had doors slammed in their face in the mid 1960s when the Sellers saw they did not look like them.
Imagine, my High School Counselor could not purchase a home she could afford to buy in the same town where she was employed? Now that’s a special kind of pitiful!
Eventually, they were allowed to purchase in the village of Homewood, but related how the Neighbors went out of their way to constantly scrutinize them and the neighborhood kids bullied their Son because he did not look like them. Finally, the negative encounters reduced when the neighbors realized they had the kind of neighbors’ individuals’ dream of having.
May I share with every home I’ve purchased upon closing I immediately worked on improving the landscaping curve appeal, and significantly increased the value of each home through improvements made to them. When I sold them I helped the neighborhood appreciate in value. Yet, every time I purchased with the exception of the dream home I had designed and constructed in the village of Frankfort, as soon as the neighbors saw I did not look like them, a for-sale sign was in their yard the very shortly after I purchased, giving me the reality check fearing Americans who don't look like me will find a way to make sure I will pay their ridiculous version of "The-Black-Tax!". This happened to me in the village of Matteson in the Woodgate subdivision the mid 1980s, and in the mid 1990s I observed the rapid flight of Residents who didn't look like me in the Lakewood subdivision in Richton Park.
I am the product of an interracial relationship. I have diversity flowing through my veins. To allow myself to embrace any form of racial prejudice would be the equivalent of hating me; and I love me some Dale!
I have the fair-housing-laws engrained in me because it is the right thing to do, and I never ever wanted a valued Client I serve to experience what my Parents or I have experience in the arena of Race and Real Estate in the Chicago-Southland.
Just in case you’re not familiar, here they are:
"Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability. More on the Fair Housing Act
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Section 109 of Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 Section 109 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or religion in programs and activities receiving financial assistance from HUD's Community Development and Block Grant Program.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Title II prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs, services, and activities provided or made available by public entities. HUD enforces Title II when it relates to state and local public housing, housing assistance and housing referrals.
Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 The Architectural Barriers Act requires that buildings and facilities designed, constructed, altered, or leased with certain federal funds after September 1969 must be accessible to and useable by handicapped persons.
Age Discrimination Act of 1975 The Age Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance."
Depending upon the State, County or City to reside in there may be additions to the Fair Housing Law, so it is equally important to be resourced on those jurisdictions as well.
Bottom-line here, because I serve within a region which still to this day embraces some levels of segregation, and must endure in the present the long long legacy of bad habits of Sellers, Buyers, and especially Brokers and New-Construction Builders who’ve made a lot of money through people selling their homes, and purchasing primarily due to the emotion of fear racism irrationally feeds, I must treat every Buyer I serve the same.
I must first motivate them to get pre-qualified, resource them on where to find vital information, ask all the open-ended questions to get them talking about their needs, wants, goals, and location dreams, and share I am obligated to introduce them to every home available, an ideal match, but may be available in other communities they have not named, to insure the Fair Housing Law is doing for them what it is meant to do for them.
My Sellers I inform them about the Fair Housing Laws and emphasize mine and their ultimate goal is to simply be about attracting a motivated qualified Buyer period; of course I appreciate when they are very cooperative and trusting, knowing I am lawfully, professionally, and courteously going to take very good care of them!
Below, my respected Colleague Gina shares some important instructions for all Colleagues to make as their best practice in serving their Buyer Clients. I think she will find she never expected this kind of spin on her well informing blog. Thanks Lady for the inspiration!
When was the last time you showed buyers what felt like an endless number of homes? Showing property after property to indecisive buyers consumes a huge amount of time and energy.
The key to avoiding this nightmare scenario is helping buyers pinpoint exactly what they want before showing them homes. Here’s a four-step process for doing just that.
Step #1: Set Expectations
Many buyers don’t understand the buying process. They might feel they’re supposed to see as many homes as possible. Or, they might not understand seeing tons of homes makes choosing one more difficult.
When you first meet with your buyers, set expectations about the buying process. Explain how your job is to help them narrow their criteria so they don’t waste time viewing homes that won’t work for them.
Step #2: Ask What They Don’t Want
Buyers are often terrible at knowing what they want (especially first-timers). But, they’re excellent at knowing what they don’t want.
After you’ve had the expectations conversation from step #1, ask your buyers what they don’t want in the neighborhood, home, lot, etc. Take detailed notes and ask follow-up questions as necessary.
You’ll be surprised how much you learn about your buyers’ preferences when they tell you everything they don’t want.
Step #3: Review Listings With Them
Most agents send listings via email and never take the time to review those listings with the buyers either in-person or by phone.
Once you run your initial MLS search, schedule time with the buyers to talk through the listings. Ask them the things they like and don’t like about what they see in the pictures, comments, and property details.
This step is critical because it either confirms or denies the information you gathered in step #2. Only when buyers are looking at actual listings do you get the full picture of their preferences.
Step #4: Invest 5 Minutes
One of the reasons agents get stuck showing too many properties is they don’t invest five minutes to eyeball listings before scheduling showings.
In step #3, you reviewed the initial MLS search results with your buyers. But, if you run a new search or set up an automated search, you might not have the chance to review the listings before your buyers receive them.
The problem is, no MLS search can capture every buyer preference. And, few buyers look at all the details of a listing before deciding whether to see it.
That’s why you want to invest five minutes eyeballing each listing your buyers want to see before setting up the showing. In many cases, homes that appear perfect for the buyers at first blush will end up rejected upon closer inspection of the details and remarks.
P.S. – If the four steps above seem like a lot of work, consider how much time they could save you. A showing on a home that doesn’t meet your buyers’ criteria wastes at least an hour of your time and frustrates your buyers.
P.P.S. - We are a top team in the South East Valley as ranked by Top Agents Magazine and RealTrends. We are currently hiring. The ideal Realtor® candidate is serious, motivated, and has integrity and drive. Please call us today!