Managing the relationship with a client can become challenging at times. Most sellers and buyers are stressed to the max because they are embarking on a significant benchmark in life: the sale or purchase of a home. Our role in a relationship with a client is crucial. We have a responsibility to shepherd the deal and the parties involved in the transaction in a way that results in a positive outcome — a successful closing. An agent must possess the tools that can always keep everything in forward motion and reduce as much trauma and drama as possible for the client.
Relationships, in general, have very interesting dynamics. Some are easy, and some are very, very hard. The same is true with our relationships with our clients. I discovered early on in my career that no two clients are alike. To manage any client relationship, you need to know how to navigate the relationship in a way that eventually brings you to the closing table.
Here are 9 ideas to consider as you manage your clients in selling or purchasing a home.
1. Build a relationship that goes beyond agent and client. People want to work with those they like, trust, and respect. Creating a healthy personal connection goes a long way in establishing a healthy business relationship. Get to know the client, their family situation, how they like to spend their free time, their hobbies, their motivations, their interests, etc.
2. Regularly communicate with the client and address any and all problems immediately! A lack of communication is the number one complaint consumers have with real estate agents. If you take a proactive approach to communicating, instead of a reactive one, it will build trust with the client. They will rely on your professional expertise in assisting them with their real estate needs. Answer their calls, texts, and emails promptly.
3. Ask the right questions. Even before listing a property or taking a buyer out to view properties, seek to learn more about the client’s expectations. Some questions to ask include: “Do you think the real estate market is working in your best interest or against you? What do you think your home isworth? What are you looking for in a house? In what area of town do you see yourself living?”
4. Agree on strategy, objectives, and timelines. Until you and your client agree on tactics, goals, and schedules, you are always at risk of them not understanding what success is and how it should be measured. Create a document that outlines details, budget, and metrics. This document will alleviate any confusion over expectations and hopefully eliminate an awkward conversation.
5. Be a counselor. When you offer clients advice, direction, input, and business counsel, you are supporting your unique value proposition. This style of open dialogue helps to establish respect necessary to ensure better client and transaction management. Clients need your point of view and do not want a “yes” person who will act as a clone of them.
6. Be a good listener. Listening is one of the most underused tools in managing client expectations. Many clients are unsure of what they are trying to accomplish or not very good at articulating it. You must have excellent listening skills and intuition to identify critical messages communicated. One of the best ways to compensate for a client who communicates poorly is to repeat what you have heard and ask them to confirm the accuracy of critical points, which will ultimately impact expectations.
7. Always keep the interests of your clients first in your mind. One of the primary reasons clients want us to represent them is so we can protect their interests. Remember your fiduciary duties as their agent.
8. Establish boundaries in the relationship. Make sure you know when and where to speak into the relationship and don’t overstep boundaries. Do not interject your opinion unless it will produce a positive result for the client. Make sure the personal relationship does not impact the business relationship. Remember, you are working with the client to support your business and you and your family.
9. Protect the client’s privacy and provide them with a sense of security. You need to practice discretion when representing a client, especially if they are well known in the public’s eye. Make sure you convey your firm’s privacy policies as well as security measures you and your broker have in place when you are out in the field with the client.
Client management is one of the most challenging aspects of an agent’s job. It requires skill and hard work. Keeping a healthy relationship with a buyer or seller is probably the most crucial aspect of what we do as real estate professionals. If it needs improvement, work hard to strengthen it. You will be glad you did.
John Giffen is Director of Broker Operations for Benchmark Realty, LLC in Franklin, Tennessee. He is the author of “Do You Have a Minute? An Award-Winning Real Estate Managing Broker Reveals Keys for Industry Success.”