Hello and welcome to the women rocking real estate podcast, I’m your host Jen Percival and I really appreciate you tuning in today. I am so sincerely grateful to everyone who continues to send me messages about the podcast and how it is helping them in small ways.
I would also like to thank Melissa for the inspiration for this episode. If you visit my Instagram page there is a highlight called Ask Me where you can ask me any question you’d like to me address in a podcast episode. So Melissa wanted to know how to retain more buyers. She has had a few issues where buyers have started working with her and then went and purchased directly from the listing agent.
If you’ve been in this business long enough and worked with enough buyers, you’ve very likely lost one or more along the way somewhere. It can be a pretty disheartening thing when it happens, especially if you’ve invested your time in them and even more so, if you’ve truly invested your care in them. It can feel like such a betrayal, and for those of you that are BFF types, it’s particularly hard. If you don’t know your Realtor type by the way, you can take my quiz on my website and then listen to Episode 1 which dives deep into the 4 types of realtor personalities.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to not have this happen yet, be prepared, odds are pretty high it’s going to happen and more than once. So what can we do about it? Once again when it comes to losing buyers, prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you set your buyer relationships up properly from day one, you can prevent the vast majority of these situations from happening, not all of them, but most of them, so that’s what we’re going to be covering today.
First up, there’s typically 4 reasons why you might lose a buyer you’ve been working with. Reason 1 - they turn around and buy privately, Reason 2 - they change their mind or their circumstances change that force them to stop looking, Reason 3 - they go and buy direct from the listing agent or lastly, Reason 4 - you get fired. Perhaps you screwed something up or at least they think you did or perhaps they just ghost you and go buy with another agent.
So first we’re going to go through each of these scenarios, why they happen and what you can do to prevent it and then we’re going to cover some additional best practices that you can bake into your business day to day to solidify buyer loyalty.
So the first reason you may lose a buyer is that they turn around and buy privately. It sucks, I know. But let’s dissect this one a bit more. Sometimes there truly is a great opportunity to purchase something privately from a friend or family member and let’s be honest, if you were in their shoes, you’d do it too! So you can’t blame buyers for doing this sometimes. If you truly care about their best interests, you should support these decisions.
This is one of the risks that goes with being in real estate. It’s also one of the reasons commissions are so high. We take risks and invest a lot of time into situations we never get paid for, but we can make really good money when we do get paid, so you have to remember that your ‘wasted’ time is baked into your commissions in a general sense. It doesn’t always equate equally, but there’s a bigger problem if that’s happening frequently.
Now there’s also situations where a buyer will intentionally try to cut you out of a deal by going straight to a seller and that’s just plain brutal. Normally when that happens, you’ve probably seen some warning signs, some red flags that you may have chosen to ignore.
Early on in your career, it can be really hard to say no to working with certain types of buyers. Your gut says this could be a waste of time, but you invest yourself anyways with the hope it will turn into a deal. Anytime you get that gut feel, you need to tread carefully and be very intentional about how much time you invest and you need to not be surprised and feel slighted when it doesn’t turn out well. If you’re going to choose to ignore the red flags, you cannot complain when it comes back to bite you. It’s a risk you decided to take, so make it with eyes wide open.
One of the things I recommend you do with each and every buyer you work with, is to address the situation of them buying privately head on in your very first buyer consult meeting.
The main reason most buyers will ghost you and buy privately, is that they feel guilty and they’re afraid to be honest with you. I hold my buyers accountable. I address this issue up front, so they have no excuses around being honest. If they choose to be dishonest after that conversation, well that’s on their karma, not mine.
So in my buyer presentation I use this topic as an opportunity to establish myself as “on their side.” I come right out and say, if you’re considering buying privately, please let me know. I still want to help you. Give me the opportunity to try and negotiate a commission, but if I can’t, I will still help you. I will still represent you. Why? Because I’m in this for the long game and I genuinely want to help people. I might not get paid on your purchase, but I know if I did that for you, you’d go out of your way to refer me to everyone you can think of right? And they start nodding their heads.
Do you see what I did there? That’s called a trial close and although I absolutely hate sales tactics, this one is like a little vaccination against getting screwed by buyers. It puts the accountability on them to be honest and they’ve looked you in the eye and agreed to do it. They’ve also agreed to refer you if that ever happens and you’ve established yourself as trustworthy, which is the first step in building buyer loyalty.
Up next is the second reason and that is when a buyer changes their mind about purchasing or circumstances come up that delay them purchasing. The most common reason is usually financial, so make sure that you have vetted buyers before you start working with them. If they have not been pre-approved yet, hook them up with a mortgage broker or bank contact that you know, so that you can vet their financial situation to make sure they’re actually in a position to be able to buy and know what their affordability is. If you don’t do this, then you can’t be surprised when they put an offer on a property conditional on financing and then you find out they can’t get the financing. If you’re doing your job properly, that should never happen.
Sometimes other circumstances change and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about this, but if you’ve established yourself properly from minute one in your buyer consult meeting and you’ve made yourself indispensable during the showings you’ve gone on and then you are diligent about staying in touch, providing value, engaging with them on social media (not in a salesey way, but in a liking and commenting on their posts and showing a genuine interest in their lives), then you will stay top of mind when they are ready to buy and they should come back to you.
Alright up next is the situation where a buyer goes directly to the listing agent. One of two things is happening when buyers ditch you and purchase directly through the listing agent - one you haven’t established yourself as indispensable or two - they’re just assholes. For those situations, there’s usually signs that this could happen. You’ll notice they are a little non-committal, it’s often you contacting them about properties vs. Them reaching out to you to see stuff. They’ll have their guard up and won’t be as open to sharing personal info, etc. In other words they’ll keep themselves at arms length.
Now just because a buyer starts like this, doesn’t mean you can’t convert them. I’ve worked with a lot of buyers who were very standoffish in the beginning but became incredibly loyal once I established my value. So whenever you come across buyers like this, you’ve got your work cut out for you and you need to be extremely intentional about winning them over. We’ll cover some of the best practices I recommend in a minute, but if you haven’t won them over after a few outings together, it’s time to put them in the red flag category and establish some boundaries around your time. Be careful how much time and energy you invest in them.
Ok the last situation is where you get fired. Sometimes they’ll just ghost you and disappear - which is really lame and says a lot more about them, than it does about you, especially if you’ve invested some real time with them.
Other times they’ll be courteous enough at least and give you some candid feedback about why you aren’t the right fit for them. These situations can be tough because sometimes it’s just a fit issue and doesn’t really have anything to do with what you did or didn’t do. Remember we’re only going to ever connect with about 20% of the population and you don’t want to be changing who you are to try and adapt to everyone. That’s not being authentic. However if they do provide you with any constructive feedback, it’s really important that you put your ego aside and hear what the have to say, as painful as it may be.
Often buyers will contact me with feedback about agents at my brokerage and the most common thing I’ve heard over the years boils down to one theme - the agent didn’t establish themselves as adding enough value.
Some of the common examples were:
The other thing I have often heard is that the agent didn’t strike the right balance on something. There is a bit of a fine line in real estate that we have to walk. For example you don’t want to be passive, but you also don’t want to be pushy.
Another bone of contention that I see come up over and over again happens When it comes to a buyer’s search - you definitely want to be flagging properties that your buyer will be interested in, but you definitely don’t ever want to recommend they see something that they’re not interested in. This is one of the quickest ways to lose a buyer. When you get this one wrong, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t understand them and if they feel that way, they will not want to work with you. You want your buyers to feel like you could buy a house for them on their behalf, even if they never saw it. They need to trust that you implicitly know what’s best for them. Otherwise, what are you there for?
Alright the last situation happens if you get fired because you’ve screwed something up. Maybe it’s your fault, maybe it’s not. Regardless the buyer has decided that it is your fault, fairly or unfairly and that’s the end of it. This usually happens if they didn’t get a house they wanted and again prevention is usually worth a pound of cure. In these situations, prevention centres around educating your buyers and setting expectations.
You need to make sure they understand how the offer and acceptance process works, what the risks are, the potential scenarios that can happen and then you need to discuss ahead of time how they want things to be handled. In the market where I work in Toronto, it’s extremely competitive - like you’re in competition about 90% of the time and have been for the last 11 years. It’s extremely important that you set buyers expectations up properly or they will get upset and discouraged very quickly. Buyers also tend to get emotional in bidding wars and it’s our job to make sure we keep them rational and pragmatic. One of the ways I do that is by making my buyers sign a document about what max price they are willing to offer on a property - based on comparables. The reason I do that is because of one assjack who lost his marbles because he lost a house. He had told my partner and I that the absolute max he was willing to offer was $1.4 million so when the listing agent asked if we’d go higher we said no. Well they sold it to another buyer for $1.5 and he went ape shit on me and said he would have paid that. His own wife was like “um I was there when you told them $1.4 was the absolute max??” He didn’t care. He decided it was our fault and that was the end of it. Although ironically we did bring him a property that wasn’t on the market a few weeks later and they did buy it. But a rat always shows their true colours and he royally screwed us a few years ago on the sale of that place.
Anyway I have digressed here.
So what are some best practices that you can implement in your business day to day to prevent the loss of buyers in any of the situations we just covered?
The first thing you should always do is treat new buyers as though they’re not a sure thing. Sellers will often interview multiple agents before they pick one and as a result, we are conditioned to put our best foot forward and prepare for listing presentations with the expectation that we’re in competition. By comparison, buyers don’t typically interview agents the same way. They absolutely should, but they often don’t so we enter the relationship a little less structured and purposeful.
Regardless of whether a buyer requests and interview with you, you should treat your first meeting as though you were being interviewed. It will set your relationship off on the right foot and establish an subconscious belief that you care and that you are not taking your relationship for granted. Trust me, this is a very important first step and one that will protect their loyalty towards you.
In that first meeting, you want half if it to be about you and the approach you take and the service you offer them and the other half of the meeting to be about them and getting to know them and what’s important to them.
Use this meeting to establish yourself as their partner and consultant in the buying process. Talk about the systems and the processes you have to ensure a successful buying experience. You want them leaving that very first meeting, thinking Wow, I am in good hands. I’m so happy I met her and I can’t wait to get started. I’m so confident she’s going to take really good care of me.
When you set this belief up from day one, it changes how they will perceive everything you do. You are already an authority figure in their mind and they already believe you have their best interest at heart.
In your first few showings, your entire goal is just to reinforce these feelings and beliefs. Your goal is not at all to sell them a property. In fact that should never be your goal. That is not your job. Your job is to help them find and buy a great home that suits their lifestyle and needs. Your job is not to sell anything. As soon as your thinking shifts to sales, you’ve lost all your value.
So during these showings you want to ask a lot of questions and spend a lot of time listening to their responses, but you also want to spend a lot of time educating these buyers and demonstrating yourself as an expert. You want to make yourself indispensable so you need to show that you know more than they do. Take every opportunity to show your knowledge and educate them about the property, the street, the community, etc. Make them look up to you as an authority figure. You are not a tour guide. Never be a tour guide. For every good thing you point out about a property, make sure you point out two negative things. Make sure you seem unbiased.
This is also a good opportunity to FUD people about things like buying directly from a listing agent. FUDDing stands for introducing fear, uncertainty and doubt. I’m not suggesting you manipulate people, but do share genuine stories about what has happened to buyers when they’ve gone and bought directly and regretted it.
Also do make an effort to connect with people. Let your personality shine through. If you’ve got a sense of humour, don’t be afraid to let it out. You can be a very smart, knowledgeable, hard-ass negotiator with a wicked, sarcastic sense of humour at the same time. So be you and connect with your clients.
I’ve talked about this a lot in past episodes, but make sure you’re a great decision making coach. This is the number one thing that buyers say they need. They don’t want someone to tell them what to do or ask them what they want to do, they want someone who will help them make the right decision for them and their personal situation.
The only way for you to do this well, is to get to know them and their situation well and then to challenge them when needed and support them when needed. You need to remain unbiased and unattached to the outcome. You need to treat them as though they were your best friend or a family member and that your only interest is making sure they’re making the right decision. You need to detach from what you have to gain in the form of a commission. The second you start thinking about the potential outcome for you, is the second you are no longer able to help them the way they need to be helped.
This is how you build a reputation for being an outstanding real estate agent and one that people will scream from the hilltops referring you.
Lastly from start to finish, communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Have lots of systems and processes and policies to keep you out of trouble and make sure you set expectations clearly from day one.
For more tips on keeping clients happy, make sure you check out episode #11.
Alright there you have it. I hope this episode will help you close more buyers - for the record I hate that term. I hope it will help you help more buyers find a great place that’s perfect for them to call home and I hope that they remain fiercely loyal to you throughout the process and that they boast about how amazing you are to everyone they know.
That’s it for this week’s episode, if you are enjoying these podcasts and they’re helping you with your business, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave me a review. I’m only human and hearing that these episodes are helping you is the motivation I need to continue making them, so don’t be afraid to share!
Alight ladies I will see you next week same time same place and remember the more you learn the more you’ll earn.
Until Next time!