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Advice Your Buyers Are Getting: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Advice Buyers Receive

When someone is ready to buy a home, it’s 99% certain that they are going to look up advice on how to go about the process. Even folks who are not first-time buyers look for information because they assume, correctly, that the market has changed a lot since they last purchased.

It’d be great if people took advice from you or another qualified professional, but unfortunately, they don’t. As a result, some of the information they receive is good, some is bad, and some is downright ugly.

However, being a great buyer’s agent means knowing what people are being told and how you’ll react to common question and objections. To help, here’s a list of popular advice given to buyers and how to be ready to respond.

“Don’t Buy in a Renter’s Neighborhood”

The Advice:

The idea with this advice is that it only takes a few bad renters to make the neighborhood undesirable to both the buyer and any potential residents that the client may eventually want to sell to. Similar advice is to be sure there are families on the street if you plan to have a family, so your kids have someone to play with.

How to Respond:

First, encourage the buyer to take the long view and realize that things change. Once they have a family, there may be several other families on the street. Or, the families there now may move away. In addition, there can always be renters in a neighborhood. It’s totally outside their control.

Secondly, do your best to match them with a home that fits their needs. Is there an area they could buy in where the HOA prohibits renting? Is there a neighborhood known for great schools that would naturally attract a lot of families with kids?

“Think Long Term – Look for Bones and Resale Value”

The Advice:

A lot of advice to homebuyers, especially first-timers, is to look past the initial appearance. People are encouraged to overlook junk and ignore staging, and just look at the bones of the house. In addition, buyers are encouraged to think beyond today and think about how easy it will be to resell the home in the future.

How to Respond:

First, be sure to point out factors about a possible home that lead to great resale value – a good neighborhood, nearby shopping or schools, and a quiet street, for instance. Avoid showing homes that would be poor long-term investments.

In addition, help your buyers see past staging and make a decision that’s both emotional and reasonable. If a stager put lamps in a bedroom where there are no outlets, point that out. Make sure the buyers know the value they’re getting in a good quality home, not one with pretty “makeup.”

“Know the WHOLE Cost of Owning the Home”

The Advice:

Buyers are frequently told not to budget for the mortgage alone, but also for taxes, HOA fees, upkeep, closing costs, and more. This is great advice because it ensures your buyer is ready to follow through with closing and is much less likely to get cold feet or buyer’s remorse.

How to Respond:

Provide excellent information! Be a buyer’s agent that is truly on your client’s side. Don’t show them homes “just out of range” to try to score a larger commission. That strategy makes the customer feel frustrated and disrespected. Also, it can backfire and lead to a buyer backing out before closing.

By being a buyer’s agent that helps your client understand the full cost of home ownership, you’ll be providing excellent service and generating a lot of good will that will help bring in referrals and great reviews.

“Get an Inspection to Avoid a Lemon”

The Advice:

Buyers are inundated with horror stories of purchases gone wrong and are assured that if they have an inspection, these problems will be discovered before they buy. This is partly true, but not entirely.

How to Respond:

First, help homebuyers be realistic about what they should expect in their price range. If they think they are getting a move-in ready, renovated place with a bottom-level budget, they will be disappointed. Also, help them understand the actual cost of renovation – having a partnership with a contractor they can talk to would be helpful.

Secondly, make sure you have a partnership with an excellent and honest inspector. Let the homeowners know that not all inspectors are created equal and that if they use your resource, you know they’re getting a good one.

Finally, help buyers be realistic about what a home inspection will uncover. An inspection is not a Mike-Holmes-style gut and rebuild. It won’t find everything that might need to be fixed. And repairs are part of owning a home – no inspection will change that.

“Don’t Worry About Being Pre-Approved for a Mortgage”

The Advice:

This is advice that a buyer is likely to get from a friend or relative rather than a buyer’s class or online article. The idea is that a pre-approval isn’t official anyway and that if you’re just starting to look it’s not worth the time or hassle.

How to Respond:

Let a potential buyer know that if they are not pre-approved for a mortgage before looking at homes, they won’t be able to put in an offer on a home they love. It also helps them be clear about their actual budget. Remind them how quickly homes go, and that by the time they get vetted for a mortgage the home they wanted will probably already be purchased by someone else.

You can also choose not to work with buyers who are not pre-approved, to avoid wasting your time. Of course, you should try to convince them to pre-approve before you give up on them.

“You Don’t Need an Agent, Especially if You Buy a FSBO”

The Advice:

People who mistrust real estate agents will tell home buyers to avoid using them. The assumption is that the purchaser and seller are two honest people who will do the deal themselves and cut out the middleman. Both sides supposedly save money.

How to Respond:

This is terrible advice, and not just because Realtors® need to eat. Buying a home is a very complicated process, contracts are incredibly detailed, and inspections, assessments, and closing have a lot of moving parts that can go wrong.

The key is to help home buyers recognize that this is not the same as buying a new pair of jeans or even a new car. They could end up stuck with a home that’s in poor shape, with little to no recourse, because they didn’t handle the legal side correctly. For the biggest investment of their lives, they can’t afford to take that risk.

Are You Ready for Your Buyer?

This article only scratches the surface of the advice buyers receive. By keeping in mind the fact that clients are receiving a lot of advice, much of it from unreliable sources, you are better prepared as a buyer’s agent.

Using your print marketing to address some common misconceptions that buyers have is a good way to build trust and educate your prospects. Whether you need postcards or brochures, Printerbees is here to help!

What’s the craziest advice a buyer has told you they received? Share in the comments!

Does Your Marketing Convert? It’s in the Words…

Sales Words for Real Estate

Putting a lot of effort into farming, email marketing, and social media is an important part of lead generation. You want to attract attention, get leads, and convert those leads into sales. However, many Realtors® get lost when it comes to exactly what to say.

You want to spin words that are convincing, educational, helpful, and build relationships with your prospects. You want them to trust you and reach out to you when it’s time to buy or sell. But how do you actually do that other than hiring a professional copywriter? Here are three keys to help your marketing convert.

Play to Emotions

Everyone likes to think their decisions are rational, but they really aren’t at all. Generally, humans make decisions based on emotion, and then justify that decision using reason. As a result, marketing that reaches to the emotional level is the marketing that will convert.

Make a list for yourself of the common emotions that homebuyers face. Make a separate list of the emotions home sellers face. Some ideas include fear, uncertainty, the desire to make the right investment, the desire to have a great-looking home, wanting to show off to friends or family, the desire to sell quickly, and greed (to buy or sell at maximum benefit to themselves).

Some emotions will be on both lists, but you will have better results if you divide one client type from another. As a Realtor®, you’ll have a number of messages – some should target specifically sellers, and others specifically buyers. Once you have your emotion lists, craft your farming, email, and social media outreaches to touch those emotions and position yourself as the way to achieving success.

Invite Rather Than Sell

Everyone likes to buy, but everyone hates to be sold. Rather than trying to pitch yourself with a hard sell through your marketing, try this: invite the prospect to join you on the journey to fulfilling their emotional desires (see above). Position yourself as the one that can show them how to feel secure, calm, wealthy, or successful. Invite them to join you.

When your copywriting does this, you’ll avoid a lot of the defensiveness that prospects have toward Realtors®. You’ll be talking about their needs instead of yours. And when you do a great job showing them that working with you is the best way for their emotional desires to be met, they won’t fight you on commission. You’re competing on a whole different level than price.

When you position your marketing as an invitation, you’ll also get prospects who are more serious. When you badger someone, or make them feel guilty, or engage in a hard sell, some people will say yes simply because they can’t say no. These are not the clients you want. You are looking for engaged, motivated clients – when you issue an invitation, those who say yes are the ones ready to get started today.

Use a Call to Action EVERY Time

Once a prospect has read your piece, what should they do next? If you don’t tell them, they’ll likely just throw your postcard or email away and move on with their lives. Instead, make sure to include a call to action every time. This means inviting them to take action on what they’ve read – either to read more, comment, share, or contact you.

Keep in mind that not every call to action will be to a sale! Many times you’re nurturing your prospects along, and you just need them to interact with you in some way. Have them reply to the email, leave a comment, or share something with their Facebook friends. Invite them to visit your website or enter a drawing or contest. These are all legitimate calls to action.

Of course, there are plenty of times when you should invite them for a sale. In that case, be sure to include urgency. “Contact me today – this home will sell quickly!” or “Let’s talk today to get your home sold now!” You’ll know your clients and their trigger words better than I do, of course, but these are examples. The basic principle is, use a call to action EVERY time, whether a sale or not. Always keep your prospects engaged with you.

You don’t have to be a professional copywriter to sell homes, but understanding the basics of why certain words and phrases sell is essential to your business. Draw on people’s emotions, invite them to work with you, and use a call to action every time. Your conversions will increase and you’ll get much more bang for your marketing buck.

If you need help crafting perfect marketing materials, Printerbees is always here to help. Let me know what I can do for you!

3 Ways to Get Buyers to Pre-Qualify Before Showing Homes

Pre-qualification for Real Estate

Pre-qualifying buyers is an important element of making sure a buyer is serious. None of us want to waste our time with buyers who aren’t pre-qualified, because we aren’t sure if they will even be able to buy a home they pick out.

Worse than that, of course, are people who know they are looking out of their league, much like someone that asks to test drive a Maserati when they have nowhere near the funds to buy it. Did you know I’ve actually seen lists of low-cost date ideas that suggest you should go to an expensive open house just for fun?

Unfortunately, buyers aren’t always interested in respecting our time and business. If we want them to pre-qualify before showings, we need to explain it terms that matter to the buyer. Start with requiring a pre-qualification before you show homes, and explain why in these three ways.

A Pre-Qualification Is Required for Agent Safety

We’ve all heard the horror stories, so share them with your potential lookey-loos. Spare no detail to express the gravity of the situation. Explain that you require a pre-qualification in order to assure your own safety.

You can let them know that a pre-qualification isn’t just about money, it’s about identifying the person who’s browsing with enough detail that should anything go wrong, they will quickly be found. Tell them that potential criminals would never agree to a pre-qualification, and that it’s a major deterrent.

Point out that you know a lender who can help them get pre-qualified and it will take 20 minutes. If they refuse, apologetically and respectfully let them know there will be no showings.

A Pre-Qualification Ensures We Find the Right Home

Let buyers know that it’s not uncommon for someone to be wrong about the mortgage they qualify for. Focus this one on the positive – they may be able to afford more home than they think!! Explain that the pre-qualification policy ensures that you help the buyer look in the best neighborhoods. And by the way, you know someone who can help them out in 15 minutes. Would Tuesday or Wednesday work best?

By going into detail about some amazing listings you know about just above their price-point, you can get them salivating about a home they may be able to view – if they pre-qualify. As an added bonus, it encourages the buyer to think about a bigger home in a better neighborhood, which benefits you as well as them and their family.

Explain that you want to honor their time by showing them the best homes in the best areas, and you can only do that with a pre-qualification letter.

A Pre-Qualification Ensures a Quicker Offer Acceptance

Many sellers won’t be quick to accept a non-qualified offer. In a multiple offer situation, this will generally mean that your buyer will get skipped in favor of a different offer. It can also mean that a seller won’t accept as much of a drop on the price, because they aren’t motivated to work with your buyer.

When you explain these realities to a potential buyer, you can express that pre-qualification in their best interest. You are in a better buying position, especially for sellers who want to avoid specific types of financing. Or, if your buyer plans to use a non-conventional loan, let them know that a pre-qualification will help that financing be more readily accepted.

There’s a finesse to describing this in a way that is respectful and uplifting to the buyer, and I find that a “I’m just telling you the reality of how it is,” attitude is the best approach. They will trust you when they know you’ll give them the whole story.

In the end, Realtors® need to insist on pre-qualification before they show homes. It protects your time, helps protect your safety, ensures that you show a buyer appropriate homes, and ensures a quicker offer acceptance. When you describe your pre-qualification requirement in a way that makes sense to the buyer and appeals to their self-interest, you’ll have much less trouble getting them to agree.

How do you explain pre-qualification to your buyers? Share in the comments!