According to Hebert Research, a real estate buying journey typically looks like this:
- phase 1 (16 months), pre-research. Thinking of buying a new home and getting comfortable with the idea;
- phase 2 (6 months), active research. At this point, people are trying to figure out the area and neighborhood they would like to live in and evaluate their financial options for buying a new home (do we need to sell our house? what loan options are available to us?);
- phase 3 (1 month), buying. A decision has been made so the time has come to find an agent, view local properties and buy a new home.
As you can imagine, phase 3 can actually take a lot longer than just a month, especially if the local market does not abound with listings. To speed up the home buying process, check out some of the tips on how to bring buyer leads to the negotiating table.
6 Tricks to convert buyer leads
1. Prep work
Lack of information on the client’s needs, preferences and expectations is a major reason deals are broken. Obviously, you can’t address objections if you do not know the expectations well enough.
So the number one thing agents should do is taking notes during meetings and phone calls with buyers. First, this really helps to personalize your service. But most importantly, this is a great sales trick because people know that their agent is actually listening to them.
In real estate sales, taking notes does work. Let’s admit it, many agents make most listing appointments a one-man show, taking them as a chance to talk about how great they are. In other words, they make the appointment all about themselves, while the exact opposite should happen.
2. Comparative market analysis
If you are using a real estate CRM, chances are that all of your buyer leads are already added to your mailing lists and receive info about the area they’re interested in. Blog posts, neighborhood guides, market updates, neighborhood video walk-throughs – everything will do.
During your one-on-one meeting, share great insights into the local market with a comparative market analysis (CMA). If your buyers are looking to buy a suburban home, you might want to show them sold homes within the previous six months. If you are working in a rural area, you might want to take the data for the entire year for more insights.
Many agents also say how important it is to sound human when talking about real estate market performance. In fact, avoiding industry jargon is one of the golden rules of a listing appointment.
3. Share the seller’s perspective
Oftentimes, agents struggle to handle negotiations that turn into a dead end because neither party accepts the proposal.
As an agent, you might find yourself with nothing after months of hard work, dozens of viewed properties, meetings and calls. To minimize this risk, explain the seller’s expectations and bargaining power at the early stages. This would pretty much depend on the local market as well as the seller’s personal circumstances.
For example, sellers won’t negotiate, if the home was thoroughly renovated. On the other hand, if the property is sitting on the market for months, a negotiating window will open some great opportunities which agents should be quick to grasp.
4. Involve a lender
All of an agent’s work can turn out useless if the buyer’s financing options are not sorted out before a decision to buy a new home is made and the actual home search begins. Lending guidelines and paperwork are pretty complicated and strict which mean buyers are not free to act if the lending part of the transaction is still hanging in the air.
Set up a meeting with your buyer’s lender and have them go through the documentation with your clients as this can greatly speed up the home buying process.
5. Mention homeownership costs
Hesitating about making a huge purchase like a new home is natural. At some point, you will need to convince your buyers to take action now because you know that listing won’t sit on the market for long. This is especially true if your buyers are interested in a home that you know is not a perfect match for them for some reason.
Bringing up homeownership costs is a great strategy to get them re-think their decision. Even if the listing price is good, make sure to ask if they added factored future maintenance costs into their budget as your customer service and reputation will depend on this deal.
6. Follow up and listen
Every agent wants to help their buyers purchase a new home quickly and at the best price. All too often, however, agents try to push their own agendas which puts buyers off and the deal gets stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Listen carefully and circle back to your notes every time you’re reaching out. Remember that people want to get heard so you will save yourself a lot of time by actually listening to what they have to say.