That’s the question posed by Chad Costa, a RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, to open a discussion on buyers’ agents. His answer: Execution.
Successful buyers’ agents have a plan to demonstrate their expertise and value in a way that establishes trust and rapport. And they skillfully execute that plan.
Costa, a 20-year real estate veteran with RE/MAX Executive in Modesto, California, and Brian Teyssier, a Hall of Fame and Chairman’s Club member with RE/MAX Advanced Realtors in Pittsburgh, examined the process of serving buyers at a recent panel discussion called “How to Be the Buyers’ Agent Clients Love.”
These five keys emerged:
Costa identifies two types of agents: those who focus on the needs and best interests of their clients, and those who focus on the commission. Both Costa and Teyssier have built their success by putting clients first, working hard on their behalf, and not worrying about the rewards at the end of the process. As the renowned business speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “Help enough people get what they want and you’ll get what you want.”
Focusing on your clients means negotiating aggressively to secure the best terms for them. It means explaining all their options and the consequences of the decisions they’re making. And sometimes it means advising them to walk away from a deal that ultimately isn’t going to serve their best interests.
“The home-buying process is complicated, and buyers need our help getting through it,” Costa says. “I don’t view us as salespeople. We’re more than that. We’re facilitators. We’re consultants. Sometimes, we’re counselors. We’re whatever they need us to be.”
Homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, want to know they’re being guided by a knowledgeable market expert, Costa says. Successful buyers’ agents know everything about the community or neighborhood the buyers are interested in. The basics include available inventory, price per square foot, school district boundaries and the quality of schools, among other things.
From start to finish – and well beyond the closing, in fact – you should be positioned as the primary resource for all things house-related. The more your buyers rely on you for guidance and support, the more value you’re able to provide. That could mean suggesting potential lenders (and recommending they get pre-approved), home inspectors, title companies or contractors you know they could count on. In each case, it’s best to provide more than one option, Costa notes.
And keep this in mind: If the buyers are unhappy with someone you’ve referred them to, it will also affect how they feel about you. So be selective when choosing which companies and providers to include on your lists.
Teyssier builds trust with his buyers by clearly explaining what they should expect throughout the entire process. He initiates this at the very first meeting – by asking them to complete a short intake form that establishes what they already know about buying a home. With that information, he’s able to craft an action plan matching their perspective. He also gives them a checklist that explains the specific steps in the process – covering everything from getting preapproved to understanding escrow.
Aligning their expectations with the action plan relieves stress, adds clarity and helps the buyers see the value they’re receiving every step of the way.
At showings, Costa makes it a point to not follow his clients around the home. He wants to give them space and let them feel comfortable as they take it all in. Teyssier takes a different approach. He says he’s like a parent; checking the furnace, the foundation, the water tank, the roof – things buyers might overlook – so he can tell whether any critical home systems need attention.
“Rather than pointing out the awesome features of the house, I actually point out the opposite,” Teyssier says. “When you show buyers you’re their advocate and you’re not trying to make a quick sale, they come to trust you in a whole new way.”
Your buyer clients each represent potential opportunities for repeat business and referrals. You’re making a huge mistake if you let the closing table be the last time they hear from you. So keep in touch and continue to add value. As new homeowners, especially if they’re in a new city, they’ll have questions and further needs. Encourage them to come to you for answers, and drop them a line periodically to remind them you’re still available if they need anything. Costa even sends certificates for free pies each year.
The bottom line: Keep the connection going and you’ll continue to be their agent – the one they rave about whenever the conversation turns to real estate.
Ultimately, the essential elements of success as a buyers’ agent match those of other areas in real estate – preparation, skill, commitment, attitude, work ethic and authenticity in caring about the people you’re serving. Costa suggests this last word to ensure you’re on the right track:
“Just ask yourself, if you were a buyer looking for an agent, would you hire you?”