Several posts have gone up in recent days discussing things like theft of information, hostile consumers and the like. Many see this as something new, but it’s been happening since the dawn of time. Perspective is needed when dealing with the public and the big picture issues of the day.
I remember shopping for my first home– we would call signs all day from sun up Saturday to sun down on Sunday. We would tour open houses, visit builder models, all the while looking like realbuyers. The truth was we were renters doomed to be renters because my wife and I at the time were just like the know-it-alls of today. We didn’t have internet, but we had a newspaper and a car- we would “surf” the back roads for homes just like many surf the net today. We would gather information from each of the agents we spoke to, taking each bit as some sort of knowledge nugget that would help us to feel more informed. I remember how belligerent I would get with sales people in builder models to leave us alone, feeling that our private inspection of the home would lead us to some inkling of a clue that we might know something about something- the truth is, we knew nothing (and we knew it).
Looking back, I remember the search intensified over time, and our intent to try to buy became more sincere. What began to happen with each of our stolen nuggets was that we were beginning to put them together as sentences, and later whole paragraphs in a book on home buying we were formulating in our heads– much like a good blog can do for a buyer today. Over about a 3 month period what began to come about was the revelation that we as renters could actually buy.
Our under-the-radar strategy of pushing away sales agents was really the overwhelming fear of being rejected. Buying a home to a first time buyer without guidance is a mortifying proposition- and that realistic fear of being laughed at by the big time Realtor was more than personalities like ours could handle- talk about manic! We hung up on more than 100 agents back in those days right about the time they asked if we were working with an agent. My verbal reason was one thing, but my true reason was, again, that fear of rejection. Credit, income, time on job, age (closed first home at 18), were all factors in our fear- I am sure if those agents had internet back then, many articles would have been written about their experience with this new modern age of home buyers we were– laughing out loud. Trust me, we were no different than that older modern age those agents talked about over coffee at the donut shop before there was even an MLS.
The most relatable experience I have to modern times is that it wasn’t an agent who actually pushed us into buying a house, it was my manager. I told him I was thinking about buying, and he said he was selling- there ensued a conversation about calling his agents- wow. We did. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify, but as we put on our “I KNEW IT” hats, the agent asked us if we might be willing to try on another house that was more fitting our price range. Of course we were skeptical, but the agents began having us come by and grab their lists of homes- back then you got a weekly update generally about new homes on the market.
We continued to shop on our own for about a month when finally the agent called us to let us know a home fit our budget, but it was a HUD. A what? A HUD. We began the 6 month process on what would be our first home, and I remember at the time, feeling like we were just signing whatever was in our face. The desperation level was at its peak, but damnit, we didn’t care anymore- we were all in. To this day, I cannot remember the agent’s name, but I remember feeling that she was amazing. My pushing away of agents and bad talk about sales people was a front– my main issue was fear.
Looking at Today & Tomorrow
Now, take a look at today’s modern issues. The credit crunch, subprime buyers, income requirements rising all raise the anxiety level of buyers. Further, consumers have always driven around looking at homes, consumers have always shopped for information, consumers have always toured open houses- all without representation. There are some personalities that would call an agent immediately if they knew one, but not everyone wants their mom’s agent to tell their mom what’s going on with the “kids.” There is no difference in then and now in the psychology of the buyer, or even the seller. We attempted to do on our own what we eventually did with an agent, even without the internet.
This psychology crosses over to 2nd and 3rd time buyers as well, and our case is more common than most want to admit, but I’ve built my entire business around my first experience and hope that you can apply some of what I’ve confessed to you here. We’re not dealing with rocket science, and even back then, I feared the commission. I really believed I had to pay that out of pocket- again, shows what I didn’t know I didn’t know. Looking back, I remember the agent telling me the percentage, but I also remember my eyes glazing over- how much do you think it really matters in the end? It didn’t. What I do brag about to this day is I purchased a home that appraised for over $65k for just under $24k. Slam dunk.
Media Has Changed, but People Haven’t
Don’t let the perception perpetrated by the media, social media, and antagonistic competitors disrupt your behavior. Dealing with consumers the way you always have is the key. Earning their business even when they’re rude is no small task, but I challenge you to challenge the challenging client. Ask them for the chance to prove them wrong. Go out on a limb for the asshole- chances are, they’re not assholes, they’re people. Don’t perpetuate a stereotype by not being prepared.
Knowing When to Calibrate
I remember back in March when I decided to stop giving free information by phone and instead asking for them to register with us- it actually works more times than it doesn’t, and even when it doesn’t, I still make sure I leave them with an impression of what they may be missing. I am not afraid to take a hostile consumer under my wing as a personal mission to win them- does it work? Yes. People want to be challenged, but even more, they love to be mentored. They want to know and understand the value they’re buying, they want to understand the nuances you’ve experienced, so simply raise the level of your approach- affirm their knowledge, give them credit where it is due, learn what they know, and then blow them away with what they didn’t know.
Prepare now… Don’t miss another call.