In the wonderful world of real estate (among most industries), you may meet from time-to-time a homebuyer or home seller who believes that he is an expert in the field of real estate despite the fact that he has little to no experience. You’ve probably already dealt with one or two of these characters; they’re the ones who tell you that their uncle’s sister-in-law (who is not in the field of real estate) advised that they could qualify for a specific loan program or that their home is worth about $100,000 more than it actually is.
According to the National Association of Realtors®, 92% of home buyers use the Internet during the home search; this means that almost everyone you meet when working with buyers and sellers has already done some research before contacting you. Despite the fact that the information gleaned in that research may not be accurate, the Internet and an individual’s social network create a climate for more armchair experts than ever before.
Because there are more armchair experts than ever, a real estate professional needs to be on top of his or her game. According to Traci Bass of Coldwell Banker in Rancho Santa Fe, “you need to come to the appointment with more information then you did five or ten years ago. You need to be prepared to navigate the client’s objections in listing appointments with hard data and concrete evidence.” Long gone are the days when home sellers would dial a Realtor® because they needed to know the value of their home. Now, when you get the call, most home sellers are already local experts. But, is the seller’s information accurate?
Ways to Deal with Armchair Experts
Here are 7 ways to deal with so-called experts in the field of real estate:
- Always be prepared. Since you already know that a home seller or home buyer has likely searched the Internet or has a friend or relative in the business, you must be prepared—as Bass stated—with your local closings, your market data, and other pertinent information. That way you’ll be able to handle any objections that come your way.
- Listen and learn. Even if the home buyer or seller is a “so-called” expert and not a real one, your job is to assist the client with what they want—selling the home sold for top dollar, buying a home in a specific community, etc. The only way that you can do that is if you listen to the client’s wants and needs and then adjust your sales techniques accordingly.
- Set expectations at the first meeting. The smoothest way to get a client into a home or to get a home sold is when everyone is on the same page. Set expectations for how you will work together up front (when and how you will share information, for example); this will lay the groundwork for a good relationship.
- Provide them with enough rope to hang themselves. I was once contacted by an individual who told me that why he would qualify for specific short sale programs, and that his lender would not ever foreclose on his home, despite the fact that he had missed several payments. I let him tell his entire story, and I asked questions. When he began to refer to specific state laws and policies, I showed him the original source documentation for those laws and policies, and he was able to see that the laws didn’t actually apply to his situation. Once I demonstrated my expertise, I never had a problem with him again.
- Seek proof. When the prospective client tells you that his long lost relative told him “x”, ask for supporting data. Lots of times information gets muddled as it passes from one person to the next, and the data is not quite so accurate as the voice that shares it.
- Concede minor points. If you are dealing with home buyers or sellers with a strong set of opinions, it may help to concede some minor points in order to ease the pain when they don’t get their way. Find small ways in which you can modify what you do to meet the clients’ needs and make them happy. Then, maybe you won’t have to give in on the big stuff.
- Put the kibosh on the relationship. If you absolutely cannot get beyond the prospective client’s expertise in order to demonstrate your own, then move on. Put the kibosh on the relationship. Just imagine how your business will grow when you focus on obtaining clients that value your expertise and will provide you with lifelong referrals.