Becoming the Trusted Adviser

Estate agency can often feel like a grind.

And that’s just if you’re the agent.

Many buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords have a hard time trusting any agent, let alone the ones they pick to work with (or the ones who are representing the homes they want to move into).

But trust is a two way street, we all know “buyers are liars”. 

In reality, that saying ought to be “buyers are completely entitled to attempt to purchase something at a lower than market price and not being trained negotiators they often resort to the easy line of “we can’t go any higher''.

You might put in countless hours helping a client find their dream home, in the price range you thought they were looking in, only to find out they bought a property from a rival of yours, for 20% above their ‘budget’. Sound familiar? 

So, how do you know when their max is their max?

As a world class estate agent (because that’s what it takes in 2020), you find yourself dealing with people who are, most of the time, going through significant life events. 

People do not move house lightly. It’s your job to help your clients navigate an emotionally charged and financially pressured purchase or sale. 

We talk about empathy a lot in these blogs, and it’s in these moments, when you're negotiating offers, that you need to be conscious of displaying it most.

For example, someone might be selling a home they raised their family in, and might not be willing to instruct it (let alone sell it!) for what they emotionally believe to be a low price. The story I used to use was that a property often goes up an extra 5% in value in the minds of a seller for every beloved pet that was buried in the back yard. 

You might be working with another party who’s buying for the first time. They’re going to have a million questions, even more people trying to help and advise them from behind the scenes, and may hesitate to take the initial plunge.

Becoming a sustainable and successful agent is all about managing emotions and earning the trust of the people you work for and with. 

This is how you get better offers.

Here’s how.

Become the Trusted Adviser

We all know people do business with people they like. 

The best agents are trusted advisers. Your clients know that you are looking out for their best interests. To the point where if they know anyone needing your services, you’ll be the first (and only) name they mention.

So, how do you become a trusted adviser?

The most successful agents use their negotiation skills to make their clients feel comfortable. 

They know to avoid direct questions like, “are you definitely going to make an offer?” or “are you definitely going to sell?”. Instead, they stick to open-ended questions such as, “what are you looking for in a home?” and “how long do you want this to sit on the market?”. 

Trusted advisers don’t force people to act. They encourage them to start thinking in a direction that ultimately leads to action on their terms.

It’s also really important to remember that your clients are always going to have questions and concerns. What’s obvious to you never is to them. Ask questions ahead of time, identify their sentiments and manage their expectations on your terms. This helps them feel comfortable in the process and confident in you as their agent.

Now that you understand the basics of positioning yourself as a trusted adviser, let’s take a look at how you can interact with buyers and sellers to extract better offers.

How to work with Buyers

Imagine you’re on a viewing, and a young couple seems to enjoy themselves as they walk around their potential new home.

How many times, right as you’re locking up, have you asked them, “so what do you think?” 

(It’s at this point we’re imagining a few readers nodding along)

Instead, try a slightly different approach and try something like, “it seems like you have a lot to think about”. 

Due to the open-ended nature of the statement, they won’t feel like they have to give you the answer you want to hear. So much communication in the viewing feedback process gets messed up because agents ask the wrong questions and buyers/tenants think they need to give a nicer answer than the truth.

With a better question or a better statement like the one above, they’ll do two things: 

  1. They’ll think about it
  2. Because you’ve given them permission to think, they will be more inclined to express what they are actually thinking at the time - the truth.

Apply this sentiment to every buyer you encounter, and you’ll uncover more information without being pushy.

Hot tip - it works with sellers too. More on that below.

How to work with Sellers

Selling a property is a major decision. To be a trusted adviser in a life-altering transition, empathy is key.

It is hard to move away from a family home. So make sure your clients know you understand that. No assumptions, just clear, empathetic communication. 

Get them to open up. “When are you thinking of selling?” is a question every single agent they’ll see is going to ask. Be memorable and try something like, “what’s going to happen if you don’t sell this house?”. You’ll find out their time frames from there. Better yet, ask them where they want to move to, and let them know you have a tool that can find them every property that exactly suits their requirements.

Get them to focus on how selling soon (and with you) means positive change. They’ll be encouraged to act.

Bringing it all together…

If we can summarise the above into three sentences that we think anyone can understand, it’s these: 

If you want to get better results, you need to earn more trust.

To earn more trust, you need to show more empathy.

To show more empathy you need to ask better questions.

It’s a simple, proven process and one we are confident that if you implement, you will see results from almost immediately.