How Much Should You Really Be Helping Your Buyers?
How Much Should You Really Be Helping Your Buyers? And, where to draw the line.
Real estate agents who go out of the way for their clients are sure to get some beneficial reward, like strong referrals in the future. But, what does “going out of your way” really mean? In this industry, the bare minimum simply won’t cut it. But, at the same time, when are you going too far to help your buyers, so much so that it could cross the line of professionalism AND take time away from your other clients? It’s a fine line.
Do Help Your Buyers With…
As a real estate agent, there are a number of tasks that you are expected to help your buyer with. And, despite the fact you could argue whether or not these tasks are part of the job requirement or not, your clients are choosing to work with a real estate agent because they need the help to some degree. Therefore, at the very least, you should be helping your buyers with:
- Their pre-approval/recommending a lender: While it can be frustrating when a potential client comes to you without having their pre-approval first, some simply may not know that this is part of the requirement before being able to see a home. Part of your job involves advising your client where to go. Perhaps you already have a lender you work with or you can give them some direction on the process.
- Finding the perfect home: Many buyers may have somewhat of an idea of what they are looking or (or, where they are looking for) their dream home. But, it’s your job to help fill in the gaps and show them properties that would not only pique their interest, but would also fit their budget and their vision.
- Navigating the process of buying a home: The entire process of buying a home is extremely confusing, especially for first-time home-buyers. Your job is not only answer any questions they may have, but to address the questions they aren’t thinking of.
- Handling paperwork: Speaking of the home-buying process, just the paperwork that comes with buying a home is so complex, that this is one of the main reasons people seek out a real estate agent instead of doing it all on their own.
- Home inspections: Many real estate agents have inspectors that they work with, so it’s a good idea to have one that you can recommend. However, you should also be open to the fact that buyers can bring in their own inspector, if that’s something they might be more comfortable with. Attend inspection and make sure you are working to catch things that the inspector may not see or mention. After all, you are looking out for the best interest of your buyer.
- Negotiating an offer: A real estate agent must be a good salesperson, and your buyer is relying on you to negotiate the best offer for them, or to provide your insight on whether or not they should put putting in a bigger offer.
- Communicating with the seller/seller’s agent: Your buyer should have no contact with the seller’s agent. Whether they know this or not, it’s up to you to speak on their behalf.
- Getting them into their home: Last but not least, your ultimate job is to help your clients close on their home. From start to finish, there are a lot of things to take care of, and your buyer is counting on you to help make this happen – and, within a timeline that’s reasonable for all parties involved.
Again, this is just the bare minimum. There are other ways you can help your client without going too far. Send them a gift when they close on their home, or offer suggestions as to where they can find contractors, movers, or other professionals they might need to call.
Do Not Help Your Buyers With…
If you’re an experienced agent, then at some point in your career, you’ve probably dealt with a client that was much too needy. They’ve asked you questions that were borderline inappropriate and essentially, tried to get you to do a job that’s not within your description. Part of your job involves using your discretion to decide how much you should be doing “extra” for your buyers.
- Determining their budget: If your client is asking you what you think they should spend on a home, that’s not up to you. Tell them to talk to their lender, their spouse, or a financial advisor.
- Babysitting their kids: There’s always the chance that you will have a buyer with children. While you should let them bring their kids to a showing (if necessary), you are, in no way, expected to watch their kids while they take their time looking around the home. Anyway, this could be a major liability for you if something goes wrong. Same for pets.
- Answering their calls and texts every second of the day: Agents who want to hustle can choose to take calls and texts outside of working hours. But, it is absolutely not your obligation to take calls when you are eating dinner or sleeping, at the demands of your client.
- Meeting in an unusual setting: If your potential buyer is asking you to meet anywhere aside from your office – where you should meet first, even before going to a showing – you are never required to meet them at a place you don’t feel comfortable meeting them. This is for your own safety.
- Making decisions for them: Sometimes, clients get cold feet, or rather, analysis paralysis. Though you can offer your two-cents, it’s not your job to ultimately make decisions for them.
- Doing the work for them: Similar to above, it’s not your job to do your client’s work for them, or stand over their shoulder to get them to sign paperwork or make a phone call. Gentle reminders are okay as people get busy or forget. But, do not take time out of your day to micromanage them.
Forcing the seller to meet demands: Your are the buyer’s agent, not the seller’s agent. If your buyer is complaining that they want the seller to clean the house, replace the roof, or mow the lawn, well, that’s not really up to you. Sure, you can make suggestions to the seller’s agent (which can help you negotiate a better deal), but you can’t force anyone to do anything.
Perhaps Help Your Buyer With…
A real estate company recently made headlines for showing up for their buyer’s moving day when things went awry. By no means is this required by the real estate company, but their kind gesture certainly did not go unnoticed. At the end of the day, we are all human, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with helping a person in need whether it’s related to your work or not.
While we’re not suggesting you help every single one of your buyers to move into their home, there are definitely some things you can help your clients with that will earn you some brownie points:
- Accommodating their schedule and needs: If your buyers work full-time, have young kids at home, or have a busy schedule themselves, then you should consider doing what you can to accommodate their schedule. It may mean having to work outside of your general hours, but it will mean a lot to your client.
- Printing out the paperwork: These days, many agents manage all the paperwork that comes with buying a home, digitally. And, while your buyers can certainly go and print out what they want, why not make it easier for them?
- Ordering some lunch: You and your buyers are going to be spending a lot of time together. It’s not required, but ordering some lunch or taking your client out to a restaurant can boost the relationship.
- Make recommendations: If your client asks you who they can call for A, B, or C, have some reliable recommendations up your sleeve. Even make the introductions.
- Showing them around the neighborhood: Especially if you clients are new to the area, they would no doubt appreciate pointing out to them the best place to grab pizza, the local hospital, or the school they might be sending their kids to.
- Finding answers to questions about the neighborhood: Speaking of learning about the neighborhood, if your client asks you questions about things like the safety of the neighborhood, you could either point them to certain websites or the police department, or do the research yourself and present it to them.
- Ask if they need help: Not sure what you can do to do a little extra for your buyer? Then just ask!
At the end of the day, agents who go out of their way for their buyers are typically going to see better results than those who don’t. But, still, mind those healthy boundaries.