How to Help Your (Disadvantaged) Clients Negotiate
In a report released by Yale Insights, it was discovered that when women buy a home, they spend 2% more on average than when men buy a home, and when they go to sell that home, they earn 2% less. While this percentage may not seem so significant, it amounts to $1,600 less each year that women are earning compared to their male counterparts. Among dozens of other causes in the gender wealth gap, housing investments is an often overlooked aspect that deserves more attention.
So, how can you help your female buyers ensure they are getting the best bang for their buck? And, not just women, but other groups of people who may be a disadvantage for one reason or another when it comes time for them to buy or sell a home?
1. Understand Their Situation and Their Setbacks
Of course, helping any of your clients starts with understanding what they are up against, whether it’s their own personal struggles, society’s statistics, or a combination of both. To fully understand the challenges that certain demographics face when buying a home, real estate agents should do some research (even on their own). By understanding the facts surrounding these demographics, as well as what their barriers are, you can find ways to be the best advocate you can for your clients when you reach the negotiating table.
In addition to women being at a disadvantage for a number of reasons – Yale Insights reports that when women were given the same exact script as a man to negotiate a car buying deal, women were not offered the same discounts that the men were – there are many other people that are at a disadvantage compared to others when it comes time to buy or sell their home a home.
- Do they not speak English as well as others?
- Do they identify as part of a group that is de-marginalized in the housing market?
- Does the idea of negotiating in their culture make the client uncomfortable?
- Will there be some type of privilege or power struggle between your client and the other party?
- Do they not understand the homebuying process because they are the first in their family to buy a home, so they are unsure of what questions to ask?
- Do they have financial setbacks and are finding it hard to scrape up the money they need just for a downpayment, let alone other costs?
- Are they feeling pressed to buy or sell a home because of an incident, tragedy, or other unforeseen circumstances that have happened?
Any of these reasons can leave your buyer or seller blind-sighted at the negotiation table. And, being sensitive to what their needs and wants are – while knowing how to help them negotiate despite all these obstacles – can not only make you feel good and your client’s protected, but actually start to create a shift in society.
2. Make Sure They Understand the Buying/Selling Process
The “teach a man how to fish” ideology goes a long way when it comes to helping your clients negotiate. Help your clients understand how the home buying or home selling process works. While it isn’t your job to necessarily teach them an intensive course on the subject (after all, that’s why they are hiring you), you don’t want your clients to feel like they have no idea what’s going on.
Of course, some clients may want to delegate all the work to you, but when it comes to their money, people who are at some sort of disadvantage will want to make sure they aren’t being duped. One way to help your clients feel educated about the process is by providing them with materials that explain how it works in a reader-friendly manner that everyone can understand (for instance, consider having your pamphlets translated into other languages).
Also, don’t hesitate to go into detail about the investment aspect of a home. Many people are emotional when it comes time to buy or sell property. And, while they may not have all the flexibility in the world, reminding your clients of what this purchase or sale will look like ten, fifteen years down the road if they lose a job or when it comes time to put their kids through college, can help them ensure they aren’t agreeing to anything they don’t feel comfortable with.
3. Explain Clearly What Is Grounds for Negotiation
Part of educating your clients involves preparing them for the inspection process, so that they understand what the grounds are for negotiation. What are they able to ask for a discount on, and what will they have to fix themselves if the other party doesn’t agree?
Though you have to worry about your wallet, remember to be sensitive to your clients’ budget and time frame. Even if it is something they can essentially “fix later”, that may not be possible for the single parent working three jobs to make ends meet or the elderly seller who simply does not have the energy or time to fix something in the home that they’ve been living in for fifty years. If it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit, and don’t convince your client to do something they really can’t afford, unless the options are extremely limited has been on the market a long time.
4. Have Options Available
Speaking of options, don’t let your clients feel like they have to take it or leave it, even if that’s essentially how it works. By getting to know your client first (see #1), you can do your best to make them feel comfortable in the process. If they can’t necessarily advocate for themselves, don’t be the agent that’s showing them homes above their budget or that won’t be ready for months when they have to get in a home soon. Many people fall in love with a home, even if it doesn’t check off the boxes. Even though it may be hard for you as the agent, it’s okay to give them a reminder that it’s okay to keep looking for a home or a buyer that can meet those needs.
5. Negotiate on Their Behalf
Finally, and most importantly, you are the one that needs to negotiate on your client’s behalf, especially if they are unable to do so themselves. At the end of the day, though, if your client is unable to push for what they want, do the pushing for them. Do not try to negotiate once and then walk away, with your own emotions getting in the way. We’re not saying you have to put your client first.
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