An excellent sales pitch can be derailed by unexpected inquiries - BY INGRID BURKE
While you can spend hours perfecting charts and graphs and memorizing every fact about a given home, one listing presentation wild card always threatens to undermine your hard work: Client questions that seem to come straight out of left field.
There is perhaps no easier way to conjure sellers’ doubt about your professional abilities than by failing to thoughtfully answer their questions.
On the flip side, if you are able to provide thoughtful responses, you will impress.
To help you prepare for your next listing presentation, we have interviewed several industry movers and shakers from the U.S. and U.K. to glean insights around which questions should you always be prepared to answer.
1. How much can I sell my home for?
All of our interviewees emphasized the importance of having the right answers to price-related questions, as well as the data to back up your answers.
Tina Evans, Group Director at Frank Harris and Company Estate agents in London, said that price-related questions will always be of highest priority to potential clients.
“That is generally why they have called you out” to a listing presentation, she said.
Within the context of this conversation, many clients also like to inquire about how much you as an agent or broker will be earning from the transaction if they move forward with you.
“I’ve been in the real estate industry for over 30 years, and I can tell you this question wasn’t even being asked five or 10 years ago,” said John Venti, a real estate agent with Redfin in Santa Barbara, California.
“Homesellers are much more aware that real estate fees are not set in stone, so agents should be prepared to explain what their fee is and everything that’s included with the fee.”
2. How long will it take to sell my home?
Several Realtors noted that the best answers to both this inquiry and question No. 1 are related.
“How quickly your home sells often depends on the price you’re asking,” Venti said. “That’s why it’s important to know what comparable homes have recently sold for in [the] area and how long they were on the market.
“It’s really about the seller’s motivations as well — the goal is always to get the most for a home and sell it as quickly as possible, but sometimes one of those goals is more important than the other for a seller.”
3. What unique services can you or your company offer?
The importance of showing potential clients your unique advantages cannot be understated.
“I think it’s important to be transparent and knowledgeable, but also to demonstrate to buyers and sellers the full suite of services you can provide to them and how you can tailor services to each listing,” said Anthony Colantuono, Realtor Associate at Coldwell Banker Hunter Realty in Brecksville, Ohio.
Colantuono noted that during a recent listing presentation, a potential client was interested in whether he would use professional photography and which tools he was using to differentiate himself from other agents.
Chris Lim, president of Climb Real Estate in San Francisco, also noted that his top agents have received the following questions aimed at determining why their services were better than those of their counterparts, or even the Internet:
4. Do you have a particular selling strategy that gives you an edge over the competition?
As with service offerings, unique sales strategies can be a major draw.
Lim said that his top agents are regularly asked how they market to international clients.
This is a key consideration in San Francisco, which is one of the top five U.S. cities favored by foreign investors, according to a recent survey conducted by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE).
The other top U.S. cities include New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle.
He added that clients are also usually interested in how his agents plan to market to buyers in a specific area.
Evans of Frank Harris likewise noted the importance of being able to answer clients’ questions about how you plan to market to the general public, as well as the demographic you are looking to appeal to.
Bonus tip: Try as you might, there are some questions you can never be prepared for.
Lim noted that his top agents at Climb have faced a slew of questions that — really — no professional would typically be prepared to answer, including:
One way to steel yourself for unpredictable questions would be to consult with a potential client in advance about his or her expectations.
For one thing, this will give you the opportunity to brace for unusual requests. And it could help you pinpoint some of the property’s most attractive traits.
“When I do a listing presentation, I like to ask the sellers what their favorite part about living in the house has been,” said Benjamin Beaver, sales associate at Coldwell Banker Legacy in San Angelo, Texas. “Their answer will help me with my marketing to be able to point out special features to a potential buyer.
“I also like to ask what it was about the house that caused them to love it in the first place. I want to get a sense for the special and unique features that may cause another buyer to choose their house.”
Ingrid Burke is the international editor at Tranio.com, an international real estate broker with a dedicated and independent team of journalists and real estate investment experts. Email Ingrid Burke