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How to Manage Difficult Conversations with Clients

April 7, 2014
From Loan Officer Eddie Kirby

From Loan Officer Eddie Kirby

Wouldn’t it be great if you could sell only homes that were in perfect condition? That were immaculate and minimally decorated with neutral paint colors, clean carpets, and no pets?

Real life in real estate just isn’t like that. All professionals, at some time or other, have to tell a client some difficult news about the state of their home or their expectations and then make suggestions. It’s a dreaded part of the job, but necessary. So how can you communicate difficult news so that a client accepts it without being personally offended?

1) Sandwich any criticism between two compliments. If you immediately start talking about problems with their property that need to be fixed, you create a negative emotional response immediately that may prevent them from listening any further to what you advise. Beginning with a positive compliment about their house engages your homeowner and can offset anything they might perceive as negative.  By finishing your remarks with another compliment, they leave on an upbeat note.

2. Share statistics that back up what you are telling them so its professional, not personal. Homeowners do take it personally when you have to tell them something they like about their home may not appeal to others. Or their desired asking price is just too high. Take the subjective side out of it by sharing facts and statistics about the housing market. What are prices nearby for similar homes? Did a recommended change help sell another home for full price? Transform it from simply your opinion to a real estate best practice.

3. Show before/after pictures of other homes the strategy has worked in.  Pictures don’t lie, and they can help a seller visualize and buy into what you are advising. This can be powerful when it comes to staging, paint colors, or simply de-cluttering a room. Plus, since it’s not their home, and they don’t have an attachment to it, they can objectively see how your recommendation really is valuable.

4. Attach a dollar figure to your advice. If they follow your suggestion, will it increase the asking price or ensure the home sells faster for the price they want? Give them a reason to do what you are asking that outweighs the emotional impact they experience when you tell them something about their home needs to be changed. Money talks, and the bottom line is that they have listed their home in the hopes it will sell for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time. Prove to them that your ideas can help do that.

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