Teach Your Clients Well
The idea for this post was spawned by several recent conversations with clients.
And if by chance it reminds you of the well-known Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song decades ago, “Teach Your Children Well” you can enjoy the video below!
The blog title just popped into my head after a conversation with buyers the other evening, and I immediately thought of this popular song. The brain works in interesting ways!
Steve Harney, founder of Keeping Current Matters, often talks about having the heart of a teacher when working with buyers and sellers.
There’s no question that educating buyers and sellers is a key aspect of our role as real estate professionals, from the start of the relationship until closing.
There are so many matters that buyers and sellers need to know about when buying and selling. Experience levels can vary widely – some clients know a fair amount, from past experience and research, and others know little at all. The danger is that some may think they know more than they really do. That’s where we can help!
And while buyers and sellers may ask many questions, there are often things they SHOULD know but don’t know enough to ask the right questions. We need to not only answer the specific questions buyers and sellers have, but to anticipate those questions and issues they are not aware of, and provide needed information promptly. That's part of our role of teaching our clients.
Teaching our clients well also means knowing when to refer buyers and sellers with their questions to other professionals who can help them – a CPA, a real estate or trust attorney, a title or escrow officer, the lender, a home inspector, and so on – where we are not qualified to do so.
So how DO you teach your clients well? Here are some thoughts:
TEACH YOUR CLIENTS WELL
1. Respond to all their questions (text, email, in person, phone) promptly and completely. Waiting many hours or a day before responding sends the wrong message, and could create a problem. If research is needed so you can respond appropriately, let them know you will get back to them as soon as possible. Respond right away so they know you are working on helping them.
2. Share information on relevant topics they should know about even if they don’t ask – the overall buying process, the sales process, making an offer, dealing with multiple offers, showing instructions, the listing contract, the purchase agreement, what they need to know about showings (as buyer OR seller) in your area given the pandemic (e.g., the process, requirements or recommendations, paperwork to be sign, etc.). The list goes on and on!
3. Answer commonly asked questions you’ve heard multiple times, even if they don’t ask them.
4. Don’t assume they know the answers – it’s far better to tell them something they already are aware of, than not to educate.
5. Don’t educate just over the phone or in person but document what you are sharing in an email. Some people will forget what they are told so having something visual, in writing, can help. And you have a record of having told them!
6. Be sure to not overstep your knowledge boundaries – if they have legal, title, financial, tax, and other questions help get them to the right person who can help, or suggest they contact someone they know.
7. Don’t make them feel stupid. Be careful as you educate and answer questions, even if they asked before and perhaps forgot or need a refresher (who wants to be told “we talked about that already, don’t you remember?!”).
8. Watch your tone of voice so you don’t sound condescending, or impatient, and be aware of your body language…no eye rolling!
9. Be careful to not spew real estate lingo all over the place when educating, assuming they know what you are talking about.They may already be confused about all the abbreviations and real-estate-ese we use.
10. Take the necessary time to explain what needs it, and to answer the questions. I was on the phone the other night in education mode for an hour…and it was well appreciated!
11. It’s OK to say “I don’t know but will get that answer for you” or refer them to the right place to get what they need. Better to say you don’t know than to provide the wrong information because you are guessing or don’t want to take time to find the right answer.
So teach your clients well, whenever you have the opportunity. They’ll appreciate it, you’ll enjoy it, and it will help avoid problems in the transaction, give them piece of mind with their understanding and provide solutions to potential problems.
“Teach Your Children Well”
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