The COVID-19 pandemic has left every person in real estate, and most of the world, wondering what is going to happen next. Agents are asking themselves, “How do I weather the storm?”
In the wake of the pandemic, there is a lot to learn and a lot to take away for each and every one of us. Essentially, the economic system as we knew it pushed each and every American off a cliff so to speak. Some have found the bottom, or their landing place, while others will continue to feel the effects in coming weeks. Everyone has a unique story and we’ll all be impacted by this in some way.
A wise mental toughness coach once gave me a mantra that I think is more relevant today than ever before. He said, “Any set of circumstances can be leveraged for individual and collective gain if viewed masterfully.”
It’s hard to see it now but the dust will settle and we will be left with a new world to navigate for our clients. We do know that whatever the outcome it will be different than it was before and there is no going back.
The pandemic will leave behind the largest consumer shift in world history. People will spend differently, people will have different tolerance levels for risk, and people will need to transact real estate.
What makes this market shift different from our perspective is that agents are armed with more tools and options for their clients than ever before. I was an agent in 2007 during the financial crisis, and when we met with homeowners about their needs, we had the option to take their home to market and hope for a buyer, or if they had little to no equity in the property, we were forced into a short sale option for them. Some were successful, some were not, but in the end the only option we really had for them was to sell their home on the MLS.
The disruption boom we have seen in the last seven years from iBuyers and other innovative tech companies in our industry offer us as real estate agents a new plethora of options for our customers this time around. This could mean that whatever recession we are headed for lasts for a shorter period of time and more homeowners are saved from credit suicide and foreclosure. Agents in the new world will be empowered by these tools, but they have to educate themselves on the tools to be able to properly advise their clients in the future.
We have all encountered locked doors in our lives. Most of them are literal slabs of wood or metal, keeping us from moving to someplace we want to go. And to get through doors, keys are required.
The keys I am sharing with you today unlock more than a literal door when we are meeting with potential sellers about their options. They are key ways to ask better questions, and these keys unlock more than a room. They unlock engagement, conversation, understanding, trust, problem solving and more.
These are doors worth opening – And here are the keys.
Ask, don’t fish
Too often agents will put a hook out expecting a specific result. Instead of asking a leading, assumptive question (Do you know what your home is worth?), take the opportunity to ask about their plans for the equity or how the timing will impact them. The latter questions encourage understanding and conversation while the initial may close doors in your face.
Be ready to ask again
Sometimes you receive a deflected or incomplete answer. You’ve seen politicians give their canned responses and you’ve seen people hide behind corporate-ese (whether intentionally or not). But neither answers the question at hand. In order to unlock the door, be willing to ask a more direct version of the same question
Clarify by using their answers
In the case where you get a response but are left wanting a bit more, use their answer to frame a follow-up question. This is especially helpful if the first answer was vague or overly complex. Consider something like: “So moving up might make sense for you if we can find the right property and we can achieve the right value for your existing home?”
Redirect with questions
We are taught to not interrupt others from the time we are little to any lesson on listening skills as professionals. While that advice is generally correct, there are times when interjections can be helpful to the flow of the conversation. Find the right time to gently and tactfully interrupt with a question, as opposed to quietly nodding in agreement.
This can manage a rambling client, clarify a point, and in the end, most mature people will not see this as an interruption, as the questions allow them to continue to talk.
Remember the five W’s (and the H)
Questions beginning with who, what, where, when, why and how are great ways to unlock conversation. These powerful starters create open-ended avenues and help avoid the question: “Would you do this?” It’s much better to ask, “What would you do?” or “How would you do it?”
Beware the naked why
“Why” is a very powerful way to drill down for better understanding or get to the root cause of a problem. But, when used alone, it often puts people on the defensive. We were all often asked these questions as kids, usually in an accusatory rather than exploratory way. We carry that forward with us. For this reason, it is usually best to lead towards a “why”, as this will demonstrate your intent to truly understand them. Remember to ask your “why” in context of what has been discussed. You’ll get complete answers and will build the relationship at the same time.
Ask, then shut up
Regardless of the question, the intent is to unlock engagement, relationship and conversation, so you must expect that they will have an answer. Ask. Pause. And Wait. If no answer comes, rephrase or repeat. When you ask and quickly fill the silence, you are teaching people that they do not have to respond and you are not actually interested in their answer. This takes you from simply communicating with others to actual connection. These connections will provide the highest and most consistent returns and yield the most valuable relationships.
These seven keys really will help you unlock a variety of valuable things with other people. Use them in meetings, as a leader, as a coach and in all parts of your life. The doors – in terms of results, relationships and knowledge – that you open will make a difference for you and others.
Remember it’s not Realtors vs. all the iBuyers and new tech options. It’s Realtors and all the iBuyers and new tech options. Meeting your consumer where they are on their journey can truly build credibility, empower your consumers and eliminate consumer doubt.