With high competition and limited inventory, the current market can be draining not just for buyers, but for agents as well. In 2021, buyer fatigue is at an all-time high, with the market for existing homes sitting at just 2.1 months. A seller-favored market like the current one can be taxing for you and your clients to navigate, yet it’s important to recognize that no agent is left without resources to fight buyer fatigue.
As an agent, part of keeping buyers motivated involves showcasing expertise and professionalism while working toward the buyer’s best interests. In order to ensure this happens, agents have a myriad of tools at their disposal, with prewritten conversation points being one of the most effective. Agents sometimes fear that conversation points feel unnatural or are used to fill space. However, the opposite can be said of a well-practiced dialogue. Rather than stilting a client relationship, talking points have the power to move key conversations along where roadblocks otherwise tend to crop up. As an agent, there is specific information that you will need from every client you work with. A talking-point tactic can assure that you give and receive the information you and your client need most with ease, conveying experience and knowledge as you work with new buyers.
Let’s start by exploring specific conversation points and what they can do to help establish and maintain motivation with buyers as they navigate tough markets.
Keep Buyers Motivated with Dialogue
An unmotivated buyer can be difficult to reinvigorate, especially in low-inventory markets. In a recent KW Connect session, top agents Harrison Beacher and Jason Carlton weighed in on how talking points can help keep buyers from backing down – even in tough markets – and ways that they can help agents and clients alike.
- Internalize then Customize Your Conversation Points
When starting out with talking points, it can feel blocky or unnatural at first. The key thing to do, according to Carlton, is to put memorization first. A prewritten dialogue is built to help agents get consistent information that they will need from each client, and Carlton found that they helped enable him to “keep from skipping over anything and to keep myself focused on being a good listener.”
Once your talking points are memorized, practicing and workshopping can then really make them work for you personally. Beacher notes that in his 13 years of business, he is using iterations of earlier conversation points. Over time he has found small elements to shift and change that work to get better responses. With these small changes, talking points become more efficient and can help aid communication with clients that keeps them motivated and connected even in tougher markets.
- Getting the Where, When, and Why with Clients
In moments of intense buyer fatigue, clients may forget their priorities and what is motivating them to find a new home in the first place. It’s in this instance that talking points can help reinvigorate a buyer’s drive.
Carlton makes a point of using talking points to learn the where, when, and why of a client’s move early in the process: “If a buyer can articulate where they want to go, when they want to be there, and why they want to move in the first place, then I know they are motivated. I’m not going to have to try to motivate them because they have it inside them.” Vital information like this can make or break a client’s drive to push and stay competitive. Using conversation points can help agents gain that understanding as soon as possible, and allows them to bring it back around to the buyer at crucial points of the buying process, helping them overcome fatigue and keep moving forward.
- Fighting the Fear of Competition
A major objection many buyers have during seller-favored markets can be a fear of competition. Having to compete against dozens of other buyers can be overwhelming and discouraging; however, Beacher uses a tried and true conversation to reframe their fears and turn the situation from forbidding to empowering: “The biggest competition is actually you: your personal limits, what you’re willing to do, what you’re able to do. If you would like this property, we’re going to explore your full capacity.” Rather than allow clients to worry about what other buyers will do, Beacher instead uses practiced conversation points to fight this common fear and assure clients that the control is in their hands to do what it takes to come out on top in the buying process.
- Prepping Buyers with Clear Expectations
Oftentimes with clients, fear can be rooted in a sense of uncertainty. Beacher and Carlton agree that talking points can help fight fear with clarity. Uncertainty can also be a large factor in buyer fatigue. Beacher emphasizes the importance of setting expectations about the market early to inoculate clients before frustration sets in. He reminds agents that it’s vital to use conversation points to put extra effort into that initial consultation, “so you’re not trying to fill in the blanks later because stuff does move really quick.”
He and Carlton mentioned including information about the success of your office, actual stats on saturation rate, and personal experience that gives more context to the state of the current market (e.g., “I had a buyer last year that had to write seven offers at or above list price before we got into contract”). Dialogues with current information like this can help clarify for buyers what will be required of them in the current state of things and help set expectations so that buyer fatigue may strike with less discouraging effect later on.
- Preplan for Just 4-5 Major Objections
Conversation points provide another major benefit due to a universal client truth: buyers generally have similar objections, no matter their circumstances. This means that talking points can be extremely useful for client after client over decades of real estate work and can aid in moments of doubt that crop up for any buyer. Carlton notes, “I can think of maybe like four or five different objections. There’s not that many. And so as agents, we have a little bit of an advantage. We can almost predict what they’re going to say to us, and we can do some preplanning.”
With this insight, conversation points can be even more attractive for agents looking to better help clients in low-inventory markets. Though assembling them can take time, practice and workshopping to get right, it only takes a handful to have enough to apply to any client to assuage any major objection. And as an agent, the knowledge of exactly what problems may crop up can help provide confidence and convey that professionalism and experience that can put buyer anxiety to rest.
Take a look at this example from Jason Carlton: The When, Where, and Why
When: “When it comes to a time frame for your move, what does that look like for you? What would that do for you or why is that important to you?
Where: “When it comes to a location for your move, what does that look like for you? Why would that be important to you? What would that do for you?
Why: “And then finally, when it comes to your motivation for this move, what does that look like for you? What would that do for you? And why is that important?”
When Buyer Fatigue Hits:
Maybe they have a parent that’s ill and they need to be nearby to be able to help take care of them. If I know that, I can refer to that later whenever we’re searching for a home. And maybe if they’re not feeling like writing an aggressive offer, I could ask them.
“So you’ve got some options. We’re looking at this property right now that would work for you, and I know that you’re not really excited about it. Would you rather continue to not have a place to live close to your parent that I know that you need to take care of? Or would it make more sense for your life to go ahead and be decisive and aggressive today, get under contract, close, and get you closest to the people that you love and that you care about and that you need to spend your time with?”
Bounce Back from Buyer Rejection
As we’ve discussed, every client will have their objections to staying competitive and jumping in, especially in a seller market. In their own KW Connect Live event, productivity coaches Tyrone Whitby and Mignon Hooper address how to bounce back from buyer rejection using talking points and tools of their own.
- Create Inventory by Supporting the Sellers
A major buyer objection that crops up in seller-favored markets is, “If I sell my home, where am I going to go?”
With that in mind, Hooper describes what agents can do to follow through on the promise they make to find their client a home: “We can remove anything that says buyer and make it a seller. Whether it’s by an email, a letter, a phone call, or a personal handwritten note, let people know that they could yield the most amount of money that they’ve ever yielded out of their house. And we can work with them to have longer stay contingencies for whenever the transaction closes.”
Hooper’s advice shows that supporting sellers and giving them a greater sense of urgency can be a great tactic in supporting buyers and helping them with their buying process.
- When the Market Shifts, Shift With It
According to Gary Keller’s book SHIFT: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times, when a market shifts, agents and buyers can only do one thing: shift with it. Whitby points out that agents and their clients must perform mental and action-based changes when the market alters in either direction: “You have to let [the buyer] know they have to make a mental shift and that you as their agent have made an action shift to be proactive, constantly looking for inventory for them, that you’re not sitting back and hoping that another agent will put something in the multiple listing service that will meet their needs.”
Preparing buyers with the need for a mental shift can help mitigate the feeling of rejection they may face, and at the same time, explaining the action shift as an agent can instill confidence in clients, letting them know a professional is hard at work to make good things happen despite the landscape.
- Utilize Vendor Relationships to Stay Ahead of the Market
Part of the struggle of a seller-favored market is the speed at which listings come and go. However, there are tactics agents can use to predict a listing before it becomes available to the public. Hooper highlights the vendor relationships that can tip agents off for a new listing.
Hooper provides examples of vendors that can end up being ahead of the market, including vendors that handle fencing, roofing, maintenance, and others. She highlights how a lawn professional connection “will send me a text message whenever he sees a ‘For Sale by Owner’ that pops up that maybe he had not seen before. And that’s good because we can get into conversation with them so we can help them yield the most amount of money for their home.” Using vendor relationships this way can help reduce buyer rejection and encourage client trust. If agents can find listings unavailable to others, that buyer fatigue may be assuaged.
- Establish a Good Fit Before Anything Else
Certain tactics can be used once a relationship with a buyer is underway, but some of the best tools for a difficult market are the proactive qualifying tools.
Whitby suggests using a Q&A to make sure a buyer is ready to enter the market. “I would say for me, it starts with really, really asking great questions from the beginning and giving them a realistic view of what’s going on in the marketplace.” In an environment where every buyer needs to be ready to compete for inventory, finding a buyer that’s truly ready can preemptively rule out those that won’t be prepared to handle the current market.
- Be Proactive with Third Party Stats
Beyond making sure that a lead is qualified and ready to go, agents can also do well by clients by demonstrating industry knowledge to further prepare them for the competitive market. As Whitby notes, “people can’t dispute the facts.” Using market statistics will help buyers be prepared for what’s to come even before facing the market head on.
How have you been working with clients to fight buyer fatigue? Have talking points served you well in preparing buyers for the market? Comment below to share tactics that have aided you in periods of seller-favored markets.