Written by Walter Boomsma, instructor. See his blog.
“Necessity never makes a good bargain.” –attributed to Ben Franklin
Ben was a rather practical fellow and in this case I think he wanted to remind us that necessity can reduce our leverage and make us too impulsive. During the sales agent licensing course, I often describe “pop-tart” agents–usually newly licensed, they sit at the “up desk” waiting for the phone to ring or someone to walk in with at least a remote interest in real estate. They then “pop” out of the chair thrilled with the opportunity to demonstrate their new skills. “Let’s go look at some houses!”
But are they demonstrating their skills and value, really?
I recall some years ago watching this happen. In less time than it takes to tell, a newly licensed agent took a highly motivated buyer on a showing, wrote an offer and got it accepted. You can well imagine her excitement. But she only had twenty-four hours to celebrate her luck and skill before the designated broker found himself negotiating cancellation of the agreement after it turned out the buyer was afflicted with oniomania or CBD (Compulsive Buying Disorder). CBD is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying and is believed to affect nearly 6% of the population. Fortunately, the seller was sympathetic and understanding.
We can certainly dissect Ms. Poptart’s performance and come up with a number of places where she probably went wrong. It would make for an interesting case study or group discussion and I suspect the answers would include comments about qualifying the buyer, asking for proof of funds, etc. All good points.
But note that those types of answers are actually defensive in nature–geared to avoiding something (such as a failed contract). While preventing problems can be an important part of the role of the agent in a transaction, it’s actually a very narrow focus. A comparison: do we use a GPS to keep from getting lost?
Many agents come to understand this difference after a few transactions. They learn to love calls from buyers or sellers that come way in advance. That’s when they can do their best work for their clients. That best work is to devise a pre-buying or pre-selling action plan. These agents start their client relationship with questions like
- “Have you bought and sold real estate before?”
- “What did you like best about the experience/transaction?”
- “What did you find least enjoyable about the experience?”
These are data-gathering questions that allow the agent to work with the client in a relatively unhurried and relaxed environment and build an approach everyone can work with. One of my personal favorite questions is “Have you considered how you are going to go about this?” More often than not, the client doesn’t understand the question which suggests the answer is “no,” and this points to the need for a plan. You may be good at preventing and solving problems, but you should be even better at planning!
Everyone benefits from good planning. I recall an agent telling me she had shown a potential buyer sixty properties. I’m guessing the buyer had a plan that didn’t really include buying. Clearly the agent did not have a plan–other than to go with the buyer on showings.
There’s a difference between a motivated client and an impulsive client. Impulsive clients can sound very appealing, but they can also be a nightmare to work with… and are often prone to the dreaded “buyer’s (or seller’s) remorse.” Another observation you’ll hear in my classes is “You never want to get a call from a client that starts with ‘You never told me…‘”
Unhappy clients rarely blame themselves for what happened. Since you are the likely target of blame, why not accept the responsibility for what happens by creating a plan? Just remember, it’s not your plan. It’s a shared plan, developed with your client. You may slow down those impulsive clients. You may speed up those unmotivated or fearful clients, but it’s all part of the plan. Necessity never makes a good bargain, but intelligent planning often does.