“Not Everyone Out There is a Professional. But I am.”
Differentiating Yourself as a CHBA
The key to getting a prospective buyer to work with you is by articulating your value, but it’s complicated in an era when texting is a preferred means of communication.
By John White
It was late afternoon in summer – the busiest time of year for real estate agents – when Jana was watching a TV program on her computer. Around that time, she received a message through her CRM, a prospective homebuyer was interested in one particular starter home with three bedrooms in an older neighborhood. Jana reached for her mobile phone, and messaged back, introducing herself by name and sending a business photo. Other than that, she was careful to avoid coming across as an eager salesperson. Instead, she asked the prospect whether he/she had been able to save the home in “Saved Searches”. A text message conversation slowly began to follow, with some delay between messages exchanged. The buying prospect turned out to be a young man, Eric, who was nearly thirty years old. Jana quickly began merging what he was telling her with what she learned about his demographic, millennials, as buyers in real estate. On the whole, this generation is tech savvy and connected, and compared to many of Jana’s own generation, less sentimental about home buying. Typically, millennials want to be a great part of the home buying process. They want to play an active role in it. And so Jana was content not to rush him into a phone conversation if he felt like texting. She knew millennials might gladly work with someone their parents’ age, if that person both offers expertise and is willing to accommodate their way of doing things. She subtly imitated some of his phrasing, and mirrored his use of emojis with a few of her own. After all, in an era of text messaging, emojis function as a stand-in for nonverbal communication. Use of emojis can and does substitute for nonverbal mirroring.
Over the course of the conversation, Jana found out more about Eric’s situation. He and his wife had been married for a little more than two years. He was working in sales, and she was a teacher. Jana began to ask him questions, short and to the point. Eric kept answering. They were looking for their first home, in town, and wanted to avoid neighborhoods with expensive HOA fees. They would rather save their money for starting a family. They hadn’t yet been pre-approved, but had better credit scores than many other first-time buyers she had seen who were approved. Jana asked about his timeline. As it turned out, they were under their apartment lease for another 4 months, but if they did buy a house, he would want to move in one to two weeks prior to the end of the lease, to give him and his wife enough time to move in an organized fashion – “So the moves not chaos,” as he texted. She let him know he was looking at a seller’s market, and that many young people struggled with home offers falling through, so he shouldn’t wait forever. As she did, she let the quality of her messaging come through, so that her messages avoided giving the impression of shortened phrasing, as often happens in texting. “If I’m the one helping you and your wife, you’ll be fine :-),” she texted confidently. “We’ll be the early birds that catch the worm first. I’ll help manage your move-in timeline, study the seller to negotiate you the best price, and even watch your home equity potential.” Eric texted back, “Study the seller?” He entered an emoji that indicated surprise. “Yes, whichever methods of negotiation the seller’s agent is known to use. I’ll study those methods, and counter-negotiate to win you the best price.” He responded, “Sounds impressive.” To which she answered, “Not everyone out there is a professional. But I am.” She followed this with a trial close for an appointment: “Can I contact you early next week about taking the first steps?” He agreed. “Sure. Looking FWD to it.”
Next Tuesday, Jana contacted him, asking whether he was still interested in meeting, and asked him if he had time available on Thursday or Friday. They set up an appointment to meet on Friday at four in the afternoon at a local coffee shop, so Eric’s wife, Stacy, could be there as well. Jana first spent time building rapport with the young couple, and then was finally able to make the buyer presentation. She briefly went over the seven laws of CHBA, before asking them which top three features they require, followed by their top three preferred features they would like their home to have. Eric and Stacy decided to hire Jana as their buyer’s agent, and she promised them the best experience.
Around four months later, Jana dropped by Eric and Stacy’s new home, right when they were moving in – or more exactly, trying to fit a large sofa through the front doorway. “It’s been nice. Thank you.” Stacy looked over and smiled, and shifting her gaze toward Eric, she commented, “better than it would have gone with Mr. Gyiah.” Jana smiled, but the look on her face could not conceal the fact that she was sort of puzzled. Eric looked up, and explained the inside joke: “Mr. Gyiah. Not his real name – I’ve forgotten his real name. He was a friend of a work colleague. We had been referred to him. This was before our first conversation.” But “Gyiah”, to us, stood for Mr. ‘Get-You-In-A-House.’ We got tired of it. And he didn’t even ask too many questions about what we wanted. He wanted to know the most we were willing to spend. Plus, he never seemed concerned about our, what did you call it, the equity swing? Not only that, but he never brought up negotiation strategies. I don’t think I remember him ever mentioning a home warranty. So our choice was actually pretty easy.” He smiled. Jana returned his smile, for at that moment it became clear to her how easy it was to articulate value. There is no magical formula for articulating value; nor does the Expert Advisor have to be perfect at it. She had only taken her training with NAEA, applied it to text messaging, and aimed to add value to the young man she was texting with that evening just a few months before.