Don't forget the Buyers.

The real estate activity over the last couple of years has been so active with keen and eager buyers that many sales people havenít seen the need to track and manage buyers. The buyers were coming to you. Some of you will have only been in the profession for less than two years and may have only worked in an environment where buyer tracking and follow-up was unnecessary. During 2003 it was common practice to simply secure the listing and a sale would follow. Buyers demonstrated their enthusiasm by offering to pay the asking price on day one and in other cases they competed for the property in multi-offer situations or at auction.

The industryís focus was on obtaining listings and many new people were never introduced to the art of buyer management and those more experienced may have let their skills slip or simply stopped doing it.

The industry has had a correct focus on managing listings and buyers have often taken second place in training and our focus. Buyers will need managing and encouragement if the suggested easing in buyer activity was to continue. We have little control over buyers as they tend to not follow salespeople ñ they follow listings and when they see what they want, they care not who has got it listed. Buyers also like to shop around when they know there is a choice. They only move quickly when they see their ideal solution and they know someone else wants it too.

They also make decisions that you often canít fathom. We often hear stories of buyers complaining about being shown homes they didnít ask for and properties above their price range. But the profession knows only too well that buyers donít always buy their specifications. They buy what they want and often they are not sure about that until they see it. And many spend more money. Like vendors having a Hope to get price, buyers have a Hope to get house at their initial budget. This can make it difficult for many salespeople to justify the time that buyers can take when cruising the market. Accordingly the profession has focused on managing listings and marketing them to the buyer pools. That way we managed the buyers by having them come to us and meeting them at properties we had under control. Now the buyers are a little more prudent and selective and it may take more than just holding an open home, after profile marketing, to close the sale. It may well take more than one follow-up call or re-viewing of a property to close the sale. So can we spend a little time each day managing our buyers and increasing the chances that we conclude the sale?

With the acknowledgement that some properties are sitting and buyers being more selective as listings numbers increase a little, it is timely to review some strategies that could help you manage your buyers.

Go back through your diary and write down the name and phone number of everyone you have talked to over the last 90 days that you donít know what has happened to. Ring them up and introduce them to all your new listings.

Get out all your old open home lists and do the same exercise.

Database every good prospect and learn the art of distributing details on new listings as they come in. Use e-mail or mail and get the information out quickly. If you are in the wise habit of not releasing a new listing to the market until all the marketing is running, send pre-advice e-mails telling your buyers to wait for this one ñ its due next week! etc. Having sent the brochure or e-mail make sure you ring them within 24-48 hours to gauge their interest and to quiz whether we need to vary our selection criteria.

Widen your buyer ranges and distribute information on properties either side of their price indicators. It may be counter-productive to insert your buyers into the property system and limit their price range. We are seeing more and more salespeople following our suggested strategy of entering buyers on very wide categories. A Buyer in the $200k range goes in as Buyer 2 and a Buyer in the $500K range goes in as Buyer 5 and so on. Using this broad ranging we then send details on a listing at say $650 000 to all buyers in Buyer 5, Buyer 6 and Buyer 7. Then of course follow-up with that phone call. In a market where there could be competition for buyers try and get them through the property before the open home ñ otherwise they may go without you.

Set aside time each day to make calls to the buyers who are still cruising and undecided.
You can invite them to re-visit the best they have seen with you to date.
You can ring on behalf of your vendors who are concerned at the level of interest in their property and ask the buyers for the feedback the vendor needs so they can understand where the market is.
You can ask if they would like to be contacted should the other interested parties seek to make an offer.
You could ask; At what level would there be any interest from them?
What price would they pay?
What wouldnít they pay? etc

We need to make acutely aware that the market is still moving and values are not plummeting. All the indications are that the market will rise on average another 8-10% this year, so stop hesitating. There is always competition for the best properties ñ those that are well presented and well marketed. Maybe if you are suffering from a little lag in selling time for your new listings you could take a look at 3 essential issues;

The marketing you have secured and where you are targeting it.

The price you are marketing the listing at, or better still remove it.

The attention you are giving to the buyers you have.

Then most of all are you asking the closing question. It seems to me that you like most things about this property. Could this be the one?

So if you are finding that buyers are being elusive and some of your listings are sticking perhaps it is time to check that your buyer follow-up is more intense than last year.


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