Technology has changed the face of real estate and the role of a real estate agent, especially when it comes to buyers. With tools such as Trulia and Zillow, most potential home buyers now turn to the internet to “see what’s out there” rather than stopping by your office and asking for an overview of what’s on the market. (Remember the old days when you would pull out the most current MLS and thumb through it together?)
As real estate agents, we know, of course, that that internet real estate sites are far from accurate. In many cases, the homes advertised have long been sold or have been removed from the market. The chances are that the buyer is probably wasting lots of time surfing through the pages of that site, only to be disappointed when they locate their dream house and prepare to purchase it, soon learning that that particular house went under contract two months ago!
Still, people continue to trust in those tools, and it’s probably about time that real estate agents admit to the fact that Zillow and other similar sites are here to stay. That means we need to find different ways to convince potential customers that there’s value in what we do. Besides helping them look for houses, we provide many other essential services. Consider these.
Helping Buyers Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
If you’re an experienced real estate agent or even a newer agent supported by a broker, chances are you can hook up potential buyers with a great mortgage broker. You’ll do this by learning some things about the client first and then recommending the mortgage broker that can best connect them with a product that fits their needs.
Not all mortgage brokers are created equal! We know that, but most buyers do not. You know which mortgage brokers will work hard to put together a loan package that will go to the underwriter and be approved. That means fewer disappointed buyers and guaranteed commission for you. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Helping Buyers Determine a Realistic Value for their Potential Purchase
Take a look at Zillow, Trulia, or other similar sites. The prices for homes of similar size and features in the same neighborhood seem to be all over the place. It’s tough for a buyer to know what is “a good deal” and what isn’t. Tools like Zillow’s Zestimate provide a reference for an estimated value but not an actual value. To give a buyer a more accurate value is where you – the agent – enters the picture.
If you truly know your market, you can come up with that actual value by running comps and making adjustments for differences between one property and another. You’ll consider things such as condition, upgrades, lot size, and anything else that make cause a particular home’s value to go up or down. As such, you can suggest the proper amount for an offer and help the buyer avoid overpaying and – maybe – losing out when the appraisal doesn’t meet the purchase price.
Structuring a Win-Win Deal for Both the Buyer and Seller
A good deal is when both parties win, so an agent is needed to structure an offer properly so that this is the result.
An agent knows how much money the buyer has to spend and what sort of terms are needed it make it work, and can use that information to put together an offer that makes the best use of that money. It might mean asking for some seller concessions but offering a higher price, for example. Agents have plenty of tricks up their sleeves and can employ them when needed.
We know how to get the buyer in with little out-of-pocket money, when necessary. We’re conscious of factors such as appraisal amount. We understand that, down the road and after a home inspection, other problems could arise, so we craft a deal that is attractive to the homeowner from the start, just in case something comes up that affects his bottom line in the future.
Remember, a good deal isn’t always thousands of dollars off the asking price. A good deal for your client might be a full-price offer. Either way, let your buyer know that you have their best interests in mind and clearly explain to them why you’re structuring the deal a particular way.
Be There to Relieve Anxiety
A calm, relaxed demeanor – which you should strive to have at all times – can help your buyer feel at ease at a time when they are concerned about taking the plunge into the most significant investment of their lifetime. If you’ve been a buyer, you know how nail-biting the entire process can be waiting out the time between that initial offer and the moment you’re sitting at the closing table.
With you in the picture, the clients have a go-between when it comes to dealing with mortgage brokers, home inspectors, contractors or repair persons, the title company, and others that might cause some anxiety in the life of their lives.
Make sure your buyer understands that – when you sell them a house – you’ll be with them until the end of the process. Often, you’ll step in and dodge a problem or solve an issue without the client even knowing about it. Chances are you’ve seen it all before, and if you haven’t, you and your support team can likely figure it out.
While we make no promises that problems won’t arise – sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. If we as real estate agents are there to mediate, to guide, to “handle” things, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the anxiety will be kept to a minimum and are replaced with the excitement that comes with buying and – ultimately – owning a house.