Back in the day, when we knew what was for sale and the buyers didn't, it was easy to be the go-to guys for real estate information. That's ancient history now and almost everything anyone would want to know about real estate is freely available.
So what can we do to provide value when our buyer clients are independently finding the properties they want to see, along with the property details and history? We don't want to be viewed as chauffeurs or the keepers of the door keys - there really isn't much value in that. And sure, we know contracts and all the complicated stuff that is part of the transaction - but that's just hoops that have to be jumped through.
One of the answers is market knowledge, and that's important because it's essentially a pocketbook issue. If we can provide good guidance that will save our buyers money, or help them understand the positive and negative consequences of their investment in a home, we're going to be appreciated as a valuable resource. And while it's true that this same knowledge is something our buyers could find on their own, the fact is that we have much easier access to it, as well as the experience to interpret it correctly.
Here are some simple steps you can take to demonstrate the value of your market expertise to your buyers:
1. Preview the homes you're going to show.
And contact the listing agents for additional property information. When you can provide information before and during the showing that isn't readily available, you're going to look good.
2. Pay close attention
Pay close attention to the hot buttons on your buyers' wish list, and know how well each property you will be showing meets those requirements. And as you're showing the homes, listen carefully to how they react to those items. Often, you will discover that things they told you were important aren't getting much consideration, while other items that weren't mentioned are a point of focus. Discuss these items with them, to develop better clarity both for yourself and them.
3. Do a little research.
For each neighborhood in which you will be showing homes, use your MLS statistics to have on hand some useful data - $/sq.ft., sale price/list price ratios, average days on market, available inventory, price range of solds, average and median prices, etc. Be ready to compare each home you're showing to those stats. Since those homes are all going to be fairly similar, at least in theory, you are basically putting each home into a mini-CMA context, which will help your buyers evaluate each from a financial perspective. If you really want to go the extra mile, make a quick and simple spreadsheet comparing the data for each home.1
4. Do a little more research.
Run a quick Google search on each neighborhood to find out what's going on there. And maybe check with your local government to identify any proposed projects or developments in the area. Ask other agents that specialize in those neighborhoods. Have some deep background available for your buyers.
5. Remember the importance of presentation.
Take the time to package the information in a personalized, attractive, high-quality and easy to use format. There are lots of showing guide tools out there - find one you like and put it to work.
Yes, this is more work than just bundling your clients into the car and going out to see what homes look like. But by showcasing your market expertise, and providing some real help in making their home search productive, you're doing a lot more than just making a sale - you're creating a long-term client.