The Mood of the Move by Tom Hopkins

Understanding the reasons behind any move is critical to how you communicate with your sellers. Situations vary as much as personality types.

To be successful in real estate, you must have a practical understanding of the emotions churning through your clients. Having empathy for your clients and knowing their situation is crucial. We have to become skillful at synchronizing our moves with a wide variety of client emotions. How well we do this has a powerful effect on our incomes.

We often work with people who are suffering severe pain from the major upheavals that are taking place in their lives. Selling a cherished home; facing the personal turmoil of moving to a new area; worrying about making far greater financial decisions than they are accustomed to; coping with whatever situation–sometimes a family tragedy–that has forced their home on the market; these are intense forms of change that can be painful to bear.

Champions work hard to become experts on the industry, but that’s not the only reason they list and sell more. They care more about the people.

Start asking yourself, “How do I feel about how they feel?” If your attitude is, “I couldn’t care less,” don’t be surprised if they couldn’t care less about listing their home with you. There probably aren’t two clients in a hundred who’ll admit it, but one of the main reasons people pay real estate fees is to get attention and sympathy while a matter that’s of great importance to them is being resolved.

If I were talking to a wife and husband who are being relocated for his job, I’d be more concerned with relating to her than him. He’s excited; he has his promotion; his ego has just received a big boost. The wife is concerned about her career as well, but more concerned with the children, and their needs as well as leaving their social circle. So, when you talk to this couple, you can’t be overly excited about the husband’s promotion or you’ll turn the wife off by being insensitive to what’s important to her.

Now let’s look at another listing situation that a change in the husband’s job creates. Here’s a man who, instead of getting the promotion he’s worked for and thinks he’s earned, is making a lateral move. Maybe he’s being moved because the company needs him somewhere that he doesn’t think will further his career. As he sits in their living room waiting for you to come over, he’s mad at his company. But he’s also mad at himself for failing to get a promotion, and for not having the confidence to quit. So he’s going to move again, and there’s no joy in it for him.

When you walk in there, you’re part of the company he’s mad at because you’re the vehicle that’s going to move him. And he’s especially afraid of making a mistake in listing his house because of his insecure position at this point. When people are excited and happy about the move, they’ll be more in line with your research on market value than people who are unhappy about the move will be.

You will frequently run into cases where it’s a change in the woman’s career that puts the couple’s house on the market. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. When you walk into a home you want to list, think only of them. Start asking questions so you can understand why they are doing what they’re doing. There’s a reason for the move. Until you know that reason, you can’t start feeling their feelings and relating to them properly in order to serve their needs.

Let’s talk about taking the listing where the reason for moving isn’t exciting and up, or even horizontal. It’s definitely down and discouraging. Although these situations are touchy to work with, they’re more likely to give you the opportunity to render great service to people who really need it.

In divorce situations the listing can’t be taken and held until the sale of the property closes unless the agent exercises great tact and understanding. Number one: Don’t take sides. This is crucial. The husband is quick to resent another woman; the wife may be quick to resent another man. You have to play it very professionally with both of them. Keep it constantly in mind that if either person suspects you of making moral judgements about them, you’re not going to be their agent. You’re working now with highly emotional people; the great pain they’re feeling may make them turn to anger, resentment, and non-cooperation at the slightest hint of provocation.

When you go into that kind of emotionally supercharged situation, you’re as much an undertaker as you are a real estate agent. You’re working with grief–a marriage has died. You’re there to help bury it. But we’re not there as marriage counselors; we can’t reengineer society. All we can do is help them get the most money for their home in the shortest possible time. To earn that chance, you must communicate with both those people very carefully. Build a performance that relates to their needs.

How would you handle this listing situation? The family is selling because someone in it has passed away.

If you go in there and run a standard listing presentation on them without connecting your emotional level to theirs, you’re not going to reach them and you’re not going to get the listing. First, you must gain their attention; second, you must help them to like and trust you; only then do you have the opportunity to gain their business.

Think about a financial crisis, another common reason for moving. Have you worked yet with people who were about to have their home repossessed? It’s a terribly painful position to be in, and you will have to be exceptionally considerate and aware of how these people feel about their difficult circumstances.

As a real estate professional, you have more than a job; you have an absolute obligation to do everything in your power to feel like your clients feel. That’s how you earn the right to serve.

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