client needs - agency

The agent represents the seller and under the law of agency “is the seller's man”. Therefore, the stock and station agent must act in good faith and in accordance with the seller's needs. The agent should not forget that it is the client that pays the agent’s commission and because the sale staff do not deal directly with the seller (this is usually the listing agent) they may wrongly, side with the buyer in the sale process. Although consumer law requires the buyer to be protected, the agent and his/her staff must never forget that they are acting on behalf of the seller and therefore, the seller's needs are paramount.

You need to know the seller's needs so that you can gear your final presentation to his/her needs. You need to know the seller's motives, concerns and desires.

Seller’s needs and personality

You should adjust your approach according to the seller's needs and personality. The agent must act in a professional manner with the sellers. Avoid confronting them by arguing that you can sell more quickly than they can or that their asking price is too high.

The agent should try to build trust, offer help, answer questions with honesty and tack and try to establish a base for future contact. Listings are rarely obtained on first visit. Too many agents give up after just one rejection.

It is important to know why the seller is moving as a strong motive increases the chances of securing the listing. A weak motive may indicate a lower probability of selling as the owner may only be testing the market. Has the seller bought another property? Is there a deadline for moving? Are there other strong reasons for the seller selling? For example, to look after an aging relative.

Answers to these questions will allow the agent to gear his/her final presentation and to allow your services to meet the seller's needs. For example, if you belong to a national franchise you may be able to help sellers find accommodation in the new location they are moving to.

What personality is the seller? They may be detail orientated and therefore, will want more information than other people. In this case you must be prepared to give them full details. However, in rural areas you are more likely to find casual sellers, people who make major decisions based on trust and rapport and who do not require or expect a great deal of detail. You have probably been referred to them by a family member or neighbour.

Although you need to find out who will be making the decision, make sure you address all parties on your presentation.

You need top find out the seller's concerns. Is he/she worried about the price that may be achieved or concerned about net profits after commission, legal and advertising? In this case you need to make sure your market analysis is well prepared with recent and close sales as a guide.

Is the seller worried about a timeline? If they require a fast sale, plan to emphasize the appropriate features of your agency that will facilitate a fast sale. You may already have enquirers on the books looking for a house similar to that of the seller's.

The seller may be distrustful of real estate people and the real estate process. The agent should be prepared to address these terms in his/her presentation. In rural towns where personal knowledge and trust are most important refer to people who you have successfully sold properties for.

The following are the most common concerns and needs of sellers and you should be prepared to answer them:

Some of these needs can result in further business. There may be other needs unique to the seller and that you need to uncover.

How do you go about finding out client needs? Don't rush, rural people like to taken their time in responding and think about their future actions. The following is a recommended approach for the rural agent:

1 First Contact

Greet the owner, introduce yourself and give them an article on the best methods of sale. Indicate that you are willing to answer any queries he/she may have. Rural agents cannot be as pushy as their city counterparts and would be counterproductive. If the seller is interested and willing to talk try to ascertain why he/she is selling. This is the most important single need to ascertain.

Secondly ask where he/she is moving to. Make the question general so a not appear to be too nosey eg “Are you leaving beautiful rural town to escape the cold winter? “ - the seller will most likely then volunteer where he/she is moving to.

Although you do not expect the listing on first contact but your interest and initial approach will help to sway the client. Follow up your visit with a note and further information such as an article about real estate values in their area and/or properties you have successfully sold.

2 Second Contact

You now have initial or superficial information about your client's needs. Greet the owner and ask how things are going. Ask him/her whether or not he /she has any further questions and that you are willing to answer. This approach underlines your professional ability to help and answer questions in a professional manner. He/she may now be responsive to a request to inspect the property and carry out an appraisal. If they are negative, thank them for their time making sure they have your card for future contact. Follow up with another note and further information perhaps new sales that have just been completed and your appraisal.

3 Third Contact

At this juncture the seller should have a positive impression about you aided by your professional advice and help. Therefore, you can probably be more direct in your questioning and ascertain whether or not they would prefer sale by private treaty, auction or tender. Your advice on the method of sale will depend on such factors as how quickly they wish to sell. Whether or not they prefer a quiet discreet sale compared to a more public auction and how happy they are with your appraisal.

If they intend to buy another property you can offer to help in this purchase. You can still do this even if you have not been successful in securing the listing.

Remember each contact increases the knowledge of the seller’s needs and your chances of obtaining the listing.

4 Further contacts

As long as the owner has not sold or listed the property with another agent you are open to make further contacts. However, by this stage it may become apparent that the seller’s situation and motivation in selling are dubious and your time is better spent in pursuing other contacts.

Keep a note of the results of all contacts and relevant information that you have ascertained. A diary is very useful in this regard. Such information may be useful if a potential buyer appears looking for a property similar to that of the seller.

There are 3 questions to ask your self during client negotiations:

  1. what are the sellers' needs?

  2. What can I do to help him/her fulfil those needs?

  3. How can I get further appointments and interviews.

Some sellers may have tried to sell privately and been unsuccessful. The agent knows that in this situation the owner may be embarrassed and frustrated. Further his/her needs may involve being in a double mortgage situation if they are in the process of buying another property elsewhere, delays in moving. In this situation the owner will be quite anxious to sell.

In this situation your best advice to met his/her needs is to recommend a quick sale system or you may be able to have the asking price reduced to a more reasonable level.

General rules to discover the seller's needs:

1. Ask questions

That is, questions designed to elicit answers that will indicate what the seller needs really are. What is the farm used for? Does the seller intend to carry on farming in his/her new location? If they are retiring to be close to family does they want a property in walking distance or close commuting distance?

  1. Listen!

Wait after a seller answers a question in case they wish to volunteer more information. If they do, it means that you have reached a relationship of trust. Allow the parties to talk with each other and laugh when they laugh. Communication between parties may reveal more than what your expert questioning did!

  1. Never assume

That you know what the seller means. Another farm may mean a hobby farm to retire to or a much larger farm as they wants another member of the family to join them in the enterprise. “Close to town” could mean 5 minutes or an 1 hour drive.

When qualifying sellers for their needs and desires the agent must ask probing but diplomatic and friendly questions. Then, listen carefully to answers.

When discussing and recommending the method of sales based on the advantages and disadvantages listed above remember that you are recommending only. Ultimately the method of sale rests with the client. Since some of the methods of sale are less well known than others by the client ypou should be prepared to spend more time in presentation on the less well known methods.