Inman columnist David Fletcher of ementoru.com posted a fabulous suggestion to sellers: listen to your clients'' emotional needs and put them at the front of your efforts. "There is only one reason prospects do not want to see a home the second time: they have not seen a home they can picture themselves living in that satisfies their emotional needs - like convenience, safety, fun, pleasure, and pride of ownership."
He suggests using a "lifestyle checklist" and having the client rank the importance of certain characteristics - a sunset view, near the bus stop, etc. - to ensure you are directing them to places that have the must-haves they will not compromise on. Many times, they become unearthed toward the end of a sale, so why wait?
David Fletcher gets it. We know from the 2011 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers that people are compromising on price first. Only 4% compromised on the quality of the neighborhood; 2% compromised on the quality of schools; and 1% compromised on distance from schools. Compare that to the 18% that let price slide to get the things they need to have the pride of ownership that the home search is all about.
A Technology and 'Pen and Paper' Hybrid
Using a checklist during the sale to identify must-haves is great, but your website can act as a virtual checklist for a lot of these questions. Not only is this something that can increase efficiencies for the broker and the agent, but it is a response to what today's buyer is doing: shopping around for at least two weeks on average before contacting an agent. Consider the Internet's rise in selling houses over the past ten years; 40% of buyers find the home they ultimately purchase online, compared to just 8% in 2001.
David suggests that MLS data is important but can't provide the most important information you need to make a sale. This is where I have to disagree.
Innovative data in our industry has become more sensitive to buyers' needs. Our Lifestyle Search Engine incorporates millions of data points to help guide buyers to ideal neighborhoods - and potentially homes within - that meet their needs. Answering quality of life needs and thresholds of importance up front, can save a lot of time and allows buyers to say, "they get it."
Although the Internet and the agent are the two most important factors for a buyer during the transaction, NAR says "real estate agents are ranked as the most useful resource" with the local know-how and market understanding that the Internet simply can't provide.
If your brokerage's site proves to understand the intuition of their search, they are more likely to look to you as a local resource that will understand which emotional levers to push while you are doing what you do best.
Online Lifestyle Search isn't just a neat engagement tool; this information consumers are putting in upfront can be passed along to agents so that they can reach back out with listings that fit both their preferences for lifestyle and housing characteristics.
In essence, a lifestyle checklist could be on pen and paper the way David suggests, or it can be a support tool to that up front. And what better way to have a consistent multi-platform experience than to sync your website with your irreplaceable in-person knowledge?
Image Credit: Tom Hilton on Flickr.com