First – for real estate agents…
Do you talk too much?
You might, even if you aren’t aware of it. If you’ve ever felt that you were on the verge of signing a new listing or a purchase agreement, but it suddenly went sideways, talking too much might have been the cause. You might have talked yourself right out of the deal.
If you do it, why do you do it? How can you tell? And how can you stop yourself?
First, let’s assume that you’re not a narcissist who simply believes that anything you have to say is more important than anything others might say.
Why else might you talk too much?
You’re uncomfortable with silence. When your client doesn’t speak immediately, you feel a need to say something to fill the space. (When I was an agent, I was often guilty of this one.)
You’re trying too hard. You want that prospective client to know why they should list with you or choose to offer on a certain house, and you think you need more words in order to convince them. Perhaps you sense objections and want to answer them before the prospect has a chance to voice them.
You’re nervous. This might be because you’re afraid the potential client is going to say no. It might be because you came into the meeting unprepared. It might even be related to something going on at home or at the office.
How can you tell if you’re talking too much?
Ask yourself if you’re dominating the conversation. If you’re talking more than 50% of the time, or not allowing space for the other person to speak, you’re talking too much. Watch the people you’re with – are they interested or are their eyes beginning to glaze over? Are they starting to glance at a doorway – or their wristwatches? Are they breaking into your narrative to say things like “Yes, yes, I know that.”
When my son was looking for a listing agent for his rental property, I interviewed a pair that made me feel like a captive on our own property. In spite of my saying things like “I’ve studied those statistics” or “Yes, I’m aware of that,” they kept talking. Never mind that I was fidgeting, looking at the door, and essentially not listening or really looking at all the props they wanted me to see. Finally I just interrupted and said I had another appointment and needed to leave.
Did we list with them? Not a chance. I didn’t ever want to see either of them again.
What’s the cure?
- Train yourself to ask questions, then wait for the answers.
- Learn to be comfortable with silence.
The whole transaction is about the buyer or seller, and the more you know about what they’re thinking or feeling, the better you can help them. So develop a list of questions and use them. Then allow that client time to think before answering you.
In a listing presentation, ask if they have questions. Ask if they’d like to know more about your marketing methods or how targeted ads will help sell their home.
Ask if they’d like assistance with staging or are comfortable with hiring a stager.
Ask how soon they could be ready for a photo shoot.
Ask how soon they need to sell.
Ask whether there are items in the house they need to remove ahead of time (Grandma’s chandelier, for instance).
Ask what they like most about the house or the neighborhood.
I’m sure you can come up with a long list of questions to ask, so do it. Then allow time for answers.
When they answer, listen intently and take notes.
When you meet with potential buyer clients, first ask all the qualifying questions, then ask all those questions about their wants and needs.
Start with asking where they work, play, or attend school, and whether they have friends or relatives they want to be near.
Then ask all the questions about their housing wants and needs. Pay attention to the answers and you’ll not only impress the clients, you’ll save yourself time in the home search.
When you’re viewing homes with buyers, ask what they like or don’t like about the house you’re viewing. (Pay attention and take notes.) If a house seems almost perfect but there’s some objection, be quiet and let them work it out in their own minds. You might even walk away for a few minutes to let them discuss it without you. Often, buyers can overcome their own objections if you just be quiet.
Does this mean you shouldn’t answer questions?
Absolutely not. But make your answers clear and concise. Don’t over-talk or over-explain anything. Just allow your listener to ask another question if he or she needs more.
An article in Fast Company suggests that it’s safe to talk for 20 seconds and might be OK to talk for up to 40 seconds. After that your listener will begin to drift. So be quiet and give them a chance to respond.
“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.”
The bonus to talking less and asking plenty of questions:
When you ask questions, then let others talk while you actively listen, you will be regarded as smart, friendly, interesting, and a great conversationalist.
Next – for home buyers and home sellers…
If you talk too much, and talk in the wrong places, you could be harming your negotiating power.
- Don’t tell your friends and neighbors that you’ll pay more or take less – and for heaven’s sake, don’t tell the world on Facebook!
- Don’t tell anyone that you’re desperate to sell.
- Don’t tell anyone that you’ve found the house you MUST own.
- And finally, don’t discuss your real estate negotiations in public places, such as a restaurant. The person sitting at the table next to you, or even your server, might well be related to the person you’re negotiating with.
You may have heard: “Silence is Golden.”
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