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Realty Builder
Jax Daily Record Friday, Apr. 12, 200212:00 PM EST

Is the client always right?


by Walter Sanford

Inman News Features

Real estate has been my life and passion for more than 28 years. I believe that the majority of my life experiences, those that I am most proud of, have come from helping my favorite clients achieve their goals. However, I am often asked this simple question, “Is the client always right?” and I must answer this question with a resounding “No.”

It’s only the clients you choose to work with are always right. If real estate agents are going to offer 110 percent service to their clientele, they must pick and choose the clientele worthy of that type of service. For years, many businesses have been able to pre-qualify their clients by a number of different methods. Attorneys request retainers or doctors request an insurance card up front or payment in full, but how can we make an informed decision as to who we are going to work with and who we are not?

There is a difference in profitability and motivation in clients and at some point you have to say “no” to someone. If you are going to remain consistent in spending productive time servicing clients, with a high degree of professionalism and service.

The following is my pre-qualification for clients I have chose to commit to.

For my office to work with a seller, they had to cooperate with me in the following ways:

• Complete an initial phone interview where approximately 20 questions are asked in order to determine motivation and whether or not he seller is realistic about the market.

• Agree to visit and interact within my Web site, or accept an e-mail, fax, mail, and fill out some forms where the client provides feedback in regards to what they felt was important about their property, the marketing of their property, and other concerns that they may have.

• Agree that all decision-makers would be present during our meeting.

• Agree that the client will work within the confines of a very detailed selling system.

Obviously, my requests didn’t always obtain the ratification I would have preferred, but I could determine the commitment level of the client by their willingness to cooperate with me. The great equalizer, that determined the significance of the listing, was the price at which they were willing to list the property and/or the price flexibility during the listing.

As I grew in the business, I found that taking over priced listings without the possibility of price reductions in the future was one of the fastest ways to lose money in real estate.

The ways I determined a profitable buyer, different from the gauntlet I put sellers through, are as follows:

• 25 questions to be answered over the phone.

• A pre-qualification interview with a lender by phone prior to meeting.

• Meeting at my office, with health being the only exception to being absent.

• A Personal Buyer Agreement presentation with an understanding as to how we would work together.

• The signing of a Buyer-Brokerage Agreement, describing in the agreement how I will be compensated for my services, with the possibility of being reimbursed by commissions earned from the seller.

It is important for real estate agents to understand that it is hard to give 110 percent client service to a client that is only 80 percent motivated. So, one of the first things we will have to do in order to increase the professionalism of our industry is to work with clients that have a higher probability of cooperating with us as their agents.

Unfortunately, because of poor or non-existent lead generation systems, most agents tend to work with the castaways of systematized agents.

When you develop expectations of the clients you want and the systems to support those expectations, it is much easier to create the elusive raving fan by giving 110 percent to the deserving clients that motivate; therefore, increasing the high probability of them closing with you.

— Walter Sanford has written 13 books on strategies for top producing real estate agents.

He can be reached at [email protected].

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