I have something to confess here. I’m cheap. Not frugal, not careful with money. Cheap. I spend hours researching almost every purchase big and small and can rattle off minute details that affect the price of leather sofas, suits, guitars—you name it. I don’t just want a good deal, I want a GREAT deal. I’m a salesperson’s worst nightmare. If you’re a buyer’s agent, you probably meet people like me 20x a day.
As a real estate agent in New York City, I got to see just how frustrating working with someone like me was. Most people who showed up to my office came armed with well-intentioned but laughably inaccurate articles that promised them Million Dollar Listing apartments on a “2 Broke Girls” budgets. I must have spent 30% of my time debunking real estate myths and patiently explaining how the market really works.
That’s why we decided to put together this guide on how to educate your, ahem, “unrealistic” buyers or renters quickly and easily. If you do it right, you just might get an evangelist for life.
1. Use Your Lead Magnets to Educate Buyers Before They Call You
Let’s face it, educating unrealistic buyers can be a grind. Some people just don’t want to listen and think because their hairdresser’s friend’s nephew got a two-bedroom for $3,000 a month in SOHO, they can too.
Worse, you run the risk of turning them off with your pessimism, no matter how unrealistic their expectations are. You see, some buyers will shop around until they find an agent who tells them what they want to hear:
“Of course there are 2-bedrooms in SOHO for $3,000 a month! Let’s meet up on Saturday and we can see some. By the way, how’s your credit?”
Instead of risking these starry-eyed buyers ditching you for someone who promises them rainbows and unicorns, why not generate leads with lead magnets that also educate them? Putting together a well-written and researched new buyer’s guide and offering it as a free download on your site will take you all of a weekend to put together. You can even tailor it to specific neighborhoods and specific price points. One for each neighborhood and each price point you want to target.
Then set up a landing page on your website and drive some traffic to it with pay-per-click (PPC) ads on social media. The leads you get from lead magnets like this will already have your advice in their heads before they call you.
2. Come Up With Memorable Talking Points & Repeat Them Often
The second way to educate unrealistic buyers quickly and easily is to come up with a few short, memorable, and ideally emotion-packed talking points and repeat them as often as you can. Think about when you first heard a talking point like “Those who list, last” and think about how easily you remembered it and how often you’ve repeated it.
The reason a phrase like this has such an immediate and memorable impact on new agents has to do with a concept that neuroscientists call neural plasticity. It’s basically a fancy way of saying there are ideal conditions for learning and retaining a new idea. If you want to educate buyers quickly, then you need to come up with a few talking points that help create ideal conditions for neural plasticity. Here’s how:
According to Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, urgency and focus are what you need to get someone to learn something new. So come up with talking points that help create both. That means short, memorable, and emotion-laden talking points, delivered directly and candidly.
After an afternoon with me, my clients probably heard me say this at least 10 times:
“Your apartment can be affordable, nice, or in a great neighborhood. Pick two.”
Was it cheesy? Yes. Did it help educate my clients quickly? Also yes.
Here’s a significantly less cheesy but equally effective talking point from Alexander Boriskin, an agent in Manhattan and The Hamptons who regularly sells eight-figure listings:
“It’s certainly a buyers’ market, but fire sales are very far and few between.”
Here’s another from Warburg Manhattan agent Kemdi Anosike:
“Compromise is a must. You don’t always get everything on your wish list and that is OK.”
Just remember. Urgency + Focus = Learning. So take an hour or two and see if you can distill your market knowledge into a few short, memorable talking points that will teach your buyers a lesson quickly.
3. Show Them, Don’t Tell Them
One of the biggest mistakes new agents in luxury markets make is “screening” their leads. Is your phone ringing off the hook? Are you so busy that you can’t be bothered to meet someone who might net you six figures or more in commissions over the next few years? Of course not.
I can tell you about dozens of agents who sat in the office all day waiting for the “perfect lead” and dumping everyone else into crummy drip campaigns. Meanwhile, the top producers were almost never in the office. They basically lived and worked out of Starbucks.
Whenever you get a new lead, the first words out of your mouth should be something along the lines of “What time on Sunday can you come see the listing?” This will not only help you build relationships with top-of-the-funnel leads, but will give you the perfect opportunity to educate them as well.
Remember: Urgency and focus are what you need to teach someone something new. It is much, much easier to create these conditions standing in a home and looking at the kitchen than it is in an email.
If you want an easy way to create urgency and focus, come up with three to five listings that roughly fit their criteria and budget, and one that’s exactly what they want but far out of their budget. Take them on a tour of the places in their budget, which they’re going to hate, then take them to the expensive place but don’t tell them the price until they get excited.
Warburg Manhattan broker Becki Danchik agrees:
“While it is more time-consuming, I have found that showing a buyer three to four properties in-person that are within their budget and three to four properties that are exactly what they want but outside of their budget is the most effective way to educate them.”
4. Research Your Market & the Economy, Constantly
Of course, if you’re not spending enough time studying the market and the economy and how they work together, all the snappy talking points in the world won’t help you. Even unrealistic buyers can sniff out agents who are not well informed. Maybe not right away, but the minute they talk to someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, your calls are going to get ignored. And for good reason. Why would anyone want to work with a professional who doesn’t know their trade?
Instead of trying to fake it till you make it, educate yourself. Constantly. There’s simply no excuse for not knowing your market and the economy inside out in 2022. If you’re working in a luxury market, chances are many of your leads will work in finance and will know way, way more about the market and economy than you do. Why should they even bother talking to you again? You’re not bringing anything to the table.
To stay up to date with your market, subscribe to local news sources that cover real estate—ideally sources that only cover real estate. Inman can be a great source of information for the market in general, and if you’re in New York, The Real Deal and Crain’s should be in your inbox every morning.
Learning about the economy and how it affects your market is just as important. If you didn’t study economics or finance in college, don’t sweat it. MIT Open Courseware offers Ivy League-level lectures on economics online for free.
5. Learn How to Get to Carnegie Hall
If you’re a newer agent, then before you start effectively educating anyone, you’re going to have to learn how to get to Carnegie Hall. If you don’t already know, it’s actually very easy: Practice.
The first few times you try to educate buyers, you’re either going to sound a tiny bit unsure, you’re not going to have good talking points, or you’re not going to be very well educated on your market or the economy. Don’t sweat it, though. Even the best agents in the world started out right where you are right now.
The big secret is that many of them aren’t even very talented or smart. Go talk to some of them if you don’t believe me. But it hardly matters. In real estate, hard work and practice will beat out talent any day of the week.
So if you want to build the kind of strong relationships that lead to years of referral business, then never stop learning, come up with some talking points that create urgency and focus, and practice, practice, practice.
Over to You
Have a great talking point you use to educate unrealistic buyers? Let us know in the comments or join our Facebook Mastermind Group here.