Stay in real estate long enough and you’ll eventually have buyers get cold feet during a transaction. How do you help your nervous buyers in that situation? The key is knowing the motivation behind their fears and how to address them.
When your homebuyers get anxious and begin to question their decision to buy, it’s important to put yourself in their position and try to understand why they are feeling the way they do.
Almost all homebuyers get nervous, especially first-time buyers. A talented agent will recognize their clients’ trepidation and quickly learn how to treat those feelings.
Why Do Homebuyers Get Nervous?
Buying a home, for most, is the biggest financial transaction anyone will make in their lifetime. It’s a lot of money and there’s certainly going to be some fear behind spending such a large amount of money on one thing.
It’s important to hit this emotion with your buyers head-on. Address it upfront and acknowledge your clients’ fears and anxieties. Let them know that it’s perfectly natural to feel the way they’re feeling.
Buying a home is a big deal. I understand you may feel overwhelmed and anxious about making such a large purchase. It’s actually natural to feel that way and practically all of my clients have felt the same.
It helps to think of this home purchase as more of an investment than just a purchase. Buying a home will help you and your family build equity and create a nest egg that you can use in the future. Equity helps families create generational wealth. So, you’re not spending your money, you’re investing it.
And if this home turns out not to be the home you really want, you’ll be able to use the equity you’ve built to buy another home that fits your needs even better.
Many of your buyers will begin to doubt whether they’re ready to make such a purchase. And some of them may face outside factors that could prevent them from moving forward. But it’s important to help your clients recognize when it’s time to pause the homebuying process versus moving through their fear. Just because a factor has changed doesn’t necessarily mean the goal needs to.
Your clients may be afraid of making a mistake. They could be afraid they’re over-committing or they’re not fully ready to jump into homeownership. Sit down with your clients and discuss the situation at hand and help them see the situation from every angle before making a decision.
How to Address Your Clients’ Fears
When you sit down with your clients to discuss their feelings about homebuying, it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with them. Some of their fear may be valid, but some may be a result of the fight-or-flight response to an unfamiliar situation.
Acknowledge your clients’ fears and address each of them individually. Listen carefully with intention as they explain what’s driving their emotions. Let them know they are not alone in their doubts.
Share some examples of previous experiences, whether your own or another client’s, to help assuage some of the fear they’re feeling. It’s important that they know it’s natural for them to feel how they’re feeling.
I typically share stories of my own first-time homebuying experience as a way to connect with my clients and let them know I’ve been there too.
Always Be Honest
Many first-time homebuyers feel they don’t have enough information to make a good buying decision. And most also feel regret after buying their first home. Addressing your clients’ concerns and answering their questions with brutal honesty will help them put more trust in you.
Don’t Sugarcoat What They Need to Know
Buying a home takes a good amount of money and time. Be honest about that with your clients. Ensure they have a clear idea of what they need to complete the transaction so they’re not blindsided by added fees at the end.
Give Them All the Information They Need to Make the Best Decisions
It’s your responsibility to educate your buyers on the process of buying a home. Don’t assume, even if they’ve purchased a home before, that your clients know what to expect. Share with them everything that might come up before it does. No one likes surprises during such an important transaction.
Show Them the Bigger Picture
It’s great practice to show your clients the overall picture of what it means to own a home. Coach them on how homeownership creates wealth and creates an investment opportunity. This is a great time to point out that renting is building wealth for someone else while buying is building equity for your clients.
Weigh the Pros & Cons
When something comes up during the transaction, as is typically the case, sit down with your clients and examine the possible outcomes. Your clients will inevitably take a cautious stance in their view of the situation. You should take a high-level approach and try to offer a different perspective. Your experience in helping clients in the past can be a huge asset. Use one of those past experiences to share how other clients have overcome similar situations.
If you haven’t had this situation come up before, that’s OK. I bet your broker or a seasoned agent in your circle can share their experiences with you.
Remind Them of Their Why
Most of the time, your clients will have a triggering experience that prompted their move toward buying a home. Maybe they’re tired of paying rent to someone else, or they’re planning on raising a family. Maybe they’re ready to start their own real estate investment. Buying their first home could be the first step toward other future dreams. Whatever your clients’ WHY is, it’s up to you to keep them on track toward their dreams by reminding them of that WHY.
I understand how (whatever the situation is) might make you feel anxious or worried. But the important thing is to remember why you’re buying a home. You told me in our initial meeting that you wanted to buy a home because (remind them of their WHY). And that’s a great reason to buy a home in any market. So, if that’s still your dream, does (whatever the issue is) change that?
How to Be Proactive & Avoid Buyer Jitters
Many of the situations that might crop up can be avoided if you learn how to be proactive with your clients. There are several things you can do upfront that will help your clients feel more at ease from the get-go.
Show Your Value as an Agent
It’s your responsibility to stay on top of your market, trends around mortgage rates, and anything that could affect your clients’ buying power. Be the go-to person for your clients when they have questions. And be transparent when you share your knowledge.
Buyers today are exhausted from the smokescreens used to shield them from the truth. Today’s buyers are ready for an agent who can deliver the concrete answers they need to make the best decision for themselves.
Create a Buyer’s Guide
An easy way to establish yourself as the expert and alleviate your clients’ fears is to create a buyer’s guide that lays out the entire buyer’s journey like a map. When your clients know what lies around the corner, they’re more likely to feel confident in the next steps in the transaction.
Get Them in Touch With a Lender ASAP
A lot of fear around homebuying comes from the money part. Get your clients in front of a trusted lender before you begin the process of home shopping. The lender can address the current mortgage percentage rates, what their monthly payment will be, how much money they need for a down payment, how much they will need for closing, and other fees—and they’ll want the prequalification letter sooner rather than later.
Educating your buyers early in the process on how much it costs to buy a home can save a lot of heartache in the long run. It may be that your clients need to address some other financial questions before they move forward. Stay in touch with them during this pause so you’ll be top of mind when they are ready to move on with their purchase.
Set Expectations Upfront
A great way to help your clients before you ever get started is to set the expectations with them upfront. I like to create an estimated net sheet that shows what the buyers will be expected to pay during the transaction, including inspection fees and closing costs. Make sure your clients know that it’s just an estimate, but it’s designed to help buyers understand what’s expected. Get with your preferred lender to create one of these if you need help.
Also, it’s a good idea to set your buyers’ expectations on the homes themselves. There’s no such thing as a perfect house. Walk them through a checklist of features, and decide which ones are deal-breakers and which ones are like-to-haves. Explain the difference between the two types.
Once you’ve helped them nail down the most important things, let them know they most likely won’t find a home that has everything they’re looking for. They should aim to get 80% of what they want and be flexible on some features that are less of a priority.
Put Everything Into Perspective
At the end of the day, you’re there to put home ownership into perspective for your clients. And you wouldn’t be doing them a service if you let them miss out on buying a home over a simple case of cold feet.
Make sure to keep them focused on the things that are most important to them and not on the little things that can pop up while they’re on the way to the closing table. Most of the time, those little things are not as important as they may seem in the moment. Your responsibility as their agent is to be their coach, guide, and cheerleader to get them to the finish line.
Yes, the real estate market has been a crazy roller coaster ride for the past couple of years. But a great agent will find a way for her clients to take advantage of any real estate market. The media will always take a “sky is falling” approach, but that perspective doesn’t paint the full picture. The current media frenzy around real estate right now has everyone acting like this is a buyer’s market. You can help your clients take advantage of that.
Shift your point of view. Shift your thinking. Go from negative to positive. Find the positive angle in the current situation, and you can help your clients find the home they need in any market.
I completely agree that buying a home in the current market can seem really scary. Your fears are valid and completely natural. But when you invest in your own home today, your home’s value will appreciate over the next few years, giving you equity that you’ll be able to grow and use. What you spend on your home now should appreciate over time, helping you grow your investment.
So, if in a few years you decide that this is not your forever home, you can sell this house and use that equity toward a new home. Or you can stay in your home and grow your investment over years, which will give you a nice nest egg you can tap into if you ever need it in the future. What other investment can you make right now that can give you that peace of mind?
The alternative is to continue paying rent and growing someone else’s nest egg, someone else’s equity. You know you need a place to live, so you’ll end up either growing someone else’s investment or your own. Which makes the most sense for you?
Talking your homebuyers through difficult moments in the transaction is a skill, and any agent can learn to do it well. It’s a normal part of the process, and it can define agents who master this skill. You’ll look like the most trusted partner in any transaction if you can help your nervous homebuyers get past their fears and continue to move forward.
But it takes practice, patience, empathy, and compassion to do it well. Keep working through these situations—you’ll get good at coaching your clients, and they’ll be forever grateful to you in the end.
Do you have any great approaches to working with nervous clients? I’d love to hear your secret weapons and personal tips. Share them in the comments!