Delivering great results in the real estate industry often comes down to the relationships you build with clients and other industry professionals. And to build strong relationships, you must know how to communicate.
As a selling agent, the communication strategy is linear and clearly defined. Most clients are familiar with the service provided by a selling agent and understand what to expect. This is true for both the vendor who engages the selling agent and for homebuyers interested in the property for sale.
What most people aren’t as familiar with is working with a buyers’ agent to find a property. This means your communication strategy as a buyers’ agent must meet expectations, but also manage them.
To help define this fine line, Michael Ossitt – Founder and Director of Strand Property Group and member of REINSW’s Buyers’ Agent Chapter Committee – shares his thoughts on what to say and when to say it to achieve maximum results.
REINSW: Why is communication important in a buyers’ agent-client relationship?
Michael Ossitt: “Communication is one of the most important aspects of delivering a great buyers’ agency service to clients. Buyers are paying a professional fee for someone to guide and educate them, and look after the entire process of buying a property for them. Therefore, they will expect to be kept informed of progress and what is occurring at each stage of the service. A majority of the work conducted by a buyers’ agent on behalf of their client can often go unseen, so it is important to keep clients informed of what is happening behind the scenes and what progress is being made towards finding them the right property.”
REI: When and what should you communicate to your clients?
MO: “At Strand Property Group, we communicate with clients on a weekly basis at a minimum. This is usually in the form of an email update, informing them what properties have come on to the market, which ones we have dismissed as not suitable, which properties we have inspected and which properties we believe would be suitable to shortlist. We also update our clients on properties that have sold in their search area, especially ones that are close to their search criteria, but may have been dismissed. Keeping clients up-to-date with on and off market properties, and what you have been appraising, is critical in demonstrating your value of searching and shortlisting from the whole market.”
REI: How can you control the conversations your client has with the selling agent?
MO: “It is very important to control the conversations your clients might have with any selling agents. If you are going to be negotiating a purchase on behalf of a client, you need to know all the facts and be confident about your negotiating position. If your client has disclosed their maximum budget to a selling agent without you knowing, it can hinder your ability to negotiate the best price for them. You should also be careful that your client shows sufficient interest in a property, but doesn’t reveal too much emotion or give away any information that would give the selling agent a stronger bargaining position. Depending on how you structure the shortlisting and inspection process, you can either accompany your client on property inspections and take control of all the communication with the selling agent. Alternatively, you can view the property separately to your client and not disclose to the selling agent who your client is or if they have viewed the property.”
REI: What is the best way to present information to clients?
MO: “There are multiple ways to present information to clients, and this usually begins with face-to-face meetings from the initial discovery meeting to signing the buyers’ agency agreement. Although some of this work can be easily done electronically now. Once you start the searching process, you may send information to clients via email, text message, WhatsApp or phone calls. What is important here is to provide information to clients in the format they would like to be communicated with. Some clients want all the detail and therefore email works best. Other clients may only want major updates via phone call or text message. WhatsApp has been a very beneficial tool for us to communicate with clients – especially when we are dealing with multiple people as we can create group conversations and track all information sent and feedback received. It is also important to set your frequency of communication with a client to whatever suits them best. Some clients want updates every few days whereas others may only want to be contacted when they need to provide feedback on a shortlisted property. If you’re conducting an extended search for a client, you may want to consider adding in an extra face-to-face meeting. This format facilitates clearer communication of you need to review their brief or if they have dismissed too many options, there are limited properties on the market to choose from or they have an unrealistic expectation of what they can purchase with their available budget.”