February 2017 Article
Communicating with Clients for Smoother Closings
By Jim Luger, CDEI
Certified Distance Education Instructor
Brace your clients for possible problems
You might have experienced many real estate transactions that had solvable problems, but your client has no similar frame of reference---at least not recently. Unexpected problems that we in the real estate business take in stride can seem alarming, scary, even deal-threatening to your buyers or sellers.
To prevent panicked reactions to these surprises, seasoned agents or brokers will prepare their clients for possible transaction problems. When difficulties are seen as routine, clients are more likely to help solve them with a cool head when they arise. On the other hand, when the agent has tried to soothe clients by assuring them their transaction will be problem-free, those unprepared clients might interpret unexpected problems as omens that something is wrong with the overall transaction.
Prepare your clients for such things as inspection problems, low appraisals, buyer approval issues, and title clouds. Help them be proactive with a “Plan B” attitude in case a startling twist requires decisions and actions. With predetermined solutions in place, clients will be less likely to panic when problems occur.
Your buyers or sellers want assurance that their transaction will close successfully, so after each milestone, give them a probability percentage. For instance, after the appraisal comes back satisfactorily, tell them the transaction now has about an 85% chance of closing; after the home inspection comes back clean, the probability goes to 90%. Keep a little suspense in the air so they won’t become unprepared for unexpected problems. If they ask for a 100% assurance, tell them they’ll have that after closing, when monies have been disbursed.
Follow-up prevents foul-ups
After a purchase agreement is signed by all parties, set scheduled times to keep everyone informed of progress. Communicate regularly with other agents, the lender, the closer, and, most importantly, your clients. Predictable, regular communication offers these benefits:
Transaction problems are uncovered early, when they’re easiest to cure
Parties are reminded of their duties and deadlines
Momentum of the transaction keeps moving in a positive direction
Nervous buyers or sellers are reassured that things are happening on schedule
Frequent communication reminds your clients of your continued engagement, enhances your credibility, and increases your influence should a problem arise. A few minutes on the phone each week can save many hours and dollars later.
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