How to turn your listing presentation into a listening consultation

Time to ditch the old way and make the shift

Are you still doing a listing “presentation” where you use slides or do most of the talking? If you want to convert more listing appointments into signed listings, it’s time to shift from doing listing presentations to doing listening consultations.

In a listing presentation, the focus is on you, your company and how a seller benefits from working with you.

A listening consultation is about asking questions, uncovering what matters most to the seller and building a connection that leads to trust. Here are four strategies to help you make the shift.

WAIT: Why am I talking?

When you’re sharing your sales numbers, information about how your company is no. 1, or trying to persuade the seller why you’re the best agent to list the seller’s home, you’re not listening to what’s important to that seller. The result is you weaken your connection rather than strengthening it.

A better approach is to ask, “how” and “what” questions and to write down the answers. For example:

  • “What have you really enjoyed about living in this home?”
  • “What are some features a buyer who’s walking through your home might not see that you would like them to know about?”

Periodically, read back what you have written, and ask, “Did I get that right?”

This simple approach sends a non-verbal message that what the seller is telling you is so important that it was worth writing down. (By the way, this approach works exceptionally well to calm down someone who is angry.)

The real estate market is like the stock market

Pricing properties correctly is the key to getting them sold. Seller objectionsabout price are common, especially when they have put more into the property than it’s worth. Unfortunately, what the sellers paid for the property has no bearing on its value today.

A simple way to explain this is to compare the real estate market to the stock market. Assume the house you want to list is worth $300,000 at most.

Seller: We paid $265,000 and put in $50,000 in improvements into our home, so we won’t sell for a penny under $330,000.

Agent: Mr. and Mrs. Seller, as you can see from the CMA data, properties in your neighborhood are currently selling in the $285,000-$300,000 range.

Did you know that the real estate market is like the stock market? Buyers only care about what the market value of the stock or home is today, not what the owner paid for it.

For example, if you paid $120 a share for Microsoft and the current price is $100 a share, you will have to wait for the market to improve if you want to sell it for $120 a share.  

Consequently, you have an important decision to make — do you want to list your property at today’s prices, or do you want to wait out the market to see if it improves? The choice is yours, what would you like to do?  

Two points to note about this approach:

  1. The notion that the real estate market is like the stock market is introduced as a question. If the seller owns stock, the analogy becomes clear immediately.
  2. The script also ends with a question about what choice the sellers will make. Always remember, it’s their house, and it’s their decision. This puts the seller in control and avoids push back about what’s happening in the market.

If the sellers are adamant about their price, then you must decide if you are willing to take an overpriced listing. If you’re in a strong seller’s market, it may be smart to do this. If not, here’s what to say:

Agent: Mr. and Mrs. Seller, if you’re going to list your property for over $310,000, I’m simply not the right agent to represent you. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to discuss the marketing of your home. I wish you the best in selling your home.

Stand up, smile, and say goodbye. For many sellers, the fact you’re willing to walk away is a wake-up call. If they let you go, however, you’ve just avoided a lot of work with no pay.

Be sure to send them a thank-you note, and keep track of whether the property sells or not. When their listing expires in six months, they will probably be more willing to be realistic and more likely to list with you because you told them the truth.

What other properties have ‘qualified’ for

Sellers often want to price their property using list prices rather than sales prices. To circumvent this issue, here’s what to ask just prior to presenting the comparable sales data.

Agent: Did you know that if your buyer has to obtain a mortgage that both the buyer and your house have to qualify?

Seller: What do you mean, our house has to qualify?

Agent: In order for your transaction to close, your home must qualify for a loan amount that is the same amount or higher than what is required in the contract. Otherwise, the buyer can cancel the transaction. So, let’s take a look at what properties are qualifying for in your neighborhood.

‘Position’ — don’t price

A great way to ruin your connection with the seller is by being adamant about the price you suggest as being the correct price for the property. A subtle shift in your language can help to avoid this trap.

Instead of discussing where the sellers will “price the property,” discuss where they will “position” the property.

For example, if the subject property comps between $295,000 and $305,000, show the sellers the benefit of pricing the property at $300,000. Here’s why:

Agent: Realtor.com lets buyers search by price, but it’s in increments on their mobile devices. In this case, those increments are $275,000, $300,000 and $350,000. The smart seller will position their property at $300,000 because the property will come up both in searches for $275,000 to $300,000 as well as $300,000 to $350,000.

Making these changes is easy. Best of all, you will love how much easier it is to ask questions during a listing appointment than it is trying to tell the owner as to why they should hire you.

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP (brokerageup.com) and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles.

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