My husband and I went to dinner last night with two good friends of ours, who also happen to be my clients. I have their house currently listed and we have leaseholders who have signed a contract to lease their property. It wasn’t their #1 choice because they would’ve preferred to sell it, but none-the-less, the house is under contract. They had it listed with another agent for over a year before they turned it over to me. That agent, a friend of theirs, had it listed originally for almost 36% over it’s market value. Yup, that number is correct Almost 36% more. Yikes!
It’s been drilled into me since day 1 at my office. Price the house right from the start or you’re setting yourself up for a heap of trouble. But, how does one price a home right? Well, that’s one of the tricks of real estate. Knowing what the right price is and being able to convince your clients of that. But I digress…
How does one mix personal and business without losing either relationship? Treading carefully, that’s how. We always hear, communication is key. It’s more key in a relationship like this. Here are my 10 tips for surviving and growing a stronger relationship when you’re mixing the two.
- Keep your “frients” in the loop at all times. Delivering bad news sucks – but there’s ways to do it without being totally awful. Acknowledge that it’s bad news, if there’s a solution – preferably more than one so they have options – then be prepared with those.
- Remind them that you’re on their side. It seems obvious, but when you’re in a business relationship – especially one that can get pretty complex like real estate – it can be easy to forget this.
- Under promise and over deliver. “Of course I’ll sell it in 30 days!” <~ don’t do this. Don’t promise things that are outside of your control. “I will have at least 3 open houses per week and do several mailers.” <~ this you can control. How quickly can you sell it? Be honest. “The market in your area has been pretty slow and the inventory is high. Typically, homes like yours have been taking up to a year to sell. But there are things we can do to shorten that time span but I need to know that we’re on the same page with that before we proceed.” You’ve set the expectation – yes, it can take a year to sell their house. But when you rock it out in 45 days, they’re going to be happy. You’ve exceeded their expectations – but if you promised them 30 days and you delivered in 45 – even though that’s a good mount – they won’t see it that way.
- Don’t lie! Under no circumstance is lying ok. “I’ve been working day and night on selling your house!” Is this true? No? Then why say it? If you’re doing everything you promised and then some, there’ll be no reason to lie. Lying is the fastest way to destroy your relationship.
- Even if there’s been no activity, let them know. This sort of ties in with #1 but it bares repeating. Keep them in the loop, even if there’s nothing in the loop. “We haven’t had any showings this week.” But don’t end it there, let them know why you think that is and what you’re doing to help change that. “We haven’t had any showings this week, but with the holidays coming up – I expected it. We’re going to do a broker open this Sunday and some more ads to change that.”
- Don’t always be about business! Remember, these clients started off as friends – you guys went drinking, out to dinner, just because you’re working with them now – doesn’t mean these things need to change. In fact, it’s probably more needed now than ever. Take a break from your working relationship and have a night out, remember the friendship. “Let’s take a break from work and go have some dinner at the new restaurant on….”
- Ask them what they think. “Have I been doing everything expected of me or do you have ideas for what else we can do to progress this sale?” Trust me that clients always have ideas of what you can be doing to progress the sale. This is something that I reserve for frients and not regular clients. Regular clients hired you as an expert from the get-go. Friends will always trust you, but not respect you as much as your clients may. This is ok and own it! Chances are, they may not have any ideas – but it lets them know that you’re still friends and willing to keep that conversation open. If they do have an idea, don’t be afraid to entertain it, even if you know it won’t work.
- Let them know if you’ve made a mistake. “Yes, I believed I’ve priced it right. But, the market has changed since then… etc.”
- Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Frients, more than clients, will be more apt to take what you say with a grain of salt. “You need to really take this offer. I don’t think another one like this will come in again and you don’t want the house to sit on the market. We’re in the prime position and now is the time to move forward. You hired me as your expert and this is my advice.” Remember, YOU are the expert! “You need to counter offer. Yes, it’s a low offer but there’s nothing to lose with a counter.”
- Paint the picture. “When this is over, we’ll celebrate with a bottle of champagne.”