You’ve seen them – the family in a restaurant with each member’s face buried in their phones. Instead of connecting with the living, breathing humans right in front of them, too many people prefer to digitally communicate with others – sometimes strangers. And professional real estate communication is no exception.
For you Millennials out there, it hasn’t always been this way. There was a time when communication was face-to-face. Sure, there were still distractions that caused miscommunication, but overall, conversing with someone in person was enriching.
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Regardless of the medium, clear, concise communication is critical in real estate transactions. What’s your professional real estate communication style? It’s an important consideration, and here’s why:
I wish we could take credit for this one, but it’s the title of a 2014 course offered by the Greater Hartford Association of REALTORS®, Inc. “Shift Happens; Adapting to Shifting Consumer Communication Styles,” sought to break down the preferred communication styles of real estate consumers.
So at least the real estate industry, whose members are frequently accused of being poor communicators, is paying attention.
This is also evident in a study of homebuyers wherein they were asked two pertinent questions: “What was your preferred method of communicating with your agent?” and “How did your agent actually communicate with you?”
The findings are a bit sad.
Only 17 percent of homebuyers wanted their agent to communicate with them by telephone. Yet, 51 percent of them reported that their agents used the telephone to reach them.
Text message communication, preferred by 29 percent of these homebuyers, was accommodated by only 5 percent of their agents.
The survey also asked homebuyers about their expected response time from their agents. Forty-four percent of the buyers wanted an instant response and fewer than 15 percent reported that their agents complied.
Only 16 percent of the buyers were willing to wait an entire business day for a response yet only 10 percent of the agents managed to get back to them within that time frame.
Then, consider professional real estate communication styles
Did you ever play the game Chinese Whispers when you were a kid? In some parts of the country it was known as “Telephone.” We’d sit in a circle, typically, and the first kid would whisper a message into the second kid’s ear.
That kid, in turn, would relay the message into the ear of the next one and so on until the last child reveals the message aloud. The object of the game, to relay the message exactly as stated in the beginning, was rarely met. But, that was the fun of it, right?
The game is an apt metaphor for how oral transmission of a message can become distorted. It is also an example of how we differ in our communication styles. There is an entire science built around communication styles.
There are folks who get straight, and sometimes brutally, to the point and those who prefer to amble around the point before finally addressing it. The bottom line, though, is that while no one style is better than another, there are those that are wrong in certain situations. And preferred styles sometimes clash.
For instance, suppose you are more of an intuitive communicator, preferring a big-picture type of explanation – skip the details and get straight to the point, please.
Your client, on the other hand, is more analytic and demand data — craving the specific and suspicious of the vague. Imagine the continual frustration he or she will be subjected to over the course of a 30-day or longer real estate transaction.
So, what can you do?
Understand your client’s preferred mode of communication. Then, find out how frequently she wants to hear from you, and present yourself in a way that will be appealing to them.
Does she want to be kept updated consistently, even when there’s no news? Or, does she prefer to only hear from you when there’s progress or a critical update?
The last thing a client wants to happen in the heat of negotiations is to have to wait for what he considers an inappropriate amount of time to hear back from you. The lack of communication could also lead to a derailed deal.
To truly understand your clients wants and needs requires listening (another aspect of professional real estate communication). For clarification, ask questions about what you’ve just heard. Paraphrase what he just said to ensure you truly understand.
Whether your client prefers to keep in touch by email, telephone or text message, good customer service demands that you comply.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Your clients should never have to tolerate the illusion of professional real estate communication.
Owner & Operator,
The Elite Group
Largest Home Inspection Company in North America
Best Selling Author “Secrets Of Top Producing Real Estate Agents: And How To Duplicate Their Success.”
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