Buying a home is no small feat; most homeowners are looking for the perfect place to call home and more importantly, are looking to their Realtor® to help them find it. Handpicking properties to present to clients is an art in itself, and is not a simple task. In fact, I believe this is the most challenging task of a Realtor® today. It requires in-depth knowledge of the inventory, a breadth of experience and a great deal of patience.
Each client’s needs, style, and budget are unique, making the Realtor’s® efforts far from a one-size fits all job. Despite the fact that people grumble over a lack of inventory, there is truly a great deal of inventory available. An agent’s greatest responsibility lies in finding out what their clients’ biggest priority is and where they might make compromises, then matching them with a property that hits most of their ‘must-haves’.
Overall, the major task is to educate the client as to how homes can be transformed into what they want as a final product and dream home. This is an agents’ great mission and challenge today, as most clients are not aware of what is possible. Often, the three main and most important client priorities are land, size of the home, and location.
Given that the size of the lot is the only thing that cannot be changed about a property, the agent needs to understand why the client wants a particular lot size in order to show every property that accommodates those needs. Are they looking for privacy? Is it for their children or the anticipation of a growing family? Does the land need to be flat? Are they looking for room to build? Do they want a view? Based on the answers to these questions and others, the agent needs to educate him or herself on each area in which this type of land is found. Researching the areas, an agent can identify properties that fit the land size requirements and then can explain to the client how any home can be updated, enlarged, altered, and renovated to suit their needs.
Unfortunately, large parcels of land are a most difficult item to find and the client may eventually decide to compromise on this feature. However, the client cannot make this decision without being fully educated; it is the responsibility of the Realtor® to provide them with all of the information they need to make an informed decision.
Size of home
Unlike lot size, the size of the home is actually the easiest feature to satisfy, as it is the only thing that can be controlled and altered to the buyer’s liking. Land and location cannot be changed, but every home can be changed, either slightly or drastically. The role of the agent is to keep the client focused on what their most important needs are and then help them to understand why a renovation or alteration may be the only way to meet every need. Realizing that a remodel or an addition is a small feat compared to finding the perfect lot size and location is a crucial one, and one in which the Realtor® plays a key role. This convincing takes real expertise on the part of the agent; you must possess the knowledge and ability to demonstrate to the client how they can achieve what they want.
When a client has their sights set on a particular location, it is often because that area offers them certain features they find desirable. After zeroing in on a location, it is critical that the client be shown every home in that location that is anywhere near their price range, as well as those homes which are above their price range. This will educate them as to whether or not they can afford that location. Often this will cause the client to either alter their budget or change their location priority, as they realize the homes available in that location within their price range cannot satisfy their other needs.
It is therefore extremely important for the agent to understand why that location is so important to the client. Is it close to work? Their kids’ school? Privacy? If their desired location is out of their price range, the agent then needs to gently steer the client to another location which offers the same critical features but that perhaps is not as expensive.
There are several specific features that most people want, and some can be created while others can’t. A view is one that cannot be created, so the agent must search for properties with a view. What the agent must tell their client is that most view properties do not have a great deal of flat land, as they are often atop a hill. This information is valuable to the client as they then can decide if they are willing to make that compromise. Another popular special feature is a tennis court, which is a difficult wish-list item as it requires such a large part of the lot. But if the client demands it, properties with such room do exist even though the client may have to compromise on their preferable location to get that tennis court.
Others require extra parking. This feature takes some ingenuity as there is often unused space on a lot where one could add more garages, for today’s avid car collectors. The same goes for having a master on the first floor; there is often space to expand a bedroom or even add one to create a beautiful master suite on the first floor. Overall, every desired feature takes time and energy on the part of the agent to research. The Realtor® must focus on what the client wants and then be diligent in searching for properties that can provide these features, with or without some tweaking.
It is most important to remind the client throughout the process that everything they want right now simply may not exist, and they need to be gently educated so that they come to the realization that they will have to do some work to create exactly what they want. However, they should also be reminded that in the end, they will have something that no one else has. They will have their dream home.
In conclusion, something that should be kept in mind when selling homes is that as a Realtor®, you are in sales. An agent needs to learn how to emphasize the positive features of the property they sincerely feel is the best one for their client. Many agents in today’s market let their clients lead, however the agents should be the ones in control, who speak honestly with their clients and ‘sell’ them on the benefits of a property that may not seem to be an obvious fit. It may not check all of their boxes at the time, but it has the potential.
Many clients believe that they have a vision, when in reality they don’t. Sometimes, as Realtors®, we must point out features, potential, and possibilities that appear obvious to us, but are not to them. Agents needs to sell the inventory they have, because new inventory cannot be generated. The art lies in figuring out a way to do that.
About Mary Lu Tuthill
Mary Lu Tuthill is a dedicated luxury real estate agent for the Los Angeles Westside and an expert in the Brentwood real estate market. Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, Mary Lu brings a refreshingly genuine, earnest and forthright work ethic to the business of real estate. Touted as the “best negotiator and technician in the business,” Mary Lu has certainly mastered the art of selling, as demonstrated by her 38 years of success as an agent. Honored and appreciated by her clients, and respected and admired by her peers, Mary Lu is all she appears to be: authentic, professional, and honorable.