When cautioning new agents, every broker has used the phrase, “Buyers Are Liars”. But, it’s not true. Sure, we have all watched buyers explain exactly what they are looking for and then inexplicitly purchase a house that is nothing like what their wish list described. It happens.
Even if it doesn’t rhyme well, I think the truer statement would be, “Agents need to be more observant” It took me awhile to figure out the science behind their buying patterns, and here’s what I learned.
“There is always a reason behind the reason.”
It’s smart to start with a basic list of amenities. The question I use is, “What are 3 things a home MUST have before you’d even consider looking at it?” Learn the school district, style of architecture, number of bedrooms and baths and their budget for payment and purchase price. Asking this question accomplishes two things. First, you know what they want. Secondly, the question gives insight into how much they’ve thought about the home buying process. If a person cannot clearly identify what they want in a home, they’re probably not far enough along to make a purchase decision.
Don’t stop there. Too many agents think they’ve done their homework once they have that list of amenities. But there is more to learn about your client. There is a lot going on inside the mind of your client and a little care and conversation can dig it out.
The list of amenities only addresses the rational needs of a buyer. They have strong emotional needs too. Said in another way, not only do people have a list of things they’re looking for, they also have a REASON why they are moving. These emotional needs run so deep inside folks, they often cannot express them easily. Know that moving is about CHANGE. And people are always moving TOWARD something, or AWAY from something. Look for the reason behind the reason. Learn their motivation. Find what touches their emotion.
Here’s a quick story: A woman called looking to buy a home. Great. She rattled off a list of amenities and must-haves. However, her geographic boundaries didn’t seem to make much sense. I was confused by some of the descriptions she offered until I drew her street boundaries on a map. There was a huge gaping swatch of land between the intersection of 10 Mile NE and Ramsdell Rd in Rockford and downtown Grand Rapids. After doing a little digging I learned her true motivation. “My ex-husband travels that area for work and I never, ever want to see that SOB again.” Got it.
Here are some examples of buyer motivation:
Independence – Having your own home feels like “growing up”.
Marriage – Creating the “nest” and their vision of the future.
Parenting Goals – Find the school district that fits educationally & extra-curricularly
Affluence – Home should reflect income
Priorities – Home should reflect lifestyle
Sometimes a buyer’s motivation is obvious and generic while other times its deeply personal. If you take the time to care about your client’s emotional needs and motivation as well as their list of amenities, you will never be surprised by the choices they make.