With robust real estate information readily available online, consumers are questioning the value of your services—and they may even ask for a discount on your compensation.
“Many sellers think you just put a sign in the lawn and put an ad on the internet, and the home automatically sells itself,” said Michael Soon Lee, CRS, GRI, a broker for more than 40 years in Dublin, Calif., and a real estate trainer and coach, at a Thursday session called “Compensation Strategies to Justify Your Value,” during NAR NXT, The REALTOR® Experience, in Anaheim, Calif. “And buyers think all we do is take a key, open the door and then go collect a big fat check. You need to sell your value to buyers and sellers more than ever.”
Lee makes a point to share with his home buyers and sellers a list of 100-plus tasks he does to help them navigate a successful transaction. Consumers “want value, and most people are willing to pay for value,” Lee said. “The problem is that as REALTORS®, we don’t know how to sell our value.”
Lee offered up some ways that agents can better demonstrate the skill set they bring to a transaction.
- List your services. Lee provides a printed booklet to his house hunters called “The Home Buyer’s Guide,” which highlights the purchase process, the people involved, the benefits of buying and more. The booklet also contains a list of 152 services he provides as a buyer’s agent to help them purchase a house. “I want them to understand all that I do,” said Lee, who has created e-books of the information that he offers up to other agents to use. Likewise, for sellers, he provides a booklet for them that highlights 151 services he provides, from marketing to preparing CMAs and preparing a home to be sold. “If they want to ask me to cut my commission, I tell them to pick the services they would be willing to do instead of me because every single one of these tasks takes time,” he said. Lee added that he’s never had a client ask him to reduce any of his services because they see the value in each one.
- Do a buyer presentation. “Especially now, after the lawsuit, you’re going to have to do presentations for your buyers, just like you do for a listing presentation,” Lee said. “You should spend as much time with your buyer talking about your services as you do with a seller.” He urged also getting a buyer-broker agreement signed to formalize the relationship, including talking about your services and about compensation.
- Talk to their pain points. Identify their biggest concerns or motivations in the transaction, and “they’ll be more likely to pay to have that pain relieved,” Lee said. In his sales presentations, he provides a timeline, week by week, of to-do items for selling a home, such as presale inspections, staging consultations, possible remodeling and repairs, painting, and marketing preparation. “A timeline makes my seller feel comfortable because it helps to relieve their pain” over what seems like a lengthy, overwhelming process, Lee said. He also asks buyers and sellers questions to identify their motivations, such as why they’re selling or buying.
- Set yourself apart. Develop a specific area of expertise, whether that’s a neighborhood or certain types of properties or transactions, such as move-up buyers, 1031 exchanges or other niches. Also, real estate designations like CRS and GRI can help set you apart from other agents and demonstrate the extra skills you bring, Lee said.
- Leverage testimonials. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys and gather testimonials. “It’s easier to get video testimonials than written ones,” Lee said. He asks his clients if he can do a quick video testimonial after a transaction, asking the seller or buyer if they were happy with the transaction and what they liked and didn’t like in the process. More times than not, “they will gush over you,” he says. “Testimonials are so crucial. It’s another way you can help show your value.”