One Day at a Time: Four Ways to Support Frustrated Buyers


It’s hard not to sympathize with the current plight of homebuyers—particularly the younger generation attempting to break into the market. Along with broader systemic pressures like stagnating wages and crippling student loan debt, young people trying to enter the housing market are facing stiff competition, dwindling affordability and a lack of inventory (in most regions). They have also repeatedly been told by the mainstream media that a housing crash is imminent, or that all they need to do is cut back on their morning cup of joe to afford a home. Many have simply given up on buying a home.

As you help guide them in their journey toward homeownership, part of your job—like it or not—will be to support them emotionally through what could be a harrowing and lengthy search. How you approach that matters, and can make all the difference between a successful transaction and a fruitless five-month goose chase.

Here are four methods to support your frustrated first-time buyers:

Cheerleading

Not to be confused with toxic positivity, cheerleading is a role you take on to become the most enthusiastic and loudest voice celebrating all of your client’s wins—no matter how small. Especially through a process that at times can feel massive and uncertain, elevating progress and marking little wins can do a lot for a client that is beginning to get frustrated. Make sure that you laud any win your buyer shares with you, and helping them recognize positive milestones will ensure they push through the harder parts. That doesn’t mean you should gloss over the struggles, however. Make sure to validate clients who are feeling the weight of a long home search or a rejected offer. Without real encouragement, buyers going through their first home search are much more likely to give up.

Mix up the routine

If your client thinks you are repeating the same steps and following the same path week after week with little progress, you could end up being part of the problem (in their eyes). You can make the search feel less like a slog and break up the monotony by asking if your clients would like to do things a little differently. That could take many forms—maybe you take them out to lunch in a neighborhood they haven’t considered, or type up some personal, more detailed analyses of a few properties instead of just sending MLS clips. The last thing you want is for your client to feel like they are banging their heads against a brick wall, and by mixing up even minor parts of the process, you can help avoid that.

Assign tasks

For many people, one of the hardest parts of a long home search is feeling lost and out of control. New properties get snatched up on the first day, solid offers are rejected offhand and technical or financial obstacles pop up without warning. The best way to help your clients feel like they are in charge of their own destiny is to give them productive things to do. You could send them articles about the buying process or your local market, helping to put their search into context. You could charge them with assessing specific details in listings or showings, or ask them to start noting these things in their daily lives. Send them to a home improvement store to learn about appliances, light fixtures or other aspects of home so they can better envision how to turn a fixer-upper into a dream home. Frame these tasks as a way for them to ensure their home search is more efficient and successful on a week-to-week basis.

Build a narrative

A strong story is extremely dependent on the type of people your clients are, and might not be a good idea with everyone. But for many frustrated potential buyers, helping change their perspective can make a big difference in whether or not they can push through with their home search. Although most people are likely inclined to focus on the negatives and risks—especially after many fruitless months—you can help them turn that around. Are your clients working on starting a family? Help them view the current process as part of their commitment to win a better life (and generational wealth) for their children. Are they DIY, independent-focused self-starters? Help them see the home search as a way they can craft a unique life working against the grain. Get to know your clients’ personalities and find the best way to frame a difficult home search as something that is more meaningful.

Most markets have favored sellers for years now, and with little new inventory, you should be prepared for some difficult home searches. But even as buyers start to give in or give up, your job as the professional is to rise above it. With a few different approaches—and a lot of patience and empathy—you can help your clients navigate the process and get across the finish line.





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