Every decision starts with an emotion, then gets a helping hand from logic.
And while there's plenty to look forward to when buying or selling a home, the entire process can be one of the most stressful anyone will face in their life. When stress runs high, emotions tend to as well.
Ambiguity – about things like financing, the logistics of the move, and whether it will be worth it in the end – triggers heightened states of tension. There's no way to know in advance how everything will play out, so these feelings can't be resolved completely.
But the emotional component of real estate isn't just about distress.
The full spectrum of emotions plays into decision-making.
Let's look at it from the buyer perspective:
• There can be a great deal of excitement about the potential to become a homeowner
• There can be apprehension and emotional conflict about whether one is "really ready"
• They may be getting supportive or not-so-supportive feedback within their social circle
And now, from the seller perspective:
• Depending on their relationship with their existing property, they may need to mourn
• They may be moving under positive (new job) or negative (death in the family) circumstances
• They might feel a strong attraction toward some future options but not know what to pick
All these possibilities and more swirl around every transaction. It's up to each real estate agent to get a fix on the emotional tone of the transaction their clients hope to have within the first few conversations, if not the very first one.
The better you understand your clients' emotions, the better you can serve their needs.
Should a Real Estate Agent Be a Therapist?
In many customer care roles, representatives feel like they must "be a therapist" to those they're working with. Please do not, in your role as a real estate professional, try to be a therapist.
If early conversations leave you feeling that there are intense emotions or highly charged circumstances you are unprepared to deal with, you can choose to pass or refer that client elsewhere. You aren't obligated to take on any client, no matter their story. Outside of those situations, what are real estate agents called on to do? What are some of the best ways to help your clients work through the myriad of emotions they'll inevitably feel when buying or selling a home?
The answer is simple: Be empathetic, but stay grounded.
Clients don't need someone to ride out all the highs and lows of their emotions with them. Instead, they need a trusted guide – someone who understands what they're going through but will focus on keeping them steady throughout their journey. That's where you come in, and this mindset gives you a much more focused set of goals with which to work!
Providing the Right Level of Emotional Support to Real Estate Clients
What "emotional support" looks like varies based on the stage of your transaction.
While not all clients need lots of support, all should have the chance to use that support should they require it. Your initial investment of time in putting the right resources in place might be formidable. Still, the work is worth it. Once those assets are in place and optimized, you:
• Spend only modest time fine-tuning processes and will rarely rebuild them from scratch
• Deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience to everyone who works with you
This begins with the basic "DNA" of your business. Then, individual client interactions deepen it.
Start with Clarity in Your Real Estate Website
The vast majority of your future clients will find you on the internet. They often visit your site at a time when they haven't made a commitment to buy or sell. It's likely they do not know any real estate agents or brokers personally. At this stage, there is a lot they don't know, and they're not sure who can help.
Ambiguity is the name of the game here, and that's true for both buyers and sellers. Reducing ambiguity is a valuable emotional service that guides leads to contact you. Since your website reflects your authentic voice, it has the potential to do much of the work.
• Provide Helpful and Informative Content Aimed at Your Ideal Clients
Buyers and sellers have common questions and issues they struggle with. It may seem you're writing the millionth article on specific topics, but infuse them all with local knowledge and insight into your customers, and you'll create helpful resources that make life easier for them.
• Make It Simple to Contact You and to Schedule an Appointment
Understanding others' communication preferences is a vital part of being emotionally present. Not all clients want Facetime to pop up and start a call when they click "Contact us." It's wise to be available in several forms, including phone, email, text, and social media.
• Introduce Yourself, What You Do, and Who You Do It For
It's not always easy for people outside the industry to differentiate one real estate agent from the other. A dry list of credentials won't do it. One of the fastest, most powerful ways to make a human connection is to record a video that introduces you and answers questions in a relatable way. Once a lead becomes a customer, leverage that early trust with further support:
• Practice Active Listening
At its core, "active listening" means listening closely to what others say rather than waiting for your turn to speak. Clients will often give you all you need to know about their motivations, perceived limitations, and hot-button emotional issues. Prompt them with open-ended questions, then really hear them.
• Set Expectations for Each Stage of the Process
Each step in a transaction asks something different of your client. They'll need to align themselves with those requirements emotionally. Get used to explaining each fork in the road in a clear, calm way—as well as "why" things are done that way. Many people need this piece to feel confident.
• Provide a Logical Basis for Decision-Making
Emotions can drive clients to act in hasty, sometimes self-defeating ways. Bring data into decision-making whenever possible so clients have a factual basis for their choices. This is especially crucial in helping sellers set their asking price. A thorough comparative analysis is indispensable!
• Check-In On Clients' Feelings at Key Junctures
It's rarely inappropriate to ask "How are you feeling about this?" when talking to a client. That's extra true when unexpected news (good or bad!) has just presented itself. Sometimes, negative emotions can be nipped in the bud by "giving permission" for clients to be open and forthright.
At its heart, real estate is about relationships. Relationships can't exist without emotions, and rapport is created when the other person feels heard and understood. By watching for opportunities to respect and validate clients' feelings, you can help them manage their buying or selling odyssey without feeling like they are trapped in a pressure cooker. That brings you both peace of mind.