Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Tristain O’Donnell, an agent with Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta, for her seven ways to communicate effectively.
7. Be Available – Surprisingly, most agents simply do not communicate, period. Their phones are always going to voicemail, or they fail to respond to emails in a timely manner. What is not surprising is that clients will choose the agent who is most available and whose lines of communication are always open. Be that agent who is reliable and always available. At times, I work with as many as 10 to 15 clients at once. Often, they ask if they are my only client, considering I am always available for them. I always call, text or email them back, and I try to respond to their questions and concerns in a timely manner. Remember: Communication is not about quantity; it’s about quality.
6. Do Not Forget the Details – Most agents have been doing this for a long time and forget that buyers and sellers may be new at this, and will have many of questions. Be tuned into the process and make sure you are communicating to your clients upfront about the steps and processes they will face along the way. Tip: I go through every detail of what a client can expect for the 30 days after they receive and accept a contract. I explain upfront to every client that they will go through a rollercoaster of emotions, including happiness, regret, fear, excitement and many more, and that those emotions are 100 percent normal.
5. Listen – A key factor in communicating effectively is just listening. Do not talk, but listen carefully to what your clients need, and listen to their concerns.
4. Personalize – It is not about you; it is about the client. As an agent, you must be able to accommodate a client’s individualized communication style. Some clients like to text, some like emails and some like talking on the phone or meeting in person. Do not tell your client what the best way is to reach you; let your client tell you the best way to communicate with them.
3. Do Not Communicate Under Stress – The stress you feel will seep through your communications with the client, and that will ultimately stress the client. As the professional, your job is to keep things under control and to ensure your client feels as little stress as possible. Tip: Never use the word “problem” when a stressful situation does come up; that word alone will create stress in buyers and sellers.
2. Document – Even when you tell your clients everything, there is a lot of information to retain, and they will forget or miss something. Tip: Provide as much information in writing as possible – not just for your files, but because your client may forget or misinterpret information you have provided. They will appreciate the opportunity to simply refer to a clear and detailed email from you.
1. Summarize – At the end of every communication, make sure you summarize what your client expressed. This gives them the confidence that you have heard their wishes, needs and concerns, and that you understand them. By summarizing, you ensure that you don’t overlook something they say. Tip: Summarize what the take-aways are from the conversation, what the to-do list is from the conversation and what can be expected next.
Tristain O’Donnell is a listing/buyers agent with Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta, where she works with clients throughout the entire Atlanta metropolitan area. A member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, Tristain has been ranked as one of the top general brokerage agents in her office and has received top sales awards every quarter in 2015 thus far.