If you’re a homebuyer, the fastest way to anger your real estate agent is to withhold information and fudge the rest. We REALTORS® have a long rope (or else we wouldn’t be in real estate). But tell us a lie, even a wee white one, and our head will spin right off.
It’s actually kind of funny that we get so worked up in these situations. Here’s why…
There are only two reasons that people lie:
(1) to get something for nothing or (2) to avoid conflict.
The folks who practice No. 1 as a matter of habit couldn’t care less about No. 2. They have no sense of fair play and they don’t place any value on silly inconveniences like fairness or the people they step on to get what they want.
Now, in sales—and in particular, real estate sales—conventional wisdom says that “buyers are liars.” (No really, this is how sales gurus talk about customers.) The argument goes that people wanting what you have to sell will never tell you the whole truth about their motivation, their budget, or even if they’re “shopping it.” They’ll even make stuff up when asked directly about any of these things. And before you know it, the buyer has disappeared into the ether and hired another REALTOR®.
Fact is, “buyers are liars” only insofar that they’re acting out of a desperate (and very natural) need to avoid conflict. Something in the sales process has created cognitive dissonance in their mind, and people will do just about anything to make cognitive dissonance go away. They’ll inflate their house budget. They’ll shower a real estate agent with praise (and then hire their brother-in-law). They’ll say or not say certain things that allow them to replace emotional discomfort with comfort.
We ALL do this all the time in life, though it’s usually not regarding anything dire in nature. Exhibit A:
“Do these pants make my butt look big, honey?”
“No, you would look fabulous in a potato sack, dear.”
You get my point.
Hard truth: Real estate agents lose buyers to other agents, and well, that kinda hurts. But ultimately we have to ask WHY a buyer would jump ship, sometimes before the agent even realizes it’s happening.
A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.~ Steve Jobs, Business Week, May 25, 1998
As real estate agents serving the homebuyer, it is our PURPOSE, our duty, and actually the whole POINT to help people figure out what they want, maybe even what they need, and how to navigate the journey to acquiring and enjoying such. We can and should pursue that end in a compassionate, respectful and INQUIRING way.
Because if you don’t ask the best questions, you don’t get the best answers. And flying blind is no way to buy your next home.
Hat tip to Tibor Shanto at Renbor Sales Solutions Inc. for inspiring this post.