Managing Client Expectations

Real Estate Rule #1:  It’s not a done deal till the Seller leaves the closing with a check.

Real Estate Rule #2:  It’s not an offer till the listing agent has it in hand.

One of the most exciting pieces of news a listing agent can deliver to a Seller is that a prospective Buyer likes their home enough to want to buy it, and is putting together an offer.

So, when do I tell my client that terrific news?

Try . . . never.

Timing is Everything

While I’m always careful to to keep my clients updated about showing activity, Buyer interest, serious Buyer interest, etc., I have found that it’s a mistake to tell clients to anticipate an offer before it’s actually in hand.

There are three reasons for that.

One. The Buyer may change their mind.

Plenty of Buyers — especially first-time Buyers — have been known to reconsider their decision in between telling their agent they want to write an offer, and actually signing all the paperwork that makes it official.

They may decide that they like a runner-up house more; something new may come on the market that they want to see first; or they may simply decide that the timing to buy isn’t right.

False Starts

Two.  The timing of the offer is uncertain.

Nothing gets a deal off to a worse start than telling a Seller in the morning to expect an offer that night — and then nothing happens

Not infrequently, there can be a hold up with a vital piece of information, like the Buyer’s pre-approval letter.

Or, work emergencies, canceled babysitters, illness — in other words, life — can intrude, throwing off the Buyer’s timetable.

Three.  You don’t know how strong the offer is going to be.

Especially in today’s Buyer’s market, the first offer that Sellers often see falls somewhere in between “disappointing” and “insulting.”

A good Realtor will not just let a client know that they’ve received an offer, but will be careful to characterize it.

So, if appropriate, they’ll package the news that the client has received an offer with the qualifier that “it’s nothing to get excited about” (or some such), instead of  allowing the client’s expectations to gallop ahead.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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