My Advice for Real Estate Negotiators

    

Real estate is tricky business whether you’re representing buyers or sellers. There’s so much on the line, and emotions often run wild.

At a full fee, you are a bargain. Here are three tips on how to more than earn it.

real estate negotiator

Tip No. 1: Use the Late-Night FM DJ Voice

As a real estate negotiator, every conversation is a difficult conversation. Make those conversations easier by using the Late-Night FM DJ Voice.

It’s no secret that buying or selling a home is one of the most stressful events in modern life. It’s also no secret that it’s likely the biggest investment anyone will ever make. Of course their stress levels are through the roof! (No pun intended.)

And your counterpart agent is stressed out as well! They may really need the commission. The real estate business is tough, and many agents live through some serious famines.

You will find the Late-Night FM DJ Voice (the primary voice of hostage negotiators) enormously helpful no matter whom you are dealing with.

It’s a calming and soothing, downward inflecting voice. You don’t have to be a man with a deep voice to do it. Anyone can have a calming, soothing, downward-inflecting voice. 

The wrong shift in the voice can make it condescending. (Just be gently cautious of that.)

This voice triggers the mirror neurons in a person’s brain. It’s actually a neurological response that works almost like hypnosis. It triggers a chemical reaction in their brain that truly slows and calms it. Bonus: It even calms your own brain because you can hear yourself as well!

Key to remember: Your inner voice betrays your outer voice. 

Think calm, warm, and supportive. Think with an I like you and it will be OK—we’ll get through this together attitude, and your voice will work its magic. Don’t forget that it’s OK to smile occasionally, too.

Tip No. 2: Predictability = Trust

This is key.

The more predictable you make things, the more they trust you. 

Don’t let the predictable problems of the journey blindside them. You hope those problems won’t pop up but hope is not a strategy. You know that 80 percent of the time, they will.

Be honest and upfront with your clients. Tell them that it’s a journey and that there will be speed bumps along the way. Many agents want to act like it’s going to be all Champagne and celebration. But you know it won’t be—until the end—and that’s if you get there.

I’m sure you’ve heard that 80 percent of clients say they would refer their agent afterward. But only 20 percent of them do. This is a major reason why.

Download the free "Guide to Negotiator Personality Types" to learn the best  skills to use based on your counterpart. 

So how do you add predictability?  

Here’s a three-point actionable plan:

  1. Never let them wonder when they are going to hear from you. Schedule weekly calls.

  2. If you have no news, deliver that exactly. “Just calling to say there’s nothing new. Here’s the data we have since our last call.” Short, sweet, and to the point. Your clients will be appreciative, and it’s not a big-time commitment for you, either.

  3. Don’t open with How are you?—ever. Especially if you have bad news. Open with I’m calling to update you. If after the update you really want to know how they are and you are good with having each of these calls take up plenty of time, go for it.  Remember, three calls per week adds up, and you don’t want to be seen as a time drain on their life. 

If you have bad news, here’s how to deliver it. Call as soon as you reasonably can—before the next scheduled call, even. I've got bad news. Pause for exactly one half-second (about one heartbeat) before delivering it. 

Then say how you will cope with the bad news. We knew there were going to be bumps in the road. Here’s how we will move forward.

Watch this video in which I go into detail on these points at a real estate conference.

Remember, actually demonstrating understanding is a completely different concept from whether or not you understand. Tactical Empathy is an action. It’s you truly sharing what your understanding of their perspective is. For the best results, be open to (and actually seek) correction.

When people correct you, they feel good. Really good. People don’t remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel. See the connection?

Tip No. 3: Labels Instead of Questions 

Finally, when digging for information, use our negotiation tool of labels instead of questions.

Labels are verbal observations:

  • You seem uncomfortable
  • You sound concerned
  • You look like something is on your mind
  • It seems you’ve seen some of these things you’re thinking about
  • It sounds like you’ve made a decision
  • It looks like you’re comfortable here
  • It feels like it’s time to move on

One of the top-notch agents we’ve coached says that labels unlock the floodgates of truth talk.

Previously, after someone had walked through one of her open houses, she’d ask, What did you see that you liked? and get an answer—but not a great one.

When she switched to labels like It seems like you saw some things you’re thinking about, they would gush information in ways she hadn’t previously seen.

Don’t just label the good, positive stuff. Real rapport is established when you call out the negatives (the elephants in the room) calmly. It’s how you look fearless, steady, and trustworthy.

That’s what being in the trust business is all about.

Next time you’ve got a listing or showing houses to eager buyers, keep these three tips in mind. Add them to your arsenal and make it rain!

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About The Author

Christopher Voss is the CEO of The Black Swan Group, a firm that solves business negotiation problems with hostage negotiation strategies. Chris founded the Black Swan Group, in 2008 upon his retirement from the FBI where he was the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Chris is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business where he teaches business negotiation in both M.B.A. programs.