The Comeback: How To Handle The 12 Most Common Client Objections
Rachel Burris15-minute read
August 04, 2021
A comeback is not just a clever remark in the face of criticism, it’s also an opportunity. As a real estate professional, you are confronted by critical comments all the time, but how you handle potential clients’ objections can make or break your business.
Buying and selling are stressful experiences for individuals outside of the industry because they’re dealing with what is likely the biggest investment they’ll ever make. So it’s understandable that your clients may put up a few roadblocks after you’ve given them your pitch.
Objections may signal that clients are trying to push you away, but more often, they’re simply a sign that they need guidance and reassurance. If you put up a wall or get defensive when you run into opposition, you will most certainly drive clients away.
Instead of letting your emotions get the best of you, you can get ahead of the competition by learning how to respond with patience and candor. With the right comeback, a client objection is an opportunity to hone your craft, increase your clientele and convert more leads into sales.
Keep Calm And Carry On
Remember that at the heart of every client objection is concern. It may seem that each objection you hear is a personal attack, but in reality, it’s merely fear that’s motivating your clients to voice their reluctance.
As a real estate professional, you wear many different hats. You’re a marketer, a salesperson and a negotiator, but you’re also often a therapist. You need to assuage your clients’ fears and ensure that they feel comfortable and confident about the road ahead.
Like any good therapist, you must address your clients’ apprehension with an open ear and a caring heart. At the end of the day, your clients want to feel validated and understood. So that’s where your response to any objection must begin.
Always stay friendly and positive. Repeat your clients’ objections back to them, so that they know you’re listening and then use reason (instead of emotions) to persuade them.
If you’re not sure how to do this, don’t worry, that’s what this article is for. Here’s the list of the most common objections that agents receive from potential clients, along with advice from top real estate professionals on how to handle them.
Hesitant buyers and sellers are like scared swimmers. They just want to test out the water. But, as a real estate professional, you want them to jump straight in. That’s why you need to guide them, let them dip their toes in first, let them splash around a bit, and then you can convince them to immerse themselves in the water. Clients drag their feet because they’re nervous about drowning. They don’t want to make a snap decision and risk losing their hard-earned assets. When responding to these objections, you must mitigate their doubts by explaining how the process works and showing them how you can help them through it.
1. I’m not ready to start looking seriously.
When potential clients say that they’re not ready to begin a serious search, sometimes they’re just worried because they don’t know what to expect. Clients may feel unprepared because they don’t have their affairs in order, don’t know if they can get financing or don’t have any idea what kind of home they’re looking for. Instead of being pushy, demonstrate how you can assist them with the preparation.
When Maria Dininger, a real estate agent with F.C. Tucker Company, Inc. in Indiana, receives this objection, she responds, “Of course! Even though we’re a bit away, this would be an opportune time to get together and go through how the entire home buying process works. Many people are unaware of this, but there are certain preliminary steps you can take before you even begin your home search, which will put you at a major advantage. Once we begin looking, you’ll be more prepared and ahead of the game!”
2. I don’t want to list my property until I’ve found a new home.
Potential clients who are anxious about selling their homes before they’ve found new ones tend to be oblivious to how complex real estate transactions can be. They may be unaware of how competitive the market is and how frequently buyer contingencies prevent offers from being accepted. Yet, this objection can lead to a big win for you if you walk them through why it’s inadvisable to wait as you could score both the listing and a buyer’s agreement.
When Melissa Zavala, the broker of Broadpoint Properties in California’s North San Diego County, is faced with this kind of reluctance, she replies, “I understand that it can be a bit scary to list your home for sale if you have not identified a new one yet. However, offers that come with a contingency to sell your home are not generally accepted in a competitive market like this one. What I would recommend is that we list your home now and make sure to negotiate with a prospective buyer that your sale is contingent upon you identifying a replacement property. Then, we can both list and sell at the same time, but you won’t have to be worried about not having a place to go.”
Of all the objections, those related to commissions tend to be the most prevalent. REALTORS® and agents are constantly asked to lower their commission, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. Handling the commission question is manageable when you create an open dialogue with your potential client and get at the heart of the underlying issue. The issue may be strictly financial, but it can also stem from the fact that clients don’t always have a full understanding of everything that goes into selling a home. When responding to these objections, you must make it clear how your services will benefit them.
3. I have a friend (or family member) who has offered to sell my home for a lower commission.
These days everyone seems to have a friend or family member who’s in the business. And many think that selling their home with someone they know is the safer choice. After all, the trust is already there. But clients may be blind to the drawbacks: the discomfort of having to share sensitive financial material and the strain the process can put on personal relationships, particularly if things go wrong. It’s your job to illuminate the disadvantages of working with someone who’s that close to them and explain how experience is paramount when closing the deal.
Erica Elman, a licensed real estate agent for Compass in New York City, suggests that after commending a potential client for having real estate connections, you ask them two straight questions: “Firstly, how long has your friend/family been in the business; and second, do you believe that your home will sell in a range depending on the marketing plan behind it? If the friend/family agent has not been in the business for a significant amount of time or cannot show past success, then I point out this agent likely cannot market the home with the same expertise that I can. Your home is going to sell for a different value depending on the agent behind it, and if you have a discount agent who also can’t show past success in the market, then they’ll probably net less money.”
4. I’d rather sell my home myself and save the commission.
When potential clients claim that they want to sell their home themselves, they usually have little understanding of all of the work that has to be done before signing the contract and handing over the keys. Furthermore, they often don’t know how much money For-Sale-By-Owner homes leave on the table. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, FSBOs sold their homes for 24.5% less than sellers who were assisted by agents. If a potential client throws this objection at you, you should enlighten them as to the headaches a FSBO sale will cause and the reduced purchasing price they’re likely to receive.
When Jamie Klingman, managing broker for Boutique Realty Florida, hears this objection, she responds, “You may save on commission, but studies consistently show those who use agents get higher sales prices that more than make up for the commission differences. The agent takes all the risk upfront, so you don’t pay a commission until closing, whereas you will have to likely pay for effective marketing, etc. upfront.”
To further convince your clients, Eve Henry, an accredited luxury home specialist and owner of Eve Henry Homes, recommends you add, “I completely understand that position but please consider the fact that in order for a REALTOR® to bring a buyer to you (remember, 87% of people use a REALTOR to purchase a house), you’ll have to pay a buyer’s agent commission anyway, and I’d hate for you to be the only one without representation.”
5. I would hire you, but I can’t afford to pay a commission.
Much like those who are interested in listing with a friend or family member, clients who raise this objection tend to be looking for a discounted rate. They may be worried about their finances and how much money they’ll be able to spend on a new home after closing. Or they may just misunderstand where the commission comes from and what it pays for. To get around this objection, you must explain how and why you are paid and offer to review their finances with them.
James McGrath, licensed real estate broker and co-founder of Yoreevo, advises agents to explain, “The commission is paid at closing. There is no out of pocket expense. If I do my job properly (as an aside, the agent obviously needs to explain what they will do exactly), the higher price I will get you will more than pay for the commission. (I think it’s also helpful here to point out the seller will likely end up having to pay the buyer’s agent regardless, so their agent really only costs them half of the total commission.)”
To further alleviate their concerns, Mike Russo, founder of SparkOffer, suggests you conclude by saying, “If you’re open to it, we can take a look at the debt and expenses relating to your home and compare those numbers to the expected sales price based on recent sales in the market.”
When your experience is called into question, it’s time to buckle down and start crunching numbers. Clients are afraid that working with you is a gamble. They don’t want to lose their shirts because they bet on the wrong person. Clients can sense when agents don’t know what they’re talking about, and no one wants to work with someone who’s full of hot air. That’s why you always need to keep up with the industry and market and have numbers ready to go before you speak with clients. When responding to these objections, you must prove that regardless of your experience, you have the knowledge and skills necessary to close the deal.
6. I’m looking for someone who specializes in my neighborhood (or price range).
When clients tell you they want to work with an agent who specializes, they’re saying that they think you’re unprepared to sell their home. If your previous listings were noticeably different from their property, whether due to location or price, their gut reaction will be to find a different agent. But by coming to meetings prepared with the comparable sales and a clear awareness of the inventory, you can persuade potential clients that you have all the experience you need to get them the best price for their home.
When Meryl Jacobs, a licensed broker for Halstead Real Estate in New York City, finds that clients are worried that their property is outside her wheelhouse, she says, “It is true that I have more experience selling property in other neighborhoods (or price ranges), but it is not very difficult to quickly get up the curve by studying the comps for both recent sales and properties currently on the market. What I bring to the table is experience in closing the sale through effective marketing and skillful negotiation, which is something far more difficult to learn.”
7. I want to work with an agent who has more experience.
If you’re a new agent, you’ve heard this objection before – and presumably more than once. You’re probably frustrated by the fact that the only way for you to become more experienced is to be given opportunities to gain experience. Joining a team of agents is a great way to get around this issue as they have years of experience and a wealth of deals you can cite whenever the need arises. But, if you’re working solo, remember, clients want to feel that they are in capable hands, so you need to explain to them how using a newer agent can benefit them.
Russo encourages agents new to the business to say, “I understand that there are agents with more experience, though I can give you greater time and attention to focus on the sales and marketing activities so we can get your home sold quickly.”
Competing Agent-Related Objections
Objections raised by clients who indicate that they may be interested in working with another agent are very similar to experience-related objections. In both cases, clients are questioning whether you’re the right person for the job. Competition is integral to the real estate industry, so you should always know who you’re up against. Research other agents in your area before you meet with potential clients, so you can draw on their stats. When responding to these objections, you must explain what makes you stand out above the rest.
8. I’m not interested in signing an exclusive.
Getting your clients to sign an exclusive is imperative. The last thing you want is to waste your time and resources on a client who is seeing other agents behind your back. But many clients think that the more agents they have on the job, the more likely they will get the price they’re looking for. They’re anxious about committing and often don’t understand that agents working without exclusives tend to expend less energy, time and money marketing properties. To get that exclusive signed, you need to get your clients to grasp these facts.
When clients voice this objection, Benjamin Ross, licensed REALTOR® and investment specialist with Mission Real Estate Group, says, “I understand that, but I would like to offer you another way of looking at it if I may. A professional without an exclusive agreement is not going to invest their time and money to help you in fear all efforts and money will be lost. They will concentrate their time and money under the security of an agreement. A business relationship needs to have trust. Me to trust you to give me the time I need to sell your home and you to trust me that I’m going to do everything in my power to sell your home. That is what an exclusive agreement is all about.”
9. You seem to have a lot on your plate already – I want an agent who can focus their attention on my property.
Clients want to believe that every minute of their agent’s time will be dedicated to selling their property. Even if they know better, they still want to believe that they are your only client. However, clients don’t always consider the implications of their desires. They don’t necessarily think about the fact that agents who have more time on their hands tend to have fewer clients for a reason. So you need to make it clear that a busy agent is a successful agent.
Dininger convinces clients that she knows how to juggle her obligations by saying, “I understand your concern, and I appreciate you letting me know. I can assure you that with a full plate comes a full set of experience on how to manage everything on that plate. I like to use the analogy of ‘It’s the difference between having your first child and having your third.’ When you’re a newer agent, every detail matters, and because your plate is perhaps less full, you have a lot of time to give to each detail. Over time, you begin to master each detail, and from there, you move on to prioritizing them. As you gain more experience and your plate becomes more full, every detail still matters, but you know which ones have the highest priority. You’re able to spend less time doing everything, and more time doing the right things. The time and attention I will give you and your home matters just as much to me as it does to you.”
10. I really like you, but I still have a few more agents that I need to interview before I make a decision.
Although clients like to meet a variety of different agents before they choose one, they don’t always know what they’re looking for. Clients who raise this objection often make decisions based on their personal feelings about agents instead of considering which agent is the most qualified. For this reason, you should be aware of the agents you tend to compete against. Know their past and current listings, what percentage of their properties have been in the neighborhood, how long their homes tend to be on the market and how often their sales come in above ask. But beyond the numbers, you still need to make sure that clients like you as a person and have faith in your abilities.
John Livesay, keynote speaker and author of “Better Selling Through Storytelling,” offers this advice to agents: “People have to trust, like and know you before they select you as their agent. Trust starts at the gut level, so make sure you have that as your foundation. Likability comes from showing empathy at the heart level. Then you move to the head where people are thinking, ‘Will this agent work hard for me?’ When you tell a story of another client you helped, and the prospective homeowners see themselves in your story, they will pick you!”
The objections raised by dissatisfied clients are the most trying. You may have already persuaded them that you’re the right agent for them, but now, they’re doubting you. It can be difficult not to take these objections personally. But, remember that these objections are the most emotionally driven. Clients cannot be objective about selling their property because it is their home, the place where they’ve built a life and shared their memories. When responding to these objections, you must restore the trust and help your clients see beyond sentiment.
11. I think you’re undervaluing my home, and I’d rather work with an agent who is willing to price it higher.
Clients often feel that their homes are worth more than the asking price agents recommend. It’s hard for sellers to be logical when pricing their homes because they tend to be blinded by nostalgia. There are always agents who are willing to concede to the wishes of the client because they don’t want to lose out on a listing. But you know that overpriced properties do not fare well on the market, so you need to explain the dangers of overvaluing their home and the benefits of fair pricing.
Livesay suggests that agents describe their previous experiences with sellers to help persuade their potential clients: “This is your opportunity to tell a story of what happens when you overprice a home. ‘One of my clients felt the same way as you do now, but then they realized that by overpricing the home, their house was sitting on the market for over 90 days with no offers. By pricing their home at my suggestion, they created a bidding war and ended up getting more than what they hoped for.’”
12. We should have an offer on the table already.
This objection is the most dreaded of all. There could be a slew of reasons that your clients’ home isn’t selling, and you won’t always know exactly what they are. Even if the issue is outside of your control, your client will hold you accountable. So you’ll need to do some serious analysis to determine the likely problem and come up with the best solution. If you know that the listing has begun to grow stale, you should start preparing for this objection, so you know just what to say when it ultimately arises.
Jacobs, who is accustomed to handling this objection with her New York City clients, advises agents to thoroughly explain the situation: “I understand your frustration, and you are correct to be concerned, but please keep in mind that our interests are aligned. Market conditions are poor, and the price is aggressive. While under different circumstances, your home might command such a price, buyers are savvy, have ready access to a tremendous amount of information, and the comps are not in your favor. Buyers like to envision themselves living in the space, and it’s difficult for them to do so with so many family photos and mementos around. Getting the highest price and moving a property quickly demands action from both the seller and the broker. We are marketing and advertising to the best of our ability. If you want to see an offer, let’s drop the price by 10% and do a quick clean up.”
Throughout your career, you’ll have to contend with clients’ objections. Clients will disagree with you and disapprove of your methods, but you need to rise above the noise. No matter how minor, conflicts with clients can have a lasting impact on your career, so you always must put your professional foot forward.
In real estate, like in any other service industry, people talk. Your reputation will dictate how much business you receive. Although you may try to use social media to build your brand and increase your clientele, word of mouth will always be a driving factor.
If you learn to keep a cool head when tensions are high and respond to client objections with sympathy and logic, you’ll not only win over potential clients but also make them want to refer you to their friends.
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