A driving force in the real estate industry is communication. For a REALTOR®, communication is key, frequently being a liaison between the buyers and sellers, the other agent, the title company, etc. Communication is really the backbone of the Real Estate business and a real estate agent who can communicate clearly and effectively will find success in the industry.

Andrew Siefers is a Licensed Professional Counselor with My Rooted Soul Counseling. He received his Master’s Degree in Counseling from Dallas Baptist University and has a decade of counseling experience in the DFW area. We sat down with Siefers to get some expertise about basic communication skills and how this applies to real estate.

I’s and You’s
One of the first things Siefers mentioned was watch your I’s and You’s. For example if you say, ‘Do you think this is a good idea?’ This can be seen as passive. Instead say, ‘Hey, I think this is a good idea,” which can be seen as more direct, action oriented, and less attacking.

“If I’m taking responsibility for what I control or influence, then I’m not pointing out what I don’t control,” Siefers said. “So many times I think we become disconnected toward clients, because we’re not listening to the control or influence they want us to hear. So, as a professional you may be saying something one way, and the client interprets your words a completely different way. Also, watch your ‘Feel Likes’.”

For example, have you ever known yourself to indicate you are feeling “like”? Individuals express emotions by saying they ‘feel,’ and then it is followed by a feeling word immediately after. If the real estate agent is paying attention to a potential clients feelings at an open house or listing appointment, it gives her the ability to have a deeper connection to that potential future sale represented in the individual they are conversing with. Paying attention to the clients feeling words will help the REALTOR® to interpret the client’s feelings in the right way. Siefers indicates he sends out a free guide explaining emotion words and definitions on his website for those who request the info.

Siefers suggested a practical application for fixing this for yourself. Experiment with how many times one might hear oneself say, “I feel like…” throughout the day. The phrase “I feel like… “ when not followed by a feeling word means “I think…”. Correcting your feel and thinking words will increase your emotional maturity and acuity zeroing in closer to the truth. One can videotape or record herself in a normal conversation and then go back, listen to it, and critique herself on the way she speaks. Or simply try to make a mental note every time she says “feel like” rather than “I think” and make an effort to express the correction out loud. Before long you will be doing great at this.

Emotion Does Not Equal Logic
“A common mistake a REALTOR® may make is to communicate with his emotions, rather than his logic,” Siefers said. “Sales is all about creating a felt sense of what the client does not realize they need and providing the solutions and answers for their need.”

A REALTOR® may walk into a potential deal desiring success, but the client still has a lot of questions. If the REALTOR® does not pause, stop or understand the clients questions, he or she is facing a potential communication disaster if the REALTOR® interprets the situation on his own desire to move forward, rather than listening to what the client is saying. If the agent is not listening well, there won’t be as much opportunity to close the deal.

“Clients’ expectations of Realtors being experts may be true or false,” Siefers said. “So, indicating a sense of transparency or openness about what you are an expert in and what you are not an expert in is ideal. This increases the client’s trust over time by building trust. Trust equals saying what you’re going to do and doing it. Consistent integrity will breed success over time. There is much effort having to keep up with incongruence than simply allowing yourself to make mistakes and admit your deficiency.”

Boundaries 
“Boundaries are like property lines,” Siefers said. “You can have a stone wall, you can have a picket fence, or you can have no fence at all.”

The stone wall analogy partly is illustrated from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Gottman’s research on marital relationships. The Four Horsemen are the following: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. Stonewalling means building a wall in between the real estate agent and the client, not attending to a customer needs because you don’t like the client, aren’t making a profit, don’t connect or don’t want to give them your time, etc. are all causes of stonewalling.

The picket fence analogy has a gate and this gives the REALTOR® the optimal ability to open and close the communication gate as she wishes. This means laying out times when she can focus on her clients, and then saving other times when she can be with her family.

The no wall at all analogy means that anyone can come and go on my property, time, and feelings as they please. This may mean clients think they are allowed to call the REALTOR® late at night or early in the morning, potentially ruining sleep or complicating the morning routine of the agent to provide balanced service.

“You want to value yourself, and take care of yourself, promote healthy living and model these behaviors for your client,” Siefers said.

High-Stress Transactions
When asked about tips for dealing with high-emotion or high-stress transactions such as death or divorce, Siefers chuckled and suggested seeing a counselor.

“At least have a counselor handy in those situations to answer your concerns,” he said. “Utilize your network in order to maintain your sanity.”

Also, be sure to get adequate sleep, rest, relaxation and exercise. Physical health and nutrition are very important in this situations. Siefers also advised the agent to know limits. Don’t advise clients with expertise he can’t back up, and don’t get into the intimacies with your clients who are hurting and vulnerable.

“Crossing physical or emotional lines to make a sale isn’t worth it,” Siefers said. “Maintain your rational sense of professional rapport paying attention to where you meet, take notes before, after, or during conversations to stay on task, guide the process and focus on the goal rather being caught up in decisions that are not yours to make.”

Success
“As a lay person, I think Realtors generally believe communication is answering phones, answering emails, funneling facts from fiction and being a conduit for the process,” Siefers said. “And those might be the functions and behaviors of communication, but the rote behavior may not mean that you’re paying attention to the body language, tone, and professional idioms you use.”

The last bit of advice that Siefers gave for the REALTOR® is to simply say what she means. Also, knowing the definitions of words that the agent uses will help her be more confident in her day-to-day conversations and decisions. The REALTOR® should not be afraid to do research or ask questions and stay within the boundaries of integrity and excellence that she strive to exude.

You can contact My Rooted Soul Counseling by going to https://myrootedsoul.com/home/. As a title company, we partner with the real estate agents to ensure s/he and the buyers or sellers feel comfortable going into closing. Do not hesitate to call your local First International Title office with any questions or concerns you may have!

Are you thinking about buying your first home, but don’t know where to start? This process can be overwhelming for someone who has never experienced it. Whether you plan to buy a home in the next couple of months, or if it’s in your 5-year plan, there are steps you can take now to prepare yourself and your family for purchasing a house.

However, if you’ve already started the process as a first-time home-buyer, we hope these tips will encourage you to hit your goal and have a smooth transaction.

1. Save Money
You should already be setting money aside for your down payment and other expenses which arise that you didn’t know about or plan for at the beginning. Don’t forget about closing costs, HOA fees, purchasing a survey, etc. Every real estate transaction is different, but it’s best to be cautious and save as much money as possible to cover your expenses.

2. Work on your Credit Score
Whether you plan to buy soon or in 5 years, start building up your credit score now. Pay your bills on time, especially your big purchases like car payments, and then focus on your credit cards. Keep your credit cards at 10 percent or lower. It’s important to have a good credit score so that you may be approved to buy your home!

3. Keep a Steady and Reliable Job
Two-year employment is ideal, but at least a 2-year history of your job is required. If you have over a 6-month gap in employment, it can start to get tricky to get you approved through a lender.

4. The Truth Behind Your Down Payment
You don’t actually need 20% down to buy a house. There are several grant and down payment assistance programs that can help with up to 7% of your closing costs and down payment. Those programs aside, the FHA minimum down payment is still only 3.5%. Every lender or bank is different, so be sure to talk to your loan originator about your options.

5. Don’t Feel Obligated to Buy at Your Highest Approved Amount.
Even if you are approved for a higher-priced house, that may not always be the smartest choice depending on your needs and the needs of your family. Look at your budget and see how much house you can afford to live in and still be comfortable with your finances. You never want to be ‘house-poor’.

Voila! These are our top 5 tips for first-time home-buyers. If this is you, we are very excited to help you and would love to give you more information. Please reach out to us today if you have any questions and happy buying.

 

 

Questions? Comments? Reach out to your First International Title rep today!

September is REALTOR® Safety Month and all of us here at First International Title desire that everyone be protected and intentional about their individual safety.

For real estate agents, that is an everyday task as they are continuously advertising their services online, showing properties, making listing appointments, and hosting open houses. Here are a few practical reminders and tips for the real estate agent to stay safe in every situation.

Don’t Do it Alone
When you host open houses, consider bringing at least one other person that you know and trust with you. If another realtor at your firm is unable to come along, your lenders and First International Title partners should be willing to help you as well.

Have all of the open house visitors sign in with at least their name and phone number and check all of the rooms at the end before you lock up to ensure that everyone has left.

Show During the Day
Try to show properties during the daytime. If you have to show in the evening, arrive at the house early and turn on all of the lights and be sure to keep blinds and curtains completely open.

Let People Know Where You Are
Whether it’s your significant other, a coworker, or a friend, let at least one person know where you will be at what time, especially if you’re out past sunset.

You may even consider downloading a GPS tracking app, such as Life360, to allow your spouse or trusted friend see where you are at all times.

Keep Them In Front
When showing houses, keep the potential buyers in front of you and direct them to where they need to go. For example, stay slightly behind them and say, “the kitchen is through this hallway to the right.” This avoids any surprises happening behind your back.

Lock It Up
When showing houses or hosting open houses, lock your car while you’re inside. Keep minimal amounts of your valuable belongings on you, aside from your cell phone. Hide your wallet or purse in your trunk or under a seat and leave it in the car the entire time.

Check Your Surroundings
Always be aware of what’s happening around you. Before you enter a house, take 10-15 seconds to scope the area. Make sure there are no suspicious cars sitting around, someone watching you, or a person hiding. Also, have knowledge of where the closest exits, or “escape routes,” are so that you’re able to leave quickly if needed. Finally, ensure that your cell phone has enough battery life and service if you need to make a quick call.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
As you’re showing properties or going to an open house, ask the neighbors to keep an eye out around the house for anything that looks out of place. Let them know why you’re there and that you just want to keep everyone safe and out of harm’s way.

Protect Your Emails and Personal Information
Real Estate is one of the largest targets when it comes to online hacking and phishing. Do not accept wiring instructions from someone other than your title company and always call to confirm the instructions before sending the funds.

If you are questioning the legitimacy of an email, go with your gut. Call the supposed sender of the email and ask if they actually sent it. If you have no idea who the sender is, move that email to spam and do not click on any links asking for or to “update” your personal information. If you are unsure about a link in an email, hover the curser of your mouse over the link and it will show what the hyperlink actually is. If it shows something other than what the email is saying, don’t click it.

For more information about email fraud and what First International Title is doing to keep your information safe, contact your local office today!

The National Association of REALTORS® also offers many tools and safety resources for agents and they can be found at https://www.nar.realtor/safety.

 

Questions? Comments? Reach out to your First International Title rep!