How to Communicate Your Value Proposition to Buyers and Sellers

With so many topics impacting the residential real estate industry these days, and most unfortunately having negative aspects to them (high mortgage rates, low inventory, lawsuits, etc.), it has likely never been more crucial for agents and brokers to lock in on what is truly meaningful—connecting with clients old and new and transacting business. 

The importance of value proposition has taken on new meaning in today’s commission-lawsuit climate. Savvy real estate professionals know that no matter how the lawsuits shake out, effectively communicating your value proposition to buyers—as well as sellers—will have a direct impact on your earnings.

The Burnett verdict and upcoming copycat cases, rightly or wrongly, have many in the general public questioning whether or not REALTORS®, and buyer agents in particular, still have enormous value. They of course do, as you know, but now you may sometimes need to inform the uninformed.

A panel discussion titled “Communicating Your Value Proposition” during RISMedia’s Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year virtual event on January 11 was led by Shawna Alt, CEO, First Weber, Inc., with panelists Kim Crumley, SVP, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties; Rachel Gold, senior account executive, ShowingTime+; and Heather McColaugh, REALTOR®, BF Realty.

The experts discussed the importance of trust, communication and education in real estate. They agreed that despite industry noise and lawsuits, the focus should remain on the client’s needs. They also highlighted the importance of understanding market trends and individual agent strategies.

The panel also emphasized the role social media plays in marketing and reaching different audiences, and the need to adapt content to each platform along with the increasing integration of technology in real estate, with more clients using online resources and expecting virtual tours. The importance of community, collaboration and commitment to high performance for success in the industry was also stressed.

First to be opined about was the impact the trials may or may not have on the buying and selling of homes, and clients’ mindsets.

“In my market here in Cincinnati it’s really not top of mind,” said McColaugh. “I try to focus on what is really important with them at that moment, which is the house they want to buy or the house that they’re trying to sell. And so it hasn’t really come up as a focal point here to create a lot of extra stress to an already stressful situation.”

Alt noted that it was an important point because of the uncertainty of commissions, who pays them and how agent value is intertwined.

“I wanted to throw that out there right away because since the lawsuits have come into play, you hear a lot about how we need to talk about our value, to demonstrate our value, to communicate our value,” she said. “In my mind that hasn’t changed at all. We’ve always had an obligation to be explaining what we do to best support and represent our clients as they move through these types of transactions. What is hard about value is that it isn’t always something tangible. It’s not necessarily the sign in the yard or the website.” 

She asked the panelists how they work with their agents to educate them as far as the best way to explain and describe their value.

“We do coach our agents that the value is in the relationship with the buyer, client or customer, and they need to focus on the buyer’s needs, educating the buyer through the buying process and listening to the buyer so they can show their value by answering questions and getting them through the buying process,” said Crumley.

McColaugh explained that knowing other agents well—especially those who might be competitors for a property—was a skill that could translate when working with a client, and again showing your value.

“So much of it is not understanding just the home values that you’re thinking through with your client, but understanding the other agents’ strategy and maybe what they’re known for,” she said. “Sometimes certain agents don’t want an escalation clause, they don’t want to deal with that. It’s the highest and best. So understanding what the agents want and what might be off-putting to them is really important. 

“Another thing is understanding the agent’s reputation for how they price a home. Are they known for typically underpricing the home? If that’s the case, then your buyer needs to be educated that based on the history of this specific agent, this $450,000 house might be closing around $500,000. So understanding the way an agent prices a home and then communicating with your client regarding a good offer to get it is vital.”

Alt next wondered how client behavior changes with different social media platforms that are being introduced, asking Gold what she is seeing as far as how client behavior has changed over the past couple of years.

“That’s something we talk about pretty much every day, but clients are more and more integrated with tech, and the pandemic really pushed us into a world where we rely more heavily on tech,” Gold replied. “In the real estate space, for instance, that’s when we launched 3D tours as a way for people to see homes when they couldn’t tour in person. And since 2019, the use of smartphones in this process has gone from 60% to 84%, which is staggering. So with that in mind, it’s really important to think about how you’re making your listings reachable to this type of audience.”

Alt then asked the panel of experts for things they feel are mandatory for success through 2024.

“Number one, don’t be afraid to try new things,” said Gold. “We’re all navigating a different market right now, and in order to truly differentiate yourself from the competition and to help your clients win, you have to innovate and get out of your comfort zone. Number two, build a really strong value proposition and be able to articulate what you can accomplish for sellers and buyers from start to finish. You’re going to be competing against agents who are willing to discount their services quickly. So come up with ways to have that differentiating factor to stand out. Ask yourself what makes you stand out, and make sure you’re able to articulate that to your buyers and sellers.”

McColaugh’s answer centered on understanding and trust, making sure clients get that.

“Show your value in every single term,” she said. “You don’t just get the listing and then you’re done. I send out a very detailed two-page weekly marketing report based on their house feedback and the other homes in the area. They get that in their email every Monday morning. As soon as they don’t know the answer to a question, I say, ‘I don’t know that, but I’m on it.’ It’s doing 100,000 little things over and over and over to keep showing them from the time they decided to work with you to the very end and even after the transaction that you are the best. 

“Number two is trust. You want to be the resource that they go to for everything. So showing them that, yes, my job is to represent you in this real estate transaction, but I am the source for everything else. I want them to call me if they’re confused, have questions or heard a rumor, and that trust is built over and over and over throughout the relationship.”

Crumley’s response centered on three words.

“Educate, educate, educate,” she stressed. “Educate consumers on why it’s important that they be represented in a transaction. The sellers certainly are with the listings, but what’s your value in representing that buyer? It’s their largest financial transaction most of the time, and they need to trust the person that is representing them, so educate the consumers on pricing and financial options about how they may have seller concessions that can buy down an interest rate. Prices are going to continue to increase. Waiting for interest rates to drop could cost them money in the long run. It’s our responsibility as real estate professionals to educate the consumers in the market so that they can make the best financial decisions for themselves and their family.”

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