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Client still won’t buy? How to avoid the buyer’s emotional roller coaster pitfalls

After months or even years of working with your buyers, are they STUCK with trying to purchase their next home?

First off, it’s not just your imagination, the market is slow. There are definitely fewer transactions than in the past:

Still, purchases are happening every day, so is the slowdown the real reason for your buyers not pulling the trigger or is it something else?


The emotional highs and lows of your buyer’s journey


Your job as a realtor is to guide your buyer from “The Spark” all the way to the happy “1 Year Homeowner” stage:

This emotional rollercoaster has its highs and lows, so you have to manage your buyers through all five steps of the buyer’s journey.


Stage #1: The Spark


Your buyers usually reach out when the “spark” occurs in their mind. It goes something like this:

“All we do is pay our landlord’s mortgage every month. How much does buying a home cost?”

“Our house is a mess! Can we find a larger space in the right neighbourhood?”

“Maintaining our four-bedroom house is a lot of work since our kids moved out. Where can we move to?”

The Spark typically occurs at one of the “6 Ds” of your buyer’s life journey: Diploma, Diamonds, Diapers, Divorce, Downsizing and Death.

During this time, buyers are extremely motivated with their vision and their enthusiasm is high! So, now is the perfect time to get their requirements and, more importantly, prepare their expectations for the hardest and next stage, “The Valley of Despair”.


Stage #2: The Valley of Despair


This is where most buyers get stuck for months or maybe years. Your job is to patiently handhold them to the next stage.

First off, I’m going to assume you’re a competent real estate professional. This means you’re doing your job of exploring non-MLS options, pre-construction properties and creative financing options. You’re also proactively looking for homes through door-knocking or cold-calling.

If you’re not a competent professional, then get training from your manager, mentor or brokerage.

So, if your buyers are still stuck and you’ve done what you can on your end, it’s time to re-evaluate their situation.


The usual two reasons your buyers haven’t bought yet:


1. The need to buy doesn’t exist. Unlike sellers, buyers don’t “have to” buy. They can always wait and wait and wait. Without any urgency (such as the 6 Ds) they may pass on a good property and keep asking to see another one.

A classic “doesn’t need to buy” situation is at a party, when your uncle says, “I was thinking of buying an investment property. So, if you see a good deal, and I mean a REALLY good deal like 50 per cent off of market rate, just send it over and I’ll see if I’m interested and can get a mortgage for it!”

This is much different than a serious buyer saying, “Our landlord evicted us and, with a baby on the way, we’re running out of space in our condo. Ideally, we move in July so that we can settle in time for our other kid to start kindergarten by September.”

2. What they want doesn’t exist. It’s completely normal for buyers to have “a beer budget with champagne taste”. It’s your job to show what is out there and what a certain price range can realistically get them. So, constantly evaluate the market and see if they’re looking at the right kinds of houses.

A good way to do this is to show sold houses from the past three to six months. If your buyers feel that all the previously sold homes need to be, say, $200,000 cheaper, 50 per cent larger and completely renovated, and they rate them a 5/10 at best, it’s a good indication that they aren’t looking in the right price range or location.

After all, these sold homes show the real market price for properties. If your buyers persist in looking at unrealistic homes and prices, then it’s your decision whether you want to continue with them.


Have patience


Lastly, if your buyers have a strong need and many of the previous homes “could have worked” for them, then the only thing left to do is have patience. Your job is to keep presenting properties and to have patience with them until they find the right home.


Stage #3: Successful Offer


Eventually, you will guide your buyers to a successful offer. As a real estate professional, I’ll assume you have the competence to negotiate and secure a good offer, so I won’t spend too much time here.

But, during the highs of a successful offer, make sure that you prepare them for the fourth stage, Buyer’s Remorse.


Stage #4: Buyer’s Remorse


The moment you have a successful offer, a wave of emotions will go through your buyers and they will feel they “made a mistake”. Trust me, this happens a lot! In fact, probably every time, whether you hear about it or not.

So, you need to prepare your clients during the highs of the successful offer so they can get through the lows of their buyer’s remorse.

It will happen innocently enough when well-meaning family and friends make comments. Your buyers will think:

“We paid too much for this house! I’m sure we could have offered $20,000 less!”

“The floors are creaking — is the house going to fall apart?”

“I never noticed the traffic. Is this place even safe for the kids?”

Whether it’s because of anxiety, guilt or regret, buyer’s remorse is completely normal. You need to be aware of this and prepare them in the previous stage.

If you don’t prepare them, don’t be surprised when they blame you for their “bad” purchase. 


Stage #5: Happy Homeowner


Eventually, you will get to this stage when your buyers have settled into their home. Seeing the happy smiles on their faces after the long buying process is an amazing feeling and is one of the reasons why I love what I do.

But, remember, while your buyers will forget many details of their buying journey, they will remember how they felt

So, how you manage their anxiety and stress during “The Valley of Despair” and “Buyer’s Remorse” will be the difference between a successful, one-time transaction and having long-term, repeat clients who will tell their friends all about their amazing agent.