In business, one is taught to leave emotion out of negotiations and transactions. While this approach makes sense in the corporate world and commercial real estate, residential real estate is rarely emotion-less. After all, our houses are where we spend the majority of our time. Every knick, dent, or scratch contains a story. Our homes are literally filled to the brim with memories, both good and bad.
Empathy and Real Estate
Empathy is critical to the sales industry, and real estate is no exception. Their emotional attachment, after all, is usually at the heart of a client’s refusal to renovate or stage certain areas of their home, one of the biggest culprits in an unsuccessful listing.
It can be difficult when dealing with emotional clients, especially when we truly want to help them buy or sell, and they continue fighting our suggestions throughout the process. However, in order to truly help our clients, we have to approach them and their unique situations with understanding, putting ourselves in their shoes in order to communicate effectively and accomplish their goals.
How to Lead with Empathy
In an article for Texas Real Estate, broker Debbie Remington breaks down why the LEAPS method, which is traditionally used for conflict resolution, can be a helpful way to approach negotiations. LEAPS, an acronym for Listen, Empathize, Ask to Clarify, Paraphrase, and Summarize, is a great place to start when communicating with emotional clients. It demonstrates that you are actively listening to their concerns and establishes a dialogue built on trust and understanding.
Once a solid trust is established, and you understand the root cause of their emotion, you can effectively devise a plan forward that simultaneously puts them at ease and pushes them closer towards their goal.
Put Yourself in Your Clients’ Shoes
For example, if you’re working with a client trying to sell their parent’s home—their childhood home—you’ll likely face pushback when it comes to suggestion renovations or staging efforts. Since their goal is, ultimately, to sell the home, it can be frustrating when they refuse to teardown dated wallpaper or update the appliances. It’s easy to forget that the wallpaper is the background in many memories and that the appliances produced many meals cooked with love.
In cases like this, a real estate agent must ask themselves how they would approach the sale of their own childhood home—what emotions they’d be feeling. When you can put yourself in your clients’ shoes, the solution will come easily.