I Am Trish O’connell, An East County Real Estate Agent With Four Decades In The Business. I Want To Talk About One Of The Most Important Tasks For Any Successful Real Estate Professional, Which Is To Master The Art Of Communication.
Undertaking A Major Property Transaction Has Always Been One Of The Inherently Most Stressful Points In A Non-Professional Property Owner’s Life. However, During The Past Decade New Regulations And Requirements Have Seemingly Made A 10-Fold Increase In The Difficulty And Complexity Of Buying And Selling Property. Effective Real Estate Professionals Seek To Cut Through The Confusing And Apparently Chaotic Aspects Of The Process By Helping Clients To Imagine The Bright Light At The End Of The Tunnel When He/She Finally Experiences The Thrill Of Holding The Keys To The Property Or Passing Them On To The Next Owner.
But that’s a tough challenge.
I recently had an opportunity to hone my presentation skills when I was invited to participate in a video shoot in which I explained in the clearest terms possible every part of a property transaction. I thought I did an acceptable job. However, effective communication is complicated because the actual transfer of information is greatly affected by the recipients’ state-of-mind, attitude, and emotions. During my 40-years as a real estate professional, I discovered that a property transaction for a person unaccustomed to buying and selling homes is sometimes like a scary amusement park ride. At the beginning they are excited. Then at some points they grow uncertain and even terrified. Hopefully, they are finally exhilarated by a successful conclusion. Our challenge, therefore, is to hang in with them on the ride and at every point to present to them the information they need right then in a way that they can actually understand and receive.
My communication specialist friend likes to talk about “teachable moments.” The fact is, unless we are in a receptive state, none of us will ever learn anything no matter how clearly the material is presented — particularly if the content is complicated and requiring no immediate response. For example, a lender was recently speaking to one of my clients about the fees and costs that would be incurred in their property purchase. The client learned about such important matters as recurring and non-recurring closing costs, discount points, and origination fees — all matters that were important for the client to know. The lender spoke in clear and understandable language. However, I’m sure the client would have gotten an F if she had been tested afterwards on the content delivered in the presentation.
My recent visit to a medical clinic offered me a clearly effective communication paradigm. My doctor had ordered a CAT scan to check a minor issue. The technician took me under her wing and prepared me for the procedure. This was my first CAT scan, so she explained what the procedure would feel like and made sure that I understood what was going to happen before and during every step of the process. For example, she told me why they were injecting dye into my arm, how it would feel, and what the results would be. Her clear point-by-point descriptions, delivered right at the point when each step was taking place, served to make the experience as pleasant as any CAT scan could possibly be.
The way the technician conducted the procedure made me consider my own communication patterns as a real estate professional. I reflected on how I communicated with clients through timelines that I shared at the beginning of the process; describing the procedure in detail well before any of the events took place. I realized that clients at that time were often so enthused about what is happening that my detailed descriptions usually passed into one ear and out the other. Misunderstandings and confusions subsequently occurred because the client was unprepared to call up information received in the past that had suddenly become relevant.
So I’m embracing the insights learned from the technician’s conduct during that recent medical procedure. I’m trying to deliver information about property sales only when the information is relevant, my explanations are crystal clear, and being sure the client is in a receptive state ready to hear and to take in what I am saying. Buying and selling property is enormously complicated in our modern society. But if I can communicate to clients at each point where we just came from, where we are now, and where we are going next, they can leave the attending chaos and confusion up to me. That’s the way it should be. That’s the way I’m doing this business.
BY TRISH O’CONNELL