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5 fails working with buyers and ways to fix them

For some working with homebuyers in a fast and furious seller’s market, it’s been the best of times; yet, for others it has been the worst of times. Why is there a tale of two real estate sales experiences?

If you are living in an area that is in a deep seller’s market, I am sure you can understand the popularity of this course. Yet, I get it — not everyone has time for classes, so RealTrends has invited me to share an article version of this course. 

Here are the top five fails of working with buyer’s in a seller’s market, which are:

  • Cash is king but your clients don’t have it  
  • Your systems don’t set buyer’s expectations  
  • You don’t help clients navigate sellers’ unconscious bias  
  • You rely only on the MLS for new inventory 
  • You don’t farm for listings for your active buyers 

Let’s start with: 

Your systems don’t set buyers’ dxpectations

When I teach this continuing education course live, before revealing what is on the game board, I ask attendees to share what they have experienced as the top 5 fails of working with buyers in a hot housing market.

Several of the eager responses of late usually include:

  • Buyer wants to make too many demands
  • Buyers are too picky
  • My buyer client has a laundry list of wants
  • Buyers have “champagne taste on beer budgets”
  • He/they/she is not really motivated

I don’t disagree. Yet, I also recognize these do not have to be issues. Whenever I come across struggling agents (whether in the business for 1 year or 10) that have the above-mentioned qualms, my typical coaching question is: 

What systems do you have in place to set expectations of homebuyers in today’s housing market? 

In most instances, the agent does not have a system in place to set expectations. That often means the agent is leaving their client to imagine what today’s hot housing market is like based on:

  • friends that have only rented, 
  • family that bought eons ago in a much different market, 
  • edited TV shows that squeeze weeks of work into 22 minutes, 
  • colleagues that are in a higher tax bracket, or 
  • the hit or miss articles on the internet because if it’s on the internet it must be true, right?

I even came across this article that shares how some agents wish their clients knew the realities of today’s market as if we should not assertively (but kindly) set such expectations. 

Whether it is a fear of confrontation, a lack of organization, not being tech savvy or an assumption that our buyers already know what to do in today’s market, I am calling foul on the play, y’all! Start automating and systemizing market expectations of buyers for a better experience.

Around what topics should we set expectations?

  1. How today’s market is.
    1. Coach’s call: I am intentionally emphasizing today’s market because this is where most prospects have an information gap and they need your timely knowledge and resources.
    2. Stats and data from reputable sources (like RealTrends) about today’s market.
    3. The home showing process in today’s market.
    4. The (multiple) offer process in today’s market.
    5. The home inspection, appraisal and financing (cash) processes (along with who preferred vendors/providers are) in today’s market.
    6. Possible issues, delays, and deal-killers that arise in today’s market.
  2. How you serve your clients.
    1. Coach’s call: Share explicitly the litany of services you offer. Short is not sweet here; do not assume they know. If you have a list shorter than 10 items, then please go back to the whiteboard. The top-producing agents with whom I work typically have a list of 200+ tasks. You may think that is overkill but in a competitive market that speaks volumes as to why they are top producers.
    2. Coach’s call: Newer agents do not always realize that we have to spell out and reiterate that we are our prospect’s trusted real estate professional to whom they can refer friends, family and colleagues. 
    3. Coach’s call: If they stop at a new construction site or listing without you, you represent their best interests — unlike the onsite agent or unrepresented seller who represents the seller’s interests — so they should contact you stat. We have to spell out that our role is not simply to be the “chief door opener” because then they think we have failed if they “find” a home without us.
      Rather, we can leverage our realty firms resources to help clients navigate one of the biggest purchases of their lives. Clients can never hear or see this too much so some agents even include such blurbs in their email and letter signatures. Repetition is good for learning!
  3. How the client prefers to be contacted (text message, email, video, snail mail, morse code – I kid unless that’s their thing – etc.).
  4. When the client is available (also share when you are available to minimize any surprises and schedule conflicts).
  5. What your safety protocol is.
    1. Do you require that buyers be pre-qualified or submit proof of funds to work with you? Do prospects have to meet at your office first and leave a photo ID copy with your office’s reception? Do you not meet once it gets dark? What are all of the precautions you take? Be explicit about this!
    2. Coach’s Call: To stay out of legal hot water and ensure fair housing, be sure you have systematized your safety protocol, meaning you do it for every single client every single time. It should never be a situation where prospects can say that you did not treat them the same as everyone else because that is not fair housing (see this article for examples of what I mean). 

Coach’s Call: be sure to update these expectations at least annually or as your local market changes.

How do we automate these expectations?

To systematize and automate the information that prospects and new clients receive, some agents have created intro video playlists that get sent automatically with everyday tools like YouTube

Others have email drip campaigns with OGs like MailChimp or Constant Contact

Still others have auto text message information series that prospects can opt-in to with tools like

And, if your clients live on social media, several of the most popular platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) allow instant, automatic replies that can be used too.

There are tools like veterans IFTTT, Zapier, BombBomb, WiseAgent and Follow-Up Boss or newcomers like Textedly and Structurely. And, let’s not forget the CRM (a.k.a. the database management system) offered by your firm.

As my grandmother would say, “There’s more than one way to skin a catfish, darling!” So let’s get after it!  

Dr. Lee Davenport is a real estate coach and consultant. Contact her at