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Best Practices for Speaking with Homeowners in Financial Distress
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our economy—particularly when it comes to employment. It’s not just restaurants, bars, cinemas, and gyms that are impacted. But many other industries as well. Just last week, we spoke with someone who works at a convention center and has been out of work since the pandemic began. And, as of the time of this writing, with no current economic support to everyday Americans on the table, it is going to get increasingly tougher for folks to pay their mortgage and monthly bills. As an agent, you might find yourself in situations where you are speaking with homeowners in financial distress. We’ve been working with these folks for years, and we can tell you that these are the 5 best practices for speaking with homeowners in financial distress.
5 Best Practices for Speaking with Homeowners in Financial Distress
- Don’t sell. There is nothing more repellent or abhorrent than an ambulance chaser—particularly when an individual is facing a tough situation. If you are contacted by a borrower in financial distress, don’t just start looking for buyers for their home and don’t start to aggressively push listing the property. Instead, help the borrower to make an informed decision—which is not necessarily a decision that benefits you financially.
- Provide value. Successful real estate agents across the US and beyond have learned that the best way to continually see closings no matter the market is by being a trusted resource and providing value to everyone in your sphere and beyond. To that end, consider what borrowers in financial distress may need. Sadly, for some, they may need food donations. Others may need something completely different.
- Share options. The United States has learned a lot from the Great Recession. This time around there are loads of options available to borrowers in financial distress. These include but are not limited to forbearance, loan restructuring, loan refinancing, short sale, equity sale, foreclosure, and bankruptcy among others. Don’t just push the sale or short sale of a home if the borrower wants to stay. Instead, provide options and resources to prospective clients.
- Express empathy. Individuals who are able to express empathy (as opposed to overselling) will be very successful in a down market. If it’s the “all about the agent” show, you may repel more borrowers than you meet. Consider all the ways in which you can be sensitive to the personal challenges families and individuals are facing during the pandemic.
- Be available. One of the surprising things we learned in the Recession and continue to observe is that agents prefer email and text to telephone or face-to-face meetings. Admittedly face-to-face is tough now, but answer your phone when someone calls. Don’t avoid the call and respond with a text. Instead, consider that it is often better and more personal to make a phone call than to send an email or text message.
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