(If you would like to read the discussion between Kimberly and Roland, the video transcription at the bottom of the page.)
On April 13, 2021, Kimberly Mackey went Head-to-Head with Roland Nairnsey, from New Homes Sales Plus. Buyers are getting extremely anxious with all the bidding wars, rising prices, product shortages, lotteries, VIP lists, highest and best offers, and on an on. With all the headlines about limited availability why don’t these buyers understand what is happening? Why do they still try to negotiate with you? You try to understand, but the relationship seems more forced than in the past. How can you help your buyer’s into their dream home, maintain customer satisfaction, and still help your buyers to deal with all the unforeseen challenges and delays that are sure to come? We’ve got you covered. Spend an hour with Roland and me, and we promise to give you some tools to manage the madness! You and your buyers will be glad you did.
(If you would like to procced past the intro conversation and begin reading the video topic, please scroll down to where it’s notated in red.)
Kimberly: I’ve been getting messages all morning, Roland. This is a very hot topic for people.
Roland: Good. We’re going to talk about how to thrive in this great market and how you deal with it. It’s not sales training so much as creating that wonderful experience.
Kimberly: I feel like my minor in psychology has been very beneficial because a lot of my coaching sessions feel like I’m giving people some coping mechanisms to deal with stress.
Roland: I think EQ is what’s needed right now. You know that idea that emotional intelligence is somewhat trumping IQ to get through this. I think you’ve got to be smart that way and put your arm around a salesperson and help them through being very busy It’s different.
Kimberly: It is. I’ve been brought in before to slow down sales, but I feel like I know you wanted to slow down sales.
Roland: I never knew anybody who wanted to slow down sales.
Kimberly: That was a unique situation. That was years ago.
Roland: They call them “cooler” in Vegas. If you come in and you cool somebody down that’s on a hot streak, you’re officially a sales cooler.
Kimberly: I tell people I can ride the brake and the gas at the same time. Look at some of these rock stars. We have Myers Barnes.
Roland: Oh my gosh, Meyers how are you doing?
Kimberly: That’s an audience member for you. How’s that for an endorsement?
Roland: I want to hang out with my friend yes
Kimberly: Myers thank you so much for being here. We have Patti Guthrie on here. The legendary person who runs the Aurora Awards in Florida and has her own Patti Guthrie Interiors. She’s helping me out, so Patti welcome
Roland: Patti, can you come to my house? I need a little bit of cleaning here. Hey Terry. Terry and I worked together at London Bay homes in Sarasota. Now she’s running her team and doing an amazing job. She’s a superstar luxury home REALTOR® with her team, so I’m very proud of her.
Kimberly: Welcome Terry. I’m sure people are still going to continue to come on. We’ve got a good group, so welcome everybody. If you haven’t joined us for Head-to-Head before, you’re in for a real treat. This is something that Myers helped me to kick off and make a thing in December. Who knew it was going to be a thing? It’s not a podcast. It’s not a webinar. It’s a conversation. You are invited to participate. We invite you to type your questions and comments into the chat. We want you to be a part of it, so it’s best when you view it live, but we are recording. Roland welcome to Head-to-Head.
Roland: Thank you very much.
Kimberly: I know you probably need no introduction here, but do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve got going on?
Roland: Most people know that I’m an active sales trainer. Fortunately, I’ve got clients all around the country that are selling many homes like everybody right now, so that’s a wonderful thing. I am a coach and trainer. The thing I’m most excited about is today is the first day we’re announcing that I’m hosting a sales and management training experience on the beach in Hollywood Beach, Florida in October. Most of your audience I think are from Florida, so while it’s appealing, it’s not quite the same when you’re up north in October; it’s cold and chilly. It’s a sales and management retreat. October 12-15 at Margaritaville, and the emphasis is on relaxation while you learn. Everyone’s been through a heck of a year. The last two years have been exhausting. We’ve gone through so much. We are getting the great reward of massive amounts of sales which we’re going to talk about, so it’s a nice reward to come down to Florida in October. I checked and the ocean temperature in October is 83 degrees just so you know. It’s not just me. It’s my best friends, and there are more that can still come, but so far it’s a cadre of speakers for the sales training. I’m going to be joined by Quint Lears and Tom Daddario with whom I work. Tom is an expert on talk of EQ and NLP, new linguistic program. We’re going to work on emotional intelligence and emotional selling as well. I’ve got Mike Moore, the amazing motivator, coming in from California to motivate everybody. Anya Christensen who’s amazing. Everybody knows her. She’s going to talk about marketing and social media. Molly Elkman, the owner of Group Two, will be joining us. You, the famous Kimberley Mackey.
Kimberly: I’m excited to be there.
You’re going to be here on the management. You’re going to Zoom in because you’ll be at NAHB that day, I think.
Kimberly: I should be in Houston if we’re traveling again. I’ll take time out from Houston to join you.
Roland: Perfect. You’re going to Zoom in and join Quint and talk about the importance of working with REALTORS® even in this great market. How we have to be loyal to them and things you can do. Jane Meagher the, famous Jane Meagher will be talking about design studios and how to think retail along with Lita Dirks. For those that don’t know Lita, she’s a great interior designer. She has her team in Colorado. Elizabeth Lynette is an interior designer locally. Alex Udine works at Group Two, and she’ll be talking to us about online sales counseling. Then very well-known and respected and some of the best in the industry, Matt Riley and Kevin Oakley, will be joining us as well to talk marketing.
Kimberly: That’s a power lineup.
Roland: I think it’s going to be amazing. Not only do you get to come to the beach with hopefully your whole sales team and relax and put your toes in the ocean and enjoy. We’re going to have rooftop music on the second day by the pool. But look at this amazing lineup of speakers that we can learn from. Let’s de-stress and detox and refresh.
Kimberly: There’s yoga, right?
Roland: There’s sunrise yoga. You might get to see me out there on the beach at
sunrise chanting away.
Kimberly: Wait are we going to see you in spandex?
Roland: Well, I have Speedos, but I think I’m going to spare you.
Kimberly: Oh my. I’m happy to join you, and I really appreciate you joining me today, so let’s get going.
Roland: Let’s get going. Honestly, I don’t promote, but I’m very excited about that and having anybody that would like to come down and join us.
Kimberly: The link for that was on there. It’ll be in the follow-up email, so I’ll make sure that it gets in there for you. I promised the Atlanta Home Builders Association that I would also put a nice little plug-in for this program that I’m doing for them on April 22nd, and it’s going to be interesting, Roland. I’m doing a hybrid event where part of the people are going to be on Zoom, and part of them are going to be live.
Roland: That makes total sense to leverage the technology. What a great homebuilders’ association. Congratulations.
Kimberly: That’s a good one. You can go to atlantahomebuilders.com to sign up. We’re going to be talking about elevating your e-lationships.
The topic discussion begins here:
Kimberly: I think all of us are just feeling just incredibly overwhelmed right now, and I know everybody that I’m talking to says it’s too much, so let’s start by talking about what is going on in the market out there. What are you seeing as you’re talking to your clients?
Roland: Thank you, Kimberly. I think you’re seeing the same thing we’re all seeing it. Every builder I work with, and I have them all over the country, is saying that they are swamped. Everyone is busy, and while everyone is very grateful to be that busy – I mean it’s a nice problem to have because let’s face it, many of us were selling back in’ 08 and through the great recession – so the problem now is that we’re selling so well and all the things that come with that, and obviously what’s that creating? High demand. I guess people during Covid decided that they didn’t like their current situation so that created massive dissatisfaction – their why – and then you’ve got this low supply and these low interest rates as the Powerball kicker I like to call it. So, with that trifecta of high demand, low supply, and low interest rates, it is creating this frenzy.
Kimberly: Not to mention the millennials coming out of the woodwork.
Roland: Is that what it is? I didn’t even think about that.
Kimberly: Millennials are diving into the market for the first time. It took them a while to decide they wanted to participate.
Roland: They deserve a home too. We love the millennials. They’re amazing salespeople. So that’s what’s going on. We have a builder in Charlotte called Empire Homes. It used to be Shea Homes, and people are back to lining up. They have a small release of about three homes a month in each neighborhood due to price increases, and due to this land situation. People are literally camping out again together which is not very healthy, but that’s where we are in some places. That’s in Charlotte.
Kimberly: All my builders are still doing that virtually. I don’t have anybody that is camping out but with lotteries and VIP lists. That’s a whole other thing to talk about. When you start talking about how to manage a VIP list and not damage your brand.
Roland: I think it’s a great topic. We have a mastermind group with a builder I work with, and what they talked about last month was what they’re doing to host it virtually. It’s a hybrid. I think most of them are starting virtual where they’ll go to an e-calendar and pick out their appointment time, and then they’ll have slots where they come in by themselves to make sure that they want to go forward with a home and a home site. You can lock in that price perhaps on that day. It takes a lot of skill and finesse to do it in a way. Not only do you help get the sales but you’re creating a positive experience for the client, so they don’t feel like just another number or like cattle. I think that’s what builders did in the last great build-up, but they treated people so badly, and then karma is a terrible thing. We had that big crash right afterward, but it’s an important thing to avoid. Make sure we create a good experience even if it is a grand opening.
Kimberly: I think what you just said is important. We know what karma is, right? I think we have to pay attention to that because I am seeing a lot of that. I’m seeing people not returning phone calls. They’re overwhelmed, or they don’t have anything to sell, so they’re just not even bothering to call people back. Not being able to deal with maybe having to deliver some bad news, or that that construction has been delayed, or any of those things. We’re going to dive into a whole lot of that today because that
seems to be where the questions are coming from. I see Lisa’s contributing over here on the chat, and I encourage you guys to. What are you seeing out there?
Roland: Lisa is from the New York market as well which has been very strong, and her role is as a REALTOR® managing sales for different builders. It’s a great business model. She and her team are excellent at selling homes for builders and guiding them through the whole process. They have a whole set of challenges being that REALTOR®.
Kimberly: The last two weeks things have slowed, and I don’t know that it’s price increases, but it’s also that people are just getting frustrated, and they’re popping out of the market. We don’t want them to pop out of the market indefinitely, so I think it’s important that we manage our brands. Even if you don’t have anything to say to them, call them and tell them that.
Roland: It’s a great point. I’ve been doing a program with all the builders I work with on exactly this topic, and we’re talking about how to create a great experience in this market because you can’t focus on increasing sales. That’s a little odd. There’s not much you can do. Our builders are saying they’re either not selling at all right now or they have available slots. You can sell two or three out a year so sort of dealing with that. What we’ve been preaching is to focus on the experience for the clients, both new ones coming through your pipeline and ones that you’ve already sold to. You know that now is a perfect time to practice creating that great experience. Not only are they going to be happier, but of course, that’s going to lead to referrals, and you’ll create the habits. I was selling actively in the 90s and early 2000s and that went back recently and was selling as well, but all those habits that we should be doing and managing our backlog you know is important. If you’re sold out right now, then why can’t you go out and walk your homes every week? The ones that you’ve sold to. Check on them, and then communicate with your clients and let them know what the status is. What we’re finding is that the salesperson could sell a home, and it might be two or three months before they can even get into the design studio to make selections. Well, I don’t know about you, but I get angry at weird moments. I shouldn’t talk about that, but’s an irrational thing. Something will trigger it, but if I hear from my salesperson every Wednesday or every Friday just with an update, “Don’t worry, we are working on your file. We will let you know what is going on.” Photographs that you send to them. That kind of stuff. If I hear from the salesperson, I’m fine, but if there are long silences, and suddenly that client hits five weeks and they hear a rumor about somebody else got something that they didn’t, and they get mad. How do you avoid that? You focus on the experience and how you can serve your clients in the way that we should have been anyway. You have more time now because most salespeople don’t have a lot to sell. The faucet has been restricted, so now is a good time to focus. What do you think?
Kimberly: I think you must use time blocks. Schedule the time in your calendar to do the follow-up. I’m going to follow up with all my customers that are at this stage on Tuesday and Thursday, then I’m going to do this. Break it down, but as Roland said, you must make it systematic. If you have a system, it’s easier to follow. Schedule an appointment with yourself, and then don’t break that appointment with yourself. That’s the other thing; we schedule an appointment with ourselves, and then somebody calls and we think, “Oh, bright shiny object.” We go do whatever the other thing is. It’s fun to do something else, right? Schedule that time with yourself as if you were going to write a contract.
Roland: It’s true. You know I’m an acronym guy, so when I created this program called GREAT. The G is for gratitude. The R is relate. You have to relate to people. E is empathy. A is attitude, and then T is trust and teamwork. You’re building trust with your client and teamwork within your company which we’d love to get into a little bit. If you go out and walk your homes regularly, and then you spot something that’s not right, which is going to happen as you increase sales. With the number of people in the market, timelines are getting longer, prices are going up, and mistakes are being made. It has to happen. It’s an inevitable thing. If you get ahead of that and let the client know, “I was out in your home, and I did see some flooring out there that’s not the right one. Don’t worry, it’s not going to get installed. We already know about it.” The client will respond, “Thank you. I can live with that.” If they go out there even though they aren’t supposed to for insurance, they do. Saturday morning you’ll see them running away like they just saw their home. The point being is that if they catch that, then they feel like they’ve caught you and something that you didn’t know about, and now the whole trust is broken. That’s my thought process behind doing that actively. I remember doing this with Terry in Sarasota. We would walk through the homes that she had sold and would make notes. We would have the file with us, and there were things we caught. One time some doors weren’t going in from the owner’s suite out to the patio, and the block was already up, so we called the builder and said it was a mistake and it needs to be double-checked. It was a mistake and could be fixed. When the buyers found out, they were very happy that we were on top of our files that way. Mistakes are going to happen. I would always apologize for that, but if you get there first, then the client’s okay with it if they find out about it. That trust that you’ve spent three to six months building is now broken immediately, and it’s hard to get that back.
Kimberly: It is. I would encourage people to use some technology as they’re doing that. We have all experienced that we can be on video. For salespeople, that’s one of the breakthroughs that this pandemic caused; we can all do video. Anybody can do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but this is one of those times when it’s a great thing to go out when you’re walking the home site and walking the home. Take your video. Make a couple of little comments, and then send that in a text message. Follow-up was done with that customer. They see that you’re looking out for them. They see you on-site, so you can kill two birds with one stone, so do it.
Roland: There are a couple of apps for that. Right?
Kimberly: Of course.
Roland: That’s a great idea. I think if you get over the concept that you have to be perfect on camera and that you can stammer and laugh and make a joke or whatever, it doesn’t have to be this perfect video every time. It’s quite liberating, and your clients would love to hear that. When I worked for this custom home builder, every Friday was it was blog day, and the builder would send their updates with pictures of the homes and the clients got addicted to that. If they didn’t get their blog by about four o’clock, they were calling the office asking, “Where’s my blog? I want to make sure everything’s okay.” It’s fun for them, and it keeps them away too. That way they don’t have to visit as well.
Kimberly: It builds that trust. The problems that we are having right now with the price increases, and the never-ending notices of delays, or products that we can’t get. Now I’m told anything with a resin involved in it, which is everything. Because of that crazy freeze that we had in Texas a few weeks ago, now we can’t get anything with a resin. You can’t get OSB. You can’t get anything with radiant barrier. Might as well forget it. Lumber is 180 percent of what it used to be. Once you start a home. it’s almost like this never-ending I’ve got to give people bad news, but if there’s that foundation of trust, which means people don’t freak out as much.
Roland: Since we’re chatting, I want to make sure that we don’t lose this, and as busy as we are, it’s easy to become transactional. People are just a number. Thirty sales this year. You tend to lose that connection. I would challenge everybody to make sure that relating with people, you do find out personal information about their kids if they have kids, their age groups, or their pets, and what their motivators are, sports teams, perhaps hobbies or hot buttons, personality style. All the normal things that should be going on. It’s easy I think to just put a home in MLS and sell it in most markets. Are you connecting with people? I want to challenge us to relate with people on a personal level and then also have empathy for them. Try to create empathy for yourself. Explain to them that whilst this is wonderful that we’re so busy, it is new for us. It’s a new experience. We are here to help you. I’m here to hold your hand, but please be patient with us as we go through growing pains. I know that you want a brand-new home just like everybody else seems to want one right now. We’re building it for you, but let’s trust each other. Let’s be patient. If somebody trusts you, if they relate with you – like if I know about your wonderful family as I do – I know a little bit about you, so it’s hard to get mad at you when something goes wrong. Things inevitably will happen. Tara’s talking on here about setting expectations up front – plan A and plan B. Build on the relationships. Perfectly said.
Kimberly: That’s perfectly said because that’s the key. The foundation of everything we do is the relationship. I think we forget and think that we are in the home-building business, but that’s not right, we’re in the relationship business. We lose sight of that is the problem.
Roland: People are going to turn in their graves when they hear this emotional stuff going on today. Some of these hardcore people, but that’s exactly right. We must remember these are that we’re humans selling to other humans. We must connect with them first. Can you sell a home without doing that? Yes. All day long you can get sales right now. It’s not that hard, but can you keep the client happy? Are you going to create a great experience? Are you going to work with them? Are you going to get referrals a year or two from now because of the great experience or are they going to be festering out there?
Kimberly: You don’t want to damage the brand, and I think that as builders we go through this, and I think REALTORS® do too a little bit. I walk in both worlds, but I think we think this market’s going to last forever. It’s easy to do when you’re dealing with all this all the time, but it’s not. It’s going to turn, and it’s going to turn on a dime. It’s going to be like somebody just turned the faucet off.
Roland: If we talk through it like what could cause it to change? Right now, interest rates are low. What’s different and better about this situation than ’08, the great recession, is that we have no supply right now. If you remember, especially in Florida, places like Tampa had builders that were 3 years.
Kimberly: I had builders that were five years out on land. and I’m like, “Whoa! Hold your roll there.”
Roland: Buyers were flipping the flips, and anybody that had a pulse could or who could fog up a mirror could get a mortgage back then. It was horrible. that was a so That’s not happening. I think that everyone’s predicting the next year would be good unless there’s some black swan event again, but no one’s saying that they’d expect one, but I think if you’re going to increase the money supply to the extent that is being proposed with infrastructure, there’s lot more money. Whether you’re for it or against it, I’m not getting into that, but just saying that might cause inflation which could cause interest rates to go up. If interest rates go up, I think we are going to see some people just not afford to get in the market anymore. The prices are getting so high. That combination of having to charge more. We can’t help it. Prices are going up, and then the interest rates knocking up half a percent to a percent could certainly cause people to stop. You’re right, so we’re going to perfect our skills now and get ready. Also, save some money because you never know. Please lord, give me one more.
Kimberly: That’s one of those things about new home sales. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride, and that’s one of the reasons it’s hard to get into new home sales. The foreclosure forbearance is going to come to an end at some point, and it is something that we’re starting to talk about. I’m very active at the National Association of Homebuilders, and it’s something we’re starting to talk about. With the forbearance right now, we’re artificially keeping foreclosures at bay and not allowing people to foreclose on their home who may have some financial issues, so what you have is this part of the population that’s sitting in their home rent and mortgage free. Until something happens where the federal government changes its policy, they’re going to sit there because why not? They can save the money right now, but once they start to hear it’s changing, many of these people have lots of equity in their home, and rather than tack it on to the end of their mortgage, what they’re going to want to do is sell. They’re going to want to sell as we get more confident with vaccines and get the pandemic under control. and that is going to back us out of this high, high, high demand for home building. That’s something that is a real possibility that could happen very quickly just with the stroke of a pen with the administration. You just don’t know when these things are going to change.
Roland: That that’s an interesting thing to talk about. I think that what you and I are saying, as are many experts, is just to be prepared. Perfect your skills now. Don’t cap any of your potential. You still need to follow up. You still need all those relationships. Let’s not take anything for granted. G is for gratitude, let’s be grateful that we’re in this extraordinary situation where we’re selling out so quickly. It’s very entitled that your biggest complaint might be, “I sold out. What I thought was going to take two years took me three months to sell out.” You’ve got that backlog that you should be nurturing. Yes, it might be boring on a given Tuesday or Wednesday but have a look at what you’ve accomplished in that short period. I think we tend to get to this rut of thinking, “Oh it’s terrible. What am I going to do next?” Well, you’ve sold a whole bunch of homes. Go nurture those clients. Make them feel good. Hold their hand through the experience so that everybody is happy at the end. Be prepared for these things.
Kimberly: We do this every day on our side, and we think that everybody does it every day. We get frustrated with our clients, “Well, I told them.” I hear that all the time from people. “I’ve already told them this. We’ve gone over it.” Guys, you have to go over it over, and over, and over again. I built a home in 2020, and it was it’s not for the faint of heart, people. Knowing what I know about it helped me through it, but I still had a lot of questions, and I still leaned on my salesperson. God bless her. Can you imagine being Kimberly Mackey’s salesperson? Shout out to you, Lisa Malone. I’ve worked with her, and I’ve worked with her mother, so I’ve worked with her company for years. I can’t even imagine the trauma that must have gone into that, but we forget that we have to set these expectations. It’s kind of like voting in Chicago, so do it early and often.
Roland: I was going to say under-commit, over-perform. I think that you must be mentally flexible. Things change quickly in new home sales, and we have to lean into that, embrace it, and not be embarrassed about it. What’s Terry saying about buyers’ expectations?
Kimberly: I had a feeling we were going to jump into real estate agents early in this conversation, so let’s go ahead and address it.
Roland: Yes, let’s save that, but I would love to talk about that. That’s a very good question about If they don’t work with the REALTOR®, are they getting a better deal? Under commit, overperform. If it used to take you six months to build a home, but it’s eight months, then say it’s nine months for goodness’ sake, and give yourself some breathing room. If you get in at seven or eight months, the buyer’s happy, but I think our tendency, and I used to do this too in sales, I would be slightly hyperbolic perhaps and give them a time frame of the best-case scenario. That is not a good idea based on what’s going on. Make the sale anyway, even if it is 10 months for goodness’ sake. If you do it in eight months, then that’s a great thing. Under commitment, over-perform. The other thing I wanted to, if I can mention, is to create a value statement for your builder as to why you’re slowing down the pace of sales. As a salesperson, I think it’s frustrating. You know our goal is land. Why can’t I go out and sell it? Well, we sort of know why, because prices are changing on a dime. As you said, with all these resins that are causing these things, prices are going up, and then we are running out. If we build too many, then our quality will go down. What I’ve encouraged people to do, and it’s working, is to create a value statement which is, “Of course, we could sell as many homes as we could; however, we want to protect the value and the quality of your home, therefore we’re only allowed to build two a month or three a month. We have a slot schedule that puts this out next March, but that’s to protect the quality of your brand-new home. Does that make sense?” Does that make sense, Kimberly?”
Kimberly: It does. I’m all about getting real with the customers, so I tell them what’s happening and say, “We agree up front what your price is going to be, but here’s the reality of our market right now. We don’t know what our cost is going to be for this price, so if we sell too far out, we could end up losing so much money on this that it’s detrimental. It’s in your interest that we’re here to service our warranty. We’re here to finish out this community and keep this community flowing, and growing, and growing equity for you.” We have a higher responsibility. I think people understand but maybe don’t know intuitively. We have to share it with them.
Roland: We have a solution for them, so it’s a good thing. We aren’t just saying. “Get in the queue and hopefully you’ll get home one day.” There are situations all around the country where builders say, “You know you have to wait, and we’re going to sell this number of homes this month.” It’s for all the reasons that you just shared, which are to protect the quality and to protect them. Builders can’t predict what’s going to happen to price. It’s going to only go out so far. What would happen if they couldn’t take care of the customer care that’s all funded through that? I agree.
Kimberly: Worst-case scenario, what if we had to go backward on pricing? Nobody wants that. We lived that in 2008, 9, and 10. Do you want to live that again? That’s terrible. Nobody wants to overpay for their home, so we don’t want to have to guess too high what those costs are going to be. It’s important for our sales managers who are on this call if you’re not educating your salespeople, bring in the purchasing people, bring in the companies. Educate your salespeople, because an educated salesperson can share this information with their backlog and with and with prospective buyers as well.
Roland: I think in sales what we always do is turn lemons into lemonade. when we have to. Corny but true. Perception is reality, perhaps, so in the eye of the buyer it’s stressful. They’re not sure what they’re getting. I think right now brand-new homes have an advantage against the resale market or used. In as much as you can come in guaranteed to get a home, guaranteed in some markets to lock in a price. There are a few builders where there are a few escalators in there.
Kimberly: There are escalators. Some have that.
Roland: But it’s still stress-free. I know in most markets if you’re looking at a resale, you’ll go out and you can make a full price – offer a full price agreement – and still get outbid by other people, so there was no guarantee you were ever going to get that home. I think it’s a great time for buyers and REALTORS® to understand, “Let’s go visit that brand new home salesperson. At least there’s a home site guaranteed price. We just have to wait a little bit. Can you give up eight months of your life to enjoy the rest of your life in the home of your dreams that you’ve personalized the way you’d like it or do you want to get into that sort of rat race of competing overused homes that are going up in price irrationally?” I think it’s a great time to be selling your home if we can understand the stresses, and deal with them, explain them in a way that benefits the client. “Let’s get out of that and come join us. It’s harmonious and relaxing, stress-free, and all those kinds of great things.
Kimberly: I don’t know that we can promise stress-free because there will be some, but if we set those expectations as you said, I think that is going to make a big difference for the buyers. Then we continue to set those expectations. You said something, Roland, that I want to emphasize because I don’t want it to get lost in everything that we’re saying. Buying a home is not a five-minute decision. People get caught up right now in this market and they’re overpaying for homes that will not appraise.
Roland: Houses. Used houses as opposed to a brand-new home.
Kimberly: You have to help that buyer to understand not to settle. They’re going to spend this money on something that’s going to be what they want and is not going to cause them years of heartache with remodeling, fixing, and repairs. To get these deals, people are overpaying 30, 40, and 50 thousand. I’ve heard a hundred thousand dollars in some markets, and they’re getting into bidding wars. They’re getting caught up in it. They’re foregoing any inspection, so they don’t know what damage has been done.
Roland: Is that right? They’re all so desperate that they’re just buying it as is?
Kimberly: Yes. They know it won’t appraise, and they don’t know what’s hiding behind the walls.
Roland: All common sense. It was like that I remember in ’04, ’05, and ’06. I would go to grand openings. I would line up with my little check. You had to bring a cashier’s check just to get in the queue, and you got abused by the builder. It was just stressful. Then have a look at what happened. I think that’s flipped now, whereas in the resale market for the first time I can remember that market is in such a frenzy. The people are just losing all their common sense. They’re so desperate to get into something available now, that they are settling for something that’s not in the right location, doesn’t look good, doesn’t have all the contemporary finishes they want, and it’s overpriced. You know that that’s going to come home to roost at some point, whereas look at what we present. A brand new home in a lovely neighborhood. You might have to wait a little longer and get in that queue and then be called by your salesperson. “You need to come in now and sign an agreement, but you’re picking out the home you want. You’re getting to personalize it with the Chip and Jo Jo finishes from HGTV. The stuff you want.”
Kimberly: We must have shiplap on everything now.
Roland: Right now, shiplap is amazing. Next week it’ll be horrible. I’ll have to take it down, but if you’re buying a brand-new home, you get all of that. You have to wait a little bit longer, but you can lock in a price in most markets or there’s a cap of a certain number. You end up at the end of it getting what you want. I think it’s a strong time for a salesperson to lean into what we have and not get concerned. It’s stressful, I get it, but understand what you can do to improve the experience both externally and internally. Externally with the clients, you can walk your homes. You can communicate you give them the benefits of taking longer to protect the quality and make sure that what they want is what they get. Internally, I think we have to support each other and understand that our construction team and our design teams are stressed. How can we help them and not throw them under the bus? The moment you throw your team under the bus to make yourself look better, not that we do it consciously.
Kimberly: It doesn’t make you look better. It just makes everybody uncomfortable.
Roland: My builder sucks. They’re making mistakes. Well, that’s not going to make the buyer feel good. They want to hear an apology. “I’m so sorry. I’ll look into it. We’ll take care of you. As you know, we’re building a lot more homes than we’re accustomed to, but we are here to take care of it for you.” That’s what they want. Reassurance that the team is going to coalesce around the problem and come up with a solution for them.
Kimberly: Speaking of that, how do we deliver bad news? This is a question that my salespeople are asking me all the time. We’re always putting our heads together. What are you sharing with your team when they’re saying they need to deliver bad news and they don’t like it? Most salespeople don’t like it.
Roland: I think we must define what bad news is. Is it a mistake? Is it a time frame extension? I think as Terry said, “If you set that expectation that plan A is this because you’re buying a very popular thing. You, the buyer, are investing in a brand-new home. Everybody seems to have decided that’s what they want, so it might take longer. Mistakes might get made, but we will take care of it.” I think setting up that expectation and then being empathetic and direct is important. You can’t just say. “We’ve made a mistake. Get over it.” That would be horrible. “I’m so sorry. As we discussed, we have made a mistake. We are aware of it, and we’re taking care of it for you. We’re on top of it. We’re going to ensure that the wonderful quality home that you’ve invested in is what we deliver for you, so just please be patient.” There is no point in sugarcoating it. You must be direct with people and let them know that this is what’s going on, but if you created that empathy and trust at the beginning where you know their kids’ names, and you know what their hot buttons are, and what their fears are. My fear is price changing and being told something today, and then I’m going to get called in three months. and you’re going to change the game on me. If you know that stuff ahead of time, and that’s in the file or your CRM, then you can be prepared and create a good experience. If you go into it with everybody the same, then you’ll have a lot of bad experiences. What do you think?
Kimberly: I think you have to treat everybody as individuals but sometimes with information we like to attach good and bad and positive and negative. Sometimes information is just information. We have to be able to get out of our heads. If you have a relationship with people, information is just information. Don’t build it up into something or anticipate that the buyer is going to react in a certain way that they may, or may not. It’s just information and having a plan. This happened and is what we’re going to do about it, and here’s the result and I. I have to talk through a lot of times with a lot of the salespeople because they sweat this stuff, and I have empathy for that too as a salesperson. We love our customers, and we feel very protective of them, but sometimes we build it up in our heads and make it worse than it is. By the time I talk them into pulling the trigger and calling the buyer, they say, “You told me this was going to happen. You’ve got a plan. You’re going to do something about I’m good with that.” Or “Can we meet? Can we get together so I can see it and have a better understanding?” As salespeople, we don’t always need to make a mountain out of a molehill. That’s my southern colloquialism.
Roland: I started selling in my early 20s, and I would avoid conflict like you couldn’t believe. I was that guy that had piles of things to do. I wanted to do the happy stuff. I completely get it, but as you say, I think I learned most of my stuff by sort of modeling on other great salespeople that I had the privilege of working with. I would watch how they’d be very honest, upfront, and very direct. They’d build trust, and when things happened, they would just be nice and direct. What you did was important, and it’s the name of your company as well, which is you presented a solution to it. I think that’s what we forget. We’ll just say. “This isn’t going to happen as we planned.” Then there’s a pause. “Well, what is it going to be?” “It’s going to be about two to three weeks later.” Or “You are going to need to come back in and pick out a different finish because that color’s is not available this month, but we have three or four that look similar that have been popular with our clients. Please don’t worry about it. We’ll take great care of you there.” There is a nice way to couch that, but I think sometimes we forget what to mention that there is a solution to this. That unending fear of things not getting solved is what gets people stressed. They’ll lash out.
Kimberly: Even if you don’t know, what I can guarantee you is if you’re worried about telling them about it today, it’s going to be harder tomorrow because it’s just going to get worse.
Roland: What is it? A dollar of prevention leads to ten dollars of cost, and if you don’t fix it at a ten-dollar level, it will cost you a hundred bucks. If we don’t get them in early to be part of this solution, then it’s just going to get worse in their mind. They’re going to get more and more upset if you wait too long to tell them about something.
Kimberly: Chaos will always fill a void.
Roland: That’s an interesting thought.
Kimberly: Yes, it really will.
Roland: In their minds at least.
Kimberly: In their mind chaos will fill a void, and they will dream up things. The same thing works with salespeople who are out in the field. From the office standpoint, we don’t always think to tell them what’s happening and what’s going on until it’s at the very end. Salespeople will fill in the blanks and sometimes in a very creative manner. Again, chaos will fill a void, so just don’t create the void.
Roland: I have one, so I’ll double down on that. Action cures anxiety. So, if you are getting stressed if you’re not quite sure as a salesperson – and most of us have been through this. I spent 10 years selling homes in a community. We sold over 2,000 homes and then there was the ‘What was I going to do next kind of stuff?” I get the anxiety with salespeople. They aren’t sure what’s happening next. I found if you act on things, it cures anxiety. If you have sold out for the month, think of things that you can do that are positive. Nurture your backlog of clients. Go walk the home. We talked about that. Reach out. We talked about the importance of REALTORS®. Good ones like Terry and Lisa and others that we all know.
Kimberly: We’ve got some good ones on here. I see Dawn Kay who’s a legend on here. Every new home salesperson in the Tampa market has heard of Dawn Kay, so I’m excited to have somebody from my hometown on here today.
Roland: Nice. We have some stars out there. It’s an interesting conversation. I’ve spoken with my managers. Do we need to nurture those REALTORS® right now? You can sell something you put in MLS when you want to. A couple of days later it’s probably selling, but I think that’s a very fickle approach to something. As soon as the market slows down slightly, if you have those good relationships with those REALTORS® and haven’t treated them badly, you can then call them and say, “We’re starting up a whole new neighborhood over here. We’d love you to come out for a sneak preview.” Those same REALTORS® can feed you in a more normal to tougher market, so I think we must remember that and not get so caught up in the Do we need to pay commission right now? Do we need our REALTORS®? There are always going to be some that are not as good as others. We all know that, but I think it’s a great time to use your time with those REALTORS® outreach kinds of things.
Kimberly: You don’t need all the REALTORS®. This is what I’ve been saying; establish relationships with those REALTORS® that you want to have the relationship with. The educated ones. The ones that are raving fans. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’m seeing that happen right now. “We’re cutting commissions” Because we have some bad actors as we always have. If they’re snaking up your buyers in your parking lot then, no, these are not people we want to deal with.
Roland: I’m probably going to regret going here, but I think that it’s okay to have an open-minded conversation. If you’re a REALTOR® that represents builders or the market is selling out so quickly, you might have a little bit of flexibility with that builder to help them out.
Kimberly: I agree.
Roland: That’s a slippery slope, but I think that if you’re going to sell 100 homes and not 10 in a year, then maybe you can be realistic and work with those builders and help them out, especially with costs going up and that fear of that. That doesn’t mean that you start working with REALTORS® altogether, you just have to get through these times together. That’s a whole other conversation.
Kimberly: f you’ve got a VIP program, now is not the time to abandon it. Maybe you want to scale back, but this is not the time to abandon your VIP program. Nurture those relationships because relationships are not about fair weather. They are there in good times and bad.
Roland: if you can educate REALTORS®, bring them in, and teach
them how you want them to sell when they come in. “Bring your clients. I’ve got great salespeople that will take your buyer through the process. We will keep you involved. You are valuable. We do appreciate you, but you know our new home salespeople are the construction experts, so they typically help your clients to guide them. But we also want your help to nurture that client. There are going to be longer wait times now, so if we can team up and collaborate to create a good experience, that’s going to be ideal.”
Kimberly: That’s value. You must keep that REALTOR® in the loop. You can’t just leave them out of it. If you’re creating a video send it to both.
Roland: That’s true. I never thought about that, but it’s great because if the REALTOR® starts getting mad at you, making the client angry, and threatening to do stuff, that’s not helpful. I think you must recognize you’re on the same team with that REALTOR® and work towards the same goal. That maybe is a way that they can feel like they’re earning their whole commission or their professional fee. Fee for professional service.
Kimberly: Their fee for service. It should be a fee for service because there should be service. Terry asked the question, “Will I get a better deal if I don’t use a real estate agent?” That’s the age-old question. In most of our markets, about 60 percent of your business is coming from real estate agents that are legit the procuring cause. I’m not talking about those who are coming in after the fact. If you don’t have a registration policy, I’m happy to help you create one. It’s a very easy process to create a broker registration form and enforce it. That way you know you’ve got your policies in place. Put that out there. Put it on your website. Teach your customers how you work with REALTORS® and the importance of REALTOR® so you don’t end up in these disputes. When we set the expectations then we don’t have to have a firestorm trying to manage it when we do that in advance. I think we should always be managing our broker registration policy and expectations with that and not allowing things that shouldn’t be. Then we don’t feel bad about writing that check. Just today I had a REALTOR® tell me that her client is requesting 50 percent of her commission back if they contract with a builder. Here’s what I tell my REALTORS®. Just because they fog a mirror doesn’t mean they’re your buyer, so you can fire them. What is that REALTOR’S® unique selling proposition? What did she do to earn her fee? If he or she doesn’t believe in it, then maybe they need to refine their service offering so that they do. They should earn a fee for service. Real estate commission is not a bonus. It’s just how REALTORS® get paid.
Roland: I think you’re right. With these long lag times of construction, with that REALTOR® being involved, earning their fee is important. They can communicate, come out and take pictures and inspect. Help the client feel better, let them know that it is normal, that is going to take longer, but it’s worth waiting because you’re going to get an amazing home that you’ll love for the rest of your life if you go through these extra couple of months. I think that now is a great time for new home salespeople to collaborate with those REALTORS® and vice versa. I guess it’s like if the parents are arguing either one could be right, but the kids are getting stressed out. I think if the REALTOR’S® arguing with the new home salesperson and vice versa, the client’s thinking. “I’m caught in the middle of something weird here. I just want a beautiful home at the end of all of this.” Let’s get alongside each other and work together. I think it’s a perfect time.
Kimberly: I have a formula that I continue to teach. 25 times 2 is 50, so 50 sales a year before walk-in traffic. The easiest way to get there, salespeople is through REALTORS®. By having 25 REALTORS® who are going to bring you two deals a year, that’s 50 sales. I understand 50 sales are not a big deal in this market. It will be in tomorrow’s market.
Roland: It depends on the value range. Some salespeople just can’t get there because they’re selling out of homes.
Kimberly: Yes, or they’re working for a builder who can’t produce that because they’re doing all multi-million-dollar custom homes, and it’s a longer process.
Roland: I think converting that amount of people through the process that could buy based upon other things is very reasonable. We have a question from Carrie.
Kimberly: Another situation is buyers are asking if they do not bring a co-broke, will we give them a co-broke fee? No.
Roland. Terry was asking that.
Kimberly: My answer to that has always been, not just that’s not how we work. It’s that we build into our budget a marketing budget. From a part of that, we pay REALTOR® commissions, so it’s already built into the price of every home. It’s not a one-on-one scenario. We don’t add three percent to the price of our home. It’s built into our operating budget for the community. No. We are not going to give you that money back. Thanks for asking, but this is a seller’s market and you’re welcome to go and play in it if you’d like, but we’re not discounting anything right now.
Roland: Miss, miss! I’m getting excited about all the things you’re saying here. What we teach is if you have to say no, say no nicely. or I think it’s a Ritz Carlton concept but always tell them what they can have instead of that. It may sound corny, and it’s not going to be what they want to hear, but it’s the same thing. For example, “Can you negotiate?” “We don’t negotiate because how would you feel if others moved in and got a better deal? We’re giving our best price first.” “Oh. Okay. Well, I wanted to get a better deal, but I do understand what you’re saying.” You’re saying no with benefits. I think we must have a not-with-benefits approach and say, “No. Thank you for bringing it up. It is a common thought, but we value the REALTOR® friends we work with. They provide great service. It is factored in as a marketing fee, but we will ensure that we give you the very best value and that you’ll move in on schedule. We’ll get as close to that schedule.” Tell them what they can have instead. Don’t leave it hanging even though we’re in Florida with hanging chads. You can’t leave it hanging out there with just no. I would like to always replace it with, however, we will make sure that that you are getting the best value. Look at this. If you’re locking in prices now, we’re having all these price increases. Our builder’s able to lock in a price and give you this time frame.” Whatever you can do, get them focused on the good things you can do and not caught up in this one negative idea that, “I want to get the commission back because I don’t have a REALTOR® and I should get it.”
Kimberly: He’s right. You’re not going to benefit if you don’t understand your unique selling proposition. Your team needs to know what to say, and you need to rehearse this. You need to – I’m going to use the word – role play, Roland.
Roland: Oh, my goodness! It’s Rolly play.
Kimberly: Ah, yes. It Rolly play when you’re in your case. So, what’s Paul telling us here?
Roland: You don’t negotiate from a position with a lack of data. He’s exactly right. He’s very analytical. He’s very good. Most customers fall short of supporting their negotiation position with data.
Kimberly: It’s knowledge. You’re right, Paul. Knowledge is strength, and I see salespeople stumble over this question because good markets or bad markets, that’s a question they’re always getting. You must know what your answer is. This is something you’re going to get, so address it.
Roland: Make them feel better about what they’re doing right now. “This is a slice of time. You’re stopping the clock today when you go ahead.” If you have a builder that does lock in the price. With some builders, it could go up by three percent, whatever your formula is. “When you go ahead, now you can lock in the price. Let me show you the price increases that we’re having.” You can talk about buying power now. On my app. Your buying power is strong right now thanks to whatever the prices are today, and with these crazy low interest rates, you can lock that in. If you wait and don’t go ahead, have a look at what’s going on. The whole notion of having a REALTOR® or not having a REALTOR® becomes moot I hope. What Paul is saying is interesting because I know that I suffered from this when I was a sales director with Terry there a few years ago. I didn’t realize where these offers were coming from, but then I looked on Zillow and I realized that we hadn’t been updating our homes correctly. Our Zestimates were terrible for how they were even Some of them were even vacant land, and people were thinking, “I’ll give you this.” They were making up offers, but it’s because the only way they were arriving at a value was not in an educated way is my point. If you’re not coaching them through that and explaining – and again, I think that’s where REALTORS® could have real value in explaining, “This is what the market is today. This is what’s happening to prices, so no, we aren’t going to negotiate.” Or “I’m going to help you get the best value, but even locking in the price today is a great value.” It’s a fixed price. The builders are taking on that risk. That’s a lot that they’re doing knowing that they might not live in the home for 10 months to a year, so I think that needs to replace that feeling of loss of, “I wanted to get the commission back, or I want to split the deal with you.” Or some crazy thing.
Kimberly: Educate, educate, educate. I can’t stress it enough. I’ve got about 50 who are going to be going through a class with me at the end of the month, and REALTORS® want to be educated. This is an opportunity for you to create the REALTOR® of tomorrow; the REALTOR® that you want to work with, not the ones that maybe are giving you a little bit of angina.
Roland: How many do you need? I had this one gentleman who I don’t think is selling anymore. His name is Steve Feldman. I had 18 sales with him. I was front line in new home sales, and I got him the first week he became an agent. His broker said, “Go have coffee with Roland. He’ll show you around.” He brought me a client, and we sold a home together within a couple of weeks of getting licensed. I had 18 sales with that one agent in about three years.
Kimberly: How great is that? And you develop a shorthand.
Roland: Yes, if you have 10 Steves, that’s all you need. Ten people at that level.
Kimberly: We’re getting to the top we’re at the top of the hour, so what are your final thoughts that you want to share?
Roland: One of my final thoughts is to be grateful. If this is the biggest problem that we have. We’re healthy. Everybody on this call is you know I’m presuming has got decent health. Be very grateful that the biggest problem we have is one of entitlement, and that we’re dealing with the stress of being too busy and too successful. Focus on the fact that what we’re doing is providing lifelong dreams of a home to our clients. That’s a wonderful gift. I’ve driven back by farms and now they’re neighborhoods with kids riding bikes and people walking their dogs. and they’re out and thought, I have a part of that. What I did was very real. We’re providing shelter. On your worst day, I think you need to look in the mirror and think, “I have a great position. What I’m doing is positively impacting people’s lives.” Let’s just get through this and be grateful and not give in to these negative temptations or blow things up too much. What do you think?
Kimberly: That attitude of gratitude will get you through anything. Try to find the positive. Try to find that thing to be grateful for. Even with the worst customer that you’re dealing with, find that thing that you can hold on to and be appreciative of them. Plan guys. I know it’s so hard to do when we’re so slammed, but if you have a plan, you work the plan. You let your system work for you. It makes your life so much easier. We’ve been saying, we’ve been singing this, and we said last year during the slowdown when none of us knew what was going to be happening that was the time to build your plan. Well, the reason for that is that now you need it, so I would say to you the same thing; today, now is the time to build your so that your customer experience is up there and you’re not damaging your brand. You’re building on that whether you’re building one home a year, or 100 homes a year, or a thousand homes a year, or a hundred thousand. It doesn’t matter. You’ve got to build on that brand.
Roland: And don’t stop having fun. You must nurture and nourish yourself, so go be around the people that make you happy. Positive people and positive experiences. Do more of that, and don’t get caught up in these weeds of negativity. You need to look at each day and make sure that as stressful as, it can be that you’re turning it around into a positive experience for others and yourself, so focus on staying positive.
Kimberly: Absolutely. Do whatever it takes for that. I want to thank you, Roland, for giving of yourself today and being part of the conversation. It’s always fun to talk to you.
Roland: Likewise. I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for inviting me. I hope it was a conversation. I wanted to make sure that I work hard and listen, so thank you.
Kimberly: Thank you to all the people who joined us today. Feel free to reach out to either one of us if we can help you in any way. Have a great day.