Keeping your Buyer Motivated through the Short Sale Process

It’s a shame that short sale buyers don’t come with flypaper on the soles of their shoes. That sticky stuff would make it so much easier to keep them in the process.

Think of the short sale process as a journey. I know, sometimes it feels like a never-ending one, but stick with me for a minute.

On any journey, we all look for signs: city names, arrows, freeway exits and mile markers. These signs guide us as we travel. You, as the buyer’s agent, need to be your client’s signs during the short sale journey. Like all effective signs, you should convey clear, simple information and give it in enough time for your client to provide a proper response. In other words, don’t put the yield sign in the middle of the merge lane. Give your client enough time to safely pull into an adjacent lane before a huge truck is on top of him.

Granted, the short sale road is one full of potholes, but it’s up to you to keep your client from falling into one of them. Here are some considerations when guiding a client through a short sale.

Does your buyer have what it takes to wait?

While many of today’s buyers are savvy about short sales (thanks to all the media attention) and assume they have the stomach for the process, it may be a whole different story when she’s knee-deep in it. Therefore, get out in front of the situation by determining at the very beginning if she’s willing to wait at least 90 days while the process works itself out.

Be honest with her about all of the things that may go wrong and how common it is for one delay after another to rear its ugly head. Don’t sugarcoat anything about the short sale process. The last thing you want is for her to feel disillusioned after you’ve put time and effort into the deal. If she’s going to bail, then get her to bail upfront.

How experienced is the listing agent?

As we all know, every single agent in the country is now a short sale specialist. It’s amazing how that happened – sort of a spontaneous illumination. The truth is, there are a lot of inexperienced agents out there foisting their ignorance of the short sale process on unwitting buyer’s agents. While you earn half the commission, you may end up doing most of the work.

Try to get a handle on how much experience the agent has with short sales. If you know little about the short sale process yourself,’s Short Sale Primer will give you a working knowledge of it. When you’ve established how well the listing agent knows their stuff, you can give your client a better idea of what lies ahead. Hopefully you’re working with a pro who will carry his weight and allow you to concentrate on your client.

The importance of good communication

Our goal as business owners is, overall, to build our businesses through repeat and referral clients. All successful referral programs depend on past performance. The client who refers you to her friends is one who was satisfied with your work. Key to client satisfaction is communication.

This is never more important than during the short sale process. Not only do you want a client for life, but you also want this particular deal, fraught with pitfalls, to come to a successful conclusion. Your client — the buyer — is in the driver’s seat here, and how well you communicate along the way may just determine the outcome. Remember, you’re a signpost. Guide the client with clear communication every step of the way, and you’ll all reach the desired destination.

Use excitement as a motivator

While it’s tempting to think of yourself as keeping this buyer “on a hook,” it’s important to remember that he’s not a fish. He’s a person, with hopes and dreams and the biggest of these right now is this house.

Keep your client engaged in the process with frequent updates and keep her future-oriented. Where will she put the sofa? What color has she chosen for the living room?

“You know, I got to thinking about all those windows in your new house, so I called the listing agent. Good news, they’re Energy Star qualified!”  “Oh, by the way, I was in the neighborhood of your new house and I noticed a (client hot button). Isn’t that exciting?”

Excitement and enthusiasm are, thankfully, contagious. Get excited. Yes, this isn’t your only client, but she may be your most frightened and frustrated. If you’re excited about her new house, she will be too. And excitement is a powerful motivator.