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Buyers aren’t liars, you may just be a horrible listener!

I love buyers and sellers, they are very different though. Sellers know one thing, they want to sell their property. Buyers know they want to buy something and your job is to help them find what they are looking for.

I hear it all the time in sales meetings that buyers are liars and I completely disagree. I used to think this until I stopped talking and listening to what they had to say. Each time you enter a home, buyers talk, they tell you what they need by showing you what they don’t want.

Buyers aren't liars, you just aren't listening.

If you continue to show them what they don’t want then they are lying to you, you are lying to yourself about being a service to a buyer. Recently I had a buyer that told me what she was looking for and I was sending her MLS listings and on our first venture out, we looked at 8 homes. (Only because they were all within a mile of each other)

I listened to what she told me on the phone and then I let her show me when we were looking at those homes. By the 5th home, I knew what she described on the phone and online was not what I had heard, I misunderstood. After we got done for the day, I took what I had heard at the showings and also what I saw on her face during the showings. Quickly changed the search parameters and set up an appointment with her for the next day. We looked at two homes and she put in an offer and thanked me for knowing exactly what she was looking for.

She had bought other homes in other cities before and was expecting this to take months because she could never find what she was looking for and ever home she went to see was completely off what she had described. She said “You were the first agent to ever listen and learn rather than open the door and say check it out, if you need me I’ll be here by the door to answer your questions”

So, follow your clients, watch their faces, listen to what they are saying and you will have happier clients and faster sales.


Respect Realty LLC (Expect More)


At Respect Realty, LLC our agents believe in 100% dedication to client satisfaction.  We specialize in property and land acquisition around the Portland Metro and Vancouver, WA area. We delight in working with first time home buyers and sellers to guide them from start to finish. Our doors are always open and we are always happy to assist you with your real estate questions.


Reach out today, we look forward to talking with you!


Todd Clark and Seraina Aguayo (Owners of Respect Realty)

Respect Realty LLC (Expect More)



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Comment balloon 153 commentsRespect Realty LLC • December 28 2010 01:14PM


Listening is a key to the lost art of selling. Vitally important to all we do.

Posted by Richard Byron Smith, NMLS #184479, Mortgage Loan Officer (Mortgage Loan Officer, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation NMLS #2289) over 8 years ago

Active listening is one of the best sales tools you can posses. Best of luck in 2011!

Posted by Doug Peveto over 8 years ago

I can't BELIEVE that Richard said exactly what I was thinking!  Listening IS key and so many agents don't remember how to do this but, it's an EASY talent--EASY!  Just as in your example, many buyers tell you something over the phone but, when you show them what they mentioned on the phone, they wind up selecting something else.  That first showing day will oftentimes clear things up for both you AND them!

Happy New Year--may 2011 be full of wonderful buyers for you, Todd.

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) over 8 years ago

Sometimes it's about expectations. And knowing the market-- that means physically previewing the homes you recommend. I also always tell my buyers that it's likely I will show them things they hate, but by learning their reactions to them, I will know what they DON'T want. Over the years I have learned how to 'read' my buyers, although they still surprise me from time-to-time.

Posted by Cece Blase (Paragon Real Estate Group) over 8 years ago

Todd, I understand that many agents are terrible listeners, and I agree with that point. But many buyers are liars, there is just no way around that. =)


Posted by Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor, If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow. (Conifer Homes) over 8 years ago

Quite often agents don't have the skills involved with listening to their clients..

Yes, this requires skill ~ The most important words that will ever pass between you and your clients are the words spoken by them - not you...

Posted by Karen Baker, Professional Help with Rapid Responses... (Sunset Beach and Beyond Realty) over 8 years ago

Good points . . . thanks for the post Todd! -- JM

Posted by John Michailidis, Real Property Management of Sarasota & M (Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee) over 8 years ago

Hi Todd: And sometimes you have to listen to the nuances between husband and wife. I have one couple who could not make a decision. Turns out that every house we went into, she started to talk about all the things she would do to it (but loving the house). He would nix it. We finally figured it out: he could see all the construction going on in the future and didn't want to deal with it. I am now looking for a house they both like and SHE is keeping her plans to herself!  Happy New Year.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 8 years ago

great post.  totally agree.  we have to listen.  My favorite question to ask after a buyers MUST HAVE.  "If we found you the perfect home that has everything but this would you consider it?"

Posted by Alivia Roberts (n/a) over 8 years ago


Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 8 years ago

I hate to hear people say that buyers are liars, but I always hold my tongue and don't finish the sentence the way that you do!  What they don't know, won't hurt them!  I hear this complaint more from buyers all the time when they have "fired" their agent for not showing them what they wanted to see.  Sometimes a buyer does not know what they want until they know what they don't want!  Listening is definitely the key.

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) over 8 years ago

I practice listening.  Sometimes I hear that a seller doesn't really want to sell and the buyer doesn't really want to buy.  Bummer. ;-)

Posted by Ron Camacho, Realtor (REO Leasing Solutions) over 8 years ago

Listening is a great reminder. I'm sorry, but most buyers do lie or mislead, even if by accident. They're human at some point across the transaction.

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 8 years ago

I think as a buyer's agent it is important to listen to your clients needs as well as read between the lines on what it is they are really looking for and interpret through listening and observation what they really need. On the first outing I usually let the buyers pick all the homes. After I get a feel for what they really want I usually pick some the second time and those are usually the winners. I don't think that buyers are liars I think sometimes they just don't know how to articulate exactly where they are at.

Posted by David Kent (The Real Buyer's Agent) over 8 years ago

Listening is SO key!  And so is asking lots of questions to make sure you understand why buyers want what they say they want - I learned quickly that when someone says, for instance, that they want a "big yard" that understanding what they mean by that is huge.  Could be everything from they have 10 horses they need room for (definitely better have acreage in my criteria for them) to they don't want to be able to touch the neighbor's house (a smallish yard with adjacent green belt could be perfect).

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA over 8 years ago

It is hard for lots of agents to listen as they always want to talk to clients to show them how much they know.  Listening is KEY!

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 8 years ago

I agree, stop talking and start listening.  And I would add, ask questions.  Sometimes we think we know, but after listening to an answer to one of our questions, we'll see we didn't.  Great post,

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 8 years ago

Great points!  Car chat is so important!

Posted by Karen Pannell, Owensboro KY Real Estate -270-903-2167 Homes, Cond (Real Living / Home Realty) over 8 years ago

Sometimes though it is that the buyers have changed their minds and that's o.k. as long as they communicate that to me. We have to roll with the punches!

Posted by Barb Szabo, CRS, E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes (RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio) over 8 years ago

I have noticed that a lot of buyers don't really know what they want until they see it.  I have sold a ranch to a couple that insisted on a tri level.  The ranch had the main points they were looking for and so I showed it to them and they love it.

I have also had many buyers tell little white lies and a few just flat out lies.  :) 

I think with some it's a fine line between lying and not knowing.  My two cents.

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 8 years ago

Right on Todd! In order to be effective, you have to listen to your clients, not to mention watch their body language! Buyers who are serious about making a purchase will buy from you if you pay attention or someone else if you don' really is that simple!

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Prado Real Estate South) over 8 years ago

Todd, I am with you 100% on the importance of listening and the doors that it will open, but cannot agree that people don't conveniently fib sometimes, or outright lie. 



Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) over 8 years ago

Todd - While I don't like this comment either, I think it really depends on the buyer and the scenario.  In the scenario you describe, yes, Realtors/agents need to become really great listeners.  However, I have heard about so many buyers who will lie when asked if they are working with another Realtor or if they have been pre-approved and in those cases, it's just a simple case of a dishonest buyer.

However, from an MLO perspective, I have had a lot of buyers just flat out lie to me when I have asked them a question about their personal and/or financial information.  In scenarios like mine, was I a horrible listener?  NO, but from experience though, I have been able to perfect my bull$#^! detector.

Posted by Donne Knudsen, CalState Realty Services (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA) over 8 years ago

Hey Todd - 

Congrats on a well deserved feature!  I agree with you 100% Listening is highly underrated...  The more I shut my mouth and listen with my eyes and ears [I'm big on non-verbal communication] the faster I will be able to get my clients what they want!

Posted by Debbie Summers (Charles Rutenberg Realty ) over 8 years ago

Todd, you've obviously hit a chord is all about careful listening and

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Hey Todd, why not attempt to separate the shopper from the buyer? The easiest way to do this is by asking the homebuyer if you would like to hire you as a consultant and an advocate instead of a real estate salesperson. In this way he can pay you for all your time and expertise on a pay as you go contract and be paid like every other service provider in the country. It's my feeling, that if homebuyers were not afforded the luxury of wasting your time, they would become better speakers and definitely more understandable. The business model that the realtors work under sets you up, as most of the comments above reflect, to not only be a great listener but A mind reader and fortuneteller as well.

Glenn Freezman, Chief Evangelical Officer

Home Buying Revolution,

Posted by Glenn Freezman (Nucazza LLP & Home Buying Evolution, & Family Abstract, Inc) over 8 years ago

Sometimes you can listen and completely understand what buyers say they want and still show them homes they don't want. Sometimes, what they say and what they really want are not the same. Not that they are intentionally lying, but they may not know what they want. A lot of buyers think they know what they want, only to find out that they actually wanted something they never thought of.

Posted by Utah Dave, Homes for Sale - Utah ( Neighborhood Experts) over 8 years ago

It is amazing how listening and watching when a client walks into a property can change everything you thought they were looking for.  I have also found asking questions of why they don't/do like something, comparing house 1 to house 2, etc. gets the client to think and open up to you, as long as you listen!  Thanks!  --Krystal

Posted by Krystal Knott, Breckenridge CO Real Estate & All Summit County CO (LIV Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

Sorry, I couldn't hear you, I wasn't listening.  ;-)

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 8 years ago

Listening seems like such a simple task, but it can be deceivingly difficult sometimes.

Posted by Tracy McPeek over 8 years ago

So very true that we need to not only hear but really listen. I don't find that buyers so much lie about what they are looking for, they just might not have a clue what they're looking for till they see it or don't know how to explain it. However, I do believe that there are WAY too many that lie about their financial status or credit! It just amazes me. Don't they know we'll find out!? Just crazy!

Posted by Evelyn Rice, SFR - Northern Nevada (RE/MAX Complete Realty) over 8 years ago

Great feature post! I think it might be the non buyers that turn out to be the liars.

Posted by Rob D. Shepherd, Principal Broker GRI, SRES (Windermere/lane county) over 8 years ago

Good points Todd. I have always considered it was more me than the Buyer, nah...

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Northwest.) over 8 years ago

So true, listening is being smart.  It's amazing what you hear ......when you listen!!

Love the post today!

Patricia/Seacoast Nh & ME

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 8 years ago

So true, listening is being smart.  It's amazing what you hear ......when you listen!!

Love the post today!

Patricia/Seacoast Nh & ME

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 8 years ago

I would not say that buyers are liars but truly some buyers do not know what they want. I have had buyers change course two or three times and then decide they didn't want to buy at all after changing the search plan three times. I learned from that. If I sense a game plan change, we will sit down talk it over and get to the heart of the matter before proceeding.

Posted by Tom Robinson, Experienced Real Estate, Professional Serving No. VA and DC (Keller Williams Realty Kingstowne/Alexandria, VA Office) over 8 years ago

We'd all get so much more accomplished in a shorter amount of time if we listened and watched their reactions more.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) over 8 years ago

It is great when we actually listen to our clients words and reactions and see what they really want. 

Posted by Michael Eisenberg, Bellingham Real Estate Guy (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

Language is tricky under the best of circumstances, but a picture can easily express what a person means. "Open floor plan" or "wooded lot" or "newer" can all mean different things to different people. I find that an hour in our conference room in front of the flat screen -- with all decision makers present -- goes a long way towards sorting out the wishes, wants and ideas.

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, I help brokers build businesses they love. (Swanepoel T3 Group) over 8 years ago

I love to take advantage of the long, extended moment of silence after I tell a buyer or seller what they don't want to hear.

Posted by Tanya Redic, e-Pro, SFR (CIDER Properties) over 8 years ago

Hi Todd~  Some buyers don't really know what they want until they start looking actively and change their minds!  We can learn so much more by paying close attention to what they say in person during a showing and by email and telephone. 

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 8 years ago

Great info.  Thanks for sharing. 

Posted by Chuck Roberts (Anytime Fitness/Keller Williams Realty) over 8 years ago

This is excellent advice. The more we keep quiet and listen, the better chance we have of selling a home.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 8 years ago

I have been saying this for years... and I am so glad you wrote this post.  We simply are not listening to the needs and wants of the buyers.... You are one very bright real estate professional and YOU have listened.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 8 years ago

Listening is great but when they change their criteria mid-way, it's a hard one ton understand. Like when they say they want a 2-story with the Master bedroom downstairs and then they end up buying a 1-story. You can listen but it's always good to make suggestions when they can't find what they want. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by Debbie Barrera, Your Austin Texas Connection (REALTY AUSTIN-Austin, TX over 8 years ago

Todd - It's important to listen to buyers and try to understand what they mean.

I'm intrigued by Glen's comment, but dont see it working unless something was unique about the service or a large portion of the agents were doing this.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 8 years ago

Great post!  I do think the key in your scenario is that the woman had bought a couple homes before.  It is a harder process for first time buyers, because they really aren't sure what they want many times.

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) over 8 years ago
Todd it is so much easier to say that the buyer can't make up their mind as opposed to admitting that we may have misses at clue. Thanks for the honesty.
Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) over 8 years ago

Todd: I am one that had to learn quickly as far as listening goes. The buyers tell you so much when in a home that is not them and NOT what they are looking for just listen and get many questions answered without asking the question. Thanks for the good post. Happy Holidays!

Posted by Surprise Arizona Realtor Jim Braun Sun City Grand Active Adult Communities, Surprise AZ real estate Phoenix West Valley (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Jim Braun Sun City Grand Az ) over 8 years ago

Todd, I totally agree. Sometimes buyer don't know what they want until they see a couple of homes. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 8 years ago


I totally agree with you.  From the first meeting with a new buyer, I write down everything they tell me and select homes based on the buyer's criteria, as well as set up a search for the buyer so that they get everything that meets that criteria via email.  Occasionally though, I get a buyer who will go outside of what they have told me, i.e., they want a home built within the last 10 years, and the buyer will ask me why a certain property didn't show up in their search results.  After finding the listing in the MLS, it turns out the home was built 25 years ago!!  I simply let them know "it didn't match their criteria and therefore didn't get generated in the results".  

Great post!

Posted by Monica Foster, Broker, CRS, ABR, SRS, CHMS, CNE, CNHS (Monica Foster Team of eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

Mr. Todd, 

 You are so right on!  I have been selling Real Estate since 1984 and I HATE that phrase.  Like most things that come out of our mouths, it says more about us than it does about the Buyer.  For me it shows a lack of respect and caring for the client and a lack of knowledge of what we do.  I love what I do and I think one of my greatest services to my clients is to 'hear' what they mean as well as the words they use.  And only a fool does not adapt as new information is gained.  My Buyers are certainly not fools nor liars. Thank you Todd.

Smiles, M.A.

Posted by Mary Ann Groves, Hat Lady Real Estate over 8 years ago

Great post - many buyers and sellers in any sales transaction will say things to protect their own interests. 

Posted by Tom Tousignant, CMPS, NMLS id#56471 (Fairway Independent Mortgage NMLS id #2289) over 8 years ago

I don't really believe that buyers are liars, but I do believe that sometimes their lack of information about what's on the market causes them to have unrealistic expectations.  When the things they say that they "have to have" doesn't fit in with their price point, we, as Realtors, have to educate them.  A house with only wood flooring or granite suddenly may not be that important when they realize the price it's going to cost them. 

Posted by Lisa Ackerson, CRS - Dallas Fort Worth Area Expert (Fathom Realty DFW) over 8 years ago

I have despised this statement from the first time I ever heard it in real estate school...Listen with your eyes and your ears and you will be amazed at what is said and not said to help your buyers! 

Posted by Laura Lycans over 8 years ago

Listening will not only make you a better advisor to your buyers, but it ultimately will make your job easier. 

Posted by Richard Rosa, Exclusive Buyer Agent (Buyers Brokers Only, LLC) over 8 years ago

Great points. We tend to talk too much and listen too little.

Posted by Derek Wood over 8 years ago
Good comments on buyers are liars
Posted by Todd over 8 years ago
Good comments in your article.
Posted by Ron Accornero over 8 years ago

i would agree with you Derek , but when i was in the mortgage business they were liars they tell you what you want to hear and when you actually get their information you can get them a  loan that just one of lots of lies they told me

Posted by Raoul Loustaunau, (REALTY ONE GROUP) over 8 years ago

Good points.  However, no one has mentioned the "emotional" component in homebuying.  Buyers can tell or email you what they think are important features to them, but many also need to have an emotional connection to a home before they will buy it.  This elusive component is difficult to verbalize and may even be subconscious.  Therefore, what they end up buying is very different than what they first defined, and we say they "lied" to us.

Posted by Anonymous over 8 years ago

God gave us two ears and one mouth.  There's a reason for that ratio.

Posted by Cindy Byers (Island Realty) over 8 years ago


"God gave us two ears and one mouth.  There's a reason for that ratio."

I have never heard that one before.  Sounds like perfect reasoning to me!

If you can't listen to both buyers and sellers you are in the wrong business.

Posted by John Dotson, The experience to get you to the other side! (Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC) over 8 years ago

I agree that listening is paramount. And in the described scenario of understanding requirements it's not easy. You have to work at it to get it right and the extra work you put in will pay back for the buyer and the buyer's agent. Mid-course corrections happen all the time. The sooner you realize that you need to hit the reset button the better. 

I don't think the buyers lie at all when it comes to property requirements needs. I do believe, however, that this is not the context for the label's origin.

Posted by Bob Pisa, Broker Associate, Commitment, Service, Satisfaction... (Downing-Frye Realty, Inc. Naples, FL) over 8 years ago

I totally agree with you, almost! Haven't you EVER had a buyer who simply fell in love with a house that had none of the attributes they had been insisting were important? I have had one do just that. She insisted on seeing a house she had found on the internet herself. She could not even articulate why the house intrigued her, but she wanted to see it. It was occupied, so I was reluctant to make an appointment to see a house that did not meet her basic requirement of having a basement; but I knew that something about the house would add to my store of information about what she really wanted.

No kidding, the minute we stepped inside the house she said, "This is it!" And that is the house she bought; though it was a slab, and she had adamantly insisted all along that she MUST have a basement. The house "spoke" to her, and that's about all she could ever say to explain what made her choose it.

Sometimes LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT strikes a truthful buyer!

Posted by Liz Lockhart, GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate (Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO) over 8 years ago
I just read a great book entitled "just listen". It's a wonderful book for realtors.
Posted by Alex rubin over 8 years ago

That is one of those sayings we've all heard for years, and I just hate it.  It needs to go!! It's things like that that make consumers suspicious.

Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 8 years ago

Listening is absolutely important, however, I have found that in many cases, the buyer has an idea of what they want but when they get to look at a few homes, many times, their criteria changes. It could be because the homes they thought they could afford were either priced higher or even lower than they origionally thought. Sometimes, they see some options or a neighborhood that just knocks them off their socks and they realize that what they thought they wanted isn't as nice as what's available.

For these reasons, listening is a huge factor but guidance is as well.

Posted by Rich Murray, GRI, ABR (PMNC, Cary, NC) over 8 years ago

Buyers may not be liars, but they don't always tell the whole truth, and sometimes change their minds just when you think you know what they want.

Posted by Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc (Benchmark Realty LLc) over 8 years ago

Todd,  Totally agree with you! In order to have happy clients and to utilize our time efficiently "it pays" to listen closely to what your client it telling you.  In some cases, they may not be able to effectively communicate with you "exactly" what they're looking for and it's up to us to ask leading questions or read their body language.  Time = money.  Stop, look, and listen and be on a faster track to a closed transaction.

Posted by Catherine Marrone, West Newbury MA real estate, Essex County (Integrity Residential Brokerage LLC) over 8 years ago

I completely agree with you. One of the skills we all need is to be able to interview, probe and ask the right questions from our clients in order to define their wants and needs.

Of course, clients are humans, so they may not always disclose pertinent information or their agenda. However, it is another one of our required skills to uncover and discover that information through communication.

Posted by Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR, Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations (West USA Realty) over 8 years ago

Cynical sayings like "buyers are liars!" are everywhere.

I think George Carlin got it right!

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. - George Carlin

Posted by Lee Walsh, Executive Talent Scout for Mortgage Professionals (SecurityNational Mortgage) over 8 years ago

Great story ...

Posted by Tina Gleisner, Home Tips for Women (Home Tips for Women) over 8 years ago

Todd,  Listening is one of the keys of working with buyers, as is an extensive Buyer Consultation process, (mine was about an hour and a half) and asking open ended questions.

Also, clarifying adjectives and adverbs in their statements to you does not hurt either.

Posted by Reg Gupton (Reg Gupton Inc.) over 8 years ago

Listening is an art. And just like art, many people cannot put into words exactly what they have in mind but if you help them think it through and you read between the lines, they usually relax and trust your knowledge and experience to get them where they want to purchase.

Posted by Pat Braithwaite, E-Pro (Braithwaite Realty) over 8 years ago

We as realtors are indoctrinated with that mantra from the very first day we become licensed, "Buyers are liers and sellers are cheats".

But I have to agree, I have not found that massive generalization to be valid.

Listening and reading between the lines for what is intended but not necessarily articulated, is infinitely more important than stereo-typing a whole class of people will ever be.

Posted by A. Daniel Bouchard, Licensed in DC/VA/MD (CDPE) (DanSellsDCVA RE/MAX 100) over 8 years ago

I love what you said about watching her face. 

Watch, look and listen.

Thank you for your post.

Posted by Debbie Durkee, ALC, CRS -- Land & Country Estates near Tulsa (Coldwell Banker Select, Realtors -- Tulsa, Oklahoma) over 8 years ago

This is a VERY good point.  I hope everyone is listening!!!

Posted by Carla Wade over 8 years ago

I do NOT think that buyers are liars.   I think most people have no idea what they really want or need and that's why they come to us.   They might know what they LIKE---but when you ask people what sort of square footage they are looking for they will tell you---and you can be sure that they probably have no idea what they are even living in right now.    I ask all sorts of leading questions---and point things out.   Double yellow line streets?   Master up?  Laundry up or down?   do you "need" a formal living or dining?  where does your family "hang out"?  are you about to have a 3rd driver?  do you know exactly where both wage earners will be working?   have you thought about your commute?  have you done a dry run on that commute?  do you really know how long it is and how the traffic is?   Where do you like to shop?  

And you know what else?   I watch for signs of what they are reacting favorable to while showing.  People will tell you lots of things, but when presented with the options, they often second guess themselves....and there are lots of people who just have trouble making decisions.   Have you ever left the house to buy something and then come home empty handed--even though you saw dozens of what you "thought" you were looking for?   

I might take longer than most to to help my buyers find a house--sometimes even suggesting that they rent short term in an area--but in the end, I think i have 100% satisfied buyers---that leads to lots and lots of referrals!   

Posted by Eileen Gill (The Gill Agency) over 8 years ago

Pat (#78) puts it nicely. Buyers are almost never liars. They may not quite know how to frame what they want. It is our job as professionals to actively listen. Active listening includes the cylcle of interviewing for clarification.


As Pat puts it, it is our job to "help them think it through and you read between the lines".Occasionally you'll run into the nosey neighbour or FSBO who just want to do their comparisons. These types can be weeded out through the "Buyer Consultation process" which Reg (#77) addresses. Only upon completion of "the process" should one re-classify the shopper (tire kicker) into a buyer.


Buyers are not liars.

Posted by Ranji Singh (Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd.) over 8 years ago

You have hit on something more important than listening - you have to be able read body language and to begin to do that you have to be engaged in the showings.  Most people do not communicate effectively verbally, so we have to learn to read the other clues.  Great post.

Posted by Kimberly Brandon, Broker/Owner (Smart Moves Real Estate) over 8 years ago
A previous broker loved to say "Buyers are liars, and sellers are too" But I agree with you. Sometimes buyers don't really know what they want, and even when they think they know, something is lost in the translation to the agent. Lately, my buyers are not liars, they just want more than they can get.
Posted by Karen Steed over 8 years ago

I agree with post #55. When buyers expectations exceed their budget, I play a little game with them. I put all the "wants" into the MLS search without a price point. We then open the search results and usually what they have described is a home that is well over their budget. So we go back to their search criteria and do a little sorting. Sometimes it take a couple of try's, but they certainly begin to realize the reality of the market. 

Posted by Sanna K. Thomas, PA GRI, E-Pro, SFR, AHWD, LH Ocala Florida Luxury (Sellstate Next Generation Realty) over 8 years ago

I agree 100% with Todd, and have just two important points to add:

1.) Maybe I've been lucky, but I never met a BUYER that was a liar. I have met a very few liars who pretended to be buyers, but they never bought anything. They were never Buyers from the beginning, and I dropped them as soon as their stories started to fall apart.

2.) It is very important to keep listening. Very few buyers can tell you about everything that's important to them in a house in one session. Watch their choices in showings, even their body language tells you what they think about a house. Question the "why behind their choices and their ranking of what you show them. Keep listening, and you'll get the whole story.

Posted by Fred Hookham (Keller Williams) over 8 years ago

I agree completely to your post. We are a service oriented business and we need to meet the needs of our clients. Listening is the first thing we need to do as good agent. This is a great post. Traci

Posted by Traci Ferguson, Realtor, EcoBroker, LEED AP (San Luis Obispo Realtor & ecoBroker with Patterson Realty) over 8 years ago

I'm with Aaron #5 - Buyers are still liars.  I am a good listener, but there are still many instances where the buyers are not forthcoming about what they really want.  Part of the trick is to be tactful when the real motivations are discovered for some buyers.  A good number of them still think most realtors are snake oil salesmen.

Good post!

Posted by Pete Neuville (Realty Executives) over 8 years ago

well, all the active listening n the world can't explain why a rather seasoned investor insisted in looking at all the properties that were the lowest price point in a tight geographical area and demanded that it must need significant cosmetic and other changes because he wanted a project (and who perceived the ability to further low-ball already well-priced homes) who instead bought an updated property that needed touch ups. 

I don't know about you guys, but I've had to fight for every transaction lately, and misdirection by this and other buyer examples I won't share here is a real demotivator and waste of time.

Posted by Chrystal Safari Roy, Luxury Property Specialist (Real Estate Realty LLC - Charlotte, NC) over 8 years ago

My wife taught me to be a good listener. She made me shut up while she's talking :-)

Posted by Bill Travis, Broker/Owner (Captain Bill Realty, LLC) over 8 years ago

Just like all realtors are not completely ethical, not all buyers -- or all sellers -- are completely honest, and in fact I had a buyer who committed what is loosely termed mortgage fraud, and a seller who intentionally withheld information about several thousand dollars worth of water damage until my weeks of persistence had them cough up an insurance history form disclosing what they failed to show on the SPUDS.   


On the other hand I think that 95% - 99% of all people are good.   But it does not hurt to listen carefully and keep your eyes open and check everything out thoroughly just to be on the safe side.


Personally when I find out that someone has lied, which is rare, I nicely tell them that I think we are not a good fit and welcome them to find another realtor.


Those clients who are regular folks or a realtor's dream, I will go the extra mile for them!


Posted by Fay Kelley, Alternative Healing With Crystal Energy (Interdimensional Healing Light) over 8 years ago

Todd, I think you make the point that Buyers are liars! If you simply listen to what they tell you, you don't necessarily get it right. But if you do as you say, and listen while showing them properties - not only to their comments, but to their body language as well, you are more apt to get it right. So sorry, but I do think buyers are sometimes liars - not intentionally, but sometimes it's just hard for them to verbalize what they really want. So good agents need to do more than just listen to what they tell you at the onset, they go that next step.

Posted by Bonnie and Melinda, Your West Hartford Real Estate Specialists (Re/Max Premier, Realtors) over 8 years ago

As a salesman for 30 years, I believe those that think buyers are liars are "beat" sales people.

They themselves are liars, and they get what they expect...liars .  And they seem to see their successes in terms where they "beat" the buyer. 

I have found that people are honest, they desire good value, and though they can be expected to do what is in their best interest, generally people are good.

I expect that and I get it...generally.  There are exceptions of course, But, they are exceptions.    Sales people should realize they are playing the "numbers" game.  The numbers say, you will not succeed every time.  The closing ratio is attempt/results.  So, regardless of the reason, (not qualified, no need, no interest, liar), it doesn't matter to the professional.  Closing at 30% 50% 10%, it means the inverse did not close, for whatever reason. 

The professional just moves on to the next lead, knowing that as long as they are working, the closing ratio will give them the results consistent with their closing ratio.

It is like baseball, you have to get in the batters box.  You have to have the attempts to hope for success.

The only failure is to not get up to bat, and what the buyer says is not what determines your success....the only thing that determines your success is your actions.



Posted by Randal Jenkins (Coldwell Banker F I Gray and Sons Residential, Inc.) over 8 years ago

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason... I always encourage my buyer's to think out loud as they walk through each room so I can learn what they like and what they don't like. I tell them to have fun with viewing homes and to say whatever comes to mind whether it is positive or negative comment. This usually breaks the ice and I learn quickly what they are looking for once they start talking.

Posted by Mark Mitchell, Realtor, Johns Creek Georgia Homes (Virtual Properties Realty ) over 8 years ago

I like to think that I have only "sold" one house in my career, as my primary job has been to keenly listen to my buyers.  The right house will "sell" itself.  The one house I did sell was based on months of listening closely to a buyer I'd known since kindergarten. 

Posted by Tim Klingman, President (North Shore Homes, Inc. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)) over 8 years ago

I love this...  for myself, I call it accute listening...  not only to what they say, but also what they dont say including facial expressions, body language, and more.

I think my most successful listening exercise, was a list of 6 homes, of which we saw 5, later that day went back to show the spouse just 2.   I already knew which house it would be...I could see the room light up, face light up, body relax... when we were there, and a confirmation on the spouse's face.  It wasnt the words so much.. I did a good job listening up front.   total time, from first appt to contract?  30 hours.   Does it happen often?  NO.  

Many times the buyer doesnt communicate it well or even doesnt know what they want, or "is waiting to be sold".  Every client is different and sometimes in a different stage of decision making, info gathering.  Its always a PROCESS, but it always starts with accute listening.


Posted by Gloria Matthews, MAKING CLARK COUNTY HOME (Principal Property Brokers) over 8 years ago

You gotta EMPOWER your buyers with specific tools that help them feel they are in control of the situation.

For example, I let buyers sit with me at the computer, load their wish list into the system, press SEARCH, and let them see how the system works.

Conversely, I would NEVER carry a stack of listings into the room and say, "Here are homes I have especially selected just for you".  They will always wonder about the listings you deleted or dumped in the trash.

You gotta make them do their homework.  Use the MLS to narrow down their criteria to a manageable number... say, less than 30.  Then send them home with their homework assignment to separate the stack into an A pile and a B pile.  The A's have potential, whereas the B's have no potential.

Tell them that part of their homework is to drive by each A house... check out the neighborhood... see where local shopping is located... check the schools for those areas.  A lot of those A's will become B's.

Next, tell them to call you when they have finished their homework, and set a time to go see the insides of the A homes.

Your customers will feel empowered, they will feel like they have control, and their trust in you will skyrocket.  I've not lost a buyer yet who has followed my method, and we've sold over 2,000 homes in 20 years, half of them to buyers.

Erick Blackwelder

Exit 1st Choice Realty
Woodbridge, VA  22192

Equal Housing Opportunity

Posted by Erick Blackwelder, Text or call Erick now at 703-677-1120. (Cell: 703-677-1120) over 8 years ago
Listening is certainly a key element, but I have also found that one needs to often be an interpreter, as well. For example, there was the gal that wanted a "fixer" for "as cheap as [she] could get it." Turned out that the only $$$ she could afford was for the worst of the fixers, but all the ability that she had was to do some touch-up painting. We did not find her a house, although after several years she still surfaces occasionally when something interesting pops up in her email via the auto-notifier. I don’t think buyers are liars. I think people not qualified to be buyers are lying when they say they are (subtle, but real difference), and therefore aren’t buyers, they are liars. On the other side of that are those that are just confused or misinformed.
Posted by Victoria CB Trees, Principal Broker (Victoria CB Trees Real Estate Services) over 8 years ago

Like the old saying goes "You have 2 ears and 1 mouth use accordingly"

Posted by Tony Young, Realtor Real Estate Auctioneer (Crye-Leike Auctions) over 8 years ago

Listen first and listen well. Guaranteed you'll make more money.

Posted by RhondaHeaslip NanaimoRealEstate (RE/MAX of Nanaimo) over 8 years ago
Great post. A mentor once told me, listen to what they are not telling you. In other words, talk to them about what they like about their current home, what activities do they like, listen to them talk about their life and family and then you will be able to figure out better what they want and what they need. Aloha Karla Casey PB Honolulu Hawaii
Posted by Karla Casey (Karla Casey (BIC), List Sotheby's International Realty, Hawaii) over 8 years ago

I don't think that buyers lie on purpose- I just don't think they always know what they want when they start their search. They may say to you that they want a big yard - but after seeing a few they may decide that the upkeep will be too much for their lifestyle. I've had clients tell me they absolutely do not want a split entry home - but they end up finding one on the perfect lot, with the perfect kitchen and the perfect master bath and they fall in love with it! I view the home search as an evolving process - not in terms of absolutes.

Posted by Angela Hardy (BHHS Northwest Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Good post Todd. I agree it is far more productive to take responsibility for a misunderstanding, then to just blame it on the other party. Good Job

Posted by Anonymous over 8 years ago

Makes me think about those agents on House Hunters that show only 3 properties and get a contract.  I know those situations probably aren't always real, but I always wonder how they do that.  But listening is key.  I've had a few clients who are moving targets, but most let you know what they want and don't appreciate things you show them that fall outside their criteria.  Great point.

Posted by Nicole Fleming (FC Tucker Emge) over 8 years ago

Though we go through lots of ongoing training, work on marketing, internet, listing presentation materials, etc., the most important thing to remember is that we are first and foremost in the people business. 

Posted by Mark Stuart (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty) over 8 years ago

Good post!  I remember hearing the phrase "buyers are liars" when I first started in the real estate business, almost 12 years ago.  While it has proven the case with some buyers, I have found that just as many sellers have turned out to be liars, as well as even more REALTORS. 

On your point about listening better, I couldn't agree more.  To many people in our profession are so intent to constantly hear themselves talk, that they never fully listen to the client/customer that is infront of them.  I have had quite a few people do business with me after having a poor experience with another REALTOR, who happened to be all about hearing themselves talk.

Posted by Darren Schortgen, Fort Wayne, New Haven, Indiana Homes ( Schortgen Realty) over 8 years ago

Good post! 

Like many others who responded, I also dislike this phrase. 

Our position is to service our client.  When we listen to and watch our Buyer's reactions to properties we tour with them, we should be able to quickly narrow down what they are really looking for. 

Posted by Gloria Ledesma (ZipRealty, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Sometimes it’s not that the client is lying, but their definition of a term is different than ours.  I’ve worked with people who subscribed to the “buyers are liars” mindset.  In my experience, these sales people were only concerned about how large a commission they would get from the immediate sale.  They never considered repeat or referral business. As a result, their business never grew.



Posted by Doug Kaller (Academy Mortgage, Reno, NV) over 8 years ago

I disagreed with the premise that Buyers are Liars from the start of my career but it did take a good long time to understand what buyers were doing.

While listening to experienced home buyers is key, sometimes knowing your inventory is also the key...that's what I wrote about in my blog, inspired by your thoughts here, Todd. 

Posted by Ron Tarvin, Broker, Katy, Houston, Cypress 77450,77494,77095 (Residential, Investment properties, rehab projects, property management, luxury homes, new construction!) over 8 years ago

Great post! Many years ago (more than I care to admit), when I was a new agent, my broker suggested that I try to meet new prospects in their home before showing them properties.  This gave me the opportunity to see how they really live and what their priorities are.  I can see what their furniture is like, their taste in decor, how they use the space they have, and so on.  Beyond just finding the right number of bedrooms and and baths, you are way ahead of the game if you can find a house that looks and feels like "home" to your buyer.

Posted by Claudia Goertz over 8 years ago

Good post with interesting comments.

Have we ever stopped to think that maybe buyers lie to us, don't tell us the whole truth or whatever you want to call it, because they've heard that Real Estate professionals are not very honest themselves.

Do a search on "dishonest professions" and you'll be surprised. You'd think that Car Sales people, Politicians and Lawyers would be at the top, and in some instances they are. However, Real Estate Agents are on that list and very high. Now we like to say that we Realtors® are held to higher standards than just Real Estate Agents but to the average person we are all the same. My theory is to try and prove the statistics wrong about being dishonest.

It comes down to one's core values. I choose to believe that people change their minds rather than "they lied" to me.

Posted by Dimitri Matsis-REALTOR® (818) 599-6083 (Troop Real Estate Inc. Westlake Village CA) over 8 years ago

Great post Todd.   It really got me to thinking.

Sometimes it involves "listening" to what the client is NOT saying.

I recently had a client tell me that she wanted a cabin on a creek.  I showed her a few really beautiful properties, but I could see that there was just no enthusiasm. So, I mentioned this to her and asked what she felt was NOT right about each of the properties.

The fact is that her husband wanted a creek property (he was not with us as she was supposed to be choosing HER dream home). She wanted a mountain view property!

We went back to the office updated the search criteria and found her dream home (with a mountain view) - which we just closed last week.

Posted by Gayle Barton, Forsyth County Real Estate, Cumming GA Homes For Sale (404) 710-0204 (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY Georgia Properties) over 8 years ago

I will never forget when we went to a neighboring town in search of fixer-uppers. I told the agent we wanted to see homes that were structurally solid, but needed a lot of cosmetic work.

Every house she showed us that day had been recently remodeled. Every time she opened a door or pulled up in front she would squeal something along the lines of "Oh, you're just going to LOVE what they've done with this house!"

And she couldn't even understand where she had gone wrong when we said none of those houses were what we were looking for. I figured it was because she had been a school teacher - accustomed to doing all the talking and none of the listening.

I do believe that buyers don't always KNOW what they want until they see it. And I've had buyers purchase exactly opposite of what they told me they absolutely must have. I don't think they were lying, but I do think they changed their minds and forgot to tell me.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 8 years ago

You're so very right - listening is key! But for those who aren't good at articulating, a few hours in the car looking at actual houses in their price range, desired location, etc., should do it!

I've actually been guilty of being a "vague" buyer myself in my pre-real estate days, so I try to cut my buyers slack!

Happy New Year!

Posted by Debbe Perry, 828.439.3084 Morganton/Lake James NC (Real Living Carolina Property ) over 8 years ago

Very well said and you are absolutely right, listening is key!

Posted by Jason M. Keith, Equal Housing Lender (Caliber Home Loans) over 8 years ago

This is soooo true! 

When I first started in real estate seven years ago I was strictly a buyers agent. I remember how most agents in my office would say that I was crazy because "buyers are liars".  I heard it so much but never paid it any attention when it turned out that I was closing more deals in the office working with buyers.  I had a 30 day guarantee to find my buyers a home and usually did it within 2 showings simply because I listened to what they wanted and if we went out the first time and they didn't like anything, like you I changed the search parameters and was able to find what exactly what would inspire them to write a contract.  Of course nowadays I've switched over to being a listing agent due to the market but the same philosophy applies.  Listen carefully to your clients and if your memory is not that good then write down what they want and if you are not giving them what they want, sit down with them and go over the list and find out where the problem is.

Posted by Lisa Winding over 8 years ago

A buyer's decision making process may lead in a different direction once they start looking at homes.  There is a big difference between looking at listings and viewing the home in person.  The buyer may give me certain criteria based on their prequal plus likes/dislikes, but it is only on showing the homes that their expectations are either confirmed or changed.  Buyer requirements might ebb and flow and they go through the process.  It is simply par for the course.

Posted by Kris Collis, Buy & Sell with Professional Results you Expect (Smart Way America Realty) over 8 years ago

Whoa!  Maybe we are just not asking the right questions?  I have not read all of the responses here but it is important to realize that many buyers think they know what they want but they really only know once they see it!  So we have to ask the questions that get to the basics of their needs.

I always ask what are the "must haves" and what are the "nice to haves" of my buyers, then I tuck my tongue in my cheek and let them show me what is really their trigger points, and that usually happens by the 3rd home we look at. 

One of my very first buyers in my career told me that the one non-negotiable item was that it had to have a formal dining room.  Yeah, you guessed it.  The home they ultimatley purchased had no formal dining room and very little else they had in mind.  What was the trigger?  The seller and the buyer had a shared hobby, making and collecting porcelain dolls.  The seller had a kiln, the buyer wanted the kiln and the space for the hobby. 

So were these buyers liars?  Of course not, they just didn't know what was really important and I obviously did not ask the right question:)

Posted by Sharon Vest over 8 years ago


Posted by Thomas Santore Lic Associate Real Estate Broker, Realtor®-ABR-Land, Residential & Commercial Sa (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage/Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT) over 8 years ago

I disagree with the statement that buyers are liars also. Many are just not sure what they want. It is part of an agents job to sort through the information given and ask the right questions to meet their needs.

Some buyers do have a tendency to embellish when it comes to income and underestimate their debt. But, they are less likely to do this with a lender than a broker or agent.

I have found that I have no preference when it comes to buyers and sellers. Anyone can be difficult or pleasant. When working with a qualified buyer we can receive commission a lot faster sometimes than waiting on a property to sell.

Posted by Geneice McCoy (Real McCoy Brokerage Company LLC) over 8 years ago

Great Post!  Listening isn't always just hearing.  Thanks

Posted by Sean Casey, Greenville, Hockessin, Newark & Bear Homes (Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Yes, listen and also WATCH the facial expressions and reactions.  I don't necessarily agree that buyers are lying.  I just think (and have experienced many times) that some buyers really don't know what they want and what they start out thinking evolves into something entirely different.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Love the post, Todd.  As a lender, I've been to lots of Realtors' sales meetings and trainings over my years and I've heard the phrase "Buyers are liars and seller are yellers" quite a bit.  I've always thought the same thing - maybe the Realtor isn't really listening to what they are saying.  In my case, I've got to listen to what the Realtor is saying, what the buyer is saying and what the underwriter is saying.  I also have to read between the lines when Realtors send me emails - political correctness is for the dogs.  We need to communicate clearly and truthfully so that mis-understandings are minimized and expectations are properly set.  Being an active listner will certainly help the communication process.

Posted by Jed Wunderli (Alterra Home Loans) over 8 years ago

This is why I so disagree with the show on HGTV where the agent let's the "property virgins" into a house, then waits till they come out to hear what they thought.

Talk less, listen more, is what I tell agents.

Posted by Linda Jandura, Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist (Raleigh Cary Realty) over 8 years ago

So very true Todd.  Listening is a huge part of our jobs!!!  Congrats on figuring out what she really wanted so quickly!!!

Posted by DeeDee Riley, Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas (Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA) over 8 years ago

Hi Todd ~ To me the phrase has always meant that it is just human nature to not know just what we want - and even when we know what we want we often change our minds.

After getting into real estate I was my own agent and would have epitomized the 'buyers are liars" description if I had been working with someone.  After looking at every single unrestored wreck of an antique house - my favorites - I ended up buying a tacky, 1970s character-free condo that caught my eye when I showed it to a buyer.  Believe me - I would *never* have described any such place to an agent and if they had suggested it I would have scoffed at them - or fired them!


Posted by Elizabeth Bolton, Cambridge MA Realtor (RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA) over 8 years ago

Todd.... LOL.  Your title had me rolling on the floor.  Buyer's are liar's especially when they do NOT listen to the realtor, change their mind constantly, and still can't focus in on the "essentials" of what they are looking for in a home.

Listen to them, by all means, YES, but somtimes their ideas of a home could become a motion picture for the amount of time it takes.

Posted by Valerie Osterhoudt, ABR, Cromwell, CT Real Estate ~ 860.883.8889 (Johnson Real Estate, Inc.) over 8 years ago

100% with you, Todd - and it goes for land as well as homes.  I start out each initial showing by telling my buyers - I'll know more about what you want after we've looked at a few properties together.  It never fails!

Posted by Jeanne Dufort, Madison and Lake Oconee GA (Coldwell Banker Lake Country) over 8 years ago

I think the statement evolves from Buyers doing the opposite of what they said.

"I don't want a 2 story"....and they buy one.  "I don't want a pool" and they buy a pool home (because everything else was perfect about the place).

When I start out I show them exactly what they ask to see and then I watch them to see how thye respond.  This is where you start asking questions like, "Would you consider this or that?"

Bottom line we are the Detectives here to provide the service.  Watching and listening are definitely keys.  Joy

Posted by Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team, Trust Your Family's Move To Our Expertise! (Keller Williams Parkland/Coral Springs Realty-GreatFloridaHomes Team) over 8 years ago

Many buyers simply don't know what they want.  They end up paying more than they originally say they will and often the list of things they want are simply desires and not mandatory.

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Great post Todd!!! I feel the same way.. We must listen to buyers and sometimes that doesn't mean to what they say, but maybe reactions they have... I certainly have never believed that they mean to mislead us, they sometimes just don't know what they want.

Posted by Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC, Selling the Upstate since 1989 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner) over 8 years ago

good post

Posted by Phil Parisi, Specializing in Florida's Treasure Coast (Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Laviano & Associates) over 8 years ago

@ Phillip in #133:  Just a helpful note here, Phillip.  You may not be aware, but in order for your comment to get it's 25 points from Active Rain... it must be at least ten words long.  Just a helpful thought, here.  Take care...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 8 years ago

I think agents started using this phrase to describe a phenomenon, by which buyers sort of "discover" their needs, as they go through a process of trial and error with their agent. 

A skilled agent will already have  a good idea of what those lessons could entail, and while you have to let them "learn" a few on their own, to really make them sink in, you can prevent the lost time and possible miscommunication between buyer and agent by taking the proper time to as you say, LISTEN to the reasons why their needs are what they are. 

ie:  They want a home with a basement.

Why do they want a home with a basement?

Is it because they just want one, or was it going to be used for storage all along, and another home without a basement had everything they were looking for, minus the basement, but still had room for storage elsewhere, and still accomodated their needs?

The real issue is listening to the "why" behind their needs?  Having those answers will allow you to be creative in coming up with a win-win solution.

Posted by John Whittinghill, Marietta, GA Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Realty First Atlanta) over 8 years ago

Talk about talking too much, that's a lot of comments. I would comment but I'll just listen or read others comments now.

Posted by Mike Baltierra, Full Service at Your Service Realtor-Eastvale CA (Rise Realty ) over 8 years ago

listening is key to success.

Posted by Farooq Khan, Real Estate Broker - CDPE (Pacific Realty Partners) over 8 years ago

I really enjoyed this post and all the comments. For myself, I will say I do not believe buyers are liars, and when I became a better listener, I became a better REALTOR. I also ask more questions. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Pam Sitterly, CRS Magnolia-Tomball Texas (RE/MAX VINTAGE) over 8 years ago

Listening is key!   Ever change your mind after you've gotten a bit of experience?  Buyers do as well.   They aren't always liars, just trying to figure things out.   Our role is to read the signals and help clients get to what's right for them.

Posted by Sandra Ormerod (Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

Often times buyers do not really understand what they want until they have looked around.  A good agent will help them sort through the proccess.  I think some buyers lie to us about thier real budget as they feel they need to negotiate with us as well as the sellers.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 8 years ago

I agree, the skills that we need to develop, have to deal more with personality styles, and projecting to the buyer or seller a picture that matches more closely what they were expecting to find in an agent.

Posted by Henry Pailles, San Diego Real Estate, San Diego Realtor, Chula Vista Real Estate (Chula Vista Realtor,Short sale,Eastlake Real estate,Realtor) over 8 years ago

It is so refreshing to hear someone say this.  I have always disliked "that" phrase about Buyers.  Why would anyone insult the very people that make up a good portion of our business?  Thank you for your post Todd.

Posted by DEBBIE PADILLA over 8 years ago

Hi Todd, you said it well and so did #11, sometimes buyers don't know what they want until they realize what they don't want.

Buyers expect us to use our expertise to translate their verbal and non-verbal cues into the place that's right for them if it's out there or tell them what the problem may be.

We pride ourselves on doing that and it sounds like you do, too.

Posted by Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux, Where Buying & Selling Works (Keller Williams Suburban Realty) over 8 years ago


I agree, neither buyers or sellers are "liars" they just are not sure of what it is they want. Like many who have replied to your post, buyers and sellers get caught up in the entire process, more confused than anything. When I first started in Real Estate even the instructor used that comment more than once so, who is really confused.

I love working with my buyers and sellers and will basically take them at their word with my ear to the ground for any new information. It's human nature the uncertainty of any situation sometimes can sound like a lie.

Appreciate your starting this process you have certainly turned a few "ears".

Happy New Year!

Posted by Agnes Tabor over 8 years ago

The term "listening" gets tossed around frequently in real estate, but to me it is as much about resisting the urge to talk too much. It seems we all get so excited to diagnose what a client wants it is hard to just be still and silent and really listen. After listening to a wonderful Brian Tracy seminar, I tried out his theory on making "white magic." We found that something magical does happen when we turn off our phone, eliminate all distractions, are fully prepared and polished in appearace for an appointment. And, then concentrate all of our energy on truly listening to the client and not interrupting or trying to immediately overcome an objection. Listening, in this context, is just as much about creating a warm energy and environment for the client to feel comfortable and open to sharing from the heart level versus the head level. That brief honest exchange can anchor a relationship through thick and thin.

There is just so much noise in the world now, people are grateful to sincerely be heard by someone who honestly cares about them.


Warm Regards to All,

Dustin Oldfather


Posted by Dustin Oldfather, Delaware Ocean & Water Front Homes (Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

Todd, a great post.  We all need to be better listeners with our clients and customers; that's just a given.  But do we really do it?  I always try my best to minimize my words, eliminate the "white noise", so to speak, and listen to what my clients say as well as what THEY DON'T SAY.  Your blog post reminded me of a sale I had at the beginning of the year.  I had a client referred to me whose criteria was not much more than price.  On our first visit we toured all the properties I prepared for her to see.  Half way through the day I began to realize by her expressions that she was not interested in anything in her given price range.  After exhausting almost all of the different buildings and units on tour I asked her to bear with me as I wanted to veer away from the "plan" for the day.  She complied and I showed her a listing of mine.  I explained that although higher in price, I wanted her to see other properties and that I could tell she was turned off by everything we had seen.  She loved the listing and at that point told me she could go up in price (which of course had me shaking my head).  She eventually bought in that building although not my listing.  Based on that experience I wholeheartedly agree with your post.  Thanks for sharing.  Best of luck in 2011!


Posted by Dave Leiderman, ABR, SFR - Realtor - DE & MD Beaches (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 8 years ago

Todd - great post! I also hate the term "buyers are liars". I have found that the agents who proclaim this the loudest are the ones who don't listen (to anyone). Sometimes buyers just don't know how to express what they want until you listen long enough. It really is all about listening and listening and listening.

Posted by Kathie Burby, REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide (Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Greay advise.  I always ask at each home I show what they like and dislike at each house. Thsi helps narrow it down to what they really want.  Listen, Listen, Listen  let them tell you and better yet show you.

Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) over 8 years ago

I hate the term "buyers are liars" also - don't even know how that got started. Listening and watching your client's reaction is key. Great post!

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

Yes indeed we must listen.  Not only to what buyers do say, but what they don't say.  What we may think would send them running, they might not have an objection to at all.

Posted by Jeff Harris, Selling Austin. Every Day over 8 years ago

Todd: Listening IS important but when a buyer informs you that they CANNOT afford more than $900,000  (and would have to borrow to get that)and ONLY want one area... and they end up buying (from another agent) a property for $1.1 in a  different area... I would have to say that (at least some) buyers are indeed liars.......  Best, Gay

Posted by Gay E. Rosen, As Real as Real Estate Gets! (Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

Todd- You hit the nail on the head. Hearing what a buyer is saying and listening to what they are saying are indeed two very different things. What they say may not be what you hear. If your mind is racing while they are speaking you are not listening,nor are you hearing what it is they are trying to tell you. Good listeners can concisely summarize what the speaker has just said. In doing so, it re-affirms to the speaker that you have beem listening, and understand what it is they are trying to convey.

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) over 8 years ago

Todd, I refuse to use that statement.

You are so right on. We are not hearing what the buyers really want or need. Until we learn how to ask the right questions and listen very carefully to the answers and then ask more questions and show a few homes and ask more questions will we recognize what the buyer is asking for. Many times they have no idea what they want and need that good agent  to narrow the search and then really listen for the buying signals!


Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 8 years ago

Great post Todd. A good example given from a position of humility. Listening/hearing is important to every relationship, isn't it?

Posted by Jan Laurie (JL Residential Styling & Staging) over 8 years ago

I have found that to be the case, that buyers are liars, but not in every case. Sure, if a buyer is looking for a single family home, I don't show them condo highrises downtown. If they're looking on the west side of the river, I don't show them way far east. However, I have found buyers who want a $500K home, will buy a $350K home. Sometimes they want a 1 level, but buy a 2 level.

What's very aggravating is that you show them one house, and they dont' like it, then you don't work with them, and 6 months later you find they bought that house.

Posted by Eugene Lew (RE/MAX equity group) over 8 years ago

Todd, I couldn't agree more.  I can't tell you how many times I have picked up clients because they were frustrated by their Realtor sending them the wrong kinds of properties.  They ask for $200-$250k, with 4 bedrooms, and they get 3/2's under $150k.  It seems unbelievable that agents could be so dense, but the usual culprit is their insistence on sending OFFICE listings, instead of what's best for their client. 

Also, as you said, sometimes buyers don't know what they want until they really get out there and start looking.  If you pay attention, after about 2-3 showings you can basically tell when you walk through the door whether they will like it or not.

On another note, how weird is blogging?  I know you're a big superstar here on ActiveRain, but I've commented on a few of your posts, and you've reciprocated...and now I almost feel like I know you.  I can now see how buyers could get that same feeling by reading my posts...and could really begin to know, like, and trust me to the point of wanting to do business.  Eureka! 

Posted by Matt Robinson, (Professional Investors Guild) about 8 years ago

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