Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Luke Feldbrugge
Closing the sale in real estate isn’t just the final step, it’s the step that generates your commission check and completes the transaction with your client. Closing a sale is what sets you apart as an experienced agent, and it is an integral part of your ongoing success. Just like a poker dealer who has to know all the possible hands in a high stakes game, practicing different techniques for closing the sale can help you refine what works best for you and your clients.
To be clear, when you talk about closing a sale in the real estate business, it brings two things to mind. One kind of closing is the final signing of papers and completing the home purchase that is the closing day process.
That’s not the closing we are referring to. We are talking about the other kind of closing where you come to an agreement with the buyers and they have decided to buy the house you’ve been working on together.
The closing process as a real estate salesperson is all about your skills and your ability to get prospective buyers to make the decision to buy the best opportunity to meet their needs. The assistance of a real estate agent is what will get them to their final decision.
Let’s also say out loud that selling a house isn’t like any other sales cycle out there. It’s likely the largest purchase with the longest loan terms that clients will ever encounter. There’s lots of prep work, lots of relationship building and lots of details. Every house is different, every mortgage loan is different, and every potential customer is different, so every sale is different.
We’ve listed these closing skills and sales techniques based on the recognition of the unique selling process that is real estate, hoping it will provide you with at least one new way of closing the sale.
14 Techniques for Closing the Sale
1) Assumptive Close
An assumptive close comes after a lot of the work is over. You’ve done the searches, the showings, the mortgage pre approval and all the education that comes with the real estate process. Now the clients are on the fence and hesitant to make a commitment, but they are almost there.
With the assumptive close, you assume the deal is made, you believe they are ready and it’s just a matter of finalizing. Something along the lines of, “We’ve done all the work, agreed that this is the house for you, and now we just need to sew it up.”
2) Soft Close
The soft close is one of the best ways to test the waters and see how ready the client is to make the decision. In a soft close, as a buyer’s agent, you offer something to entice them to take the next step. In new car sales, this is easy because they can offer all kinds of things to sweeten the deal – leather seats, sunroof, backup cameras, etc.
Sweetening the deal for a house is not as easy. There are things you can add as part of a real estate transaction such as the home sellers covering some of the closing costs, furniture that the buyer might like to keep, etc. Sometimes only a small offer is all it takes to tip the scales on a very close sale. If you make an offer and they don’t bite, that can tell you a lot in the long run.
3) Direct Close
Sometimes the best approach is the direct approach, and the direct close is just that. It’s simply asking the buyer for the sale. It shouldn’t be the first thing out of your mouth, naturally, but it can come after you’ve done all the prep work.
There’s no telling who will respond well to the direct close, but as you gain experience working with your clients, you will get a sense when to use the direct close and when not to. If you are new to the field, ask one of your most experienced peers about their experiences; when the direct close worked well, and not so well.
4) Closing the Sale With the Hammer Close
The hammer close is a little more aggressive than the direct close. Ok, maybe a lot more aggressive. Instead of asking for the deal, you’re almost demanding it. An example might be: “We both know this is a great deal for you. It’s time to stop thinking about it and do it.” You aren’t trying to force them into a decision they don’t want to make, but some clients sit on the fence so long that you need something forceful to make them commit.
As this consultant puts it in his YouTube video, you may have to make your clients a bit uncomfortable in order to prompt a decision. That goes against most of your instincts about building relationships, but there may be times when you have to bring the hammer down. Regardless, use the hammer close technique sparingly.
5) Trial Close
A trial close isn’t what it sounds like. You’re not offering a free trial on homeownership (but that’s a cool idea). Th trial close is so subtle that it doesn’t seem like closing the sale at all. It consists of asking a prospective homebuyer a series of questions to see how close they are to making a decision. Think of it as a kind of barometer check toward closing, where the answers to questions give you a sense of what’s happening in the mind of your clients.
- How’s the mortgage application going?
- Did you decide how many garages you’ve going to want?
- Based on what we’ve talked about, do you have more questions?
This is a great way to gauge how close they are to a firm commitment.
6) Sharp Angle Close
The sharp angle close is a way to respond to home buyer questions in a way that moves things forward. They are often couched in “if/then” terms. For example, if the buyers are asking the sellers to pay points at closing, the sharp angle response would be “if we can get them to pay for some points, can we tell them yes it’s a deal?” This is a particularly good technique if you have buyers who seem to be nickel and diming the seller on all kinds of details. With the sharp angle close, you are turning every contingency into an opportunity to move forward.
7) Limited Time Close
In most cases, telling buyers they only have a limited time to make a decision on a purchase is a pressure tactic imposed by the salesperson. But not in real estate. In the home buying process there is a real sense of urgency to make a decision because other buyers are also considering purchasing the same property. So when you tell buyers, they only have until the weekend to put together their offer, it’s a real deadline.
We all remember the real estate market boom during the pandemic, when houses were being snatched up in a matter of hours. Buyers will remember that too, and they won’t want other buyers to get the upper hand on them. This is where the limited time close can be a good reminder.
With the current United States housing market, there’s low inventory, higher demand, and fewer new listings. That all adds up to pressure on buyers, and they will understand if you give them aggressive deadlines for a decision.
8) Closing the Sale: The Summary Close
Like the closing arguments from a lawyer in a trial, the summary close is a final walkthrough of all general information you and your clients have talked about. You can even make a list of the benefits, the costs and the features. Once you have summarized your discussions, it’s time to ask whether they are ready to move to the last step and buy the house.
You can add to the list all the pain points causing the buyer to find a new house in the first place, e.g. “You’ve said your rent is going up in the next six months and that’s why you want to get a new house now.”
9) Sleep on it Close
This one is just what it sounds like: backing off on the pressure and letting the client take some time to think about their decision. If clients seem overwhelmed, they are not going to want to make a decision for fear that it will be a bad one.
Remind them that this is a big decision, one they don’t make very often, and it’s Ok to rest and just think about it. For the introverted or contemplative buyers, this will be a relief to them and they will thank you for it. Some people respond better to pressure, but a lot of buyers will appreciate a bit of time to sleep on the decision.
It’s sounds counterintuitive, but showing some patience with the sales process may actually speed up your client’s decision-making abilities.
10) Closing the Sale: The Yes Close
This is a series of questions where you want to get a “yes” from your prospective buyers. It’s also called the “yes ladder” and the questions are designed to get buyers in the habit of saying yes. After two or three answers, you want to ask the question that’s really at the heart of the decision. For example:
- Is this house in a good location?
- Is this house in your price range?
- Does it have the number of bedrooms you need?
Then you can conclude with “are we ready to make an offer on this property now?”
11) Opportunity Cost Close
The opportunity cost close taps into the economic concept of opportunity cost, where you stress what the buyers will be missing if they don’t decide to buy. In some cases you may use this if two or more properties are being considered. One house may have a big yard, while another one will have a park nearby. In this case, the family would need to weigh the benefits of lots of room (with the park) versus the convenience of having kids close to home (with the yard).
If it’s a first-time homebuyer, the opportunity cost of not buying a house is continuing to pay rent. By framing elements of a property in terms of what is lost if a decision isn’t made, it may help your home buyer clients remember that the status quo isn’t always in their best interests.
12) Pros and Cons Close
The pros and cons close is also known as the Ben Franklin close – because he created this approach – and this is just a straight-up list of pros and cons on the home in question. The buyers can start the list and you can help remind them of benefits or liabilities as they go.
The idea behind the pros and cons close is clarity. Lots of stuff (down payment, interest rate, etc.) comes up in the process of looking for a house and going through showings, but it’s also easy to forget things that are, in retrospect, important. For example, a prospective buyer might forget that the new home will cut 20 minutes off her commute. That will come up if you are all brainstorming the pros and cons list together, and that may be the clincher.
13) Closing the Sale: The Thermometer Close
Buyers can run hot or cold, so the thermometer close is just a way for you to measure their current temperature and readiness to close deals. You just ask them, at any point, how warm they are about buying a particular property. You could even do it with multiple properties if they are looking at more than one.
This could just be a way for you to get a handle on how your buyers are feeling, but if they indicate they are “hot” for a house, it might be time to ask them to go forward on a sale agreement.
14) Ownership Close
If your buyers are not imagining themselves in their new home, this is an opportunity to prompt them to imagine themselves as owners, using the owners close. What will it mean to be the owner of that house, day-to-day? What are the advantages, but more importantly, what are the benefits of owning that they haven’t considered?
Getting them to think like property owners using the ownership close may be an important step toward making that more real for them, and nudge them closer to a purchase. This will be particularly important for first time homebuyers.
Which Closing the Sale Technique is Best?
While covering various techniques for effectively closing the sale, we intentionally want to highlight the pivotal role you play in their success.
These distinct approaches can all play a specific role, and be valuable tools to use when your client needs your help taking the next step in the process. That is why it is important to tailor these methods to your unique sales style, and use them when you believe they will deliver the right experience for your clients.
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