Costs and Benefits of Public Opinion

Costs and Benefits of Public Opinion

There are many buzzwords in the real estate community that are probably floating around in your clients' heads, but not necessarily with any substanti

There are many buzzwords in the real estate community that are probably floating around in your clients’ heads, but not necessarily with any substantial meaning or context attached. It’s a lot like when you have only seen a word written, and when you try to speak it for the first time, you realize you don’t know how to pronounce it.

One rumor or wive’s tale about a subject can make or break its success with certain clients. If they know that homeowners’ associations, for example, have a reputation for being a bit like the “fraternities” of homeownership, infamous for high fees and strict rules, it may be difficult for you to sell a house in a certain development or residential area.

On the other hand, having too high an opinion of something, if that opinion is ill- or uninformed, can be just as destructive. For example, both buyers and sellers may fall prey to the allure of attractive home improvement projects that seem to have worked out great for people in commercials or on reality television shows. You will have to dissuade them from divesting valuable resources from their primary goal.

Approaching rationality

There is, however, a kernel of truth in every belief a client may have, generally speaking. Home improvement can be a great investment, and homeowners’ associations can cause a lot of stress and strife for professionals and residents alike. But there is a happy medium somewhere between knowing what to watch out for in particular situations and making sweeping generalizations.

Taking each situation as it comes is key. There are always a lot of costs and benefits to be weighed, and rarely will anything be unilaterally good or bad; depending on your clients’ perspectives and priorities, one may thrive in another’s nightmare. However, while you certainly shouldn’t disseminate spectacularized information, you should be aware of the public sentiments that are out there so that you can effectively and successfully discuss them with your clients.

How much should public opinion matter?

The impact of public opinion goes beyond influencing the decision at hand in itself. The sentiments of neighbors, family, peers, coworkers, and friends can affect people’s attitudes toward their own decisions long after those choices have been made. For example, if a young family chooses a condo instead of a house and later begins having problems with their Owners’ Association in that condominium complex, friends who have negative opinions of homeowners’ associations may only contribute to their discontent.

You want your clients to have the best quality of life possible, and to feel good about their choices so that they can confidently make newer and bigger ones in the future and contribute to their own and community growth.

It can be tempting to tell clients not to listen to their friends because their friends are not professionals – even if you phrase it more tactfully, like advising them to take their friends’ advice “with a grain of salt.” However, these people will likely remain a part of your clients’ lives for a lot longer than you will; encourage them to consider where their friends are coming from, but also to thoughtfully apply that advice to their own situation, and recognize and honor their own needs despite what other people may say.