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Musts, Wants and Wishes

Over the past 20+ years in new home sales I have had the “Musts, wants and wishes” conversation with many new home prospects. I have also had the same conversations with team members, my children and people I coach. The concept is simple. When making an important decision, there are factors that are must haves, non-negotiable items that need to be in place to move forward. Items of less importance, wants, these items are important but not crucial. And finally, if money or time were no object, the wish list. We go through this exercise often when making a major purchase or significant decision. My goal as a consultant or leader is to get people to be able to articulate these lists and write them down, if possible. Why is this important? It allows them to prioritize, keeps them focused on the larger goal vs the shiny object. It also gives me an understanding of the end goal of the person with whom I am working. I know that when I truly understand these things, I am better equipped to help whomever I advise, coach or counsel.


What is a must? It is usually the catalyst for change, the big reason that someone is either shopping or seeking some form of change. In the case of a new home it can be the need for an additional bedroom, a larger or smaller yard or a new, more desirable area. If I do not know the must, I cannot effectively meet my customer’s needs. Some great questions to get to the bottom line must for a person is, what is motivating you to consider buying a new home? If you could change one thing about your current home, what would it be? This will usually draw it out. At this point my goal is to not only meet this need, but to also remind them of this goal when they lose sight during the process.

On a side note, I apply these same principals to my life daily. With time being limited there are certain things I must do daily, weekly or monthly. Things as simple as exercise, getting a certain amount of sleep or recreation. I have tried to establish certain non-negotiable things that I will do daily, weekly and monthly, regardless of external influences.


What is a want? These are the items that often has them considering New vs Old, lower maintenance, current finishes or the opportunity to personalize a new home. I like to ask, what are some other things that are important to you in your next home? We should try to get as many of these as possible. By having more items on this want list we are more likely to be able to get a lot them for the customer.


What is a wish? These are often the flashier items or can be frivolous. Drop zones, outdoor living or fancier finishes often fall into this category. I can usually get to this by asking, if budget were not an issue what would you like to see in your new home? If we can show someone that not only can we meet their musts, some of their wants, but also a wish or two, they will be more compelled to decide and purchase.

Through creating these lists with customers, we can truly understand their priorities. We can plan a personalized presentation focused on their musts, wants and wishes, rather than ours or those of other people we serve.  The key to being able to do this is curiosity, strong listening skills, note taking and patience.

Be curious, when they say that a smaller yard is a must, ask them why. They may tell you that they are tired of yardwork, that there is a health issue that prevents them from being able to care for a big yard or that they are planning on travelling and want to be able to do so without having to pay for maintenance. In understanding the why, we can be truly consultative, instead of just selling.

Listen intently as they tell you about their dream home. Make sure you are hearing them correctly by restating the main objectives to ensure mutual understanding. One of my favorite quotes from Brian Tracy is “Get the facts. Ask questions and listen intently to the answers before responding.”

Take notes! By taking good notes you can be assured to stay focused on what is most important. You can also put it in your CRM for future reference. Finally, taking notes demonstrates you truly care and are listening.

Patience is key. Getting to the bottom of what is a must, want or wish takes time. Do not interrupt, do not stop until they have given you enough data to get to the right home. I understand we are eager to get out there and show them a home and homesite but a little patience at this stage will pay off.

As we focus on our customer’s must haves, wants and wishes we will be more effective sales professionals. Doing so will not only ensure more sales, but also create happier buyers and find them the right home and homesite quickly.