If you read the bios of most real estate agents, you’ll see ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ mentioned. But how do these qualities look in practice?
When a property sale is over and the client has moved on with their life, they’ll remember how you dealt with them throughout the sale, particularly if it was a drawn-out process.
Communication and confidence are essential if you want to be a successful and respected agent. Focus on these attributes, and you’re on your way to being the agent your clients return to, and recommend to their family, friends and neighbours.
It’s also worth remembering that being successful isn’t just about winning a listing over your competitors. You need to stay engaged with vendors throughout the entire campaign – however it plays out – and leave your client feeling that they’ve been listened to and treated with respect. Here’s how to be an agent that people come back to.
Make a great first impression
Whether or not you get the listing, vendors will trust you more easily if you deal with them with respect and appear approachable.
Often, your client will have heard of you locally, or they’ve met you at an open home and approached you to talk about selling their own home. Whatever the situation, a great first impression is key. Be friendly and engaged, and always have a business card ready. Remember that these people have invited you into their home for a reason, so make the most of it.
It’s also vital to look the part. Do you appear well-groomed, upbeat and energetic? These attributes might seem superficial, but when you first meet someone you respond instantly to their overall presentation.
Someone who is well-presented, stands tall and smiles will come across as ‘successful’ – a person who cares about themself and their work. It’s also about your communication, so think less about impressing people and more about connecting with them. This might mean listening more than you talk, asking well-considered questions and showing that you understand where they are coming from.
Appraising a property
A recent CoreLogic survey found that promising an unrealistic sales price was a common issue among estate agents, stating that “too many agents focus on the skills required to win the listing in the short term, rather than winning the relationship – and all of the referrals that the relationship will bring them over the long term.”
Always be honest from the outset about what you think a property is worth in the current market, and go out of your way to deliver it. This is far more helpful to your reputation than promising an inflated sales price and fast sale and leaving your clients disappointed when you can’t deliver.
Timely and clear communication at appraisal stage might well gain you the listing, even if your valuation isn’t the highest. When you arrive at an appraisal with key market data about local sales, you’ll be able to guide sellers into accepting a realistic price for the property. And if you’ve sold similar properties before, you’ll most likely have a good idea on the best sales and marketing approach and can advise the vendors accordingly.
Follow up your initial visit with more information on your proposed marketing strategy, with an outline of your costs and what you’ll expect from the vendor.
Clients want to know that you’re knowledgeable and you’ll give their asset your focus. So show confidence, ability and know-how to secure the highest price, but don’t just offer a higher price than what the market is indicating.
Ultimately, being honest rather than setting a sky-high appraisal is about playing the long game. You might not gain every listing, but you stand a better chance of ending the transaction with a sale and a client who knows you did the best you could and secured the highest price the market could supply. The client who respects you rather than feeling deceived is one who will come back to you (the desired ‘client for life’) and recommend you to others.
Communicate clearly throughout the sales process
As the sales process continues, it’s common for clients to feel less satisfied with you as an agent. Selling a property is stressful, the news isn’t always good, and vendors are often tired from constantly cleaning their house for home inspections.
But agents can manage this dissatisfaction to some extent by empathising and staying in touch with their clients.Agents are the conduit that relays the market to the vendor, so better the communication in this regard, the better the relationship can be maintained. Being unavailable now is not a good idea as your client will start to lose faith in you. Time is critical in real estate – always respond quickly to phone calls and emails, even if it’s just to say there is no update or to talk through any concerns they are having.
Get your vendors involved in the sales process
If you have CRM or other technology that you can share with clients, consider giving sellers access to it. When they can check in whenever they like to see what you’ve been doing to engage with potential buyers, they’ll have a greater sense of control and be less anxious.
Talking to your clients about marketing is another way of reassuring them that their property has your focus. Discuss with them the possibilities offered by vendor-paid advertising, Facebook promotion and how to use social media to market the property.
Finally, bear in mind that the slower market we’re seeing now means that homes are often on the market for longer. This means a longer and often more stressful relationship between you and your vendors. Hang in there, remain competent, and stay in touch with your clients so they stay calm and focused throughout the sales process. (And remember; if you were working under the One Agency model and keeping your overheads low, in a quieter market with fewer sales, you’ll still be able to achieve a good income, so you could spend more time with each set of vendors.)
Even when the going gets tough, remember that ongoing and future relationships are key to your long-term success.