What Makes Real Estate Agents Best In Their Business?
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Real estate agents are one of the most important stakeholders of the industry because they help people make some of the largest investment decisions of their lives. It’s not a responsibility which should be taken lightly, and most true professionals understand this.
However, since India still does not have a licensing requirement which is contingent upon a minimal aptitude of real estate knowledge and fair business practice laws, anyone can become a real estate agent, and they do, thus we have paanwalas, rickshawalas and many other non-professionals posing as agents. So, how can the professionals differentiate themselves from everyone else?
First, let’s understand that to be a great agent or broker in this business, one must possess and exhibit important traits such as integrity, a strong work ethic, knowledge of the local market, attention to detail, a friendly personality, the ability to communicate intelligently, among many other obvious qualities.
All agents understand this, but this article is designed to highlight a skillset and service which professional agents must master to become the “best in their business” and provide a “white-glove service”, the kind you would expect to receive when you walk into a five-star hotel or restaurant.
To become the best in their business, a broker must implement three key strategies:
1. Technology Adoption
Most real estate agents in India do not incorporate technology into their business. This needs to change. First, a broker must have a web presence, his own website for his company. Today, we check a person’s website to learn more about them. If they have a professional website, it creates a positive image and enhances credibility, but having no website results in the exact opposite feeling, or lack of confidence in that individual’s ability to service us. Additionally, brokers should also make digital agreements available on their website which includes their services and charges. Clients can review and sign them directly online, thus saving a significant amount of misunderstanding or headaches later, and it further protects the broker.
It doesn’t stop there. Brokers should utilize a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) software to improve their client relations and regular communication. They must also understand digital marketing or hire a professional to manage this side of their business, as all potential clients begin their home search online. Learn how to create a spider-like web online to capture new client leads. A steady flow of leads is the fuel that powers a company’s growth, not money. Without leads, the business will dry up.
The second important element to be the best, and differentiate from others, is implementing a Code-of-Ethics into one’s business. Brokers must be able to demonstrate to their clients they are professional and understand the current real estate climate, including the local laws, and will adhere to them while looking out for their client’s best interest, above all else.
Many brokers in India like to represent both sides of a transaction, such as a buyer and seller because they will earn double the commission when the transaction closes. However, it’s important to note that a broker cannot logically provide a fair or neutral level of service to both clients at the same time. Which client’s interests will he protect? Let’s assume you represent the buyer and you know he is willing to pay as high as 7.0 Cr to buy a specific property, but my job is to try to save him money so he can buy it at the lowest possible price. Now, let’s assume you also represent the seller, for whom my job is to secure the highest possible price, but you know he is willing to accept as low as 6.7 Cr to get it sold. Now, as a broker my own personal goal is to make the most commission, so you might try to get the deal done for 7.0 Cr. This is clearly not in the best interest of my buyer, thus representing both sides of a transaction presents a huge conflict-of-interest. The best brokers will operate by a code-of-ethics and try to avoid dual-representation transactions regardless of the money to be earned. You recognize that may be a lot to ask, but this is what it takes to be the best in your business.
On the topic of operating by a Code-of-Ethics, it is important for brokers to join local and national professional real estate associations such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR-India) which can lend credibility to their business, and hold them accountable. Customers will gain a higher level of confidence in these brokers due to their association with other reputable professional groups. There are many other benefits which can result in joining quality associations such as the power of networking, education, technology, etc.
3. Manage Clients Expectations
The third and equally important element of becoming the best in the business is to manage client expectations while providing the highest level of service possible. This includes educating the client so he will have realistic expectations.
When listing a home for sale for a client, most brokers simply take the listing at the price the client wishes to sell it, and begins to market the listing in all his WhatsApp groups and on real estate portals, hoping to find a buyer. This is not enough, especially if the property is not accurately priced for the current market. The best strategy to implement in managing a client’s expectations involves showing him a list of properties which have already sold in his locality. Second, take him on a tour to see current homes for sale which are similar to his in the same locality. By touring these properties, the seller will view from a buyer’s perspective at what can be purchased at the same price point. This is an incredibly powerful strategy in managing the client’s expectations and accurately pricing his property for sale. If these steps are not taken, and the property is listed at a price above the market, the broker is already set up to fail, and he risks receiving a negative reputation for not having sold a property which was clearly overpriced.
When assisting a buyer to find a home, most brokers simply ask what the buyer wants, then will take them out to see the properties. It’s more important to really understand the needs of the client, get to know them. What are their family’s immediate and long term plans, thus the broker can make a more educated recommendation, versus wasting time looking at properties which do not serve the client’s needs? Being a broker is about building relationships, where the client feels comfortable enough to share with you all important facts, such as how they plan to pay for the property. Will they be requiring a loan? Then it’s a good idea to get them pre-qualified to be sure one is not wasting time. Show them properties within their budget.
4. Patience – a Necessary Virtue
Real estate agents serve a significant role in the home buying or selling process. All of the above are important, but one final characteristic is patience. To be the best in business, an agent should never rush or force a client to sell or buy a property. Real estate transactions, especially for buyers, are emotional decisions, not always about money, so it must be right and feel right, as well as meet the family’s needs. Support them in the process, while being an important resource of information, and a professional to guide them until the deal is closed. These are the traits that make agents the best in the business.