Real estate agents were once the gatekeepers of any real estate transaction. We offered data, expertise, and service. Recently, direct to consumer real estate databases have empowered clients with the freedom to shop from their couch for their next home or even understand their homes potential value by simply inputting their address.
With the immediate availability of almost all data related to a home, real estate agents find themselves questioning their role as middle-man between their client and a property. Our advantage is dependent on the one fact that will forever separate us from machines: we’re human. This realization has the potential to shift our focus as agents from gatekeepers to facilitators. We fulfill the human needs of our clients by ensuring a very emotional process flows as smoothly as possible.
The National Association of Realtors reports that today “87% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker—a share that has steadily increased from 69% in 2001”? Why? Because our relevancy within an ever-changing landscape now relies on our ability to competently offer value in 3 areas technology cannot:
A good agent is invested in their clients home purchase or sale beyond the amount of legwork they put in. They quickly understand just how emotional the entire process can be for their clients. It’s not about downsizing or upgrading or moving on, it’s about new beginnings.
Emotional intelligence, EQ, is defined as a persons capacity to be aware of, control, and express their emotions in a way that promotes successful relationships. A high EQ indicates the potential for a high emotional connectivity with everyone you come across. As a real estate agent, I believe fostering a high emotional intelligence begins with observations. Focus less on what your clients say and more on how they behave:
What is their bodily language during showings? Apprehensive? Excited? Neutral?
If your clients are a couple, are they openly disagreeing or is one of them remaining silent?
When asking for feedback, ask your clients how they ‘feel’ about a situation instead of asking what they’re thinking. You’ll get much more honest feedback this way.
Agents who don’t focus on the emotional aspect of their interactions find themselves wondering why they’ve shown over 40 homes to a completely qualified client. Your client may not understand how to satisfy their home needs as well as you do because they’re not a real estate professional. You’ll maintain an advantage over technology by establishing a deep and trusting relationship with each client. Assess your current emotional approach and put it to good use.
What do hundreds of transactions and countless unimaginable setbacks teach you? Nothing goes as planned. Impressive algorithms organize information into digestible doses that account for many variables. What they don’t do is account for the nature of reality.
A great agent acts as the intermediary between the endless information available to their clients and it’s effectiveness in the real world. It’s not enough, for example, to know the specific value a calculation assigns to your home if you don’t know how the current market in your area is behaving. Excessive data has the tendency to inflate a clients expectations because they lack the experience necessary to interpret it. Experienced agents ground their clients expectations while still finding a way to help them reach their goal. Take pride in the amount of time you’ve spent developing your craft by saving your clients all the headaches they weren’t anticipating. That’s something data can’t do.
Sell Your Service, Not the Home
I’ve met countless agents throughout my almost 20 years in this industry and I’ve had the opportunity to develop working relationships with most. Every year I notice more and more veteran agents lose their relevancy and their reputations due to poor service. I don’t blame them. They entered this industry as gatekeepers of all data and information and they’re not accustomed to their usefulness being determined on the level of service they provide.
I do blame them, however, when their clients or other agents make them aware of this time and time again only to be ignored. A great agent knows ‘service’ means:
Scheduling showings in an efficient manner and attending them with your client.
Updating clients with a transaction timeline so they remain informed.
Anticipating a clients needs and acting proactively.
Providing selfless valuation of a property that’s both accurate and sensible.
Answering your phone in a timely manner and following up when you’re unavailable.
Offering transparency and a headache free experience.
It’s the actions of a select few that ruin the perception of everyone else. When you meet someone who questions an agents purpose in the age of technology, they’ve most likely dealt with a veteran agent who ‘knows what they’re doing’.
Be the exception and avoid being phased out by improving the value you bring to your clients. They’ll thank you for it and you’ll flourish.