As a 30+ year veteran of the real estate industry, an associate broker, manager, and mentor to new agents, I often get asked about what skills real estate agents should focus on developing. Even though technologies add regularly to our list of must-have skills, there are still some basic qualities that are crucial for success in a real estate career. Let’s get into what I view as the most important skills for real estate agents to master.
Top Skills for Real Estate Agents to Master
Real estate agents need to be able to communicate effectively with both clients and other professionals in the industry. This includes being able to listen to clients’ needs, explain complex real estate terms, and negotiate effectively.
While communicating with clients, you always want to ascertain their preferences and communicate as much as possible in the methods that they are most comfortable with. This is something that agents will want to find out during the initial get-to-know-you phase of the relationship.
Agents also need to be effective and wise with written communication, whether with clients or fellow real estate agents. Written communication can be used to create a first impression of the agent. If the agent’s written communication is sloppy or unprofessional, it could damage their reputation and make it difficult to attract new clients. If the agent’s written communication is clear, concise, and friendly, it will help them to build trust and rapport with their clients. Always proofread before you hit send.
When communicating through email or text, a wise agent will be careful not to say anything in writing that could be misunderstood, or misconstrued. Any ambiguous wording can come back to haunt them if the receiver gets the wrong idea or impression. Written communication should be careful and concise. Save the conversations about nuances for verbal conversations.
In a day when more and more of our communication is through text, agents should use prudence in their conversations. Some conversations should even be conducted only in person, where people can have the benefit of body language and facial responses to enhance true communication.
Real estate transactions can be complex, and real estate agents need to be able to identify and solve problems quickly and efficiently. You’ve probably heard the old adage, “With business comes responsibility.” It emphasizes that when you have a business or any kind of responsibility, you also have to deal with the problems and challenges that come along with it. It seems this is never more true than when helping people buy and sell real estate.
There are many opportunities for something to go wrong during a real estate transaction, or even just not to come out as expected. The home inspection came up with some issues the buyer isn’t comfortable with. The appraisal came up less than the home is contracted for. The house has termites. These are the opportunities for an agent to shine by helping their clients to resolve problems to reach solutions that everyone is satisfied with, what we call a “win-win”.
Time Management Skills
Real estate agents need to be able to manage their time effectively. This includes being able to juggle multiple tasks, meet deadlines, and follow up with clients.
Real estate agents need to be able to keep track of a lot of information, including property listings, client information, and paperwork. This includes being able to create and maintain organized systems and files.
Even if you aren’t a naturally detailed person, there are systems which help tremendously with staying organized and on top of the transaction, the time-table, the communication, and the paperwork.
Local Market Knowledge
Real estate agents need to have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, including the different neighborhoods, schools, and amenities. This knowledge will help them to match clients with properties that meet their needs.
Knowledge about the market trends is crucial in helping sellers price their homes for sale accurately, and in helping buyers know what to offer on a home. Agents must keep abreast of trends like the average time that homes are on the market before they sell. How does one neighborhood compare to the other when it comes to time on market? What differences are we seeing in the various price ranges when it comes to time on market? And that is just one key statistic that agents need to track.
Real estate agents need to be comfortable using technology to help them with their work. This includes using online listing platforms, social media, and email and online marketing. Your brokerage will most likely have an online contract system to keep track of transactions. Technologies evolve rapidly and agents cannot escape!
If you want to be in business for the next decade, you have to embrace technology. One such technology is AI. While it seems like a scary thing to some people, we think it is a game-changer. As our company CEO, Glenn Sanford says about AI, it is a tool that can enhance a Realtor’s proficiency and effectiveness. A wise agent can harness AI to enhance the customer journey.
Soft Skills of a Successful Real Estate Agent
But what about the so-called “soft-skills”? The personal attributes that allow you to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. These are often called interpersonal skills, people skills, or even emotional intelligence. Sometimes they are just naturally possessed, but I believe they can all be learned. These skills are important for both career and personal life. I think that they help build trust.
Real estate agents need to be able to understand and empathize with their clients’ needs. This will help them to build rapport and provide better service. Emotions can run high in a real estate transaction. People are usually not familiar with transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, let alone the life changes they are simultaneously experiencing. The stresses that accompany a real estate sale or purchase often include things like job changes, the addition of children, downsizing, or even the thrills of marriage and establishing a family. People all handle stress differently and agents need to be skilled at helping them navigate through the stresses.
Real estate agents need to be honest and trustworthy. It seems like this doesn’t need to be said, but, unfortunately, it does. Integrity is essential for building relationships based on trust with clients. These relationships strengthened by trust will not only make the transaction go smoother and friendlier, they will end up with more referrals, adding to an agent’s bottom line. Integrity is one of eXp Realty’s core values, and after all, a very practical business concept.
Being honest and trustworthy will also go a long with with other professionals in the industry. After three decades of selling real estate in my community, I find that I have business dealings with some agents several times over the years. It always makes for a better transaction when you know and trust the agent on the other side.
Real estate agents need to have a positive attitude and be able to stay motivated even when things are tough. This will help them to succeed in a competitive industry. A positive attitude is crucial to overcome obstacles, and negotiate through issues that might arise during the transaction.
A positive attitude is so much more compelling when you are building relationships and report with clients and other agents. People are more likely to do business with someone who they perceive as being positive and optimistic. If you have a positive attitude, you will be more likely to attract new clients and grow your business.
Helping buyers and sellers navigate the real estate transaction can be stressful. There are a lot of moving pieces, and sometimes emotions can run high. Not to mention, it’s the people business, and people can be unpredictable. Managing your own stress levels in healthy ways is paramount if you want to have a life beyond real estate.
This is the ability to adapt to change. This includes being able to learn new things, be flexible, and handle unexpected challenges. The market is constantly changing. We experienced marked changes recently, as we watched interest rates double in six short months. Agents who are always adapting and learning find that they can weather the changes better than those who are rigid in their business methods.
Not all clients are the same, so it’s important for real estate agents to be able to adapt to the needs of their clients. Remember, it’s the people business. This is not the career for those who need to be in control, or who cannot regroup as things shift and change around them.
Qualities of A Trustworthy Agent
Homebuyers and sellers in today’s real estate market want to find an agent who is trustworthy, above many other qualities. Will you go to bat for them? I would bet the first thing on a clients mind is “Can I trust this agent?”
In my mind, there are three major ways to build trust with your clients:
Build Trust Through Competence
Competence is not something that people can assume an agent possesses these days, unfortunately. There are too many agents who have not had proper training, or don’t have proper oversight. I’m sure most of us can do a quick poll of acquaintances, friends and family and hear a sad story about an unprofessional, incompetent real estate agent.
Incompetence pervades all industries, not just real estate, but it is unfortunate in an industry where people stand to lose thousands during a real estate transaction. The trouble with incompetence, is that anyone who comes along in the wake of an incompetent real estate agent has to work even harder to establish trust. That’s ok though, think about it this way, an incompetent agent is no competition for an agent who is at the top of their game.
Competence is one of those skills that pays back exponentially. Once you have won someone’s trust, they are more likely to refer you to their family and friends. This quality means the difference between being a client’s trusted adviser, and being an order taker. Competence turns out to be another very practical business-building tool!
Build Trust Through Professionalism
The National Association of Realtors has had an increased focus on professionalism for the last few years. NAR knows that when a real estate agent is professional, they are seen as being competent, reliable, and trustworthy. This makes it more likely that clients will do business with them and refer them to others.
Professionalism also creates credibility for a real estate agent. This is because it shows that the agent is taking their work seriously and that they are committed to providing their clients with the best possible service.
Professionalism with clients, as well as other real estate agents is one of the foundations for NAR’s Code of Ethics. Agents who act professionally towards each other create the best transactions and experiences for their clients.
Build Trust Through Caring
A trustworthy agent will always be honest with their clients, even if it’s not what they want to hear. They will also act with integrity, putting the client’s interests first and always doing what’s best for them. That is what agency is. The best way I can say it is that an agent has to really care. We must care about our client’s goals, dreams and ambitions with their real estate deals, more than we care about a commission check.
Real care about our clients includes all of the above skills and qualities. Really caring means active listening. It means careful communication with patient and meaningful explanations of all the concepts and processes. It means professionalism, availability, and going the extra mile sometimes.
We in the real estate industry can always use encouragement to increase our skills, techniques and business prowess. Hopefully this article encourages you. We can all do something to make our industry better.
Are you looking for a brokerage that will offer you the best tools to help you master the skills every real estate agent should have? In our opinion, eXp Realty is the best place to grow your business exponentially because it has the tools, systems and business model to set you free financially.
Find out more at eXp Realty Careers. Continue the Conversation with Chris Highland at 301-401-5119, Broker: 888-860-7369.