I often have people come and speak to me about the merits of becoming an estate agent. At first glance it would look like an easy way to earn good money – with flexible hours, huge commissions, and really not much skill required. Wrong.
So what makes a good estate agent? Some may think it’s a love for property. Whilst we do sell property, the best estate agents are successful because they understand people. Our customers are people with needs and expectations. The best agents are skilled in listening to their customers, identifying their needs, and then proposing a product or service that meets those needs.
For an agent to have those skills they need to take a genuine interest in their clients. If you’ve ever dealt with an estate agent before, or any salesperson for that matter, you will agree that you can tell within minutes who is interested in your needs vs. who is interested in their commission.
The best estate agents are seriously goal driven and self-disciplined. An agent only gets paid for results, not for turning up at the office. Their drive and determination usually means long working hours at times when their customers are available – after hours and on weekends. This comes at a price, often impacting on their families. Whilst the hours may be flexible, the reality is that the most successful agents work much longer and harder that a salaried person.
Real estate can be a very emotional business. We deal with peoples’ dreams. We help them sell the home their children grew up in, with all the memories and emotion attached. We assist our sellers to adjust their emotional pricing expectations to the market reality. We help our customers negotiate these emotions, often at great emotional expense to ourselves.
The best estate agents appreciate we’re not dealing with bricks and mortar – we’re dealing with peoples’ lives, and with what is usually their biggest financial investment.
And of course, there is the disappointment agents experience when, through no fault of their own, sales fall through. Great estate agents have the emotional strength to deal with these emotional highs and lows.
Another characteristic of the best agents is that they don’t shy away from the difficult conversation. Honest and open communication with their customers is critical to assisting them. Sometimes this means the agent needs to deliver information to a client that will not be well received. This requires courage, as the messenger is often the “shot down” for delivering the information.
Real estate is an exciting and rewarding career. The best estate agents are very special people with exceptional qualities and skills. They genuinely care about assisting their customers and display outstanding professionalism. If you have what it takes real estate could be the career for you!
Principal of Harcourts Platinum, and Director of Harcourts South Africa
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