1. Who are you?
This might feel like a pretty existential starting point, but hang in there, because it’s important to understand how vital it is to identify and carve out a personal brand in the real estate industry. Buying or selling a house is a huge milestone for most of us, and often goes hand in hand with a great deal of emotion. That emotion is inherently tied up with and influenced by our interpersonal relationships, so it could be argued that it’s not humanly possible to separate the real estate agent from the emotional equation within the property selling and buying process. If you’ve been around the real estate industry a while, you’ll know how important building relationships is to the success of your business. Good relationships mean happy vendors and buyers, who in turn tell their friends about you, recommend you to others and give you endorsements or testimonials.
In a competitive industry, it’s no longer enough just to be a friendly person. (Don’t get me wrong, being a friendly person is good, but you’ll want to put some effort into how you’ll give that impression even when a potential client isn't right there next to you, discovering just how friendly you are!) A great starting point for working on your personal brand is to establish your ‘why’. Why have you entered the real estate industry? What is it you want to achieve in your life or through your career? What are the things that are important to you? Your unique answers set you apart from everyone else, and start to form your brand identity. Your ‘why’ is your sense of purpose, and the fleshing-out of what makes you inspire others to connect and feel good about embarking on a professional relationship with you.
2. Know your stuff
From ensuring you’re operating within the guidelines of NZ real estate legislation, to understanding the opportunities and limitations of your own level of real estate qualifications, to the way you present yourself, property sellers and buyers will feel more confident about dealing with you if you embody industry professionalism.
3. Do your homework
Get in the habit of prioritising preparation. Having a full understanding of property types and locations is vital to proving your knowledge to prospective clients. It’s also a great idea to establish relationships with other professionals you can turn to on behalf of a client or to whom you can refer a client, such as builders, property managers, building inspectors, lawyers or conveyancers and mortgage advisors. Going above and beyond the standard real estate service offering will further cement an impression of willingness and genuine desire to help your clients.
* Caveat: sometimes things crop up you weren’t prepared for, especially when you’re a newer real estate professional, but in all honesty, can crop up any time. Be humble if this happens, and honest. People will respect an honest admission of your inability to answer a question or deal with a matter at that time, as long as you reassure them you’ll do everything in your power to rectify the station and revert with what they need as soon as you possibly can.
4. Coach your vendor
It may be tempting to save time and just hope for the best when it comes to your vendor’s preparation period prior to marketing their property, but the most successful real estate agents never miss this step. Not only can you improve the property’s appeal and potential for sale by helping your client get their property ready, you’ll further strengthen the relationship and keep impressing with that all-important willingness and professionalism throughout. Check out our tips to maximise open home leads here for smart ways to coach your vendor to get their property ready to sell. As important as it is to coach your vendor, working with your potential buyers is also key. While legally you must act at all times in the interest of the vendor, potential buyers are an important new stream of contacts for your network database.
5. Who’s going to buy this property?
Countless hours of real estate slog are completely wasted by real estate agents who don’t understand how important it is to define their target market. Of course, you and your vendor want everyone and anyone to queue up to buy your real estate listing, but the reality is honing in on that specific section of the market is the most effective way to sell property quickly. It’s important to understand, and to help your client understand, that identifying the ideal buyer for the property doesn’t mean you limit the potential to sell the house to anyone outside of that group; rather it makes the property stand out to the pool of genuinely interested buyers, and can create the sort of interest every vendor dreams about. It will also make your job easier, because defining the perfect buyer streamlines the marketing process, from the hook of the listing title right through to the property features you’ll highlight at your open homes.
6. Leverage your network
Establishing and maintaining a network of contacts is so important in real estate, because building relationships is the key to success in achieving real estate sales. It’s also important not to make assumptions about your contacts, but to keep an open mind to all opportunities. Today’s young professional may become tomorrow’s extended family, and you never know where networking can lead you. Exploring avenues to find new property sellers and buyers is crucial to the lifeblood of your real estate business, but recognising the value of your existing network is just as important. If you’re just starting out or feel your network is limited, explore the opportunities in your area for connecting with new people. Head along with no agenda other than to meet, greet and get to know your fellow humans, and not only will your network benefit, your interpersonal skills and ease with communication will too. And remember in this modern digital world, networking and connection doesn’t just have to be face-to-face anymore; there are plenty of opportunities to form relationships with others online, and the flow-on potential for future property listings and recommendations is just as great.
7. Put on your best show
Open homes are vital to the equation for a successful property sale. Read our tips to maximise open home leads here for a comprehensive list of steps to ensure you get the most value out of each open home.
8. Be bold
Get in touch with a local newspaper or online magazine journalist and offer your services as a local property expert. You might be surprised how bold action like this can pay off; media may be very grateful to you for simplifying their job. Who else in the community might benefit from a reciprocal relationship with you? Once the creative cogs start turning, the opportunities are endless.
9. Flex your digital muscle
The online space can be daunting for traditional ‘pound-the-pavement’ style real estate agents. Likewise, you may feel there’s no substitute for a handshake and a good dose of eye contact. Person-to-person relationship building is never going to go away, but rich real estate agent rewards come from making the most of every available avenue. Allocate some quiet time to schooling up on what’s available. There are plenty of online courses, free tutorials and endless hours of reading and viewing you can tap into to understand online opportunities for real estate success. Social media includes networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where you can build up an audience, showcase your personal brand and engage with people online. Digital marketing includes using your individual real estate website to shore up your database or advertise property listings, or any ways you might use to make your presence more visible on the internet. Advertising with online property listings engines like Trademe, or using a service like MyPitchlist are also effective tools to promote yourself and your real estate listings to local property sellers.
10. Get really good at negotiation
Bottom line: achieving a property sale for your vendor is one thing, negotiating the absolute best terms for that vendor is another. It takes practice to become proficient at negotiating, but a little training and research goes a long way. Check out your local library for books to help you become a master negotiator, ask what support your real estate agency offers, or role play with a colleague or mentor. Identify where you might be weak in the negotiating process and work on improving. The potential for developing expertise in negotiation and therefore achieving higher real estate pay is limitless.
Improving your real estate salary can be simple. Start by auditing yourself, nutting out your ‘why’ and working on establishing a personal brand that reflects your values and will inspire others to connect with you. Next, be sure your real estate service offering reflects the professionalism and knowledge you want to impart. If you’re rusty, refresh! If you’re new, school up. Then, be smart about your job- coach your vendors, listen to your buyers, establish and work actively on your network and leverage all opportunities to promote yourself and your real estate listings in both traditional and online ways. You didn’t become a real estate salesperson because you’re a shrinking violet, so be bold! Tap into the endless resources available from top real estate professionals who have been successful at earning top real estate dollars, and from industry players who genuinely want to see you succeed. Finally, add a little smart discipline and structure to the hard work you already do, and you’ll soon see the rewards roll in.