The ultimate guide to getting ahead as a property agent
The business of selling property has changed dramatically in recent years. Whether you’re a realtor, an estate agent or a real estate agent, online sites are now the first place that people go to search for a new home. Further still, they now provide more property information than you could ever dream of knowing.
Of course, many people thought this would see the end of a typical agent’s role. But the reality has been quite different. There are now more opportunities than ever for you to harness the value you bring to your customers.
We’ve put together the following guide to help you get ahead in today’s digital world. We explain how you can add greater value to your customers, and how you can benefit financially as a result. And in doing so, we’ll present a few interesting examples to keep you entertained.
Relationships are everything
Most of the knowledge customers require is available online, which has changed the way they view your role. This change has often led to the misperception that your role is less important, when in reality, it isn’t. Instead, it’s the nature of your role that has changed. Customers now expect a greater level of personal service through the buying process. In particular, they place greater emphasis on features like whether you are punctual for viewings or quick to respond to phone calls and emails.
They also view your knowledge differently. Instead of using you as a first port of call, they often seek professional opinion as a way to confirm their own research. This is important as online resources don’t connect all the dots. As a result, your knowledge can and often is as valuable as it always was.
When customers search for a place, they’re able to refer to vast amounts of information. This means customers will regularly be approaching you having already completed hours of research. At the same time, they now expect to be able to make payments, buy tickets and order takeaways instantaneously. This has created a growing expectation that buying a new property should be quick and easy.
However, buying a property remains highly complex, which means that you need to take them smoothly through the journey. It’s also important to break down the challenges that they face by separating the moving process from the buying process. You may want to share our moving checklist with them to help them understand everything they’ll need to do once they purchase a property.
In addition, you’ll need to make sure that your digital assets are up to scratch. So often, properties are listed without a floor plan or a virtual viewing option. It's also worth remembering that customers don’t want to be rushed when making important decisions. It can be a good idea to explain how their initial desire for speed may create additional pressure for them down the line.
Consider your strengths and weaknesses
It may be easy to write on your website that you’re ‘the best agent in town’, you have the best reputation or the most properties listed, but customers can check the facts to see if you’re overly boastful. Instead, it may be better to present your ‘best foot forward’. If you are clear on what you are good and aren’t good at, then you’ll be able to build trust from the outset.
This approach can also be used when describing the strengths and weaknesses of each property. If you present weaknesses as a way to balance the strengths of each property, it helps to find the most suitable buyers as quickly as possible.
This is particularly relevant for writing listings. Many famous agents through the years have made their names as a result of their amusing property descriptions. Roy Brooks for example, became one of the UK’s first celebrity estate agents in the 1950s and 60s. A particular feature of this fame was his ability to write amusing descriptions that told the negatives of each property with a hint of irony.
This approach was also used by Localize, a startup agency in New York city. Its first advertising campaign launched with the tagline “Find the Truth. Find a Home.” The campaign reflected Localize’s mission to seek out as much interesting information for buyers as possible, even if the information is not always what they want to hear.
These examples may be a little extreme for most agents, but they also provide a little inspiration. Every agent has the opportunity to tweak the way they interact with their customers. You can change the way you describe a property during a viewing or on the phone. And in doing so, you have a greater opportunity to understand each customer’s needs and select the right properties for them.
Speak on their terms
It’s easy to think of your customers as one group of ‘property buyers’ in the hustle and bustle of each day. However, they are very different and facing very different life situations. And this makes the words you use, as much as what you say, extremely important in shaping the conversations you have with them. According to US agent Tom Watson; ‘We buy on emotion. We don't buy because of what type of dishwasher it is.’
These emotions change depending on the lives people want to lead, the jobs they want to do and so on. And this has led to slight but noticeable differences in what customers are looking for from one area to another, as well as one country to another (see Homelight blog). With this in mind, the more you can understand your customers, the more you are likely to captivate their emotions with the words that you choose.
And in doing so, it’s also best to avoid the natural tendency towards using industry jargon or terms only understood by other professionals. This formed the idea for an advertising campaign by Connecticut Realtors, which printed confusing buzzwords on it’s adverts as a way to empathise with its customers.
Value your local knowledge
In 2018, US proptech leader Zillow created Zillow Offers (see Mind Matters News). The idea was that, because of all the data accessible to Zillow, it would be able to purchase properties that had great investment potential. Homeowners would benefit from a quick and easy way to sell. Zillow Offers would then give the place a makeover before selling it for a fast profit.
With all the data available to Zillow through its online platform, Zillow Offers seemed a sure thing, but it crucially missed the importance of taste in influencing decisions at a local level. This is because buying a home isn’t just an investment decision to most people. Many little aspects of a property can have a dramatic impact on the it’s desirability compared to other houses in the same road or in the local area.
Aside from being an interesting example, this highlights the importance of your local knowledge in helping buyers to make informed decisions about which properties are best suited to their needs. This is also the reason why so many agents make this the focal point of their marketing activities.
Find new ways to add value
The speed at which new services are being created can feel overwhelming at times. You have a day job to do and targets to hit. With this in mind, we’ve created a regular bulletin of relevant announcements that you can subscribe to. It’s free. In doing so, we sift through only the top startups that we believe have the potential to deliver added value.
However, as not all agents face the exact same challenges, another way to focus your attention is to note down the time it takes you to perform each activity and then search for solutions to specific areas. This will avoid the possibility of continuing with outdated processes or equally, getting lost in new technologies or services that may be outside the challenge at hand.
It’s also worth considering that there may be new ways to increase add value that you haven’t previously considered. Our platform, Movinghub, is a free service that you can offer your customers to reduce the stress associated with moving. We can connect their utilities, change their address and suggest home service providers all at once.
This platform is free for you to use and you can start now or book a demo. We also share any commissions we receive from service providers with you, and make sure your customers receive the best deals at the same time (see how we make money). Alternatively, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.