Lesson 5: What We Do For Our Clients

PEOPLE

I have interviewed many new agents and my first question always is, “What caused you to choose real estate?” The answer is usually, “I love people, and I would love showing homes!”. My response is predictable but not very ingratiating. “Ask anyone who has worked retail (with the general public) for even one year and they will likely say, ‘I hate people!’ because people cause a lot of problems. As for showing properties? That is the easiest and most enjoyable part of my job and constitutes about 5% of my time”. I am not trying to be offensive, just trying to make a profound and fundamental truth of real estate stick.

Successful agents work diligently and smart; the good agents work long hours as needed, and we are on-call almost 24/7/365 (or we have help covering for us). But what actually are we doing?

A study I read about 10 years ago noted about 180 tasks that a Realtor is responsible for. It can be overwhelming for one person and challenging even for a team approach to real estate sales. Here is a sample of areas of concerted effort:

  • Learning to use a thousand business tools and software for business proficiency…
  • Researching properties either for showings or for valuations…
  • Setting up, showing properties, and following up on showings…
  • Knowing the product- visiting properties (Realtor tour, open houses, prospects and leads) to learn more about houses, of every kind of property, understanding differences in values and why…
  • Prospecting for new clients can include networking, cold-calling, farming (seeding) in targeted areas of the community, mailing, emailing, talking on the phone, walking neighborhoods, online research for referrals, advertising, social networking…
  • Business building with websites, vast online promotion, meeting with legal and accounting professionals, developing a business plan, improving computer skills…
  • Continuing education, reading and learning about all aspects of properties, communities, neighborhoods, and professional sales; attending local classes, online seminars, going to conferences, reading books and articles, expanding expertise in real estate specialties…
  • Endless emails to read about related industries (inspection, title and escrow, mortgage) and responding to inquiries, leads and prospects…

This is a sampling of what takes our time. I want to focus on a couple of aspects that deserve extra attention:

COMMUNICATIONS

Start off right with communications, and make talking with people the first thing, not the last.

Communication is the most important aspect of good service. It is the easiest aspect of our service to keep putting off until later (and never) because of the ‘tyranny of the urgent’. However, relationships are built and maintained by talking. Clients want to hear from you regularly and for a busy agent already compromising time with family, for health, or for other legitimate priorities, this feels like a burden. There is much to learn about how to do this well and we will deal with this in detail down the road but this will always be a challenge when one reaches a level of success that is desirable. Start off right with communications, and make talking with people the first thing, not the last. Remember also, there are many great reasons to text and email, but most people still want to hear your voice and see your face.

PROBLEM-SOLVING

When success offers you the ability to work with numerous clients simultaneously the consequence will be that this achievement comes with a cost; you have multiplied your problems! Previously we discussed the challenges of working with people but now we address the next tier or problems that present themselves. Negotiations, transactions, and closings are relentlessly challenging. They present difficulties, complexities and changes which have to be agreeable to all parties.

Unexpected eruptions of issues is normal.

Paperwork problems, appraisal value issues, lender requirements, repairs and inspection negotiations, timing issues not working, changes in peoples’ lives on either side during the transaction, conflict issues; the list can go on ad-infinitum. At this point in my career, working my own sales team and also oversight of the brokerage, my time is spent at least 60% of my long hours in problem-solving.

The good is that I am becoming an expert at this. The bad is that it is challenging, intimidating, frustrating, and scary at times. These issues can make us vulnerable to risks that threaten so they must be handled efficiently and cautiously and wisely.

Become good at these two issues and you become a consummate professional!

Randy

Randy McCreith, Principal Broker
Bella Casa Real Estate Group
Direct: 503-310-9147
randy@thebellacasagroup.com