By Sam DeBord
When I started out in the real estate business, my biggest fear was probably the same as many other agents’: “What if they ask me how many homes I’ve sold?” There was an almost inescapable fear that every new client I met would find out that I hadn’t been selling for very long, and abandon me for a more experienced agent.
The interesting part, looking back, was that I’ve probably only ever been asked that question a half-dozen times by the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with. Those that did ask, always kept working with me, whether it was in my first year, or after five years. The fact that I didn’t lose clients over that single question isn’t nearly as satisfying today, though, knowing how much mental stress it put me through in my first year, as well as how it was detrimental to my ability to concentrate on my clients at the start of my career.
Being experienced in real estate is a big advantage. To downplay it would be disingenuous. However, a calm, practiced response to questions about experience can make the real estate transaction much more relaxed for the new agent and to the clients. More importantly, it allows the agent to focus on what the client really wants – a partner who is easy to work with, listens to their needs, and follows up professionally.
It’s very easy when you’re new in the business to try to craft the perfect answer to every client question. You may feel you need to know everything, and if you can’t answer a question about a certain home or property type, you’ll be exposed as inexperienced. In reality, most home buyers and sellers would prefer that you have an affable personal relationship with them, and let them know that you’ll “look into it a bit and get back to them.” While your knowledge is important to the client, your ability to make them feel comfortable is even more important. Nobody likes to spend their day with a fidgety, nervous wreck of an agent.
If you’ve really never sold a home before, it’s okay to tell your clients, “I’m working with my managing broker on your entire transaction. He/she is backing me up and will be reviewing everything in the contract to make sure we keep your home purchase/sale stress free.” To be honest, if you haven’t written many contracts yet, there’s really no excuse to not have that second set of eyes. Your clients will appreciate it, and your confidence in your working relationship will improve.
In the end, the number one reason my clients work with me and stay with me: We get along. When you can ignore your worries, genuinely smile and greet a client, have an entertaining conversation, and enjoy the in-between moments of your transaction relationship, you’re going to be much more successful in getting new business and creating return business.
Remember that the No. 1 reason people hire an agent is because a friend referred them. Home buyers and sellers want a relationship with someone they can count on, and someone they can get along with. Be honest with yourself and your clients about your experience, and you’ll not only gain more business – you’ll enjoy your career much more in the process.
Sam DeBord is a state director for Washington REALTORS®, and managing broker of The Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth. Connect with his team at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.