By Sam DeBord
Real estate rookies can really kick start their learning experience by picking up some simple shortcuts from those who’ve been selling for many years. These are just a few of the real estate “hacks” I’ve learned over the years from seasoned practitioners that improved my experience and knowledge in simple yet effective ways.
1. Know the Concierge
Do you know every building and subdivision in your city like the back of your hand? I’ve sold all over Seattle for many years, but there are more than 1,000 condo buildings in the metro area. You can’t possibly know them all well.
©clarita, 2008. Morguefile
If you’re going to show a buyer a condo in a building where you’re not an expert, get a boost for your experience and your image by previewing or showing up 30 minutes early to talk to the concierge. Find out where the amenities are and tour the unit, but also get the concierge’s name. When your client arrives, you can stroll in together and greet the concierge with, “Hi Tony, good to see you again, we’re headed up to see the pool.” You’ve already done the research to be prepared for your client, so you might as well add that splash of “in-the-know” to your appearance.
Of course, the same applies to knowing the security guard at a gated community, the marina manager at a houseboat community, or any other gatekeeper to a property you intend to show.
2. Point Out the Negatives Right Away
Consumers who don’t know us aren’t sure they can fully trust us at first. With new clients, they may be concerned that your goal is to sell them whichever home you can get them into as quickly as possible.
Show them that you’re a trustworthy source of information by not focusing solely on the positive selling aspects of a home, especially at your initial meetings. By pointing out the drawbacks of the home they’re touring right away, they’ll develop trust for your opinions and realize you’re not all about the sale.
I’ve had numerous clients thank me after our very first showing, because I started out with an analysis of the home’s weaknesses instead of a sales pitch. Have you ever pointed out that “ocean breeze” sound that you can hear from the master bedroom (freeway noise)? They love it. If you let clients understand upfront that you’re there to help them buy a home, as opposed to sell them a home, they will have have long-term loyalty.
3. Keys in the Back Pocket
This one is a bit silly, but still practical. Have you ever arrived at the fifth house on an eight home tour and found an extra set of house keys in your possession? Buyer tours can be complex, and sometimes agents make the mistake of setting keys down or putting them away quickly when they’re trying to pay attention to their clients. It rarely happens, but when it does it’s an embarrassing and time consuming mistake.
You’ll probably never drive away with someone else’s keys if they’re in your back pocket and you have to sit on them. Even better, put the whole key compartment from the keybox in your back pocket if it fits. It will be a constant reminder that the house isn’t secure until you’ve put it back, and even the most distracted agent won’t be able to sit on it and drive away (apologies to those whose fashion style doesn’t permit the use of pockets).
4. Spend Time Investing in Your Local REALTOR® Board
Think you know what’s happening in your local real estate market? Working with buyers and sellers is just the tip of the iceberg. Listen in on a meeting of your local board’s government affairs, business practices, or MLS issues meetings. You’ll realize how much more is going on behind the scenes.
Understanding the big picture issues of real estate that your REALTOR® board is dealing with every day will build your knowledge quickly. Joining a committee can give you the extra confidence and subject material to discuss these kinds of topics with clients. You can show them that you have unique industry knowledge as well as the ability to sell their homes.
Consumers view any management title you hold with your REALTOR® board as a sign that you’re a leader in the community, and you can climb that ladder quickly if you’re willing to put in the time.
5. Suit Up
Appropriate business attire can vary widely in real estate. If you’re comfortable and successful in your business already, you can wear whatever you like. If you’re newer to the business and hoping to look more experienced, though, don’t give in to the ego trip that says, “I’m going to look how I always look and people can take me for who I am.” This isn’t your high school drama club, it’s a tough business where the majority of agents aren’t particularly successful. Consumers want to play with a winner, and if you look and act like someone who is successful, they will be more inclined to believe you are.
If you know that your image will improve with more professional business attire, then buck up and wear it like your income depends on it–because it does. This doesn’t mean you need to go buy the latest sports car and Armani suit. Just don’t give in to the laziness that says, “I’ll clean out my car next week,” or “I don’t feel like putting on a jacket today.” To this day I wear a suit to every initial meeting with a client, no matter their age or style. You’re always safer overdressed than underdressed.
Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and a state director for Washington REALTORS®. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.