The ‘Don’t Be a D*ck’ Guide to Real Estate’ by Hometruths Melbourne comes from a good place. When I say ‘don’t be a d*ck’, I mean it with goodwill to mankind (and agent-kind) in my heart. Let’s be real: property transactions can bring out the tool in everyone.
A property transaction is one freaky concoction of anxiety-inducing factors: think jealousy, greed, mistrust and boredom – shaken, not stirred. We all participate in the real estate market to a greater or lesser degree, and we can all improve our behaviour whilst negotiating within it. Today, Hometruths Melbourne presents ‘Don’t Be a D*ck: The Estate Agent Guide‘, which focuses on common ways – often unconscious – that you, the estate agent, can come across as a real d*ck to the wider community. Read this guide and be downright legend instead.
1. You’re an agent. Not a gangsta, bro.
A wise Principal of mine had a pet hate: sunglasses on agents. Even worse – sunglasses on the HEADS of agents whilst at open for inspections. At the time I though he was being pedantic, but in reality his disdain at sunnies-on-Saturday was right on the money. They inferred a casualness that was at odds with the role of the serious, knowledgeable property professional.
You’re an estate agent: you need to dress the part. You need to present yourself in a way that makes people connect with you and trust you. The path of least resistance is the one to tread. Don’t wear tightly fitted fashion suits that can barely contain your pecs (do you even lift?), and don’t spray yourself so liberally in fragrance that the tenant next door can smell your Lynx Africa.
Are you a lady agent? Awesome. Word from the wise: don’t wear heels that make you totter like a dolly. This makes you appear vulnerable, weak, and far from businesslike. Wear heels if you like by all means, but be able to walk well in them, to look robust. Avoid clothing that’s been sprayed-on, and be careful with your spraytan and makeup, too. Aim to be bullet-proof in your physical appearance – don’t allow chinks in your professional armour put you at a disadvantage.
Lastly, make good choices with your vehicle – which is an extension of yourself. Clients will see you pulling up curbside, so try to make sure your car is clean, and that you’re not pumping out sweet tubthumping junglist cuts so deep the tarmac is vibrating. Avoid incredibly showy vehicles. Don’t alienate your customers – show them that you’re a lover of fine things, sure – but don’t be an ostentatious bogan. In short, don’t be a d*ck.
2. Be transparent.
As anyone who works within the industry knows, real estate is an arcane business. Down is up, right is wrong, what looks natural is confected. This is part of the reason why the public are so mistrusting of estate agents. They don’t understand the business, because in order to do so they’d need to step outside their own motivation: the buyer would have to put themselves in the vendor’s shoes, the vendor in the buyer’s. And whilst occasionally we might get clients who are eminently reasonable, most need a good does of firm but fair conditioning to be ready to make a decision about their future.
They need structure, they need rules, they need transparency above all. This makes the average punter – who only transacts property once in a blue moon – feel more fairly dealt with. Here are some ways to achieve greater transparency in your real estate practice:
- Have a documented offers process for transactions. Be able to send your policies to clients who need to know more about making offers prior to auction, multiple offer scenarios, boardroom auctions etc. Your whole team needs to be on board with this.
- Provide comparable sales. Regardless of your business’ philosophy on quoting, comparable sales are a great way to win the confidence of purchasers, and they should give a true indication of current market conditions.
- Be firm and earnest in your responses. Sometimes we cringe to speak plainly with clients – whether they’re vendors, buyers, tenants or landlords – tell them the facts as they are. They might blow up in the first instance, but your working relationship will be stronger in the long run.
3. Don’t be the office leech.
Are you the person who’s always selling properties out from beneath the listing agent? Are you focused on working buyers rather than bringing new business on? I’ve got some bad news for you. You’re a leech. If you do this just occasionally, or you’re learning to be an agent and getting a few sales under your belt, you’re OK. But if you’re being the creep who can’t list and exists by selling properties out from under listing agents, I’ve gotta say you’re a d*ck. Harden up with a long, cool glass of concrete-flavoured prospecting. #RealTalk
4. Don’t prospect like a d*ck.
‘Hi this is Jayden from XYZ Real Estate. Are you thinking of selling your property?’ ‘Hi is that Mrs Pana, erm, Popol, erm, Panapopoulos? It’s Cherie from ABC Property. Can I sell your house?’
If you’re making prospecting calls like this, stop. If you have a Principal who believes these calls are productive, find an agency to work for that believes in developing actual human relationships. As any agent knows, selling (and to a lesser degree, leasing) a person’s property is an intimate role. You earn the right to ask that question by offering service and showing competence and market presence. Asking a stranger flat-out if you can sell their property is a d*ck move for two reasons:
- The likelihood of listing a property without a prior vendor relationship is next to nix. You’re more likely to offend them with your impertinence than anything else, spoiling your chances of beginning a useful conversation about their property.
- If you were to be invited to list this property, you’d likely be in a ‘chicken raffle’ listing scenario with an array of other agents. As they vendor has no relationship with anyone they’re interviewing, they’re probably motivated by fee alone. Are you the pants-dropping agent who wants to work at an offensively low commission? No, you’re not.
Instead, focus on clever ways that build value around your identity as an agent. Think service first. Call people on the street when you list a property, and ask them if they’re interested in expanding their portfolio. This is an effortless question which infers the subjects’ competence and largesse. Call them to tell them what the property sold for. Call them when someone else lists in the same street, or sells in the same street. If you have a good conversation with someone, send them a thankyou card. And no, not some cheap corporate jobby. Go to the newsagent and make an effort. You will be remembered for your unusual attention to detail. Create a private social media group to invite communities to based on suburb. Become an authority. Make your vendors and buyers rave with unexpected, creative gifting – it doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be thoughtful.
Are you a buyer, landlord or tenant? Stay tuned for your very own ‘Don’t Be a D*ck’ Guide to Real Estate’ by Hometruths Melbourne. Subscribe to receive our next blog post.
Want to learn more about the author of this article? Visit the Ruby Slipper website.