The property market is a hot topic in the media right now, in fact, it has been for years. There is no shortage of newspaper columnists and bloggers who analyse fluctuations in the market, and guess at what concerns most keep real estate agents up at night.
But without asking them, how do they know what agents view as the biggest threats to the future of the market and to our industry?
Joining EAC for her Coping with the Cool series, industry expert, Lisa B does the field work for us, talking to agents and working out exactly what they feel will have the most influence on real estate, their careers, success and reputation.
The psychology of sales is something discussed, written about and debated regularly. It is the basis of text books and papers and films.
And while the ‘investigations’ that inform these publications often cover what personality traits and processes are required to become a top sales person, something not always considered is what sales people see as the biggest threat to their success.
Recently, I asked a private group of more than three thousand real estate agents what they believe is the biggest threat to the real estate industry.
Although some answers were predictable and not shocking at all, after many years in real estate, I was still surprised to learn about some of the biggest concerns agents face. Can you relate?
Real estate agents are their own biggest threat
Believe it or not, the number one response to this survey was real estate agents feel their biggest threat is… themselves.
While this answer might seem to overlook a range of external factors like legislation and technology, it actually exemplifies a great deal of self-awareness on behalf of agents.
It shows the capacity to conduct a review of ourselves, to identify our shortcomings and challenges, and it arms us with awareness of where we need to focus and start to improve, adapt or evolve.
There is no doubt agents can be their own worst enemy, but acknowledging this to be the case, can be a big step towards positive change.
When asked to elaborate further, the following points highlight exactly how some agents feel they let the industry and themselves down.
Sometimes agents don’t spend time building trust. This is important! We need to build enough trust with our vendors so when the market changes, the sellers UNDERSTAND and TRUST us enough to follow our advice.
We need to give our sellers all the information we can to allow them to make the right decision for them, at the right time.
Gaining trust is at the centre of creating a good relationship. Knowing it is something we may not do as well as we could enables us to start working on it so our relationships with clients can be more genuine and rewarding for everyone.
Agents identified a lack of understanding of how to communicate with clients (both sellers and buyers) in the way they need.
This comes down to a lot of factors; capacity to read people, to articulate thoughts, to empathise (see below), but again it also comes down to time and relationships. The better we know our clients — what drives them, what scares them, what inspires them — the more we can cater our communication to their needs.
Some agents have an inability to evolve and grow as the market changes. Agents can be very much in the present without thinking of how they should prepare for the future.
Being able to look ahead can help us better assess opportunities presented to us now, so we can be in front of change rather than continuously chasing it.
Agents identified not following up with clients and buyers as a threat to their success, as well as thinking they deserve the business rather than feeling the need to work hard for it.
In an era of peer review, we just can’t afford to a) let egos get in the way, or b) fail in something as basic as courtesy. Becoming better at tasks like following up takes effort because it requires a change in processes and mentality.
Some agents are too scared to get out of their comfort zone and put themselves out there.
This threat goes hand-in-hand with an inability to be forward-thinking. If we are too afraid of what comes next and whether or not we can adapt to it, we will always be left running to catch up.
A good approach is to write a list of fears, from small in significance, to huge, and start facing them, one tiny fear at a time — the more you succeed, the more confidence you will build.
The wrong attitude
Agents noted projecting a big ego rather than a big heart can be a threat.
In a time when people are looking for more connection and more genuine relationships, an ego-driven agent may build some success, but it will likely be short-lived. Humility is a very important factor in better relating to other people.
Participating agents said not having empathy for the consumer is a threat to success. They don’t think about what the consumer really wants and needs, they make it all about them.
Real estate deals with people who are selling or buying the biggest and likely most expensive physical asset they will ever own. This comes with a lot of emotion, tough decision making, and many factors to consider. The agent who understands this, who learns to walk in the client’s shoes, will gain a client for life.
Agents have surrendered their power to third party websites and data collectors and see this as a potential downfall.
While on one hand, this can be a threat, it can also be an opportunity because it means agents now have access to more data and information than ever before. Overcoming giants is a challenge not worth the fight, but capitalising on what they can provide can lead to growth and a more strategic approach to real estate.
Participants said agents that discount their fees are a threat for several reasons. They don’t know their worth or how to demonstrate the value they bring to a seller.
An agent who doesn’t understand his client and what motivates them, who puts himself first and believes he ‘deserves’ the business, will always have trouble demonstrating value in a way that really resonates with a client.
An agent who is the opposite, would never need to explain their value, it would be abundantly clear to the client.
Lack of business acumen
Agents who don’t understand the true cost of running an office are a threat to themselves.
An example of this is agents who pay for expensive marketing campaigns for clients, while they try to compete with those who charge vendor paid advertising.
Ongoing training will be invaluable to agents in overcoming this threat.
Agents who don’t understand technology and how to use it to leverage their business, risk being left behind.
The world is becoming more digital every day, and with that change comes technology that enables us to participate, take control, streamline and so much more.
The good news is, there is no shortage of information available to help us capitalise on these advancements. To overcome these threats, agents need to keep their fingers on the pulse, they need to avoid dismissing new technological opportunities before exploring them, and they need to embrace training as opposed to thinking of it as a tick box to retain qualifications.
Not adapting/changing the business model
Agents are their own biggest threat when they are not looking to adapt and progress, but instead, are opting to do the same things they’ve always done.
Unfortunately this is quite common in our industry — it is actually quite common of humans in general.
Many of us are more comfortable doing what we know rather than mixing it up and trying something new, but whether we like it or not, most of us gradually adapt; early adopters first, through to late majority and those who lag.
Other big threats to real estate agents
The big three
Facebook, Google or Amazon. What have the giants got planned for the future of real estate?
As a threat, this is something you can keep an eye on and something you can prepare for. These are tech giants, so adapting your business to new technologies now and becoming comfortable in that space, can leave you in a better position to remain relevant should these giants decide to dive further into our industry.
Changes in legislation can sometimes affect an entire profession.
For example, recent changes with fair work state real estate agents (among other conditions) can work for commission-only payments if they demonstrate they have achieved the minimum annual income threshold.
Agents have left the industry because they can’t find a comfortable way to adhere to such conditions.
The media can have a huge positive or negative influence on consumers.
Agents need to work out how to use whatever the media is saying to positively help the consumer, and also look for opportunities to influence local media.
Lisa B EAC
Industry reporter, real estate coach and trainer
0412 210 558