Achieving success as a real estate agent requires more than simply understanding the mechanics of the job. Yes, you should certainly be able to post an impressive listing and understand the ins and outs of closing, but helping buyers and sellers means cultivating a diverse set of skills to navigate a complex and ever-changing real estate market. Here are 10 essential skills every real estate agent should possess.
1. Solid understanding of the market
It doesn’t matter if you specialize in investment properties, second homes, condos, or single-family homes for first-time buyers. The first skill you need is the desire and drive to stay current with market conditions. This includes understanding:
- Property values (historical and current)
- Local conditions
This knowledge helps you find the best properties for your buyers and ensures that you price a seller’s property appropriately.
2. Skillful communication
Communication is one of the most critical skills a real estate professional can cultivate. These skills help you to be both a better listener and a better speaker. And why is this so important?
Real estate professionals who listen carefully better understand their clients’ wants and needs. They won’t waste time on mismatched properties or investments beyond a client’s reach. And when it’s time to wade through complicated contract language or explain the benefits or drawbacks of a property, agents who communicate better have a leg up on their competition.
3. Talent for negotiation
Negotiation isn’t easy. There’s a delicate balance between being assertive and pushy compared to compromising and capitulating. Real estate agents who work hard to refine their skills are better at reading a buyer or seller so they can negotiate the best deal possible, even under challenging circumstances.
4. Dedication to service
Real estate is, in the end, customer service. So how does your customer service measure up?
- Do you promptly return emails and phone calls?
- Are you available to show properties during high-demand times (weekends and evenings, and, yes, sometimes holidays)?
- Are you ready to go above and beyond to meet a customer’s needs?
If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, chances are good your customer relations need some work. This does not mean you should allow clients to walk all over you. But ultimately, if you want to close the deal, the customer (with a bit of hand-holding) is always right. It can be challenging to deal with needy clients, but they can also be the most loyal when you demonstrate your commitment to their happiness.
5. Ability to network
As with many jobs these days, you’re only as good as your team. Real estate agents may seem like lone wolves, but they are just the leader of a tight-knit pack of professionals. These include:
- Loan officers
- Closing agents
- Real estate attorneys
Real estate professionals who can call on a trusted network to make the deal move through the channels smoothly are more successful and sought after than those who struggle to make or keep contacts.
6. Marketing skills
Real estate agents are a little of everything: teacher, counselor, and financial adviser. Another hat to place on your head? Marketer.
Nothing draws more potential buyers than a beautifully crafted listing with eye-catching photos and tantalizing text. That doesn’t happen all on its own. And once you get that perfect listing assembled, it’s time to blast it on social media to get even more eyes on it.
Skillful marketing is also about understanding who’s buying and selling. A change in the target demographic means adjusting your marketing strategy appropriately. Some old-school realtors need help to adapt to marketing methods beyond paper advertising or direct mail. Don’t let that be you.
7. Comfort with new technology
Marketing is another area that has seen massive change in the last decade. These days, buyers and sellers complete complex real estate transactions from their couch, never visiting a property or setting foot in a closing agent’s office. So how comfortable are you with new real estate technology?
- Send and receive documents for electronic signatures?
- Utilize customer relationship management software?
- Set up virtual property tours and respond to questions from them?
- Manage tour scheduling on a website?
- Decipher property valuation software for clients?
Realtors who are not comfortable with the latest technology in real estate will not be as successful in the years to come.
8. Time management
There’s an old saying: There’s no such thing as being on time — only late or early. It’s common for people to juggle full-time work, family, and volunteer activities, but how do you get it all done?
Time management. It doesn’t matter what your system is for being on time and meeting deadlines, so long as you have one. No client wants to feel like they are last on your list, even if you have a sick toddler or an overdue project for a night class. Use online planning tools or a paper notebook: whatever it takes to ensure your clients get the attention and service they need right on time.
9. Emotional intelligence
Buying and selling a home can be a complex and emotional process. Maybe a family is selling the home of a loved one who has moved to assisted living and needs to liquidate this asset. Perhaps a first-time buyer is realizing the dream of their first step to generational wealth building.
It’s not just a simple business transaction for these sellers and buyers. It’s personal, and you need to have the emotional intelligence necessary to honor their experience while still serving the needs of the transaction. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s essential to ease people through sometimes-challenging transitions.
Integrity is doing the right thing even if no one is looking, and it can be a difficult skill in a profession with its fair share of dubious loopholes and quasi-legal transactions that nevertheless feel a little “off.”
Don’t be that real estate professional who goes for the deal at any cost. Too many people get so blinded by the possibility of lucrative commissions that they neglect to act ethically. This compromises the respect of the profession overall and can undoubtedly damage your reputation locally.
Act in a way that feels ethical and honorable to maintain personal integrity and achieve a successful career you can be proud of.
Luke Babich is co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate.