Real estate can be a tough business to build a clientele in. Like a fine Swiss watch, a real estate business does a simple task but requires a lot of moving parts to do it well.
To thrive, real estate agents need social graces and industry know-how. If you're buying and selling property, you also have to stay up-to-date on the everyday aspects of running your business: things like client follow-up, administrative tasks, and market research. Fortunately, real estate industry thought leaders have compiled their knowledge and experience to show us four things top agents are doing and what makes them successful:
1. Understand the Trends
To be a top real estate agent, you need to understand your clientele.
Changes in economics, culture, population, and family structure are recasting the way American consumers approach buying and selling property. Real estate is no longer just a question of investment and location. Now, buyers are asking, "How will I live, work, and socialize during the next phase of my life?"
Albert Saiz and Arianna Salazar, scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, conducted a study on the current urban trends in the country. They identified several to watch:
- An aging American population will increasingly prioritize accessibility and ease of living. Simple, manageable, technology-enhanced homes will replace sprawling lawns and sheer square footage as the markers of a valuable property.
- Co-living spaces will become more important as American family structure reshapes from the nuclear family ideal of the 20th century. Agents will start to sell more properties to multi-generational families, friends living together, and groups of families who share space with each other.
- Red state growth will accelerate as families and single adults find themselves priced out of the West Coast, New England, and Chicago areas.
- Automated and virtual reality technologies will reshape the way people look for properties. Software that allows prospective buyers to decorate their homes from a computer screen will make it easier for them to imagine living in a particular home before they ever set foot in it.
- Adapting industrial buildings for residential use will grow in answer to the affordable housing crunch in large urban areas.
To be a successful real estate agent, it’s important to keep tabs on these trends, as well as the others that will develop in the years to come.
2. Avoid Bad Habits and Awkward Questions.
It's important to cultivate good habits: follow up with your clients, control your emotions, keep learning, and hang in there during the tough times. It's equally vital to avoid picking up bad habits.
Don't underestimate your expenses, for instance. Don’t blow your budget on unexpected bills in the first quarter. Don't forget to reach out to your prospective clients by phone, text, and email. One call back won't do the trick. Five might. Oh, and don't work in isolation. You need a team that has your back.
You also want to know what questions to ask and which ones to leave unspoken. Of course, you need as much information as possible from your clients to help them make good choices when buying or selling their properties. Just make sure you're asking in the right way. For instance, don't say, "Are you pre-approved for a mortgage?" That can feel scary to a client who’s just getting their feet wet. Instead say, "Tell me about your housing budget."
3. Don't React to Your Clients' Needs. Anticipate Them.
Treat each client as an individual. Listen to their wants, needs, and unique circumstances. Nothing makes a prospective buyer or seller feel more engaged than an agent who gets them as much as they get themselves. That means being deeply personal in your approach. Your clients should feel like they are getting fitted for a tailored suit, not sold an item off the discount rack.
So while you can – and should – automate your data collection and management, systematize your office procedures, and rely on them to keep you up-to-date, you should never automate your sales processes. Those have to be human-to-human.
4. Design and Maintain an Effective Website.
Hubspot, which is a leader in inbound marketing and sales software, offers five tips for real estate agents' websites.
- Easy-to-use site navigation: Keep your site clean and simple. A consistent look on every page coupled with clickable titles and links will encourage your visitors to stay on your site much longer. Use the hover feature to make sure the page looks clean but offers more images and information to interested viewers.
- Lead capture: Employ a chatbot or a contact form to capture your potential clients' information. Hoping they'll call you is not a winning strategy. Engaging with clients for their email can be.
- Responsive design: Optimize your site for mobile. Buyers might be looking at your properties on their phones, tablets, laptops, or desktops, so make sure your site shows quality images and easy navigation tools no matter what size screen they show up on.
- Content and resources: People need a reason to come to your site and another reason to stick around. Attract potential clients with a keyword-optimized lifestyle blog, articles on market trends, or short videos of you sharing tips for sellers and buyers. Or, share content from the blogs you read the most.
- High-quality images and videos: Never skimp on imagery. Many of your clients are Instagram-junkies, and they love snapping and posting pics to their social media accounts. Everyone's an amateur photographer these days, so people hold high expectations for professional photography. If it’s right for you, consider investing in drone marketing, which can capture amazing photographs inexpensively and easily.
Real estate continues to provide a great opportunity to serve your community and earn a living. With time and effort, you can build a solid clientele and create a rewarding stream of income for your family as a top real estate agent.