There is over one million real estate agents in the US. I was about to write “…. agents selling real estate in the US,” but realized quickly enough that it would be presumptuous to assume that just because they all have a license they are all actually selling something. Many don’t. They sure wish they would, but real estate is not an easy business. Only very few can succeed at the highest level.
What makes a real estate licensee a great agent? I have quite a few answers of my own but I would rather listen to the magic recipes from those unique individuals who made their way to the top. I solicited 5 of the most successful agents I know in California, each one well seasoned, knowledgeable as can be, passionate about the business and entirely devoted to customer service excellence. They are: David Troyer, Dominic Nicoli, Minhua Jin, Andy Wong and Tom Dallas.
I asked each one the two following questions:
1. If you had to identify the one thing that you did/do which contributed most to your success, what would it be?
2. If you had to single out one thing that an agent should not do if she/he wants to succeed, what would it be?
Here is how they answered:
Question 1: “I encourage agents to become experts in their area. All top agents dominate a smaller geography and spend years becoming the reliable source of information for that one particular market segment. The days of the generalist are over. Specialization is a trend in all industries and it certainly is no different for real estate. I have spent 15 years studying the market and trends for my focus areas of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. It is a daily commitment to really stay up to date, but it is what I enjoy the most about my business”.
Question 2: “I think most agents underestimate how much time and commitment it takes to build a consistent and reliable business. I am always surprised to see agents start a mailing campaign for 2-6 months and then drop the ball. Our business is simple in many ways but it is hard to actually do the work day after day to become successful.
Question 1: “The thing that contributed most to my success is my 100% commitment to doing what is best for my clients. I am relentless in my devotion to helping each one of them reach their goals. I am tough with them whenever I have to be, for their own good. I stay focused on the goal and the big picture, regardless of the emotional swings and whatever obstacles on the way, to best guide them and assist them in making the hard decisions.”
Question 2: “When an agent puts their needs or the desire to earn a commission ahead of what is best for the client.”
Question 1: “The majority of my business is from referrals. I have built my business on trust. I spend an extreme amount of time analyzing what is going on in any area or market I work in, going back several years to look at every closed sale, every pending sale and every new listing. I look at all aspects of a transaction: financing, possible multiple offer situation, any remodeling… This allows me to speak with confidence and conviction about value. My clients know without a doubt that I will get the best price for their property.”
Question 2: “The problem that prevents most agents from succeeding is that they compromise what they do for clients. It often starts with little things, like not following up, or assuring clients they will do something that they will not, or exaggerate their experience and capabilities.”
Question 1: “My clients always deserve top quality service from me. I am totally committed to their goals and always strive to exceed them, while maintaining a positive attitude. I employ uncompromising work ethic and methods, using my creativity, experience and my MBA in marketing. I am aware that I am not entitled to any commission unless I earn it. It is my privilege to work with each one of my clients. They have chosen me over other professionals so I never take my mission for granted. My reputation is built on integrity, diligence and professionalism.”
Question 2: “It is important to tell clients what they need instead of what they want to hear. It is a skill (or an art) I am constantly working on because there is always room for improvement.”
Question 1: “Become an expert with total knowledge of property and land values in your marketplace. True knowledge of the unique product you may be trusted to market and sell. Understand quality and finishes that add or hinder value in luxury markets. Also, real estate is not just about homes. It’s also about the people who live in those homes. You need to know about them, know their background, their needs and motivations to best attend to their expectations. Develop your buyers and sellers to become your friends and best supporters.”
Question 2: “Try to remain humble and calm. A cocky, pompous agent loses the ability to gain invaluable daily information from his/her peers.”