October 22, 2016

4 Ideas You Need to Unlearn

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4 Ideas You Need to Unlearn

There’s a lot of advice about how you should or shouldn’t grow your business or service your clients, and somehow, certain ideas become gospel in the industry. At this year’s Inman Connect conference in New York, agents and brokers shared their best business insights, and many of their suggestions went against popular thinking. Here are a few commonly accepted “truths” about the business and how some professionals found them to be misleading.

Clients are most open to giving reviews at the end of a transaction. It makes sense that clients probably feel most satisfied with their agent once a deal is closed and their real estate goals have been reached. Most agents wait until then to ask for a review, betting that’s when they’ll get the most positive feedback. But your work is strongest during the challenging aspects of a transaction that cause your client pain. You’re actively coming up with solutions for them, and that’s what they’ll remember most. So ask for a review at those moments when your clients will give the most meaningful responses, said Coral Gundlach, CRS, a sales associate with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Arlington, Va. “It’s a good idea when you’re in the middle of something ugly like a home inspection to ask for a review,” she said. “Ask in the middle of a transaction, when the work you’re doing right now is fresh in their minds.”

Teams are more productive than individual agents. The team model is exploding in popularity within brokerages. The assumption is that two (or more) heads are better than one, and multiple people can generate more business together. However, that’s not how everyone works, said Mark Spain, CEO of Mark Spain Real Estate in Atlanta. “People join teams when they get overwhelmed on their own,” he said. “But if you’re not maxed out yourself, there is no need to build a team. I’ve seen so many people join teams and then bounce off because other people just get in their way.” If you do feel like you could use some extra help, start by forming a partnership with one other agent, said Wendy Banner, associate broker at Long & Foster Real Estate in Bethesda, Md. The more people you add to a team, the more difficult it is to manage communication and other duties, so start small.

Brokerages don’t offer good technology products. It’s true that some of the most innovative and disruptive technology is being developed by outside vendors, and many agents favor them over tools their own brokerage offers. That’s a misguided way of looking at technology, said Dina Di Maria, senior vice president of information technology for real estate brokerage NRT. The majority of new technology ventures end up failing, she said, and that leads to many agents wasting a lot of money on fancy gadgets that are too complicated to understand. Brokerages, however, tend to offer tools that have proven over time to be effective in real estate. “There are so many tools provided through brokerages and MLSs, so optimize the technology you already have,” she said. “Vendors often provide the education around their technology, but that education doesn’t always suit who you are and what your needs are.”

Brokers who sell understand the business better. Brokers who don’t actively sell are said to have little understanding of what their agents need because they’re not tuned into the business anymore. But Linda O’Koniewski, CEO of RE/MAX Leading Edge in Melrose, Mass., argued that selling shouldn’t be part of a broker’s job anyway. Their job, she said, is to run a brokerage, not to be in the weeds of sales. “Brokers need to let go if they want to grow their business,” she said. “Stop being a selling broker. Once I formed a team to take over my sales, I got so much more done. Consumers want someone who can be available to them morning, noon, and night, and if you’re trying to build a company, you can’t be that person. We think we’re the best and everyone wants us — but consumers don’t want us. They want great service, and we need to train agents to be the ones to give that.”

—REALTOR® Magazine