If you want to stand out from the crowd of real estate agents, focus on the value of your relationships. While many speakers at the AREC 2017 conference focused on systems, processes and goal setting for winning transactions, speakers like Leonard Steinberg, the ‘gentleman’ broker of New York, and Charles Touma from BresicWhitney explained their success had been created by the people they served.
As an agent, Steinberg has built up his company, Compass, into an $800m business in just a few years by behaving completely differently to most of the agents in New York.
“Moving and selling has stress levels equivalent to death or divorce,” Steinberg said. “So what can you do as a broker to relieve that stress, to help people through?”
While his competitors are aggressive, tough and hard, Steinberg is calm, refined and thoughtful. While his competitors come across as self-interested, he is generous. While their marketing shouts and demands attention, his marketing is elegant and audience focused. While his competitors make it all about what they will get from the transaction, Steinberg makes it all about the relationship.
“I put myself in the shoes of my clients – how would I want to be treated at a time like this?”
Steinberg said the real estate industry – to its discredit – had “invented fake news and alternative facts”.
“We need to provide data that is accurate, and information that is useful and helpful to people – not overload them with what we want to say.
“Our role is to be trusted advisors and build relationships that are not exclusively focused on the transaction. If we can’t provide tangible dollar value to our clients by providing such a service level we will become extinct.”
One of the great opportunities agents have as a value proposition is to save their clients time.
“Time is the last luxury,” said Steinberg, “What can you do to save time for your consumer? If you can save them they will love you.”
Charles Touma from BresicWhitney has a similar philosophy, making ‘a passion for buyers’ the focus of his work.
“There was no way I could speak to the number of owners and sellers in my career that I needed to hit my numbers when everyone else was also trying to talk to them. I had to speak to buyers,” Touma said.
“But before I could speak to buyers I had to know what I was going to talk to them about.”
Touma’s recipe for success involved getting to know 90 per cent of listings in his market and going to all the inspections available.
“I had to think about what kind of service and customer experience I wanted to give the buyers I was talking to – what would I want to know if I was buying?” he said.
He then created a system for sharing his knowledge with buyers, building a reputation across the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
“If I listed a property I would go straight to my list of hot buyers, and whenever I saw a new listing, I’d always call them,” he said.
The payoff was to quickly build his business on relationships, with his buyers consistently recommending him to friends who were selling, and in time selling their own properties with him.
The experience of Steinberg and Touma is aligned with research from CoreLogic that identifies how agents who deliver excellent service are more likely to win lifelong relationships with both buyers and sellers.
The research shows that both buyers and sellers are looking for a long-term relationship, good communication and accountability from the agents they deal with – but few deliver. The Perceptions of Real Estate Agents research shows just 14 per cent of buyers had an excellent experience with their agent, while the number was higher for vendors at 31 per cent.