Every good real estate agent knows the real estate market is about so much more than a financial transaction for bricks and mortar. Each vendor or purchaser is a person with hopes and plans for their new home. That makes an agent’s job about helping real people take the next step on the housing ladder, find the perfect first-time pad, city hotspot or forever home.
Having facts, figures and technical specifications is essential, but it’s not enough. Excellent soft skills are also the qualities of a good real estate agent. Effective communication skills in real estate is also crucial. That includes being a great listener and instinctively understanding how to build a good relationship with people from every walk of life.
For agents new to the field or established over years, there are many soft skills essential to excelling. We’ve explored 5 soft skills crucial for engaging vendors, securing listings and winning sales. Do you have what you need to succeed?
1. Be a great listener
There’s a false misconception in many fields that selling well is about speaking fast.
“A lot of people believe that selling requires being a fast talker, or knowing how to use charisma to persuade… In sales there’s a truism that ‘we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionately’.” — Jon Berghoff, ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain
Everyone wants to feel that the person they’re communicating with is listening to them. This is doubly true when you’re working with people who want to sell or buy a home – it’s a serious investment they’ve poured their life savings into. Ensure you listen to your clients and make it clear to them you’ve understood everything they tried to convey. If you have any questions, ask them – but at the right time. If you can see they think something is a little confusing, then make it clear you understand.
Buying or selling a home can be a stressful and emotional experience and your clients need to know you understand what’s important to them. From your perspective, you need to know their pain points and also understand their preferred form of communication. The only way to gain this information is by listening, plain and simple.
2. Effective negotiation
Negotiation is one of the must-have, can’t miss qualities of a good real estate agent, it’s a fact. It means knowing when to stand your ground and when to compromise. The ability to be persuasive is as essential as exuding confidence and knowing when to add a little pressure with well-placed silences.
Though it’s an essential, few of us are born with innate and extraordinary negotiation skills. Negotiation soft skills are also a work in progress – you’ll only get better with time, through intentional and concerted efforts to improve.
While much of your negotiations skills will centre on money and prices, there are other areas where they’ll be important, too. Dates, time-frames, advising clients on the right types of properties, terms, conditions and small, key details.
3. Understanding body language
When people communicate, only 20% of what a person says and shows them is retained. In contrast, 80% of what a person conveys is understood. The numbers say it all, body language counts for a lot!
With this in mind, make sure that as an agent, you’re making all the right moves to exude a calm and confident demeanour.
- Keep your arms down and lose and keep good eye contact to show you’re open and listening.
- Folded arms and crossed legs are an absolute no-no when you communicate.
- While eye contact is good, too much can seem aggressive.
- In addition, you need to stand at the right distance to the person you’re in contact with; too close and you’re overwhelming, but too far away and you’re not interested.
It’s not just your body language that matters. Apply your knowledge to how your client is responding to you. If they’re turning away from you or folding their arms, they’re unhappy or disenchanted. If they are facing you, listening and smiling, chances are things are going well.
4. Always be clear and concise
Details are important, so don’t dress them up with fluff: be polite, yet also straight to the point. Your client will appreciate it, because, while building a good relationship is important, their trust in you is more important. If your client knows you will tell them what they need to know at the right time and in a way they understand, they’ll value that.
If you can’t easily ascertain how often your clients want updates, then ask them. That way you’ll both know what to expect and your client will be happy – provided you get in touch when you say you will. Even if there’s nothing to update them on, drop them a message or quick to call to say so.
5. A creative and flexible approach
If more than one or two of your regular updates are to say ‘there’s no update’, it might be a sign to try something new – this is where your creativity and flexibility come in handy.
As an ambitious agent, you’re always building an arsenal of approaches through maximising what works and evolving what doesn’t. Draw on your creativity and flexibility to adapt when things aren’t going the right way.
If a property sale is taking too long, use your experience and industry knowledge to come up with something different – that will impress your client too. Think out of the box, harness social media or do flyer drops, there’s room for different techniques to flourish!
Real estate is about understanding people
Ultimately, real estate is a people business. Sure, you’re selling a building, however, that building is a home for humans. That means effective communication skills in real estate is needed to win people over, gain their trust and earn your commission.
All the essential qualities of a good real estate agent will help you empathise with their pain points, excitement and goals, and get the job done quickly through unique ideas.
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