I have been interviewing new agents for many years now. I enjoy the process immensely. This might sound like a crazy notion, but I like looking for that key trait…that one thing that will pinpoint who is going to be successful and who isn’t. It isn’t black and white or an exact science either. Sometimes they throw you a curve ball. I have hired meek, mild-mannered types only to watch then turn into very successful agents and I have hired corporate types, used to working eighty hour work weeks, only to watch them fail miserably.
Last year I talked to a broker who performed psychological testing on everyone who applied for a job at his office. Depending on the results some would become buyer agents, others would work as seller agents and still others might end up as licensed assistants destined for a life of clerical work. Asking new recruits to sit in a room for an hour ticking off boxes of a questionnaire doesn’t seem like a lot of fun so I ask a lot of questions instead. Not just about work, but about hobbies, and successes outside of the work environment. I’m searching for the special chemical. That ingredient inside people that makes them want to be successful.
So far here is what I have learned. Good real estate agents are entrepreneurs at heart. They instinctively know what the end product looks like ( in the case of real estate it is nothing more than creating a system that will continually reward them with buyers and sellers) and then building a plan to get there. They have the ability to think on their feet, adapt or fine tune their strategy as the environment changes, and never lose sight of the prize. Every morning they wake up with set tasks and don’t rest until every chore is scratched off their list. They look for different ways to do work faster and better yet they quickly dismiss ideas that have no merit. Like entrepreneurs, creative types share similar traits. Whether they are craftsmen, chefs, set decorators, artists or designers, they start off with a vision and know what steps they need to create the finished product. Of course somewhere along the way both creative types and entrepreneurs know that learning the ins and outs of real estate is an important key to their success.
So the question remains, can success be learned or are we born with it? In doing the research for the this post I came across an article in psychology today about perseverance. According to the author, it’s what separates the winners from the losers in both sports and life. What makes us persevere and achieve our goals? It turns out that it boils down to science and something called Dopamine aka the “reward molecule”. Interestingly, scientists agree that we all have the power to increase our levels of Dopamine by forming good habits and having a positive attitude. Could it be as simple as that? Could the key to success be a positive attitude? Well maybe partially. Like in business, runners experience that same reward. If you ask a runner why they run their answer is usually something like “it makes me feel good”. Maybe all an agent needs to be a rock star is to experience the first taste of success.
At our company, we provide additional training for new agents that, amongst other goals, is designed to teach them the basics of day-to-day planning, time management and the art of prospecting. When we studied the agents that went through Bosley U over a three year period we found that nearly 80% had achieved significant success. In our minds that was proof that teaching the techniques of good business was a missing ingredient in standard licencing. A clear goal, a vision of the future, an understanding on what needs to happen to get there, and a strong knowledge of the real estate fundamentals are the building blocks of success. So it seems that the old saying “success breeds success” may have some value. Perhaps that explains why one person sell 40 homes a year and another sell 4.
mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.
It seems every time I meet a new agent we talk about what the licensing process was like for them. There is always the same conclusion, OREA teaches you the moves but they don’t teach you to dance. At our company we have Bosley U, our own in-house training designed to give agents ( by my estimates) a two-year head start in the business. We do panel discussions on farming and marketing methods and we do a lot of drills and role-playing, listing presentations and mock offers. We even talk about the mechanics of booking showings and registering offers. My impression is that these critical steps get missed all to often leaving the new agent at a disadvantage and opening themselves up to possible legal problems with our trusted Registrar.
So, yes, some of the problem lies with the training right from the get go and some of the solutions should land squarely on the brokerage shoulders. The problem, unfortunately, is that some companies are not built to handle any additional training. To each is own. I’m not hear to judge but I would like to suggest that a good real estate etiquette course be a prerequisite to the licensing process. All to often the simple act of doing business gets mired down with poor communication, a lack time management skills and basic good manners. I was set off last week by a few complaints by agents in my office feeling bulldozed by some, in their opinions, rather shoddy business practices that, upon reflection, seemed rooted in a lack of etiquette. So, I decided to make that the topic of my meeting this week. A little lesson in real estate etiquette.
As I usually do, when asking for audience participation, I threw suggestions onto our front desk. The questions were simple; give examples of bad etiquette that needed to be fixed in order to make your transaction easier. I got some great responses. Have a look. (and yes, that’s fake blood dripping from my desk, courtesy of my Hallowe’en loving front office staff).
I’m sure after you look at our list you will get that feeling of frustration for each point. So why do this? Well here’s the thing, if we are aware of what frustrates us, we may take more time to avoid those frustrating mistakes. Simple. Naturally, I’m all ears. Please let me know if you have anything to add.
We had an interesting debate last week at Mastermind about taking an overpriced listing and who and how the price was determined. Have you ever asked an agent ‘Is that the Seller’s price?” because essentially what you are saying is ‘hey, that price is so far out in left field you either don’t know what you are doing or the Seller has chosen the price himself’. Anyway you slice it, no agent wants to hear this question. Sure, ask it as often as you want, but be prepared for the day when the shoe is on the other foot.
So, for a moment, let’s assume that you have taken a listing and the owner has insisted that you list it $100K over fair market value. You took the listing because it is in the neighbourhood that you want to farm and the Seller has agreed to revisiting the list price after a few weeks of “testing” his price. Perhaps you feel confident that you can keep hammering away at the home owner for price reductions. Eventually you get “that” call. An agent calls asks you if it is the Seller’s price. What would you say? To say yes would make you seem unprofessional and perhaps reveal that the Seller is in the driver’s seat but to say no might suggest to that agent that you ‘bought’ the listing. dilemma? Not really. Your best answer is “I would encourage you to bring an offer that you and your Buyer find fair”.
At the core, this whole conversation starts with the listing agent’s initial discussion with the Seller about why his value is so much higher than the agent’s own competitive market analysis. Perhaps you are missing something. Probably not, but lets keep an open mind. The Seller believes his home is more valuable for a number of reasons. Sure, you can see some of his points, even though they are dull ones, but as a duly appointed representative of the Seller, and since you agreed to take the listing, it is your job to go out and stand behind that price. Have you ever heard the term the walls have ears? Saying something negative about the Seller or the list price will come back to bite you. Recently I heard a story of how an agent lost a listing because during a showing she made negative comments about what a dump the kitchen was. The owner and proud kitchen designer was hiding in the pantry listening. We live in a time when nanny cams in homes are as common as dishwashers.
Treat your client fairly and don’t reveal your true feelings about their price. Hopefully you have put into motion a plan and timeframe to revisit your pricing strategy. I suppose the flip side to this argument is that you let someone else take the overpriced listing and let them spend money trying to market it. That is a personal decision only you can make.