This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.
Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent over six years working for Zillow Group. He’s also the co-founder of AgentLoop. He “selectively retired” in August 2018, but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His Inman column is published every Wednesday.
The other day, I reached out to my travel agent for help. Yes, a real-life travel agent. You know, the profession that many have labeled “dead,” “dying,” or “replaced by the internet.”
Why do I use a travel agent when anyone with a Wi-Fi connection can book flights and hotels? Because a successful trip to a destination I have no experience with is more than a flight and a bed. I need to understand the nuances of a location. How to absorb the culture. Ways to experience a new location that go past the countless articles on the internet that usually start with, “Best places to eat in … ”
I need an expert to guide me through an expensive, often daunting, process so that I can get the most bang for my buck. Maybe it’s selfish, but I want someone more knowledgeable than me to do the work that ensures my success.
The value of a real estate agent
Sound familiar? Many consumers don’t understand the value of a real estate agent. Read the comments on any mainstream media article referencing real estate agents and you’ll see calls for our heads. Heck, even some agents believe their jobs will be eliminated by the internet, an app or someone in their parent’s basement working on the next great disruption to the industry.
Technology will not replace you. The real estate transaction is too expensive, personal, emotional and infrequent to replace the human element. Leverage tech, stop fearing it. Honestly, if you think an app can do your job and that the days of agents being an integral part of the transaction are near, start looking for a new line of work.
This may be a gross simplification, but if you don’t understand, or believe in the value that you provide, how can you expect a consumer to value you?
Confidence begets commission
When I owned a brokerage, I could rank-order my agents’ success based on two factors: 1) how hard they worked and 2) their confidence level. Without fail, the most successful agents in our brokerage were the ones who worked the hardest and had the most confidence in their abilities.
If you want to increase your business and income, it starts with increasing your confidence in your ability and the value that you provide. Here are three ways to do that:
- Understand what you do and who you do it for.
- Educate yourself on your market and your competition.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
The first step to increasing your confidence is to get clear on what exactly it is that you do. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people (including agents) can’t articulate what they do or who they do it for.
If you can’t explain what you do in one sentence, chances are you’re not clear on it yourself. If you’re not clear on it, how can you be confident about it?
The second step is to educate yourself on your market and your competition.
This doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours upon hours online reading about the industry (although that can’t hurt). But it does mean you should have a firm grasp on the trends affecting your market and know who your major competitors are.
The third and final step is to stop comparing yourself to others. This is something that we all struggle with, but it’s important to remember that we all have our own unique set of skills and experiences.
All those posts you see on agent social media? You know the ones. “Just sold another home in 30 minutes at $35K over list price! Multiple offers!” or, “BEST YEAR EVER! And it’s only April.” Yeah, who cares? First, let’s be real. Lots of agents will embellish their accomplishments. Some even just make them up. But even if the bragging is true, so what? How does this affect you, your clients or your business? It doesn’t.
Comparing yourself to others is only going to breed insecurity and self-doubt. Instead, focus on honing your own skills and becoming the best version of yourself. Self-doubt is genuine. It’s easy, but you need to get through it.
If you can do these three things, you are well on your way to increasing your confidence and, as a result, your business and income.
Understand your value proposition
Embrace your value proposition. Empower yourself knowing that you are an expert in your field and that technology will never replace the human element in a transaction as important as real estate. If you want to be successful in real estate, you need to understand your value proposition. What is it you offer that your clients can’t get elsewhere?
There are lots of agents out there, but not all of them provide the same level of service or have the same skill set. It’s important to understand what makes you different and be able to express that to both prospects and clients.
Here are five tips to help you define and communicate your value proposition as a real estate agent:
- Do your research. Just because you think you know what makes you special doesn’t mean your clients will. Make sure you know what your target market is looking for and what they see as valuable.
- Be clear and concise. You want to make sure your value proposition is easy to understand and communicates what you offer quickly.
- Again, show confidence. Remember, you are the expert. If you don’t believe in your value proposition, neither will your clients.
- Practice makes perfect. Take some time to rehearse your value proposition so that you can deliver it with confidence.
- Get feedback. Ask your colleagues, friends and family for their honest feedback on your value proposition. They can help you fine-tune it so that it’s the best it can be.
Your value proposition sets you apart from the competition and is the foundation of your success in real estate. Embrace it, hone it, and use it to build strong relationships with your clients.
Market conditions in most parts of the country today border on the insane. Lack of inventory frustrates buyers, and the competition for listings is fierce, expensive, and frustrating. Selling a home is rarely a painless, enjoyable process, even in a market that could well bring top dollar for a home.
Stuck in the middle of all this is you — the real estate agent trying their best to appease people in a complex, often frightening transaction. Consumers need the guidance of an expert.
It’s easy for clients, and you, to get frustrated with this market. You need to set that frustration aside while doing what you do best — help people buy or sell a home. Gaining (or regaining) your confidence and being able to communicate your value proposition can help you help others.
Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and co-founder of AgentLoop living in the Texas Coastal Bend. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty. Called “the hardest working retiree ever,” as the founder of Jay.Life, he writes, speaks and consults on all things real estate.