What makes a good estate agent?

03 June 2019

While some members of the public might view estate agents in a negative light believing they are exceptionally well paid for a service that requires fairly limited effort and skill - "nothing could be further from the truth".
A good agent must always ensure their clients are kept in the loop, even when there is nothing new to report, and the ability to empathise with sellers and buyers will help them stand apart from the crowd.

So says Rowan Alexander, Director of Alexander Swart Property, who notes that the simple fact is that "less than 20% of estate agents can be classified as really successful", while the "remaining 80% have either survived on very low incomes, or more commonly, have left the industry for good".

To succeed as an estate agent, he says, the practitioner must be entirely self-motivated and capable of independent thought and action.

"Although good estate agencies will provide training as often as required, possibly have certain back-up services such as stock finding and will always have managers on hand to give advice on difficulties, the agent is in essence a freelancer who is 'out there' on his own and has only himself to rely on," says Alexander.

It is for this reason that those from corporate backgrounds may find property selling far more challenging than they expected, he says, especially if they've been accustomed to a range of supplementary services, colleagues to help them and most major decisions being made higher up. "Those who have ploughed their own furrows from an early stage and have learned quickly how to cope on their own, are the ones who make it in estate agency work."

Former schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, he says, are among the most successful of agents because they have had to fend for themselves from the start. "No amount of backup support or training will make a poor teacher an effective one. Good teachers are self-motivated and independent, and often work long hours."

These character traits and work habits belong to every good estate agent, says Alexander.

From day one, the good agent will realise that it is up to him or her to shape their own future.

He or she will quickly learn they will have to persevere for hours on end with often boring work such as telephone canvassing, preparing valuations, sitting in at show houses over the weekend, and carrying out knock and drop campaigns, he says.

"Also, to be acceptable and smoothly processed, contract documentation facts and figures must be correct and the data on which the sale pitch is based, wholly truthful."

Nothing, says Alexander, arouses distrust among clients more surely than the suspicion that an agent is 'trying it on', not being wholly truthful or has an agenda that is not entirely transparent.

Above all, the estate agent must learn that they can very seldom be 'off duty' - it's a 24\7 job and they must be prepared to take and make cell phone calls and emails up to 10pm at night and early in the morning, he says.

A good agent must always ensure their clients are kept in the loop, even when there is nothing new to report. Sellers in particular, can get very upset if they feel they might have been forgotten for any length of time, he cautions.

In addition, the good agent will be humane and compassionate, says Alexander. They will understand that both buyers and sellers may be ambivalent about the decisions they have to make.

"Those who are leaving a home in which they have lived for some time will be emotional about this, feeling that a part of their life is being destroyed," he explains.

While those who are buying may wonder whether the area in which they are settling will prosper and suit them, and whether they will be able to continue to afford the bond payments in future, says Alexander.

"In short, the agent must accept that both sellers and buyers may be insecure and anxious and the agent must be able to calm and reassure them," he adds.

"The agent who is simply there for his own sake, for a fast buck, will never succeed in the long term," says Alexander. "It is the ability to empathise with others that makes a really good agent."

Periods like the present, when the economy is weak and business confidence is low, tend to result in those not suited to an estate agency career leaving the industry, he adds. "This is always tough but it does mean that those who do survive will emerge even more competent than they were before."

Article published courtesy of Property24

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