Humor and other real estate superpowers

Realtor Notebook

Recently, I have been reading some articles written mainly by people who provide coaching to the real estate industry about the types of skills that are needed to succeed as a Realtor.

Some of the skills are soft skills like communication and negotiation. Everyone seems to agree that technical skills are a must-have and that it helps to know how to write. Some are hard skills like money management and understanding numbers. Some are learned in school and others are learned through experience in the greatest school of them all: life.

As I look at what it takes to do my job, I see a couple of things that none of these articles have addressed. Maybe they are soft skills or maybe they are not skills at all, but ways of coping.

The skills or strengths that I use in my job as a Realtor are most often a sense of humor, flexibility and creativity — pretty much in that order.

Humor is a great way to diffuse a tense situation. It is also a great way to tick people off if it is used at the wrong time. There is some skill in knowing when to lighten the situation with humor and when to shut up. I hit the mark more often than not, but not always. People are afraid to use humor in business and I understand why. When it works it is almost magical, when it fails to work it can be very bad.

Flexibility is as essential as humor. Last night I had to be extra flexible when I was asked to show some houses on short notice. I don’t enjoy eating meals in my car, but I am flexible and have learned not to order anything that has sesame seeds on it or any kind of special sauce.

When I went to show houses and discovered that my car would not start, I had to be even more flexible. The car I borrowed has a manual transmission. I am a little rusty, but it wasn’t a problem. The greater challenge was in shifting and eating while driving in rush-hour traffic, and resisting the urge to answer my phone.

A sense of humor and flexibility work much better with a little creativity. Creativity can be very helpful in determining when and how to use humor in figuring out how to be flexible on a day when there isn’t much room for flexibility.

Creativity comes in handy for marketing homes. There are cookie-cutter marketing approaches that can be used over and over again, but the best marketing is unique to the home and creative. Flexibility and humor also fit in with marketing and marketing plans.

It takes an enormous amount of creativity to write a blog post every day, as I have done for almost three years. It takes some writing skills, but it is creativity that drives the blog, and the blog drives my business. Humor works there, too, but I am inflexible when it comes to posting each day.

Negotiating skills are very important, but it takes some creativity when the buyer and seller are $500 dollars apart and won’t budge. In that case it really helps if the other agent also has a sense of humor, because usually at that point my clients lose theirs.

Real estate is very much a people business. When it comes to writing contracts there isn’t much room for creativity, flexibility or humor, but when it comes to dealing with the people the contracts are being written for the opportunities to use all three are almost unlimited.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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