As real estate agents, we take pride in our intimate knowledge of the markets we serve. We know the comps in the area and all the data to match, and we can tell you all about the local flavor — the best corner coffee shops, tricks to finding a good parking spot, the location of the closest SoulCycle and so-on.
As people, we are creatures of habit — and it’s easy to offer advice based on what’s familiar to us. Without realizing it, we are passing our daily routines on to potential buyers and renters who might choose to navigate the neighborhood a bit differently.
So much of the real estate transaction happens online now, from search to signing, that agents risk losing sight of exploring, or re-exploring, the markets they know best.
Here are three easy ways to re-introduce yourself to your surroundings by doing something different:
Take a new route to work
One of the things we agents love to talk about with our clients is transportation. In New York City, for example, approximately 5.5 million people take the subway each weekday, and many people buy or rent based on how far they are from a subway stop.
But there are so many other transit options to choose from that are making once relatively inaccessible neighborhoods extremely competitive.
The new ferry system that links Brooklyn to Manhattan is not only fast and efficient, but it also offers stunning views of the East River, Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
Since moving to Brooklyn, I take the ferry all the time, and it has completely changed the way I view my hometown.
Try the transit shuffle challenge
In addition to switching up the way you get to and from work, try taking a mode of transportation that is totally new for you for just one week.
If you’re an agent in Los Angeles, why not test out the subway? Approximately 350,000-plus people utilize the rail system in the L.A. metro area on any given weekday, but that number will likely increase as downtown L.A. becomes more vertical.
The subway offers a more efficient way of bypassing the famous freeway traffic, and agents who experience this for themselves will be able to offer honest and valuable advice to their clients.
The same goes for shared bike programs — if there is one in your area, go for a spin.
Many people use these programs in lieu of buses, taxis or subways, and they are popping up in cities all over the country.
In fact, many developers now consider proximity to a shared bike stop an amenity. You never know when a client’s dream home hinges on neighborhood bikeability!
Participate in your community
All the things I’ve mentioned so far are ways that you, without much effort, are actively participating in your community dynamic.
As an agent, you should be able to answer questions based on facts and first-hand knowledge.
How can you explain the subway to someone if you only drive to and from work?
How can you endorse that the waterways in your communities are every bit as viable as trains and automobiles without experiencing them?
After all, you wouldn’t recommend a restaurant you haven’t tried to a friend, and the same should go for your clients.
This is a call to action to shake things up a bit and rediscover places you thought you knew through very simple changes.
Be a tourist in your own back yard — it will help you see your surroundings from an outsider’s perspective. This goes a long way in creating loyal client relationships, beyond data or comps or market trends, and you’ll probably have a whole lot of fun in the process.
Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan is the president of Stribling & Associates.