In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
For Boston Realtor Manuel Davis, understanding your strengths — and your clients timeline — helps ensure optimal results.
As senior vice president of residential sales for Boston Realty Advisors, Manuel Davis has built his reputation in the unique and competitive Boston real estate market based on his sterling professionalism and his enviable insight and knowledge. Through his nearly two decades in the business, Davis has learned that understanding your clients’ needs and preferences — and your own — is key to building your business and your network.
How long have you been in the business?
In high school, I got a job as a carpenter’s assistant. Through high school and college, I worked for various developers in Belmont and Somerville, Massachusetts. In 2001, a local and now retired developer recommended that I get a real estate license. He saw potential in me and became a mentor. His vision was for me to combine my artistic aptitude with my people skills in order to sell his product. I got my real estate license and together we achieved mutual success.
After immediate success collaborating with developers, I joined Coldwell Banker in Cambridge and focused on working with buyers and sellers. This concentrated effort yielded over sixty transactions within my first year at Coldwell Banker and gave me the confidence to propel my career forward.
While at Coldwell Banker for five years, I predominantly worked with homebuyers and sellers. Concurrently, I was also advising developers and purchasing my own real estate for condo conversions. It was then that I learned wearing too many hats is a disservice to all. I recognized that my love for working with people outweighed my excitement for developing a real estate portfolio.
I’m at my best when working with discretionary buyers and pairing them with exceptional properties that uniquely work for them. Advising and educating buyers at The Archer in Beacon Hill is a perfect example of what I do today.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I came to Boston Realty Advisors in 2007 and plan to be here for the long-term. I hope to be doing more of what I’m doing today and working with the same people as we continue to lead and differentiate our brand. My plan is to be part of a team that helps developers create a product that will be appreciated and loved by many, to be hyper-focused on the buying and selling experience and to achieve records and break the norm.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
I’ve learned to never expect anything in real estate. Everyone handles a real estate transaction differently. Some people take it very personally, while for others it’s just business. Some people pretend that it’s one or the other. I’ve learned to pace myself — with everyone.
How did you learn it?
About five years ago, I received a cold call from a prospective client. He explained that he owned condos in both Boston and Cambridge, stating that he wanted to pick my brain about the current market to potentially sell his properties. We spent nearly an hour on our first call and I stayed in contact throughout the years.
After two years of cordial follow-up calls, I got together with him and his wife for our first face-to-face meeting. They made it clear that they did not want to sell their condos and preferred to keep them tenanted. Based on their decision to rent, I referred them to a qualified rental agent and a terrific contractor to help with rental marketing and the required maintenance prior to each turnover.
Over the years, they continued to flirt with the idea of selling. Each time, I prepared an in-depth marketing analysis, along with a marketing service proposal. I would meet with them for lunch to strategize and ultimately put one condo on the market, only to cancel the listing after a few days since the rental agent found a tenant for the home.
Every time they toyed with the idea of selling, the process began with an emotional attachment to each home. They vacillated between the fond memories each home provided their family and the potential benefits the transactional income would afford them. As a maturing broker, I needed to better understand this dichotomy.
It wasn’t until several years later that my client decided to sell the properties. The time was right for each home. The condos sold fast, for cash and above asking.
Without the patience and understanding, and more importantly, without a quality team of professionals to have delegated the legal, rental and contractor responsibilities, I doubt I would have been able to gain the trust and loyalty this couple gave me throughout the years — and the ultimate approval to list their condos.
My experience has taught me that buying real estate is both an emotional and financial decision. I’ve learned to be a coach for people. My job is not to push in one direction or the other. Rather, my job is to advise by providing options in order for my clients to make an informed decision that best matches their lifestyle.
Over my career, I’ve learned that no two clients are alike and that people are in love with their homes for many different reasons. Some are in it purely for the investment, and others for a myriad of personal reasons. Being able to understand my client’s needs and rationale has been paramount to being a successful broker. I take pride in being an exceptional listener and am privileged to have curated an outstanding referral base that consistently delivers results.
What advice would you give to new agents?
Try not to wear too many hats. Delegate the responsibilities of the home inspector, mortgage broker and attorneys, and let them do their job. In that process, build a core of good referrals. You’re as good as any referral you make.