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Second only to used car salespeople, real estate agents are the least trusted profession in this country. As a Realtor myself, my initial response after hearing this was to feel offended, but after some inward reflection and contemplation, I came to an understanding of why consumers and the general public may feel this way.
The bar for entry into this profession is low, and the “training” and education most new agents are offered after passing their licensing test is comical. Real estate agents, especially in TV shows and movies, are notorious for being pushy and constantly having their commission at the forefront of their minds.
Consumers think, “You’re going to miss out on this if you don’t buy it right now,” and Realtors are synonymous with one another. So, is it any surprise we aren’t trusted?
However, trust is the magic ingredient to success in business and life. If we fail to be trustworthy agents with integrity, we won’t create long-lasting relationships that will grow and flourish throughout our careers. And yes, you’re probably reading this and thinking about that one agent we all know who has questionable ethics and lacks integrity, but it is my belief that those people don’t have the same repeat clients and referrals that people like us do have.
The question then becomes: How can we, as real estate professionals, work to overcome the trust barriers that exist for consumers?
The most important way to build trust with your client is to be honest. It sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised how many agents don’t feel comfortable being completely transparent with their clients.
Whether it is because they’re afraid of losing the deal or worried their clients will think they’re “on the other team,” I’m always fascinated by how many agents fail to have an open line of communication with their clients.
When I say be honest, I mean genuinely being honest with them every step of the way, especially when it’s hard. If you, as their agent and representative, think their request for repairs is unrealistic, help them understand why you respectfully disagree with it; collaborate to come up with a strategy and set them up for success instead of immediate failure.
For example, if your client wants to send an extremely low offer and you know the seller won’t bite, it is your job to explain why you believe a different approach may be more successful for them.
If you are willing to have hard conversations, you will immediately begin to build trust with your clients.
Admit when you’re wrong
This is incredibly important and also incredibly hard to do for some people. Hey, we’re all human. We all make mistakes. And so do your clients, so try to remember that.
Your clients will trust and respect you if you admit you made a mistake and do your best to correct the error. Don’t beat around the bush or try to blame other people if you make a mistake. Instead, own up to the mistake and explain how you will remedy the situation. Work hard to find a solution, and move forward with your client in an honest way.
Get to know your clients
Again, this may seem basic, but it goes a long way. If appropriate, get to know your clients outside of the real estate transaction. Do they have kids, dogs or a spouse? Remember the names of people or animals in their lives, and bring them up when you talk.
For example, let’s say you are negotiating an offer, but your client has to get off the phone because they are at their daughter’s dance recital, so they said they will need to call you back. When they call you back, you first ask how the recital was and how their daughter did with the big crowd before jumping right back into real estate.
It shows you care, and at the end of the day, being cared for and heard is what most people crave more than anything else.
Anticipate the needs of your client before anything becomes an issue. Most clients don’t know something is an issue until it’s already an issue. You will gain their trust if you are proactive about how you can assist them, whether it be in the middle of a transaction or after they close.
For example, I live in the mountains where it gets below freezing often. So when I know the temperatures are going to drop into single digits, I’ll typically reach out to my clients and either remind them to turn their heat up so the pipes don’t freeze or ask if they need me to go by the house and check on anything for them.
And last, but certainly not least:
Please don’t try to be someone you aren’t. You are perfect the way you are.
Your authenticity is not worth compromising for anyone, and I can almost guarantee your clients will appreciate the real and genuine you. And if they don’t, you don’t want to work with them anyway.
These tips may seem like common sense, but they seem to go out the window when you’re in the throws.
People do business with people they know, like and trust. So be that person, and you’ll watch your business soar.
Amie Quirarte is a luxury real estate agent with Tahoe Luxury Properties in California and Nevada. Connect with her on Facebook or LinkedIn.