The CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida argued at Inman Connect Miami on Wednesday that real estate is like a race — and this moment is similar to a curve.

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Jimmy Burgess believes this moment in real estate is a lot like a drag race.

“We came out of the pandemic era, and there was no way to separate yourself as a professional from the amateurs,” he said, arguing COVID was like a straightaway in a race where all the cars stick together. But now the industry is in the “turn.”

“It’s in the turn where separation occurs and champions are made,” he added.


Burgess, an Inman contributor and CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida, made the analogy while on stage Wednesday at Inman Connect Miami. He said that while going around turns, drivers downshift, slow down somewhat, and look for opportunities to pull ahead.

With the challenges facing housing industry professionals right now, real estate agents should be looking for opportunities to pull away from the pack, he said.

“When we come out on the other side,” Burgess said, “they’re going to be so far ahead.”

Burgess spent much of his time on stage Wednesday offering advice on how exactly agents can take advantage of the current “turn” in the market. Here are a few of his tips:

Confrontation kills communication

Burgess argued that when emotions run high and tempers flare, communication breaks down. Instead of letting that happen, agents should function as a “thermostat” that keeps a space cool even on a hot day.

“People will forget what you said,” Burgess continued. “People will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Jimmy Burgess on stage at Inman Connect Miami Wednesday. Credit: AJ Canaria

Stats tell, but stories sell

Later in his presentation, Burgess talked about the strength of statistics and numbers. Data can be a valuable tool, and many real estate agents rightly lean on stats to communicate with clients. But he also argued that stats alone aren’t enough to truly persuade most people.

“Find your own story,” Burgess said, “but find a story.”

How we communicate makes a huge difference

Burgess later explained what he called the “7-38-55” rule. The idea is that only 7 percent of communication is verbal, but 38 percent “tonality.” And still more of communication, or 55 percent, happens via body language. Burgess’ point was that agents need to be aware of all these types of communication when speaking with clients.

“When you just text or email,” he argued, “you’re only communicating at a 7 percent level.”

Now is the time

One of the recurring themes of Inman Connect Miami has been that the real estate industry is facing a series of significant challenges. Those challenges range from a slow and uncertain market to commission lawsuit settlements that promise to bring big changes. But despite those challenges, Burgess was ultimately optimistic, saying that “turns” are actually opportunities.

“Never in 30 years in this business have I been more excited,” Burgess said. “Now we have a situation where the pros are going to be dominant.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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