I had a few recent experiences that made me want to write a post with tips for new and newer real estate agents who are trying to make it in this challenging business.
TIP #1 – MLS PHOTOS
Keep in mind that the goal of your MLS photos is to get someone to take a look at the house. Well over a year ago, I wrote a post called Worst photo contest. It was one of my first attempts at humor, and it still brings in an occasional comment. With that in mind, I would like to share a photo that I found today while running a search for some soon-to-be clients relocating from New York:
Could someone explain this one to me? What is the selling point that they were trying to spotlight here?
Perhaps the caption should read, “COMES WITH INDOOR PLUMBING!” or “YES! THAT’S A TOILET!”.
The funniest part to me is that this agent either squatted down to get the “artistic” angle, or it was taken by Verne Troyer (best known as “Mini-Me”).
I do have a couple of sincere suggestions on this topic if you are interested. Namely:
- Try to have adequate lighting for any photos you take
- Don’t take photos that merely show furniture in a room – you are selling the house presumably, not the belongings inside. I have seen countless pictures that show a bed and nightstand but which give no scale to the actual room
- When taking exterior pictures in the front of the house, your best angle is usually opposite of the garage. If the garage is on the side or in the back, disregard this tip and do your best.
TIP #2 – NEGOTIATING
When you are negotiating on behalf of your clients, try NOT to use any trite techniques. What do I mean by that, anyway? Well, here are a few examples from my own career of things I would strenously avoid if possible:
1. When representing the buyer, please do not try to pull comparable sales to justify a ridiculously low offer from your client. This comes across as confrontational and sets the wrong tone. I have written a few lowball offers in my day, but they are usually presented without apology. There is probably a reason for the number we chose. If you want to say anything at all, just say something like, “I hope we can come to an agreement. Thanks!”
On the other side of the coin:
2. When representing the seller, don’t act personally offended by ANY legitimate offers that are presented to you in writing for your listings. Don’t scoff at the buyer’s agent, or say “I had to use smelling salts on the seller” (I literally heard this one once). Just say, “Thanks so much for the offer. I will see what I can do. I’ll be back in touch soon.” Again, there’s no need to set a bitter tone from the outset. You may have to work with the other agent for weeks.
3. Set the appropriate expectations with your clients. I wrote a whole post on this topic many moons ago: Are you helping your clients through the maze, or are you a stumbling block?. When negotiating repairs on a resale home, try not to lead your clients to expect perfection (i.e. not everything that the inspector finds is something the seller will be willing to fix). Don’t over-promise on pricing or terms.
TIP #3 – SHOWING PROPERTIES
Having shown literally thousands of homes and having sold hundreds of them during my 12-year real estate career, I speak with at least some measure of authority here. These are just things that work for me.
1. SET THE TONE AT THE OUTSET. I usually say, “We have quite a few places to see today. If we pull up to one of them, and you really hate it, just tell me and we’ll go to the next place. I want to make the best use of your time. I didn’t build these homes, and I don’t live in them, so you won’t be offending me.”
2. ORGANIZE your showings. Try to allow for travel time between houses, and for a meal if you are going to be out all day. I am amazed how many of my buyer clients have worked with previous agents who just sort of “wing it” when it comes to showings. Get everything mapped out and planned the day before you show, if possible.
3. BE HONEST. Not every home is worth considering. If it’s sitting next to a wastewater treatment plant with railroad tracks behind it, don’t be afraid to point out shortcomings. It’s the right thing to do, and you will earn points with your clients for your integrity. If you don’t know the answer to a question, “I don’t know” is a fine response, possibly followed by “I bet we can find out, though.”
4. DON’T TALK TOO MUCH. I have seen agents talk themselves out of a home sale by not being quiet at the right time. This cannot be overemphasized. Try to take your cues from the client here. If they seem interested, it’s fine to point out additional good features. If they are utterly disinterested, MOVE ON to the next place (see #1).
I hope some of this comes in handy for you. As a broker, I train my team of agents on these techniques, along with a host of other topics. Thanks for reading!