How agents can overcome negative stereotypes

Every year, Roy Morgan Research conducts the Image of Professions survey, asking respondents to rate occupations for honesty and ethical standards. Typically at the bottom of the list are car salespeople, politicians and real estate agents.

At the same time as these results come out, there are literally millions of keys sitting inside real estate offices across the country. These keys provide direct access to a person’s biggest asset – their home or investment property.

This raises the question: why do the public trust agents with their most valued material possession, but also consider them dishonest? Furthermore, what can we do to dispel (what I believe to be) unjust assessments about the average real estate agent?

I’ve been in real estate for 20 years and I can say – hand on my heart – that the people I have encountered, colleagues and competitors alike, have been genuinely nice people. They’re mums, dads, sisters, brothers, grandpas and grandmas … the list goes on. They work hard, are active members of their communities and they are – hold the press – good human beings!

I don’t see the sports cars, the fast cash and pearly white teeth paraded in the media (I want to find out what dentist that guy uses!). Instead, I see a group of professionals working to achieve the best possible outcomes for their clients. I have joined them in attending hundreds of training sessions on self-development and how to improve customer service.

So what can we do, as real estate agents, to look past the stereotypical beat-up and have consumers see a true reflection of who we are?

Here are my five tips:

1. View your clients as restaurant patrons

If you give them food poisoning they won’t come back, and they will do their best to ensure no one they know comes back. Instead give them an experience they enjoy. Talk them through the menu (the real estate journey). Serve them your best produce (your expert knowledge). When the meal is done, be sure you top off the experience with a dessert they won’t forget (in the form of exceptional client service).

2. Share your knowledge

Consumers are looking to you to provide them with the knowledge and experience they don’t have. It’s a fair business transaction, but you need to earn your commission by providing your education, expertise and neighbourhood knowledge. Show your clients their investment is worthwhile.

3. Be honest

Don’t fall into the trap of telling your clients what they want to hear. Be upfront and honest about market conditions, pricing and interested parties. You need to gain your clients trust by conducting yourself openly and honestly in everything you say and do.

4. Humanise yourself

Consumers want to work with fellow humans, not cardboard cut-outs. Show interest in your clients. Selling or buying a home is a huge decision; demonstrate understanding and empathy around that. Yes, you have a job to do and time constraints, but don’t let those get in the way of creating a wonderful experience for your client.

5. Take pride in what you do

I’ve known people who have lied about being a real estate agent because of community perception. In my mind, that’s crazy. Take ownership and be proud of the fact that you play a huge part in helping people achieve their real estate dreams. We find people their homes – that’s pretty special.

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Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell is a leading LJ Hooker franchisee who runs five regional NSW offices: Warners Bay, Toronto, Valentine, Rathmines and Wangi Wangi. In 2007, he was named an LJ Hooker Admiral, an honour achieved by very few.

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