Many believe years of misguided understandings as to what an agent does can be solved by not attempting to sell property to punters and instead listening to people and giving free advice.
Customers don’t want just a competent agent. They already expect that. What they want is an authentic discussion and transparent behaviour.
Realmark agent Rae O’Neill said humanising the sales process is a good place to start – on social media at least.
“I don’t have a work Facebook page – my personal Facebook page is the one I use for work and I am who I am,” Ms O’Neill said.
“I have found a lot of people don’t like being pushed into marketing and a lot of consumers use social media to make their choice of agent even before they have met you.
“I was an ambulance officer before I started in real estate, so I went from the most trusted profession to the least overnight but I think as an industry on the improve, social media has made the real estate industry become a lot more transparent and authentic and has made us more accountable.”
Ray White Annerley manager Geoff Sellars said traditionally agents were lumped into the same professional bracket as used car salespeople and the industry as a whole has worked hard to be part of a community at large, rather than just being involved with the pointy end of a transaction.
Mr Sellers said the stereotype of an estate agent is they rock up and want to know if you are selling a house, and likened the experience for homeowners to opening the door to a stranger who wants $15,000 commission.
“The biggest way to change our reputation is to stop hiding behind social media and emails and get out and knock on doors and talk to people, but not people selling houses, reinforce what you do through community involvement, not through email or spam,” Mr Sellers said.
“Property is something most people have an interest in and at barbecues and such you always get asked how the market is, what sold recently and so on. So instead of sticking your head in the sand and not wanting to talk shop you need to engage, because there is a real thirst for that information.
“I don’t enjoy going to the dentist but they are seen as having a really trusted profession that you may not require that often, which is what a real estate agent should be … If you create a good relationship and provide a good service when someone is selling, rough figures show they will tell about 14 other people.”
Geoff Eagles from Elders Real Estate said everyone has an opinion about real estate and the most important thing for an agent is to recognise that – which is what makes the industry so exciting.
Mr Eagles said being part of an ethically sound and strong business is the best way to counteract any clichés to do with the industry or profession.
“If people ask you your opinion then give it. Chances are they will come back to you in five years when they are selling,” Mr Eagles said.
“If you are worried about how you are seen then just focus on what you do and if people are going to stereotype real estate agents then there is nothing you can do apart from your best.”