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Embracing ‘belly to belly’ in real estate

By Adrian Knowles
07 March 2024 | 12 minute read
adrian knowles harcourts bridge reb km03yn

In the cacophony of modern marketing tactics and virtual trends, there’s a steadfast approach that’s as old as human civilisation – the art of personal connection.

This is particularly true in the real estate industry, where despite the rapid digitalisation of processes and services, the pivotal moments of selling and buying homes remain profoundly human. Real estate professionals often get inundated with state-of-the-art technologies, data-driven strategies and virtual tools to the point where the allure of belly-to-belly selling can be overshadowed.

“Bellying up” is not about aggressive sales tactics or the physical proximity to a prospect; rather, it’s the intentional act of putting yourself in front of them, sharing space and time, and starting a genuine conversation. It’s about the sweaty palms, the shared laughter and, yes, even the occasional awkward silence – those unparalleled nuances of human interaction that no email blast or virtual tour can replicate.

The value of real presence

Real presence in real estate is about going beyond the transaction; it’s creating an experience, building trust and fostering a relationship. Why is this so vital, one might ask? The answer is buried in our history and psychology. Humans are wired to connect, empathise and gauge character in person. It’s easier to dismiss an email, delete a voicemail, or decline a text – much harder to ignore someone standing in front of you, exuding honesty and energy.

In the bustling world of competitive listings and multiple offers, it’s often the human touch that tips the scale. For a buyer, the warmth of the dawn light streaming through a window in an unassuming dining area or the whisper of historical charm in the creaking floorboards isnt conveyed through pixels on a screen – its felt in the bones during an in-person visit. For a seller, its the confidence in the agent who, by sheer force of personality and expertise, brings forth the best value for their beloved property.

Networking and connection: Professionalism with a personal touch

Amid the din of online advertising and automated systems, nothing beats the rapport built across a handshake or the easy camaraderie developed over a coffee. These are the elements that solidify professional bonds, transform friends into clients, and clients into committed partners. Networking has always been a cornerstone of the real estate industry, and it’s not just about exchanging business cards; it’s about kindling relationships that grow more robust with each passing encounter.


The most astute agents comprehend that every interaction, from the local chamber of commerce meetings to the impromptu chats at the grocery store, can potentially lead to a fruitful business relationship. The key here is to be authentic and genuinely interested in the people with whom you’re connecting. It’s a time-honoured approach that still holds true, regardless of the cutting-edge tools at our disposal.

Rekindling the flame of traditional salesmanship

Contrary to popular belief, traditional salesmanship isn’t outdated it’s a foundation upon which real estate success can be built. The original principles of networking, prospecting and face-to-face selling are as relevant today as they were decades ago, if not more so. In the current climate, when a telephone call can be as unexpected as it is welcome, it’s a powerful tool in an agent’s repertoire.

In prioritising the belly-to-belly approach, one is not discounting the benefits of technology; rather it’s about balance. Virtual tools are indispensable for efficiency and broad outreach, but they should serve as extensions of personal connections, not replacements. In essence, technology should be used to facilitate the in-person experiences that define real estate.

Investing in the future through personal contacts

The return on investment for every minute spent in personal contact with a client or prospect is immeasurable. It’s not merely the immediate deals that are clinched – though those are certainly significant – but the seeds of a referral network that are sowed for years to come. In the intricate and people-centric world of real estate, a name remembered, a face recognised, and a personality appreciated, these are the foundations of a legacy that transcends an individual sale.

By being visible in real life, agents are not just pushing against the tide of technology; they’re riding the crest of it, using the very tools that can distance people to bring them closer. Every handshake, every housewarming, every hearty laugh exchanged between realtor and client is a testament to the enduring potency of human connection in the real estate realm.

In closing, the call to action for real estate professionals is a simple one – amid the myriad demands and advances, do not lose sight of the power of personal presence. Take the calls, attend the meetings, and most importantly, meet with your clients and prospects face-to-face. It’s in these moments where the magic of the real estate industry truly shines, and it’s an opportunity that’s too valuable to be missed in favour of a purely digital existence.

In an age where virtual realties are increasingly sculpted by the silhouettes of our screens, let us not forget the tangible reality of people, properties, and the irreplaceable joy of in-person interaction. Embrace the belly-to-belly approach not out of nostalgia, but out of an unshakeable belief that in the heart of every real estate transaction is a human story, best told and understood through real presence.

Adrian Knowles is the CEO of Harcourts Australia.

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