Once upon a time real estate agents were “gatekeepers” of information, personal shoppers for buyers, and marketing of homes consisted mainly of signs being posted and occasional ads placed in newspapers. Agents sold their services on the basis of skills and services that would be either unnecessary or insufficient in today’s market.
When I began real estate in 1986, fax machines were not in common use, multiple listings of properties were distributed by a thermal printing teletype machine, cell phones were extremely rare and very expensive, and the architecture of the internet was in its infancy. Real estate agents needed to drive to people’s homes or offices in order to get paperwork signed, and messengers were required for timely delivery of the various documents needed to process any transaction. Up until 10 years ago, multiple listings needed to be reviewed in a thick book, which was published twice per month, which included only one small black and white photo.
Today, not only do real estate agents have instant access to full property information on all listings anywhere in the country, but their clients have equal access 24 hours a day, which can even be obtained from their “smartphones.” In fact, most of my own buyers can learn as much as I can about any given property, which only makes that part of my job easier. A good agent today is much more than a mere “home-finder” or tour guide. As I work with the tech-savvy consumers, the experience that I have in the home purchase process brings tremendous added value to them. It is my expertise and experience that enables the buyers I work with to feel confident they have found the right home and are buying it at a fair price and with sufficient due diligence.
In recent years many agents have developed the skills of being good interpreters of all the facts, data, and alternative choices facing their clients. Those agents who provide the highest value today are highly skilled problem solvers in the process of buying and selling homes. They have learned the new role of the modern day agent means to anticipate and proactively resolve the myriad of details that continue to be more challenging to the consumer. While many choose to hide behind technology, and their agents only facilitate on their behalf, the more expert agents really demonstrate their value by more creative and effective negotiations and communications with both clients and their fellow agents.
On the selling side, today’s marketing is vastly different for many of the same reasons. The job of a professional agent has changed dramatically. Even though the basics remain the same, such as customer service, careful review of contract provisions, and accurate preparation of various marketing and contract paperwork, the “new normal” marketplace requires far more of the effective agent. For example, the property showing process has been dramatically altered due to more than 80 percent of home buyers actually viewing homes online. The agents who are trained in helping owners prepare a property for sale and are willing to take a large number of high quality photos are able to give their clients an edge in the current marketplace. Likewise, agents with a greater awareness and sensitivity to issues that may be of concern to prospective buyers are more likely to have a greater success in generating offers and also resolving challenges during escrows for their sellers.
The skills most useful in today’s world include excellent counseling, coaching, guidance, hand-holding, as well as a thorough understanding and application of the principles of a fiduciary and problem solver. Those agents who are willing to invest the time and efforts to develop these skills, learn to provide financial counseling and short sale guidance, are those who are benefiting the most from the ample opportunities available to have adjusted their mindsets from that of yesteryear.
Contact Michael Edlen