We talk about education a lot in real estate. It is important to be educated and up to date with the latest trends, market movement, consumer preferences, etc. In fact, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with everything happening and given time constraints it can be confusing for many agents to understand exactly which topics to focus on. I often field and observe questions about this in meetings with agents at Amherst Madison or agents at other brokerages. People want to know what they should be learning and what subjects they need to make sure to focus on. What is it that clients need their agent to know? What areas of expertise are clients evaluating their agent on?
To that end, this summer I taught a training series on generating listing leads, converting those leads into clients, and then servicing those seller clients. One component of that series was, “The Six Critical Components of Perceived Expertise.” In other words if you want to be perceived as an expert, what do you need to be strong in? This is focused on sellers and listing agents, but you will see pretty quickly that these components apply to working with buyers as well. Here they are (in no particular order):
- Markets & Market Value – a home seller needs to be confident that you have a firm grasp on the market value of their property, the value of other homes in their community, and the overall health/direction of the market beyond their specific property. A basic understanding of broader economics is also important to varying degrees depending on the property and client in question.
- Writing & Speaking (communication skills) – I think this one should speak for itself but in the same breath I know that many of us lack the necessary speaking and writing skills to ensure that we are viewed as experts. To be experts in sales, we need to be experts in communication. This flows through everything you prepare, send, or say to a client (or anyone else you work with for that matter).
- Home Prep & Staging – I use these terms very loosely to describe just about anything and everything that goes into preparing a home or property for marketing and sale. You must be able to answer (or hire people who can answer) the question that will inevitably come your way, “What do we need to do to get this house positioned to sell for top dollar?” You need to understand where sellers get the biggest bang for their buck, what would be a waste of time for them to do, and the reality that buyers have very limited imaginations.
- Marketing & Advertising – In dozens of studies commissioned by NAR, this particular expertise (along with the next one) always floats to the top as being critical to home sellers. It is no wonder. Frankly, if sellers could do this on their own, there would be a lot more FSBOs that are successful. If you are looking for a way to distinguish yourself from the competition, you cannot get around the need to set yourself apart with your knowledge of marketing and advertising. This component of expertise comes to the forefront when the seller asks you, “So what are you going to do to get our home sold?” HINT: they don’t want to only hear that you are going to put it in the MLS.
- Negotiations – A good negotiator can save their clients tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of hours. Your ability to add value here and just as importantly your ability to show your value to a potential client is paramount to establishing yourself as an expert. Pro Tip: if you immediately cave without objection when a seller asks you if you will lower your commission, you have just blown an opportunity to showcase your negotiation skills.
- Endorsements & Testimony – Third party endorsements and testimonials are critical. We can say it all day long but if someone else says it about us, it rings with truth. If you really want to have impactful endorsements, get them from people that your prospective client knows and trusts. This is an underlying principle of what makes referrals so powerful in the first place. Referrals come with a built-in third party endorsement.
There you have it. It is certainly not the be-all-end-all but it’s a solid list and if you can establish credibility in these components of expertise, your business improves dramatically.