Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Three C's of Real Estate Are Critical Today...

In fact, the three C's - Confidence, Commitment and Closing skills - are required for success in the real estate business today. Nearly one-half of agents in the Hamptons have never needed these core skills because they have been in this business for less than five years and have never seen a market where they actually had to "broker" a real estate transaction.

In the old days, all someone had to do was to get through (read: stay awake for) the 45-hour Licensed Salesperson course, pass the State test, get a desk at a real estate office and go to a cocktail party, then wait for the commissions to roll in.

Since 1999, listings have resulted in sales - most of the time. It has been easy for new agents to get listings by winning the "bidding war" for them. After all, would you list your home for $825,000 with an old battle-ax, when an enthusiastic new agent with a 917 area code on her cellphone tells you she can sell it for $1,000,000, even if it seemed a bit far-fetched? Of course you wouldn't. If it didn't sell right away, the market would "rise to meet the price", and it nearly always did just that.

Well, if those days aren't over, they're at least taking a break. The sellers are holding onto their asking prices, hoping that lightning will strike and that Mrs. Snodgrass will fall in love with the house, and the Snodgrasses will just "write the check" and live happily ever after in their new home. It happens all the time, right?

Back to The Three C's...
Confidence - Many of today's agents come from other successful careers in finance, advertising, law, hospitality, and retail. But real estate is a product unto its own. I've seen successful bankers crumble at the rejection and lack of loyalty that a real estate agent sometimes has to swallow. I've seen grown women brought to tears because their best friends from childhood bought a house from someone else after they dragged them around for the past six months, looking at everything they said they wanted to see. If you don't have the confidence to take the ups and downs, and if you can't accept that fact that real estate agents are often held in the same regard as car salespeople (which encourages clients and customers to be less than completely truthful due to the intrinsic lack of respect for the industry in general), then you're going to struggle. Don't take it personally. It's not about who you are (or who you were) - it's about how you conduct yourself in the moment.

Commitment - Working as an independent contractor in the real estate business is different than working a 9-to-5 job on Lexington Avenue. If you don't show up, you don't have a chance to make a commission. Getting to know the market, attending brokers' open houses (not just the ones with lunch), learning how to read tax maps, negotiating the web-based tools of the trade, and standing in line and begging for property information at town hall, are all actions that are very new to most people. Real estate, especially in a market like the Hamptons, is a 16-hour per day, 7-day per week business. That's if you can sleep, of course. You've got to be in it to win it, as they say.

Closing Skills - At the first interview or the first training session for new recruits, when I ask why they want to be real estate agents, it's common to hear things like, "I love people and I love houses, so I figured I'd get a job where I could work with both." Well, six to nine months later, it's not uncommon for those same new agents to be foaming at the mouth about "those idiots" who didn't buy "that dump" they showed them. It doesn't matter how much you love people and how much you love houses. If you're not able to bring people together in a deal, if you're not able to facilitate agreement in a transaction - you're sunk.

There are several newer agents who have proven their abilities in the last five years. They know who they are - I'm recruiting them as we speak for my new RE/MAX BEACH PROPERTIES office in Southampton. They've made the transition. They've figured it out (the elusive "it"), and they've got what it takes.

It's not rocket science, but it's no piece of cake, either. I, for one, have found where I belong. I love the business, even in the softer times. I enjoy the challenges of bringing buyers and sellers together where there are no losers, and of coaching and supporting new and experienced agents and building high-performing teams.

Not only do I feel that I am good for real estate because I approach the business with a commitment to integrity and honesty; I also feel that real estate has been very good to me. It has allowed me to bring my knowledge and experience in business and people development together in one place, where the personal and professional risks are great, but so are the rewards - but only for those who understand the wisdom of using those Three C's of Real Estate as a daily part of their business lives.

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