Actually, it never went out of style, but judging from the behavior of some professionals in the real estate industry you wouldn’t know that. To be fair, this can be said of any industry‚Äîthere are always those who slack off, try to get more done in less time at the expense of the details.
The fact of the matter is that with the addition of technology the real estate sales industry has become a more difficult playing field. Buyers and sellers often do a lot of work before they even contact a Realtor. Gone are the days when you stuck a sign in the front yard and waited for offers to flow in, or when you picked a few homes to show in the area to a client who relied solely on your advice. Nowadays clients know the areas, neighborhoods, floorplans. They understand the comparables and why one property may command a higher price than the one down the street. You have to be savvy and actually keep up with them to succeed in real estate now.
Yet, despite all the knowledge available at customer fingertips there are still many agents who throw professionalism out the window on a daily basis. I have heard it from many clients and from the agents themselves! I have seen it on offers written by agents that were clearly not checked over and over again before being submitted.
Here is my list of simple ways to strive for more professionalism in the real estate industry.
1. Return phone calls, including those to other agents. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard or read of buyers who say they called a listing agent with questions, only to never receive a call back‚Äîunbelievable! This could be the person that presents an offer on your listing, or uses you to purchase another home, not to mention this is a violation of your fiduciary duties to your client/seller.
Oftentimes agents call other agents with questions on listings on behalf of their clients‚Äîreturn these calls immediately! If I don’t hear back in a reasonable time I won’t show your listing. This just happened to me a few weeks ago with a pretty big area brokerage‚Ä¶no call back. Well, they lost a showing with an all-cash client. It is about your reputation with clients AND within the industry, and believe me other agents know who are the non-responsive agents. Do you want to have this reputation?
2. Make sure you proofread all your emails and communications. This seems so simple but spelling and grammar errors are a reflection of YOU! This should also be applied online when writing blogs, commenting on other blogs or posts, and even with social media. Again, what you put out there in internet land is permanent and is a reflection of you! Use spell-check and grammar check programs on your computer.
3. Proof your marketing materials, people! You may say, ‚Äúduh!‚Äù but I get flyers and materials in my mailbox almost every week from other agents that are filled with typos, grammatical errors and terrible, grainy photographs. Again, if you are trying to get new clients this way and you send out pieces that look bad, why would they want to call you? Personally I would rather not send out any materials than send out those that look bad.
4. Look professional. This one is a no-brainer. True, everyone has his or her own style. BUT you can dress casual and still look professional . There is a difference between dressy-casual and the ‚Äújust came from the gym‚Äù look. Again, how you present yourself makes a statement about who you are. You don’t have to wear Armani or Prada but you should look like you take your business seriously.
5. Send a hand written thank you card to the client, other agent and escrow officer at the close of escrow. This is often overlooked in the age of texting and instant messaging, but honestly a handwritten thank you is still the best compliment you can offer. Those agents will remember you next time they show your listing or receive an offer on their listing from your buyer.
It really doesn’t take much extra effort to be professional, but if you don’t have time to do these and other things to maintain your professionalism you need to rethink your goals, expectations and your career path. Not only do our customers expect us to be professional, they deserve it.