The biggest truth in real estate is simple: The best way to succeed is to be genuine and to demonstrate honest and informed communication. Leigh Brown, ABR, CRS, broker-owner of One Community Real Estate in Concord, N.C., and NAR 2021 vice president of advocacy, explained how best to do this in her Wednesday session, “Substance Over Ego: Build Your Listing Presentation With Data,” during the virtual 2020 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.
Brown used her time to speak against the hubris some pros fall victim to when trying to anticipate the needs and expectations of their clients. She said the question nobody wants to ask is the exact question all practitioners should be asking.
“Ask this—and it’s a game changer: ‘Hey, friend, what are the three things you’re looking for in the agent you hire?’” Brown said.
She said some consumers are looking for value and a good customer experience, and agents can demonstrate they know what that value is by guiding the communication from the start with sincerity. Rather than trying to become a skilled mind reader, make yourself available to guide your clients through their own process.
“You can’t promise price; you can’t promise time frame,” she said. “And I don’t know why anybody ever in the history of the planet offered a real estate transaction with no hassles.”
Brown suggests that immersing yourself in the nuances of individual sales and situations is paramount, and it makes you a more trustworthy real estate pro. Everyone’s situation is different and maintaining that perspective—especially in unprecedented times—will steer you clear of everything from misunderstandings, tense client calls, and even ethics violations.
“Instead of offering the three things we think they want, ask them what they need. And it will tell you everything you need to put your presentation together for them,” Brown said.
According to her own research, the three priorities consumers seek when selling a house are price (20%), communication (18%), and honesty (15%). While it may be difficult to control the first priority, communication and honesty are not only easy to employ, they are required by the REALTORS® Code of Ethics.
She described the Code of Ethics as having not only sales tools but important business protections. “REALTORS®, in attempting to secure a listing, shall not deliberately mislead the owner as to market value,” says Standard of Practice, 1-3.
Brown said suggesting a higher sale price than your data shows—even with the caveat that it may need to come down—is wrong. The data doesn’t even tell white lies, so neither should you—no matter how good your intentions may be.
“We don’t just have a Code of Ethics—we agree to it,” Brown said.”
She then presented tools pros can use to accurately determine a property’s value in the current market, including the Housing Price Index, a federal website for calculating the approximate worth of a property. The HPI calculator is a quick, easy tool that provides you with a simple graph of real estate pricing trends over time for cities and towns.
Another resource Brown shared was RealtyTrac.com, a website for following auctions, pre-foreclosures, and bank-owned properties, Brown said. The site shows a map of houses that may be taken back by the bank for a myriad of reasons, but the overall trends are still worth following.
“I refer to this as the underbelly of the market,” Brown said. “Because no matter what’s happening in the bigger economic picture, y’all, there is always somebody not paying the bills.”
Brown shared a few more resources for practitioners to use, explaining that these tools and sites serve as a method of funneling down information. From federal to local levels, these resources help guide agents to make the best listing presentation for their clients.
There will always be outliers in real estate situations, Brown said. Bult ultimately, using the vast amount of information accessible will not only help clients make the best decisions, it will reflect well upon you for prioritizing honesty and communication over everything else in the transaction.