I can’t recall a time when we have seen a situation like the one we find ourselves in now.
Traditionally, it’s one or two areas of our industry that are feeling pressure at any given time, but right now we are seeing just about every area under enormous pressure at the same time.
The market is slowing. Auction clearance rates are falling. We are seeing longer days on market, vendor discounting, concerns about rising mortgage repayments and huge pressure on rental affordability.
Our industry has changed, the market has changed and how we operate also needs to change to keep up.
There is a lot of noise in the market about getting ‘back to basics’, but what basics should we be going back to? Is 10 calls a day still going to cut it? If we’re making those calls, what are we saying?
From my experience, modern agents now need to be focusing more on their people skills and less on the transactional / task-based skills that have been prioritised in the past.
To truly serve the needs of stressed-out clients we need to now exercise empathy.
We’re dealing with clients who may need to sell because they can’t keep up with mortgage repayments or need to relocate back to the city after what they thought would be a forever sea/tree change.
Our tenants are facing soaring rents and potential homelessness, unsure of where their families will be living in the next few months.
During the good times of low-interest rates and skyrocketing property prices, it’s easy to get caught up in transactional tasks, but doing that appears to have had a negative impact on our relationship-building skills.
Clients are looking to us now more than ever for answers and support. And if they don’t get the answers they need from us, they’ll go looking elsewhere.
Are they worried about mortgage stress? Put them in touch with a trusted mortgage broker who can provide them with options. We know that interest rates will change in the future and if you can help a client navigate a short-term painful period, they will still reap the benefits of their 30-year investment.
Do they need to find a new rental? Connect them with potential properties before they go to market or take the time to explain the tenant situation to your landlord.
Real estate has always been a relationship business. Any support you provide to a client now will be remembered and paid back in spades either in referrals or repeat business.
Agents who are serious about setting themselves up for future commercial success should be investing their time and energy into:
- Gaining a real understanding of the motivations and pressures of their clients
- Building empathy and listening skills
- Honing negotiation skills
- Helping clients plan for unexpected changes
- Looking for new ‘out of the box’ solutions for themselves and their clients
- Attending conferences and events to gain insights from other industry professionals facing the same challenges
Regardless of where the market goes in the next 12-24 months, an investment in empathy and relationship building can only serve to improve client outcomes and the reputation of our industry.
As a collective, we have the power to drive real impact in people’s lives and that’s a responsibility we should all take seriously. It’s in the best interests of all of us.
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