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Basic traits still crucial for agents

19 Nov 2014

The growing sophistication of the ‘knowledge pack’ that an estate agent today has to have is in every way a big step forward for the residential property marketing sector. However, no amount of knowledge and skills can take the place of fundamental good manners and service traits, ‘the boy scout virtues’: punctuality, regular communication and total openness.

Rawson says estate agents have to be coached to become consultants and advisers, not just sales people.

This is according to Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, who says surveys taken from time to time in their group show a high degree of satisfaction - in general their clients have no serious complaints. 

However, when they do pick up dissatisfaction, particularly these days, it is not due to a lack of information or backup data, but to a lack of punctuality, too little on-going communication and a tendency to gloss over or ignore awkward details.

Rawson says the Rawson Property Group’s training courses always focus on and emphasise these three aspects of an estate agent’s service - with special emphasis on communicating with clients, even when there is nothing new to report.

“When, despite advertising and the client base being kept informed, there is no response from potential buyers, it is only too easy for the busy estate agent to concentrate on other properties.” However, he says agents simply have to stay in touch with clients regularly, even when there has been no progress. “In our experience, nothing will infuriate and demoralise a client more than the perception that he has been forgotten.”

Asked in what ways an agent can fall short on total openness, he says an agent without real moral values might deliberately fail to point out a defect in a property or might neglect to tell the potential buyer about future development plans for the area which later could detract from his pleasure of the property - and its value.

Rawson says estate agents have to be coached to become consultants and advisers, not just sales people. Their aim should be to build long-term trusting relationships. One of the best ways of doing this is to spend time helping buyers to understand the banks’ loan criteria so that they prequalify for their bonds and, when their applications are submitted, have a 90 percent plus chance of success.

“A disinterested agent might well adopt the attitude ‘consult your bank and then come back to me’ - but an agent who sees himself as the client’s friend and helper will act as his credit advisor as well, and in many cases, may do a better job in this respect than the bank consultant.”

He says, too, that a certain type of agent can become so email orientated - that he reduces his telephone and face-to-face communication to an absolute minimum. While this is understandable in an age that is so completely IT-orientated, the best agents, in his experience, are still those who enjoy face-to-face meetings with their clients.

“A client will soon pick up whether the agent is, in fact, working on the client’s behalf, or purely for himself. It is far better to lose the occasional sale through openness, rather than to bulldoze ahead, even though the deal may not be in the client’s best interests,” says Rawson.

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