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To be or not to be: a unicorn of real estate

By January 14, 2015 One Comment

I am a real estate agent, just like you. And I’m not the kind who got a real estate license so that I could save money on listing my home, but the real kind — someone who eats, sleeps and breathes real estate sales.

I manage a team operating out of three different states where we sold 400 homes last year. But before I get to the problem with people like us, take a journey with me through the good old days of real estate sales.

Back in the ’50s, real estate was simple. There was only one agent. Simple, local financing was available. And there was no technology to get in the way.

A buyer would visit a single broker and look through a printed list of homes, potentially walking through one or two of interest. If nothing was appealing, the buyer would move on to the next broker. Once the buyer found a house to buy, an agent (also representing the seller) would broker a deal.

Fast forward 65 years and we’re dealing with a completely different animal. Consumers are becoming more educated about the process of buying or selling a house, and most sales data is right at their fingertips.

The amount of paperwork involved has quadrupled, as has the amount of knowledge required to deal with REOs, short sales, land contracts and rentals.

Every sale involves significantly more details, and deals are orchestrated using an ever changing group of lenders, title representatives and agents who may have no history of working together.

If that’s not difficult enough, brokerages have become less and less involved in the day-to-day business of their agents. Back in 1950, the typical real estate brokerage had an administrative component that would handle much of the transaction’s overhead.

Today, third-party providers enable agents to take control of everything from scheduling showings to managing databases to listing syndication completely on their own. Agents can now offer many of the same benefits previously only offered by full service brokerages.

So here’s the problem: real estate transactions are becoming more and more complicated and agents have elected to take on more responsibilities in exchange for a higher commission split with their broker.

In my opinion, it’s too much for most agents to handle. More and more mistakes are being made throughout the buying and selling process, which is tarnishing the reputation of real estate agents.

Nowadays, agents need to be proficient in sales, marketing, relational therapy (how little credit we give ourselves for this one!) and home construction while simultaneously being organized and detail-oriented enough to ensure every step is properly met and communicated along the way. It’s exhausting and nearly impossible to excel at everything.

If we compare two of the traits listed above — proficiency in sales and strong organizational skills — it’s clear why agents are set up to fail. Great salespeople generally have messy desks and live out of their car. Very detail-oriented people are super organized and somehow find true joy in completing a checklist.

Finding someone who excels in both facets is the “unicorn” of real estate, which I lovingly refer to as a “salesinator,” a cross between a salesperson and a transaction coordinator. If you ever find one, tie it up and bring it to me!

Don’t get me wrong; a single agent is obviously capable of getting a buyer from contract to closing. But I would argue that a team comprising a salesperson, a marketing manager and a transaction coordinator would probably deliver a better overall experience to the client because each area of business is being performed by someone who specifically fits the position.

Rather than trying to become a “salesinator,” agents should figure out where their strengths and weaknesses lie and find great people who can turn your weaknesses into their strengths. We don’t all have the budget to hire people, but you can look into existing technologies, read books about creating a system of organization or hire a marketer on a fee-for-service basis.

Not everyone can manage a large real estate team, but you owe it to yourself and your clients to be fully aware of all of your responsibilities in the transaction and make sure you are executing as proficiently as possible in each areas. If you haven’t set any resolutions for 2015, set a goal to spend time working on your business rather than in your business, and this year will be your best yet!

Brett Keppler is the founder of Nekst , a real estate task management app.

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