Real estate isn’t just about brokering property transactions. Agents and brokers are also in the business of people — a trade involving countless interactions with clients and other participants in the real estate industry.
Given real estate’s people-oriented nature, communication skills are the key to a successful business, from helping agents gain and speak with clients to negotiating the terms of a transaction. Here are some pointers to help real estate agents master communication and improve their business.
Effective communication with clients
As the professional guiding a homebuyer or seller, much of a real estate agent’s business involves interacting with clients. Thus, agents need to be proficient in verbal communication to transmit information, and navigate the diverse personalities and emotional exchanges encountered during their clients’ transactions.
An agent’s method of communication determines how receptive their client is to advice and how satisfied they are with the agent’s services. To be an effective communicator and win a client’s approval, agents need to follow these key guidelines:
- Consider body language. Agents benefit from using confident body language by maintaining good posture and avoiding nervous or unfriendly gestures, such as fidgeting and crossing arms. Smiling and frequent eye contact also make clients feel more relaxed.
- Listen. Expert communication is not merely a matter of expressing ideas, but also of hearing the other person out. Allowing clients to share their concerns and questions without interruption is key to respectful communication, helping clients feel more comfortable speaking with their agent — and necessary for agents to gauge what their clients want.
- Ask questions. Inquiring about a client’s concerns, motivation and goals serves two purposes: first, it indicates the agent is competent and dedicated to assisting their client in the transaction; second, it gives the agent the information they need to determine what their client is looking for and fine-tune their services to meet their client’s needs.
- Stay focused. Remaining present when speaking with a client builds trust and shows the agent is committed to providing quality service. This means avoiding distractions, such as constantly checking a cell phone or computer, when talking to a client.
- Be direct and assertive. Clients want their agent to provide upfront answers and information so they are not left in the dark during their property transaction. Being straightforward with clients ensures information is accurately delivered and clients are informed about the details of their transaction. It also acts as an indication of the agent’s confidence and expertise, assuring the client they are in good hands.
- Express patience and positive conflict resolution. Property transactions can be highly stressful and emotional for some clients. Agents need to remain calm and optimistic when clients express frustration or encounter problems. An agent who confronts conflict with poise and eagerness to find a solution is much more likely to be successful than an agent who becomes overwhelmed and frustrated with client conflicts.
- Be timely and consistent. Taking too long to contact a client or return their calls comes off as inconsiderate and unprofessional. Agents need to respond in a timely manner to maintain their client’s trust and business. Providing regular updates also ensures clients are informed about their transaction. An agent who rarely checks in or provides overdue updates is sure to elicit confusion and dissatisfaction from their client.
Following these simple rules helps agents maintain clear, effective communication with clients — and may even be applied when negotiating with other agents or contacting another participant in the industry.
Written communication in marketing and emails
Much like verbal communication, written communication needs to conform to many of the same rules listed above. For example, when writing to clients, it is important for an agent to:
- be friendly and direct in their wording;
- provide regular updates;
- respond in a timely manner; and
- ask questions, when necessary.
However, since written communication lacks the physical expressions of speaking, the presentation and language speaks for the agent instead. For this reason, proper spelling, grammar and formatting is pertinent.
In fact, in a survey on real estate marketing, 43% of responders claimed they are much less likely to tour a home when the listing contains spelling and grammar mistakes. Apply this principle to all written material and it’s easy to see how these errors can leave clients with a bad impression.
Thus, agents need to spell check all marketing material and emails they send to clients. An occasional error is excusable, but repetitive errors and poor spelling indicate to clients the agent lacks competency. With online dictionaries and spell check tools accessible at all times, grammatical and spelling mistakes are easy to avoid.
Further, agents are advised to keep the presentation of written communications clean and easy to read. This means avoiding excessive imagery, unusual formatting and multiple font types and colors. The content of the email or document is what matters most. Garish presentations only distract from what the agent is trying to communicate.
The key to written communication as an agent or broker is to convey professionalism and competency. Keep it concise, clear and friendly — clients notice and will be left with a much more positive impression.
Assess client preferences
While these principles for both verbal and written communication are typically applicable to all client relationships, it’s important for agents to assess the type of communication each client prefers.
For example, some clients feel more comfortable speaking to their agent directly and may not be receptive to email updates — no matter how timely and recurring the updates are.
For this reason, agents are advised to be flexible in how they communicate, adapting to the needs and preferences of each client. To determine which form of communication a client wants, agents can simply ask their client how they want to receive information and updates.
Accommodating a client’s communication needs goes a long way in easing them through their real estate transaction and making them feel valued as a client.