By Meg Wilson
People new to the real estate industry obviously need training and technology, but even if they are fortunate enough to work for a company that provides the very best of both these things, they are going to need something else, and that is a “take charge” attitude towards their own future.
They need to take responsibility and plan for their own success, and with that in mind, here are the four top tips for new agents gathered from some of the top real estate trainers in the world:
* Get started right away on building your client base – business is not going to just come to you. Look beyond your circle of family and friends and their contacts and devote a certain amount of your time every day to business development through calls, emails, creating relationships with other property service providers such as bankers, attorneys, relocation specialists, developers and renovators. And if you don’t already know, learn to use social media because these can help you expand your sphere of influence exponentially.
* Real estate is a real job, so be there. Among other things, this means putting in a full day’s work every day, and showing up to appointments and meetings on time. Being late for a listing presentation can easily cost you a mandate and being unprepared when a prospective buyer calls can easily cost you a sale.
* Always tell the truth. Agents face many dilemmas – for example, what to tell buyers who can’t afford the type of home they want to view, or sellers who want to put a R1m price tag on a property that is only worth R900 000 – but it does not pay to hedge or shade the truth. In the latter instance, many agents would take the listing at R1m and deal with the price reduction problem later. The point is that they will have to face the consequences at some point, and they will probably have wasted a whole lot of time and advertising money in the meanwhile. Likely as not, they will lose the confidence and respect of the seller in any case as the overpriced property languishes on the market.
* Learn to let go and to laugh. The real estate business is fraught with tension when you consider you are dealing with people’s lives, emotions and hard-earned money, and they will often take out their anxieties and frustrations on their agent. So in addition to competence and empathy, a sense of humour will help you keep your balance. And when things don’t go as planned, don’t brood. Work to understand what went wrong and then move swiftly on to make the necessary changes so it doesn’t happen again.
According to the most recent WealthInsight report, South Africa has the highest number of millionaires in Africa – some 44 700 of them, with a combined wealth of around US$188 billion.
This means that there are very likely more millionaires in the country now than estate agents, so if there was ever a time to start building a career in luxury real estate, it’s right now – especially since the top end of the market seems to have come alive again (see article above).
But in order to make the transition to high end properties and high net worth clients, you’ll have to give up the idea of a lifestyle as leisurely and apparently effortless as that of your clients.
Says one agent who has already made her mark in this sector: “You don’t just get to deal with wealthy sellers and buyers overnight. These are people who are used to working through business managers and attorneys. Their level of sophistication is extremely high and they expect extraordinary service, 24/7.”
However, for those who aren’t deterred by that thought, it is definitely a huge market, not only in SA but around the world – even though the number of super-wealthy has dropped slightly in the past few years.
The latest Cap Gemini and RBC Wealth Management Report reveals that there are still 9,9 million people in the world who have between US$1m and US$5m to invest, and 100 000 with more than US$30 million at their disposal. (SA, incidentally, has 543 of these multi-millionaires).
In the Asia-Pacific region there are 3,37 million men and women with more than US$1 million in the bank, and in North America there are 3,35 million.
Altogether, the world’s wealthiest have US$42 trillion at their disposal, and it certainly would be great to attract some more of those investment dollars to SA.