Building Confidence & Authority in Real Estate
In this week’s episode, Jennifer shares strategies to increase your competence in four key subject areas that will in turn improve your confidence and help you establish yourself as an authority figure in real estate.
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Hello, hello Jen Percival here. You’re listening to the women rocking real estate podcast and I’d like to personally thank each and every one of you that tunes in loyally to each episode. My goal of these episodes is to obviously share my knowledge and tips and strategies to help you grow your business, but the biggest benefit that I personally find when listening to podcasts, is that they keep me motivated and inspired. This is a tough business to stay motivated in. You’re all alone, you don’t have a boss or performance reviews or annual increases or bonuses. Those things are all designed to keep people motivated and they work wonders.
But when you’re on your own and not really accountable to anyone, it can be very hard to get out of bed everyday and stay inspired and motivated to keep doing things and taking actions to grow your business. Well for me, listening to podcasts and audiobooks is one thing that really helps me stay motivated & inspired. And I use them as an opportunity to get my exercise in so killing two birds with one stone! That’s such a terrible saying when you think of it – who came up with that? Anyway my point in all of this Release Date: Tues Sept 29 Due Date For Review: Mon Sept 28 Episode #: 33 Episode Season: 2 Episode Title: Building Confidence & Authority in Real Estate Episode Description: In this week’s episode Jennifer shares strategies to increase your competence in four key subject areas that will in turn improve your confidence and help you establish yourself as an authority figure in real estate. Lead Magnet / Opt-in ? Yes rambling is that I hope you’re getting inspiration and motivation from these episodes.
Alright let’s dive into today’s episode. The second topic you ladies wanted to hear about that ranked the highest was learning about how to build authority and confidence in real estate, so that is what we are going to be chatting about today!
So here’s what I want you to remember. If you want to have authority, you have to have confidence, and to have confidence, you have to have competence. So the foundation of authority and confidence is competence, which is why I end each episode with the more you learn the more you’ll earn. So when you have competence, you’ll naturally feel more confident. But confidence on it’s own is not actually enough to build authority, you have to be super intentional about demonstrating your authority and we’re going to talk about that a bit later in the show. But first let’s start with Competence. Gaining competence in real estate is not about how long you’ve been in the business. If you’ve been doing this for 5 years, but only do a handful of transactions every year, you should still consider yourself new. Experience doesn’t come from years in the business, it only comes from doing transactions and lots of them.
True competence comes from experience that requires industry specific knowledge that you don’t learn in courses and can only learn through conducting real-life transactions and many of them. Any successful realtor will know exactly what I’m talking about. No two deals are the same and you would be floored by how much can go wrong when buying & selling real estate. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and have done a lot of transactions and just last week I ran into a situation I’d never faced before and I didn’t know how to advise my clients and I was completely transparent about it. I said to them “guys this is the first time this has ever happened in my career and I don’t know what the legal implications are, so we need to engage your lawyer on this and get a recommendation on how best to move forward. I didn’t have the slightest worry that they were going to think less of me for not knowing, because I’d already been super intentional about demonstrating my authority all over the place up until that point. So it actually made them trust me more, because I was honest when I was in over my head.
The problem happens when people don’t know, what they don’t know. There are two types of new agents. You have the new agents that aren’t confident and they’re worried they’ll make a mistake and so they’re very hesitant and then you have what I call the rogue waves. These new agents don’t know what they’re doing, but the worst part is that they don’t know, they don’t know what they’re doing – which is a very dangerous combination. As an owner of a brokerage, I was always much more comfortable with the nervous agent that’s always worried she’ll make a mistake. Those ones rarely do.
It’s the cocky ones that are the problem. These are newer agents who have done a few deals and think they know everything now or the ones who have bought and sold a few places themselves personally and think that gives them experience, or they’re a designer or stager or have built homes and they think that’s the knowledge needed.
Now here’s the disclosure, although this might not come as a huge surprise, but yours truly was one of the cocky ones. So I’m not being judgy here. My very first client in real estate was my father’s best friend and they were downsizing and purchasing a bungalow. During our home inspection, Thank god my inspector found a buried oil tank in the front yard. As many of you familiar with them know, next to structural problems, they can be one of the most prohibitively expensive problems a homeowner could have to deal with. Well we found it it was going to cost about $60k to dig it up and remediate the environmental damage. Huge expense and so we drafted an amendment requiring the homeowner do the remediation work and to provide a report guaranteeing the work. Long story short, I woke up in the middle of the night in a complete panic and thought I’d made a mistake and had waived our inspection clause, putting my clients on the hook for the repair. You have no idea the anxiety. I was like omg this is my dad’s best friend and I’m going to have to pay them $60k, now if you remember from past episodes, I got my license in the fall of 2008 when the real estate market crashed and so I had been sitting around for over 6 months making no money and this was my very first deal. If I was being completely honest with myself, I had to ask myself the question whether I had let the idea of finally making some money impact my attention to detail.
Now it turned out in the end I hadn’t actually made a mistake, but man did I beat myself up a long time over that deal and I made an oath with myself, that I would never ever ever allow myself to catch the commission it is disease again and I can honestly say I have never done it since. So to make a long story longer, the first step of getting competent is to be aware of your own limitations. To make a conscious effort to uncover what you don’t know and to commit to becoming more competent in those areas. I also recommend everyone takes the same oath I did around never allowing commission it is to influence you. Because I can promise you the combination of commission it is and any sort of incompetence, will land you at best with very unhappy clients and negative reviews online to at worst disciplinary action and lawsuits. Trust me, it’s not worth it.
But the bottom line is that we are human beings and when we are back up against a wall and need money, it can be very hard to stay neutral and that’s why we have to be so conscious of our own bias, when we’re advising clients on making decisions. You need to constantly be doing what I call ‘gut checks’. You need to ask yourself if anything you’re recommending feels at all icky somewhere and if it does, stop and take a step back. If you find yourself getting defensive or trying to justify why it’s ok, that’s yet another sign it’s probably not.
So how do you know when you’re competent? As I said earlier I like to err on the side of caution and say it’s much better to assume you know less than you actually know vs. The opposite. Is there a number of deals, I’m not sure but my guesstimate would be that until you’ve done at least 30 to 40 deals, you should consider yourself still new. Again even if you’ve been in the business for 3 or 4 years and still haven’t done that many deals, don’t confuse your time in the business with experience – they are not the same thing. Experience only comes with doing transactions, not time in the business. Now that number is just my guess, but I’d encourage you to ask any top-producing mentor how many THEY think it takes to come across everything that can go wrong and know how to handle it. Regardless of the magic number, if doing transactions impacts your competence, how can you kind of expedite this process and do as many transactions as you can to get that experience? Well working on a team who shares leads is one of the fastest ways to learn and get that experience. Now in these scenarios, you’re obviously going to need to be sharing commission splits and I often hear from agents on teams that they’re feeling resentful of the big splits and don’t think it’s fair because of how much of the work they do.
And while I understand why you might feel that way, I will send some tough love and say that 50% of a commission is better than 0% of a commission and you are being given an opportunity to learn and get experience that you otherwise wouldn’t get. When you get to the place where you’ve learned and have enough experience and most importantly when you’re generating enough business of your own to make ends meet, then you don’t need to stay on a team. If you can make it on your own, then spread those wings and fly girl!
I promise when you’ve worked hard for years and are in a position where you’re generating enough business to build your own team, you’re going to feel very differently about commission splits in team structures. Now I will say the one thing I personally don’t agree with, are team structures where the lead takes 50% of your commissions from your own business that you generate completely on your own through your sphere, etc. If it’s a lead generated through business they’ve shared with you, that’s fair game of course, but if it’s your own business, in my opinion you should be keeping that commission. There is a line between fair and predatory and unfortunately a lot of agents that have teams, can fall into the latter category.
If you don’t want to join a team, then do make sure that you’re working under a mentor and be prepared to share a commission split with them to compensate them for their time, knowledge and expertise. A number of the bigger brokerages have these structures where you can work under a more senior agent that you can get advice and coaching from. From what I’ve seen, expect to share about 10% of your commissions with them and to do this for a minimum of a year. Trust me it is money well spent.
Ok so moving along, besides getting experience through transactions or a mentor, how else can you become more competent? Well in my opinion, you need to know your shit in 4 key subject areas and they are:
1. Building Construction
2. Real Estate Law
3. The Real Estate Market that you work in
4. The Local Community you trade in
Not only do you need to be really well versed in these 4 topics, but more importantly, you need to recognize where your gaps are and make it one of your priorities to learn more about that subject and close the gap.
The first subject area you need to have authority on, is building construction. You need to know more than your clients about how houses are built, in particular:
The main building components like structure, hvac plumbing and electrical. When looking at the electrical panel for example, can you tell what amperage it is? Do you know how to point out knob and tube or aluminum wiring? Can you recognize Kitec plumbing? Do you know the different types of air conditioning systems and what they cost to install?
Knowing how to recognize and point out red flags to clients during showings is a really quick way to build authority, so know how to spot potential structural problems, water damage, unsafe wiring, efflorescence, mold, water drainage issues, tree health, etc. You should also have a solid understanding of the building permit process, how long does it take, what’s involved, how much does it cost. Know your city bylaws around everything from swimming pools, to garages, to trees.
You should also know high level renovation and home maintenance costs. You need to know off the top of your head how much a new roof would be, a new furnace or AC unit, how much for a new kitchen or bathroom. Obviously always give people a range, but make sure your range is accurate. You don’t want to tell someone a new roof is $10 – $15k only for them to find out it’s $20k. That’s how clients get unhappy. Oh and while we’re on the topic of unhappy clients, another little secret is that most buyers who post negative reviews online, do so well after they’ve purchased the home. It’s months later when they start running into issues, that they often become unhappy. And because they’re no longer dealing with you and you don’t have opportunities to course correct and make them happy again, their frustration festers and you start getting blamed – completely unbeknownst to you, for everything that goes wrong with the home they purchased.
I experienced this first-hand just this past week, where I had two separate buyers from the past, contact me to share that they were unhappy with the agent I had referred them to at my brokerage. I was very surprised, because they had seemed really happy at closing and one had even left a lovely review. Well sometime between then and now, things went sideways somehow, unbeknownst to us. So just because your clients seem happy at closing, doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way. If you’ve messed anything up during the buying or selling process – usually this happens with purchases, don’t think it won’t come back to bite you, even if you think everything is good.
Alright so how can you go about building your knowledge and competence in building construction? I highly recommend you job shadow a home inspector on a bunch of inspections. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn about home systems and red flags to be on the lookout for. I also recommend you watch YouTube videos to see how homes are built. You can find all sorts of time lapse videos that show the process from start to finish and it will give you so much insight. Lastly if you don’t know the building process, book a meeting with a contractor that you’ve developed a referral relationship with and get them to walk you through exactly how the process works, what’s involved, how long it takes and how much it costs. Trust me, you will get asked this question and even if you don’t, you should try to demonstrate this knowledge every chance you get.
Alright, the next subject area you need to have authority on, is real estate law. Chances are good that you already learned a lot when you got your real estate license. However most of us are not inclined to retain this type of information for long, so you should regularly refresh your knowledge. Remember that Ignorance is never an excuse. It is your responsibility to make sure you know the real estate legislation inside and out. This is the most common area that realtors find themselves in hot water, so make it a habit to review your rules and regulations every 6 months. Mark it as a repeating task in your calendar so you don’t forget. Make sure you’re also subscribed to any governing body newsletters, trade industry newsletters and real estate law newsletters….and then actually read them when they come out. Just subscribing doesn’t get you the check mark, actually reading them does!
Ok, the next subject area you need to have authority on, is your local real estate market. The question you will be asked more than any other in this career, is how’s the market. This is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your authority, so use it wisely. Make it your business to know the real estate market you specialize in, inside and out. And not at a high level. You need to have your pulse on what’s going on in each neighbourhood, so don’t claim that you specialize in an area that you’re not intimately familiar with the market. Make sure you’re familiar with all new listings and sale prices. Know your monthly statistics. If you specialize in a niche like pre-developments or a particular condo building, know everything there is to know like floor plan options, cost per sqft, etc. and be prepared to talk about trends you’re seeing.
So what are some tips to build authority in the real estate market? Now full disclosure I once again have to admit, I was terrible at this naturally and still am. I have a very short attention span for the minutia of details, so I had to develop daily habits that kept me up to speed and even then it was a struggle. If I just looked at a list of listings and what they sold for, I would never remember. So I would set aside time at the beginning and end of every day to study the market and review what got listed and what sold. I used systems by flagging listings that I wanted to make sure I kept track of.
For me, it was super important to physically see as many properties as possible. Once I’d seen them, not only did it make me much more knowledgeable in general, but it helped me remember sale prices. Without physically seeing properties, it’s also really difficult to provide pricing recommendations for sellers. During Covid 19 it may be difficult to physically see properties in person, but you can review the virtual tours and you can do drive by to at least check out the location more closely and see the exterior. Lastly kill two birds with one stone and get in the habit of putting together a monthly market update and posting it on your website and social media pages, as well as sending it out to your newsletter database. Not only is it great content for your marketing, but it will keep you up to speed on what’s happening in your local real estate market and to be able to confidently talk about it.
Alright the last subject area you need to have authority on, is your local community. You will obviously get questions from buyers about all aspects of the community they’re looking in, but it’s important that you’re also intentional about demonstrating your community knowledge to anyone and everyone. Be known as the go-to source for up to date intel on the community. Make it your business to know everything there is to know about new development, transit, schools and childcare, community centres and parks, local businesses, local stigmas, flood zones and any other amenities.
So how do you go about improving your authority in this subject area? Well some ideas – you can attend community meetings, join local groups on Facebook or other online resources, create a monthly community report, subscribe to local government newsletters, get involved in local politics and build relationships with developers in you community.
So just to recap, to build authority you have to have confidence and confidence comes from being competent. We talked about taking an honest step back and admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know. To start building that competence, focus on learning more and filling gaps in your knowledge in four key subject areas which are:
1. Building Construction
2. Real Estate Law
3. The Real Estate Market that you work in
4. The Local Community you trade in
Now that you know the 4 subject areas, I recommend you take a minute and go through an exercise of ranking them from least knowledgeable to most knowledgeable and then identify where specifically you have gaps in your knowledge. Once you’ve done that, put an action plan together around how you can increase your knowledge and what specific actions you can take to become more competent. I’m actually going to share a worksheet from my ATTRACT Coaching Program to help you with this exercise. You can download it from my website at womenrockingrealestate.com/34.
Alright, once you’ve become more knowledgeable and more competent, your confidence will naturally grow. However this isn’t enough to establish authority with leads, clients and other agents.
You have to demonstrate that authority and you’ll hear me say this over and over again, but you have to be intentional around demonstrating it. You have to actually look for opportunities to demonstrate it. Better yet, create opportunities to demonstrate your authority and knowledge. You need to do this in your day to day interactions with everyone and then you need to do it on steroids with leads and clients – early on in your interactions and that actually starts with the content you create. You can start demonstrating your authority well before you ever meet someone in person and you do that through creating consistent, value added content that demonstrates you as an authority figure in real estate. When you create consistent weekly content on your website through blogs and most importantly videos and then you promote that content on your social media and through a monthly newsletter, people start to view you as an authority before they’ve even met you.
When they do meet you, you then need to intentionally demonstrate that authority in your initial conversations, during your listing and buyer presentations and then during showings and all subsequent meetings. As I’ve said I talk a lot about how to do this back in Episode 16 around creating Buyer Loyalty so go back and have a listen. I’ll also be teaching about how to do this during buyer and listing presentations in my upcoming workshop this October, so make sure you sign up to be notified when registration opens if you’re interested.
So start with building your competence and that will grow your confidence and then be intentional around demonstrating your authority, starting with your content and then through your interactions with potential clients – which for the record is everyone. When you have authority, you’ll attract so many more leads, convert more leads into clients and be much better equipped to coach those clients into decisions, which will ultimately allow you to close more deals and start getting the results you deserve.
Alright ladies that brings us to the end of this week’s episode, if you’re enjoying the podcast, I’d love for you to take a minute and leave me a review on iTunes.
I’ll see you next week and remember the more you learn the more you’ll earn. Until next time!