Entering real estate was an accident as many of you know—if you have ever asked me how it happened you might have heard my elevator pitch for the question, “How did you get into real estate?”:
I didn’t know this move would forge a path into a business that has taught me so much.
Well, what did I expect? I guess that is what makes a post like this worth it. Let’s lay the groundwork for how and why I have become effective and what my expectations were when I started—before getting the lessons that were 7/8 years in the making.
I expected to take over the real estate world and replace the many aging Realtors in the business. I expected to get all of their clients and see them regretfully leave real estate. They are still here, but only because they are holding on like Jack did Rose in the Titanic—they might have the same fate as Jack.
Real estate has changed so much the past eight years—the Internet is intricately entwined in buying and selling. If you don’t adapt, you become the whiner in the office talking about how you aren’t making any money—we don’t need more of those. If you hustle, you will succeed.
My colleagues might think I push the envelope, and that might be true—I like to find loopholes, but still remain on the side of ethical, moral, and legal. For example, I might try to figure out how to circumvent my company, William Raveis, at every possible corner, so I can pay them less commission. It is nothing illegal, I just prefer to keep as much of my hard-earned commission as possible—Bill Raveis’s house is big enough. Or I might try to find a clever way to make a deal happen, all with my client in mind.
I believe that my years as an engineering student and my how-do-I-do-this-without-wasting-time disposition led me to enhance the way I run all aspects of my business (and life) which allowed me to open up my time. I can now structure my life in a way where I can have some level of freedom while still providing HUGE value to my (present and future) clients. In other words, the more efficient I can become, the quicker I can sell, and at higher prices. I can get more marketing done for less money; I can have that same marketing have a bigger impact.
That is what I went into the business with.
In my hundreds of real estate transactions, I learned more than I did in 17 years of schooling (by leaps and bounds). Let’s talk about those lessons:
I have become a skilled negotiator. This whole blog post might seem like a fluff piece and one that makes me seem self-important—but negotiating is something that we encounter every day, from bartering with other salespeople, to selling our friends on where to eat dinner. I now negotiate in every day practice. I was a novice at first but was forced to negotiate at least twice per sale or more if it was my listing which led me to maximize each of these interactions.
Working With Clients
I am effective at handling clients. The word handling seems to hold a negative connotation, so please don’t take it that way—instead I might say I have enough experience to educate my clients on what is the best for them, knowing their position, and removing all emotion from the experience. At the end of the day, the client has the final say, and in many cases, I let the client give their opinion first—however, I still can persuade them when they are on the fence about a decision.
One of my biggest sales ever was to some friends in New Canaan—two successful people in finance (and consulting). I will never forget how they expected me to ‘manage their expectations’ with every step of that transaction. To this day, I haven’t ever used a phrase with such frequency—something that has garnered the most trust from my clients when I use it.
People like to know what is coming—I like to set the bar low and then over-deliver; it makes for a much happier client, and more amazing experience. Here is a common example: “Hey seller, your home is probably worth $400,000, but let me do my due diligence and see if I am right.” “Hey seller, great news, I was wrong. Your home is actually worth $425,000 and I think we should list it at $440,000.” Would you be thrilled to hear that news thinking it was 25-40k cheaper? A lot of times in this type of situation, the seller actually has a number in mind—it is ALWAYS higher than what it should be.
I Know Houses
I know as much about homes as most inspectors, and more than many. Without warranting that I am an inspector, because I am not, I would say my engineering background, my sheer curiosity, and the thousands of homes I have seen (and bought) have given me the know-how to see a home and identify the major defects quickly. I can also identify cosmetic issues and quickly determine the repair costs down to the hundreds of dollars. I provide huge value by having this experience to pull from. This knowledge base ties into managing expectations, “This roof looks old, so if you want to place an offer on the home, let’s assume now that the roof needs to be replaced so any extra money you might get out of inspections is bonus to you.”
I Establish Trust Quickly
I am honest, and straightforward. This wasn’t something I learned in the business, I actually learned it from my parents—I just applied it to this business as I do in any aspect of my life. If you are honest, and real, people will take to that instead of questioning your every move and motive. I just tell it like it is so clients can see that I am not just trying to make a sale—I am telling them what they need to hear, not just what I want them to hear.
I Can Market Effectively
I mentioned this above (in passing), but I have learned how to market my client’s homes efficiently. I will always need to improve the content of my copy (writing about the home), but when it comes to selling real estate, I am the best. It goes hand-in-hand with much of what I have mentioned, managing expectations, handling clients, negotiating, etc. But, at the end of the day, I know I can sell anything if a seller is somewhat reasonable—all bets are off if the seller/buyer doesn’t want to listen. Enough deals have been lost, and great houses passed by because they know best.
Now that I have written these 1000 words about what I have learned, it seems I have zero respect for buyers and sellers (I guess that’s why authors have made millions telling us that Buyers and Sellers are Liars, or other condescending stuff), but it is not true. A better way to put this is that I now have 8 years of working full time in this business, so I know better than those buyers and sellers, and have gotten pretty damn good at showing them how. So I have experience, I have the tools, and I have these lessons from all of that time—all to make you more money (or save you more money).
Why did I write this blog post? Honestly, I wanted to write a new post, and didn’t know what to write about. But, these lessons serve two purposes:
What value does the reader take out of this besides understanding how great I am (see above) and to perceive me as more of a human? I expect about 1 in 10 of the people that read this will use me as their Realtor, because that is the business. But, if you use another agent, maybe this will give you some information, insight, ammunition to get the most out of them—maybe it will give you the power to get more out of that person, and know what you should expect from someone that sells or helps you buy the biggest asset of your life (in most cases). Maybe it will even make you a better client, to know that sometimes your Realtor is right (in any professional for that matter)—if you trust them, take their advice and stop thinking you are right and they are wrong.
We (Joe and Chris Balestriere) are Realtors in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Our blog is meant to educate buyers and sellers and equip them with tools to get the most out of their Realtor, whether it is us or someone else. We focus on technology and how it enhances the work we do for our clients--we are not top CT Realtors by accident.