What sellers want in a real estate agent comes down to responsiveness and advocacy. Technology is essential, but virtually all agents use at least email these days. What’s truly indispensable are soft skills such as strong communication and a passion to help those looking to sell. Here is our list of top qualities sellers look for in real estate agents:
Buyers and sellers are tired of emailing, calling or texting their Realtor and waiting hours or even days for a response. To be sure, Realtors juggle many clients and stay busy with showings, marketing projects and other tasks. Do they really have the time to constantly check their phones and computers, much less reply to clients in a timely manner? No, but responsive agents use tech tools to streamline communication. They can be notified immediately when they receive a client message, whether it’s voicemail, text, email or something else. Not all agents are aware of how common and accessible these tools are. Buyers want and deserve responsiveness from their agents. Thanks to technology, there’s no reason that should not happen.
In real estate, agent advocacy takes many forms. At the most basic level, agents should work in their clients’ best interests. However, laws in many states allow agents to represent buyers and sellers in the same transaction. It’s rare, perhaps impossible, for agents to do this and advocate for their clients’ best interests. That’s true even if agents disclose their dual interest. True agent advocacy should encompass:
- Telling the truth about how realistic client wishes are, and when possible, having data to back up assertions
- Representing just one party in a transaction
- Disclosing any potential conflicts (such as when recommending home appraisers or repair companies)
- Robust marketing and networking
- Clarifying commissions
- Keeping the client’s best interests in mind
- Setting realistic expectations
- Fighting hard (but fairly)
- Using the most up-to-date data and empowering the client as a partner
To explain the last point, agents can opt for their clients to have tools such as HomeStack, a custom app for realtors, that display the most current data. These tools work whether the clients are buyers, sellers, investors, renters or landlords. Clients can see for themselves what their agent says is accurate and that agents do have clients’ best interests in mind. Also, many clients appreciate the ability to conduct research on their own. They don’t like feeling dependent on an agent. These types of tools are liberating and empowering.
Fighting the Hard Fight
Now, what does fighting hard mean when it comes to agent advocacy? It means taking the time to emphasize clients’ positions instead of just rolling over and letting other agents “win.” It means coming to the table armed with current data and unique value propositions.
Agents who fight hard strive to do their best. They’re aware of their strengths and weaknesses and adjust their approaches accordingly. They’re unafraid to re-emphasize clients’ positions when needed. They use unspoken social rules to their advantage and are eager to talk shop over coffee, lunch, dinner or drinks. They seek out personal connections with other agents to get a head’s up. They start from fair positions and manage client expectations instead of grossly misreading the market. Scrambling to catch up and being aggressive about it are different things from fighting hard and fairly.
Technology tends to rank lower on lists of what sellers want in a Realtor. In part, that is because agents already use technology in some form or the other. Clients do not necessarily realize that their Realtors could be using technology better and are not living up to the potential of what it offers. It is not enough these days for agents to have a nice-looking website and online listings. Many agents also have tools such as the following:
- Electronic document signing such as DocuSign
- Social media marketing
- Home tour videos/3D virtual tours
- Virtual staging and image enhancement
- Video email
- File sharing
These tools are both convenient and practical. Take DocuSign. No more clients having to meet with agents in person to constantly sign documents. Agents empower their clients to sign from anywhere. Then there are 3D virtual tours that let buyers winnow down the list of properties they want to see in person. It’s a huge time saver, and sellers can reach buyers in many different markets. Agents who fail to use these types of tools miss out on great opportunities to respect clients’ time. These tools make clients’ lives easier (and the agents’ own lives, too!).
Lower Fees and Transparency
It comes as no surprise that clients prefer lower fees/commissions. Fortunately, technology, if used wisely, is a way for agents to save money and time to streamline operations. Many agents choose to pass these savings on to clients via lower commissions. Or if you have developers or multi-family buildings, you can provide your services at a discount based on the number of units you have potential commission from. These moves pay off in the big picture due to more clients and volume of sales.
What sellers want in a real estate agent actually has not changed much. Sellers still want responsive advocates who prioritize their clients’ interests over a hefty commission by listing on the MLS. Demonstrated expertise and volume of sales don’t hurt your odds… but these days technology is essential and nothing will ever replace these human personal touches.