One of the things a successful real estate agent needs to understand and deal with on a daily basis is that everybody is an expert on real estate. Not only is everybody an expert, but they also have a couple of even more expert relatives or friends who are more than happy to pass along their accumulated wisdom to the buyer or seller who happens to be the real estate agent’s client. This has always been true over the 30 years I have been in the real estate business, but even more so now that so much real estate information is available on line with the click of a mouse or by watching any one of seemingly hundreds of real estate related tv shows.
My wife always thought I was being a smart aleck when I would make the statement that everybody is an expert (and she was probably right when I actually said it aloud), but the truth is that everybody is an expert to a certain degree, and a good real estate agent learns to respect and listen the their client’s expertise in order to provide high level service geared toward promoting their client’s best interests. This makes listening to your client one of the most important skills a real estate agent can have. It does not mean that you should not correct your client if they are obviously wrong about something or that you should not have thoughtful discussion with your client about issues where you might have a different perspective than the client, but it does mean that a real estate agent should not automatically assume they know better than the client because they are the hired real estate professional.
Sellers of owner occupied properties know their property, their neighborhood, their schools, etc. far better than a real estate agent likely ever will. Given the amount of information available on line, they probably know what every house in the neighborhood that has sold for, the particulars as far as size, features, etc and may know the people who sold it and the ones who bought it. This does not mean that all the information they have is accurate, in fact some of it is probably at least somewhat incorrect if they have been relying on sites like Zillow or Trulia as their data source. One of the most important services a good real estate agent can provide is to make sure the information being used to determine market value and strategy is indeed up to date and accurate and this one area where a real estate agent can demonstrate their expertise.
Real estate buyers know what factors are important to them and a good real estate agent needs to be a good listener in order to best serve their clients needs when helping buyers find the right house. Helping to educate and provide current and correct information to buyers is again an area where a good agent can demonstrate their own expertise, but it is also very important for the agent to carefully listen and understand what factors are most important to their clients, not which factors the agent thinks should be most important.
Experienced agents also have to realize that things change and evolve over time and it is important to look at any property with a fresh perspective rather than assume that factors that may have negatively or positively affected an area or property in the past still apply. That is one I think many agents have trouble with and an area where indeed the expertise of a consumer not burdened by preconceived notions may exceed the expertise of the agent stuck in the past. Many areas make the transition from less desirable to being the hot place to live just as the once more desirable areas sometimes stagnate and backslide. Agents who fail to recognize these trends do their clients a great disservice.
It is easier than ever for anybody and everybody to be a real estate expert. Both the quantity and quality of real estate information available to consumers is at a level never seen before. While this has made many old school real estate agent’s business model of being the gatekeeper of information obsolete, it has opened new doors for modern real estate agents who understand their role in helping buyers and sellers sort through, understand and utilize the tremendous volume of information available. Everyone is real estate expert, but there is still a role for a good real estate agent to use their skills, knowledge and expertise to help their clients best achieve their real estate goals. In order to do that, an agent must be not only an expert in real estate, but also an expert at listening to their clients.