News and advice

How to destroy your career during a property boom

Agents love a property boom. Setting aside the challenges around getting listings (I’ve tackled that in a previous article), having multiple buyers competing to purchase is fantastic, writes Dan Argent.

And the current market is no exception. Over the past few months, it’s been necessary to clear your calendar before posting a listing. Within minutes, your email alerts are pinging like a pinball machine, and the phone is ringing nonstop.

I’ve been in the real estate game for some time now and have seen the ups and down of boom/bust property markets. I’ve also watched agents of all types ply their craft during a range of selling conditions.

And I can tell you for a fact, there’s one thing that successful agents do brilliantly during hot markets, that try-hard agents fail at every time.

And it’s this: great agents provide outstanding, high-level, first-class service to buyers, not just sellers.

It’s not just a matter professionalism. In fact, if you disregard purchasers during hot markets, it will cost you plenty in the long run.

The long-term value of good service

I want to share a very recent story about good service.

I was diagnosed with a bulging disc in my back and suffered an excruciating incident in March which saw me rushed to a hospital. It resulted in a back surgery at Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital.

During my time there, I received top-notch medical assistance. The experts at the Wesley were second to none. I experienced so many instances of professional service, but one day in particular struck me.

One of the nurses knew how much I enjoyed a great coffee (life is too short for bad coffee, right…). The “instant coffee” delivered to the room was OK, but I craved for something better. Unfortunately, being laid out in bed and unable to walk meant I couldn’t make the trip to a decent barista.

Without any prompting, this thoughtful nurse went to the local café, ordered and paid for my favourite brew, out of her own pocket, and delivered it to my bedside with a smile. She refused to accept payment from me — it was all designed to make my life just a bit happier during a testing time.

And this is the thing — she didn’t have to. I was always going to pay my surgery and hospital bills. I’d already received world-class care and had no further expectations beyond the brilliant attention already delivered.

Yet this one kindness of a coffee guarantees if ever I — or those I love — need medical assistance, the Wesley will get our business. No question.

Great service is a way to establish long-term goodwill. It also builds your personal brand (reminder: your brand is what people say about you).

But why should we “waste our time” giving attention to buyers when they’re so plentiful during strong markets?

How bad agents fail

Most successful agents know their property career is a marathon, not a sprint. The foundations you lay throughout through every interaction are a long-term investment that yields benefits for years.

Unfortunately, many agents forget this when it comes to buyers and boom markets.

Did you know during hot markets around 40 per cent of enquiries from buyers go unanswered?

All those wasted opportunities to connect with future sellers (NB: buyers turn into sellers in case you hadn’t already worked that out) for the sake of a few words in an email reply.

I have another story for you about how mistreated buyers can come back to bite you. A mate of mine told me of an experience he had during Brisbane’s hot 2003 market.

My friend went to an open house in New Farm one evening. When he arrived at the advertised hour, he and about 30 other people were standing out front of the house — but no agent was there to greet them.

When the agent arrived a full 20 minutes late, he walked past the waiting crowd — didn’t offer an apology — unlocked the house and promptly turned on the television so he could catch the rugby scores.

I kid you not — this guy sat on the couch and just let the buyers wander through (no legislation requiring contact details existed yet).

Worse still, my mate had a few questions for the agent. His reply?

“Mate, I dunno… this isn’t even my listing. Just call the office Monday if you want to know something.”

What this upstart agent didn’t know is my mate owns seven investment properties and was an experienced property valuer with hundreds of contacts in the industry. Not only did he relay the story of this appalling service to everyone he met, but that agent has guaranteed he will never ever get the chance to sell one of my mate’s homes.

Change the story

We need to change the ABC (Always Be Closing) of sales to a new acronym: ABS — Always Be Servicing!

Reputations are built during hot markets. If the purchasers you deal with today know from past experience that you treat buyers with respect, that you return phone calls, that you answer questions, that you will go above and beyond during negotiations, that you will keep a ledger of potential buyers to help boost the chances of future sales, they will tell others and will remember your name when it comes time to sell their own property.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking buyers don’t matter during a boom. If you do, then you might accidentally ignore the wealthiest, most connected property owner in your suburb — and do yourself out of thousands in sales commission for years to come.