Creating positive feelings between you and your clients is important. But it’s just as important — and profitable — to build that rapport with your competitors.
Real estate is a busy and somewhat crowded industry. There are about 2 million active licensees in the U.S., according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials. Brokers and their agents must work with their peers at other companies day in and day out, despite being in direct competition for business. But these relationships don’t have to be cutthroat or oppositional. In fact, working together in a considerate and professional manner helps buyers and sellers get what they want, while brokers and agents get their cut of the commission. Ideally, everyone in the deal ends up happy.
“Whether I represent a seller or a buyer, it doesn’t mean I can’t be kind and work with the agent on the other side in a fashion that is friendly and not adversarial,” says Julie DeLorenzo, 2017 regional vice president for the National Association of REALTORS®. She helped open the Boise, Idaho, branch of Keller Williams Realty with five agents in 1999. Since then, the brokerage has grown to 600 agents. She says a staple to good business is following the Golden Rule and actively building rapport.
Here are seven steps you and your agents can take to start working more amicably with others in the industry.
1. Search for Common Ground. Focus on the success of the transaction at all times. If it turns out well, everyone walks away feeling they got what they wanted. “The entire transaction has to be handled with integrity,” says Pamela Jett, communications and leadership expert who owns Jett Communication. If a competitive tone seeps into a discussions between agents, refocus the conversation and bring it back to the higher level in order for the transaction to be successful, she says.
2. Stay Friendly and Give Compliments. By shaking hands, making eye contact, and giving genuine compliments, you can start a working relationship off on the right track. Consider sporting competitions: Opposing sides always shake hands before the game or meet begins.
3. Look at the Bigger Picture. People get hung up on small things, Jett explains. By looking at the transaction as a whole, there are ways to convince even the most stubborn clients and agents that a $5,000 carpet allowance or keeping all the blinds may not be most important things to focus on. Agents should know when to advise their clients to acquiesce a little on certain issues.
4. Be Effective, Not Right. If someone has to be right all the time, it can make everything difficult. If the other agent comes in with a win-or-lose mentality, you might have to rethink how the transaction will move forward. Having a good closing isn’t always about being right but about being effective, Jett says. “Not everything is worth digging your heels into,” she says.
5. Be Genuine. By staying authentic to who you are and avoiding pettiness, you develop a reputation of being easy to work with. In the real estate industry, your reputation is very important, Jett says.
6. Conduct Peaceful, Easy Negotiations. Be respectful and composed when heading into negotiations, and approach conflicts with kindness, DeLorenzo adds. If you continue to be calm throughout the process with other agents, they will remember you as fair and honest.
7. Network With Your Industry Peers All Year. Building relationships with brokers and agents from competing agencies makes it easier to do business with them. Attend networking and community events, get involved in your local or state REALTOR® association, join your local chamber of commerce, and go to real estate conventions to meet other real estate practitioners. “The more opportunities you can find to interact with agents, the better off you will be,” DeLorenzo says.