The Truth about Being a Real Estate Agent

By: Matt Giggs | May 27, 2024

What is the truth about being a real estate agent? Today I’m going to tell you the things that you don't get told.

Over the decades that I've been working in this industry I’ve seen that the way people recruit estate agents is generally focused on logic:

- How much can you earn?

- What’s your job description?

- What qualifications do you need?

- Do you have a driving licence?

These things are important, and there's a lot of logic there regarding what you can earn if you tick all those boxes. The problem is that this logical list of questions doesn’t tell you anything about being in estate agency. I'm going to tell you now, if you're going to get into the estate agency industry, or if you're in it, don't think that you're entering the property industry.

Common misconceptions about estate agency

One of the most common mistakes I hear is people say to me, “Matt I'd love to come and work in your industry. I'd love to come and work with you.” And they always say the following, “I love going through Rightmove, looking at properties.” That does not make you a great estate agent.

As important as knowledge about property and your market is, that's not going to make you a great estate agent.

I also hear this a lot: “I love property. I love design and interiors, all of that sort of stuff! Oh my god, I've done this project. It's been amazing.” Good for you. Well done. That does not make you a great estate agent.

There are a few truths you need to know about being a great estate agent. These truths will help you to see it from the other side of the fence. Maybe you're in the industry and it's not going great, or it's going great and you want to learn, or you're looking to hire the right people in this post will help. If it’s that last one, use some of this in your interview process.

Wherever you are, estate agency is about:

- problem solving,

- understanding people and their emotions, and


It’s not about design, interiors, or any of that stuff.

Estate agency is built around people and emotions

Across the estate agency client journey there are expectations and complications. Our industry is the most imperfect process because it's built around people and their emotions.

You're dealing with emotions, and emotions change every week, every day, every hour. That's what real estate agency is all about. You're almost like a psychologist, therapist, problem solver, solution finder, and listener.

Note that I just said listener not talker. Someone once said to me, “Oh my god, you should hire that person. He's got the gift of the gab.” What the heck? The gift of the gab means you love the sound of your own voice.

Now I must admit that's been one of my issues over the years, but when it really changed for me is when I became great at listening. Write this down somewhere you’ll see it regularly: half the answers are there if you listen.

To listen, you’ve got to ask questions. To ask questions, you've got to be curious. To be curious, you need to really understand.

The great Stephen R. Covey wrote in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: seek to understand. It's not about selling.

Estate agency is not about selling

To be a great estate agent, you have to understand this truth: estate agency is not about selling. I know, that goes against a lot of people’s preconceived notions about our industry. In fact, you’ll sell more when you sell less.

So many great people that don't work in this industry, don't work in it because they think it's sleazy. They think it’s all about making sales and commissions, pushing people and closing deals. Oh my god, they think you’ve always got to be focused on getting the deal. It's not The Wolf of Wall Street. It really isn't.

It's actually about understanding people's needs and presenting the right solutions to them, the right options that will fit them, their time frames, and their circumstances. And the thing is that there's so many great people out there who don't consider estate agency as a career because they just see the the headlines:

- Estate agents are sharks.

- They're untrustworthy.

- They don't communicate.

- They're this. They're that.

But that's why there's a great opportunity for you. If you can be the opposite of all of those things, what do you think clients are going to think? How do you think clients are going to feel?

So the great untruth or the truth that you need to know is that actually there's really very little selling in estate agency. It's serving that's in estate agency.

The greats really understand people’s needs, and they've got the drive to go and have more conversations. They've got the motivation because they genuinely want to help people every time they get into an interaction. They're not there to just exist and facilitate. I'm telling you now, they're there to solve problems. They're there to give solutions.

Great estate agents understand people and numbers

Whether you're coming into this industry or you're already in it, estate agency is about emotion, not logic. The emotion's the bit where the deals are done, where the decisions are made. Logic is the justification of the emotional decision. The why.

If you're really good at being an estate agent, you're going to be good at understanding people. You're going to be good at understanding how to help people to achieve their goals, their dreams, their realities. Those are the things that make this job the best, not just showing up, hitting your targets, hitting your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Do you need KPIs? 100% you do. Do you need targets? Yes, for sure you do. Do you need to know your numbers? 100% – numbers are the language of business. If you don't know your numbers you know nothing.

Without your numbers, you don't know how to track yourself, where you're at. Things like conversion rates are important.

I know for those independent estate agents that I've worked with over the years that say this, every time I bring up numbers: “I don't want to be a corporate. I don't want to be a corporate.” Okay, what do you want to be? It's like you're just fluttering in the air. You're letting the wind dictate the sales, the direction of your business.

If you've got no direction and no clear awareness of the trends and the numbers, you're not able to make the right decisions to help people. Your business is very much down to the black and white, but the key is in how you use those things.

Here’s another great untruth: if you're managing people on numbers, you're going to fail. However, if you use the numbers to manage them in the areas that they need to influence and improve, you're going to succeed.

Your EQ is more important than your qualifications

The truth about estate agency is you're almost certainly not going to go and earn £250 grand in your first year. If you do that, you'll be one of the few.

I did that the first year I launched Giggs and Co. We turned over around £300,000 in year one. Why? Because I was hungry, but I also had 17 years’ experience behind me. I was also prepared to do the things every day that others weren't prepared to do.

That's the difference for the greats. They don't just sit there trying to compare themselves to the market. They compare themselves to themselves, to the best version of themselves. They do that because the potential that they've got locked away, that they haven't even tapped into yet because it means outside their comfort zone is where they want to be.

They want to be outside their comfort zone, not in it. They're prepared to embrace failure along the way and not let failure or fear outweigh their desire to succeed. They understand that yes, you can be an achiever. Yes, you can strive, you can drive, you can achieve things that many of us without qualifications should never be able to achieve.

I left school with a couple of C's and D's and the rest we won't even talk about, right? And I've done really well in this career we call estate agency, but it's not because of my qualifications and my intellect. It’s because of my EQ:

- my emotional ability

- my understanding of people

- my desire to understand myself

- my drive to understand others

These are the things that are helping me to grow and succeed in this career. It's my ability to influence the people around me to do the right things in order to get the right results.

Use your numbers to be a better estate agent

Running an estate agency business is not just about presenting a lot of numbers and targets and saying “Off you go. See you later.” That's the easy bit. Anyone can do that. Anyone can say, “You want to earn £200 grand?” And then break it down into the number of completions and then off we go.

What people don't know about estate agency is that you don't have to actually do more than two or three hours a day to be super successful. And when I say ‘do two or three hours a day’, I mean do the job, the bit that makes you special.

That's what's required in this industry, so that's what you're going to do moving forward. That's how you're going to operate moving forward in order to be your best in this industry, dispel the myths, and understand the truth.

Go out there, be more emotive, understand people, be a problem solver, really help people to meet their needs, really get to the heart of the sale by doing that. Then, you'll help people to solve their problems with your solutions.

Successful estate agents solve problems

There you go, that’s my truth. There’s my 28 years of knowledge that I'm sharing with you right now about what being a great estate in the UK agent is really all about. It’s about:

- understanding people,

- listening to people,

- solving problems,

- offering solutions.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. If you want more great training and advice, head over to my YouTube channel. While you’re there, ring the bell so you’ll get notifications when I post new videos.

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