What would I do if I started over as a real estate agent?

By: Matt Giggs | May 6, 2024

If I started over as a real estate agent, what would I do? I'm Matt Giggs. Let me take you back now 28, 29 years. When I first started in estate agency, it was 1996. Believe it or not, there was no RightMove. Actually, there was very, very little activity on the Internet at all.

We had a mobile phone, but if I showed you what my phone looked like back in 1996, you’d laugh. It could barely send a text message. I may as well have had what was called a pager. I don't know if anyone reading this even remembers pagers.

But what's really interesting is when I look at how people start today and compare it to how I started back in 1996. What would I do today that I did back then, versus what would I do back then that I could take from today? Let’s see.

Start with your why

So the first thing I would say is know your why. I would really want to make sure that I'm really clear and focused on my why.

When I started in 1996, I started in a corporate estate agency, and it was very much drummed into us about goals, targets, numbers. That’s not where to start. Now, don’t get me wrong, you need to know your numbers. They're the language of any business, and they're the language of any sales performance industry.

But the most important thing for me once I captured it and thought about it, was my why. I instinctively understood it in my first meeting, when I entered the estate agency that I went to work in. Before I got the job – this was when I had no driving license – I walked into the office and asked for an application form.

I got the advert I’d cut out of the newspaper and said to the guy: “I'd like to apply for the estate agency training position.” And he said to me, “Why?” I said, “I love helping people.”

That was not a pre-planned answer, that was natural. Remember that estate agency done brilliantly, well-executed at the highest level, is by people that genuinely love helping people. That is the bit to remind yourself of.

If I started again today, I would start with that in mind. That's my main focus. Yes, I need to know what I want to achieve and how I need to get there, breaking down all the numbers and so on. But the helping people part is key. All of the other things that you need to do come from that.

However you get your messaging out – whether you use social media, emails, or direct mail – your focus should be on helping people.

Focus on your knowledge of mortgages and conveyancing

The second thing I would do is really focus on knowledge.

If I was to start from scratch, I'd want to go and talk to a mortgage broker. I'd want to understand:

- what mortgages are all about,

- why people get them, and

- how people get them.

When I was done with that, I’d go and talk to the conveyancer. I’d want to understand what they do and why. I’d also want to build a relationship with a local solicitor or conveyancer. That would both help me to understand the process and to understand why I should recommend those people to my clients. You can’t recommend people if you don’t know what they actually do for your clients.

Those are two very simple things that you can get to grips with straight away. In fact, you can Google those things and you'll get information.

Learn what questions to ask

The third thing I’d do is understand the difference between what my clients want and what they need.

If someone had taught me this really clearly back then, I wouldn’t have wasted thousands of hours. To get to mastery in any field you need around 10,000 hours of learning, doing, application.

I'm telling you now, I've probably spent 10,000 hours doing it wrong. So I'm sharing with you right now how to do it right. The difference between a great agent and the rest, so between the 1% and 99%, is that the 1% focus on needs.

They help buyers and sellers to come into a place of understanding what they need, what they can't compromise on. That's what great agents do really well.

So when they answer the phone or someone comes through the door, they don’t ask, “What are you looking for? What do you want?” When you do that, you're almost getting off to the wrong start. It's like walking into a clothes store and the clerk comes over and they say, “How can I help?” or “Do you need any help?” Those are two different questions.

“How can a help?” is a great question. It's an open question. “Do you need any help?” is closed – you’ll likely just say, “No, thank you. I'm just browsing.” The difference is in the skills around the questions that you ask.

For estate agents, consider the difference between these: “What do you need from your next house?” and “What do you want?”

Start with what they need

This is where I’d start if I took myself back to 1996. I’d start by actually understanding that that simple question could change the motivation of the client. I’d also understand the place of questions like these:

- What are your time frames?

- When do you need to move by?

- These things are good to know, but they come outside the top of the pyramid of needs.

You have to start with what they actually need. That's where I’d start if I was starting over in real estate agency today. I’d learn the right questions and continually invest in understanding what the difference is between wants and needs. I’d understand that people that want to move might move. The people that need to move will move. I need to spend my time with them.

So if I'm going to take you through the process of going through estate agency 101 today, it's about understanding needs and actually spending your time asking questions to help people to discover what those things are. Most people don't know what they don't know. Your job is to help them to figure that shit out.

If you're not doing that, you're just helping them to delay the process and waste your time and theirs. You’ve also wasted the time of the clients who have tidied their house for today, just to show someone around that doesn't actually know what they need. What a waste of everyone's time!

Great estate agents don't do that. They'll have less appointments, but higher quality appointments. That's what I’d advise you to do today.

Have real face-to-face conversations

The fourth thing you need to understand is that estate agency is a learning sport. It's a contact sport. It's a people sport.

We used to say “Eyes to eyes. Nose to nose. Toes to toes.” You're always in front of people. You're always in a conversation. The agents that understand that conversations convert will get to the sale quicker.

Imagine trying to understand someone's needs over email, text message, or Whatsapp, right? How long would that take?

Now compare that to how long it would take if I have a conversation. Let’s say I’m helping Ed, who’s looking for a property. First, I'm going to say: “Ed, there's a difference between what you want and what you need. I'm going to help you determine what that is.”

Ed will say, “Okay. That's different. No one's asked me that before.” And they won’t have because people focus on wants. Why? Because listing wants is a lot easier than finding out what people need. That takes a bit of skill, courage, and explanation.

But the difference between understanding Ed’s needs versus his wants is that when I ring Ed up about a property I know it's going to meet his needs. I know he’s going to come out and look at it before it's gone to the market – not wait for me to send him details.

When you focus on their needs, your clients will trust that you’ll work with them as a professional to deliver exactly what they need moving forward.

Let me help you conquer being a real estate agent in less than four weeks

Being a real estate agent, a new estate agent, is something that you can conquer in less than four weeks – if you do what I've just described.

Yes, you've got to build a personal brand. Yes you've got to go out there on social media. You might even have to deliver leaflets, right? I don't care.

Do the things that I've just mentioned to you really well. Ask the right questions. Get the right answers. Have the right solutions. If you follow that order, you're going to be so successful as a real estate agent going forward. You're going to be able to view and sell houses and value and list houses and agree to sales and exchange houses

Come with me on this journey

There you go, that's what I would do 29 years later if I was to go and be a new estate agent in the field today. I'm sharing that with you today because I've seen how it's done.

Like I've said, I've probably spent 10,000 hours doing it wrong and 10,000 hours doing it right. What I'm sharing with you will help you to not make the same mistakes.

Go out there. Do what I've said. Implement it. Then let me know how you get on by heading over to the video version of this post on my YouTube channel. There,we've got a comment section. Let me know what you think of this content, like it, share it, and ring the notifications bell to become a part of my community. If you do, I'll train you for free just like this moving forward.

Believe me, I've done over a billion pounds worth of house sales. I've built a group of estate agents. I've led teams to number one in their markets. I've helped people to build their careers without the sleaze in this brilliant industry that we're in. For now, go enjoy yourself. Implement, take action, and I'll see you in the next post.

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