Close this search box.

How much business competition is good for you?

Competition is healthy right? Well yes, as long as you don’t take your eye off your own ball.

We all accept that life is one big competition. However, some are far more competitive than others and will go to great lengths to ensure that they win at all costs.

Estate agents work in a very competitive field. Think about it. They not only have to compete against those working with other agencies, they also have to vie with members of their own sales team. This makes sense, of course, because the industry is commission based, which essentially means that you don’t get paid if you don’t close the deal.

So how far is your average real estate agent willing to go to ensure that he rules the roost in the local market? Probably not as far as a New Zealand-based agent whose efforts landed him in a court of law recently.

It was alleged that an agent by the name of Grant Tucker posted broken glass and faecal matter to the lawyer of one of his competitors and used obscene language on the phone to a rival agent. Although neither of the parties, it seems, is willing to discuss what led to the dispute, it’s fairly obvious that somewhere along the line things got completely out of control.

This is, of course, an extreme example, but make no mistake, there are many overtly competitive agents who will, if circumstances allow, take competitiveness to a whole new level.

One of the more common things that South African agents seem to do is to badmouth areas where they don’t personally operate and in which they believe the buyer may be interested. Another trick involves advising buyers (or sellers) not to choose a particular agent or agency. While it is in a client’s best interests to use a registered agent, discussing a reputable agent in a less than favourable manner is both unprofessional and unethical.

Believe it or not, competition boosts productivity and, as such, financial gain. A challenging environment makes agents work harder for both the buyer and the seller. Interestingly, when the Harvard Business Review conducted a study into competitiveness among new businesses, it reported the following:

“We studied British tax data covering nearly two million companies launched in the UK from 1995 to 2005, looking at the competitive environment the companies faced in their first few years and at how long they remained in business. We found that companies launched in crowded markets had higher odds than others of failing in the first year – but if a company survived during this early period, it had a much greater chance of making it to the three-year mark. A firm’s early exposure to competition appears to have an immunising effect, in much the same way that a person’s exposure to illness can create antibodies that provide long-term protection.”

The truth of the matter is that while competition is healthy, undue rivalry, which is a totally different animal, is generally not.

We all have rivals, regardless of how far up the corporate ladder we are. Someone always has their eyes firmly focused on our successes and failures, and likewise, we tend to keep a close eye on agents operating in ‘our’ area. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping tabs on competitors, but alarm bells should ring when we start to become obsessed with another agent’s performance.

Simply put, you will probably not achieve success if you are constantly looking around in order to see what your competition is doing. Taking your eye off the ball and focusing all your attention on your rival’s successes invariably threatens your own achievements.

We all want to be successful and tend to emulate those who have managed to achieve what we consider to be success. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, problems can creep in when we start obsessing over our rival’s performance and constantly compare ourselves to more successful individuals.

Healthy rivalries can turn into dangerous obsessions and while you may not go as far as the chap in New Zealand, there is a good chance that adopting the wrong mind-set will eventually lead to depression and despondency.

There is a direct link between depression and motivation, and, as such, it’s very important to keep things in perspective.

One of the first things that should be asked is, is the tail wagging the dog? In other words, are you building your business in ways that suit you, or are you so busy copying everyone else that you’ve lost your way completely?

Successful agents generally look for ways to boost their business on an ongoing basis. That said, they also know what works for them and will undoubtedly stick to what makes them a good agent. They don’t usually compare their success to those of others and if they do, they don’t allow themselves to dwell on these – they simply up their game and work just a little bit harder.

Remember, there is probably always going to be someone who is more successful than you, but it does help to keep some perspective. It wasn’t that long ago that the real estate industry was swamped with agents. The levels of entry (which in the 2000s were practically zero) allowed all and sundry to enter the profession. Competition was at an all-time high and agents had to be constantly on their toes if they wanted to close a deal. Property sales had gone through the roof, which obviously meant that far more agents got a slice of the pie, making the slices increasingly thinner.

These days there are far, far, far fewer agents around and it should now (in theory) be easier to make a decent living selling property.


Here are some tips to keep you motivated:


  • While you may be envious of someone else, there are those who will be envious of your successes. This, too, can be a source of distraction. Don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done – every time.


  • Remember that healthy competition and rivalry can be good for you and actually encourage you to do better. Embrace the competition, just don’t become obsessed with it.


  • If you do start to become despondent, surround yourself with supportive colleagues and friends. It’s often difficult to see the wood for the trees, but those closest to you will recognise your strengths and boost your confidence.


  • Do not allow personal rivalry to distract you from your goals. Obsessing about someone else’s success and bending yourself out of shape in the process is going to come back to bite sooner rather than later.


  • You don’t have to be Einstein in order to sell property on a grand scale (although given the new qualifications, it may help). You do, however, need to have passion, be totally committed and work incredibly hard. Selling property isn’t for sissies – it’s for those who know what they want and who go out and get it – every time.


Words: Lea Jacobs


Share this article:

more top news stories

Yedhvir Ramdhani

A different approach to home loans

Senior manager of strategy and analytics at Nedbank Home Loans, Yedhvir Ramdhani, lifts the veil on what’s in store for the property market towards the latter half of 2024, talks solar and a new ‘water-shedding’ initiative, as well as sharing more about how the bank has increased ease of doing business.