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Keep these ‘old school’ ways in real estate

MAIN IMAGE: Not all ‘old school’ ways are out of date such as discussing the client’s expectations over a cup of coffee. Graphics: Leah de Jager.

‘The times they are a changin’ sang Bob Dylan in 1964 and they have kept on changing faster and faster with every decade but there are some things like the building of good relations based on trust that will never go out of fashion.

The 1960’s was the era of the Baby Boomer generation. There was no internet then, no cell phones, social media or e-anything. In those days, property sales were done in a far more intimate way recalls Keith Wakefield, chairman of Wakefields Real Estate, a ‘property family’ that has been around for four generations.

Keith Wakefield, chairman of Wakefields Real Estate.

“So, we were steeped in ‘old-school’ methods of selling property. Sales consultants and clients met face to face over coffee in the office, spent valuable time together driving from property to property and had numerous phone conversations. No whatsapps, no emails. No sense that speed was everything, as it is today,” says Wakefield.

However, ‘old-school’ methods are by no means past their sell-by date. Whether it is a Generation Z youngster or Millennial buying his or her first home or a Generation X’er or Baby Boomer scaling down. “Buying a home is an emotive experience and it often requires a human touch,” says Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Adrian Goslett, regional manager and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“So, while some might call it old school, coffee dates with clients where discussions can be held around their property wish-list and other concerns can make a world of difference when it comes to matching up a buyer with his/her dream home,” says Goslett.

Wakefield says their young, savvy estate agents also recognise the value of an authentic interpersonal relationship, and do whatever it takes to establish that, while using today’s array of electronic tools to achieve the speed and ease which the market wants and expects.

Authentic is a key term here because ‘true, real experiences” are what consumers are looking for these days whether in where they stay or go for a holiday (just look at the success of Airbnb), what they wear or eat or drink. Keeping in mind that there is still a lot of public mistrust of estate agents’ going around, a focus on authenticity won’t go amiss.

“For me, I believe that one of the best things an agent can do is to ‘just be real’, be yourself and don’t be overly eager and pushy with a client,” says Craig Mott, Rawson Property Group’s regional sales manager.

Craig Mott, Rawson Property Group regional sales manager.

“People can pick up on a person who is being false, and this leaves a sense of distrust in their subconscious that will leave them feeling uneasy,” he adds.

Mott gives the following tips when meeting a client:

  • Acknowledge and say hello to a person’s children, other family members and staff members who are present when you visit a home.
  • If also greeted by their animals, also show them some attention – for many people their pets are like their children.
  • Look your clients in the eye when greeting them and make suitable eye contact during the discussion.
  • Read up and pay attention to body language cues.
  • Be observant for clues on possible hobbies or interests that you can use as grounds for conversation, especially if you have a common interest that you can relate to.
  • Don’t seem desperate ever! Show confidence and patience and you will succeed. No one likes to be pushed into a corner and people often want what they can’t have.
  • Treat all your customers as you wish to be treated and the referrals will keep coming in.
  • Take time to really listen to your clients, understand their reasons for selling/renting their property and be sensitive to their needs.
  • Lastly, be a man/woman of your word – if you say you are going to do something, then do it. No matter how big or small. “Oh, I’m so sorry I forgot” will not buy you confidence. Keep a diary and pencil it in, even the smallest things. It will show you are organised and on top of your game.

Of course, there are ‘old-school’ marketing tactics that aren’t as effective today as their electronic adaptations. Listing pages in newspapers, for example, can never be as up-to-date as online listing portals. While these pages might generate leads from an older generation that still reads the daily paper, the younger generation that consumes news through social media timelines and news applications will be completely missed by this marketing strategy,” Goslett points out.

Another is hosting a show house, although many sellers feel this is an outdated practice. However, from a logistical point of view, it is easier to invite buyers to a show house than setting up individual viewings during the week says Goslett. Unfortunately, the country’s crime situation has necessitated that agencies institute more stringent security measures on the hosting of a show house such as pre-approving interested buyers, placing security guards at the entrance etc.

In Goslett’s opinion, the best marketing strategy is therefore the one that makes use of both traditional and modern marketing tactics. “The real estate market has become a mixed bag of buyers, from Generation Z (the oldest of which are currently 23) who have most likely just entered the rental market to Baby Boomers (the youngest of which are 55) who are potentially considering investment properties. To make sure a home appeals to the widest pool of potential buyers, agents will need to adopt a mixed approach between modern and traditional marketing strategies,” Goslett concludes.

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