Real estate icons like the late Pam Golding and Aida Geffen had many traits in common - chutzpah, glamour, charm, business acumen, a genuine interest in people and above average communication skills.
Effective communication entails being able to get across your point to other people clearly and unambiguously. It also means hearing what others are saying to you, with as little distortion as possible. Messages that are muddled by senders, or misinterpreted by recipients, cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort and missed opportunity.
Because Aida and Pam were sincerely interested in the people they came into contact with, they always knew the right questions to ask, and patiently listened to the responses given until they were sure that they had fully understood what was being said.
Their actions clearly showed that they cared about the needs and wants of sellers and buyers alike, who readily accorded them their trust and liking. This frequently resulted in further successful transactions, with both buyers and sellers referring friends and family and returning repeatedly when it was time to find a new home.
Essential communication skills
Before you set out to learn new skills, you should take stock of your existing skills and characteristics to decide what works for you and what needs to change. Try to see what others see and hear when they first meet you – perhaps ask for honest feedback from friends, colleagues and family.
First impressions tend to last so you need to be aware of your facial expressions, the way in which you stand and what you do with your hands. Make sure you stand up straight, look people in the eye, relax your shoulders and remember to breathe normally. If you’re not sure what to do with your hands, carry a folder or brochures – never fold your arms across your chest as that effectively signals a disinclination to communicate.
You also need to recognise other people’s body language for essential cues. Receptive people will generally make eye contact, and if they mirror your body language it’s usually a sign they are interested in what you have to say. If they turn away or fold their arms, you probably need to change your approach.
Dress the part
Always dress smartly and neatly - you want to radiate confidence, competence and good taste. People are told not to judge a book by its cover, but unfortunately everyone does. Most people are more likely to approve a smart, well-dressed agent and be dismissive of one who is obviously careless of appearances.
Keep in mind that for most home buyers and sellers their home is their biggest and most important investment, so they are entitled to expect their estate agent to take the sales process seriously and dress accordingly.
Effective communication starts with active listening, rather than talking. Listening actively shows you value opinions apart from your own and are open to new concepts. Giving others the chance to talk, asking questions and showing you care about what they have to say will make your audience feel valued and comfortable talking to you. Listen attentively, don’t fidget or interrupt, and wait until they have finished before talking.
Talking to the point
When it’s your turn to talk, always be polite and professional, and be sure to communicate your ideas, opinions and any information as clearly and concisely as possible. Research shows that most people have attention spans of just over eight seconds, so long-winded explanations are counterproductive.
Stay in touch
Poor communication from estate agents is one of the biggest frustrations for people who are buying or selling property. Respond to messages as speedily as possible - time is of the essence in property transactions, and if sellers and buyers think your responses are tardy they will lose faith in you.
Good communicators know how often to make contact with clients and how much information to provide. Find out how your buyers and sellers prefer to be kept informed about property updates. Some favour phone calls whereas others are comfortable with text messages and emails. If you are texting or emailing clients, ensure that all spelling, grammar, sentence structure and information is correct.
Most important, all lines of communication must be kept open with all parties involved during the entire property sale process. Successful estate professionals like Pam Golding and Aida Geffen make others feel good, so be responsive to your clients’ needs and questions. Treat everyone with respect and master the communication skills that enable you to build strong relationships.