Over the last 16 years, I have worked with some truly amazing estate agents and brokers. The sort of brokers all managers want on their team, the sort of brokers most wish to emulate. Over those years I’ve come to realize that there is no one type of person who is successful in real estate. I have worked with so many different people with different strengths and weaknesses who’ve been extremely successful in property. These people have come in all shapes and sizes and from a myriad of different backgrounds. Some have been flamboyant extroverts while others have been quieter, introverted types who just got on with the job without fanfare and always achieved results at the end of the month. I’ve managed real estate superstars who are lone wolves that need a little direction, and I’ve worked with very experienced brokers who thrive on structure and support. However, I have found that there are some key traits in each and every one of these individuals that have enabled them to get to the top of their game.
Firstly, every successful broker I’ve ever met is a driven individual. By that I don’t mean that they “want to be successful”. Everybody WANTS to be a success, but few have the inner drive to turn that “want” into a reality. The rewards of success in real estate can be huge but it is hard work, it is very competitive and many brokers fail. If it was easy then everyone would be doing it and the rewards would be far less. Success means working harder than the next person. It means more meetings, more late nights, more phone calls, more weekends working. Success takes sacrifice! The days of the “lifestyle agent” are over, certainly in Dubai. This isn’t a job that you can be successful in half-heartedly. You need to be honest with yourself; do you have the drive needed to be successful?
Earlier this year, a new starter came to me in the first week and said she didn’t think the job was for her. During our conversation, she mentioned that in the previous day she’d taken on her first listing. I asked her how did it feel? Did you get a sense of achievement? Did you have a mini fist pump moment? Her reply was… she’d felt nothing!
She was right, this wasn’t the job for her. To be successful in real estate I firmly believe you need a healthy dollop of competitive spirit. That little voice that spurs you on to work harder than your colleagues, that pushes you to be better and better. You need to want to see your name creeping up that sales leaderboard each month and you must enjoy healthy competition. And if in your first week you don’t want to celebrate every little win, such as your first listing, I really don’t think that the job is for you.
Ability to Listen and Challenge
The most important skill that a broker learns is to qualify their clients thoroughly. The act of questioning allows a broker to truly understand the motivation and mindset of their buyer or a seller, and it is vital if you are to have an influence on that client’s journey. However, many brokers ask the questions but don’t really listen to the answers. Many are so consumed with pushing their own agenda (their hottest deal or their most difficult client’s property) that they don’t listen and they miss the key buying signals.
Great brokers are great listeners and they are also great challengers. A challenger is someone who is not afraid to challenge a client’s beliefs and offer an alternative. A challenger is confident in their knowledge of the market and the process; they will give their expert opinion and advice, even if it contravenes their client’s current beliefs. A great broker will question, listen, understand, advise and challenge their client.
There is nothing like the elation of closing a big deal. Working hard over a number of months with a client, finally seeing them collect their keys and you than collecting your commission cheque is hugely satisfying. But equally, the despair of seeing a deal you thought you had in the bag fall apart can be devastating. The ability to pick yourself up and move on to the next deal is vital if you want to be successful in real estate and I’ve seen many careers cut short because a junior broker just couldn’t handle the losses and the rejection.
A career in real estate is made up of a series of thousands of micro wins and micro losses. For every “yes” there are likely to be many 10s of “no’s”. Most brokers give up on a lead before the lead is actually ready to move ahead with a purchase. Brokers will have two, maybe three, conversations with a new buyer before they drop that buyer for a newer lead, adding “time water” to the CRM. However, right now the average length of time a buyer is looking for a property for, before they commit, is just under 6 months – so the vast majority of brokers have given up on the lead long before they are in the right frame of mind to buy. Great brokers are able to forge a relationship over a longer period of time because they don’t give up, they follow up.
The purpose of a great real estate broker is to add value for both the buyer and seller. This is done through excellent marketing, knowledge, experience and honest advice. But the journey of any deal rarely runs smoothly and a successful broker often finds themselves having to be a troubleshooter, coming up with the answers to the problems that a deal presents. This can involve anything from helping find long lost Title Deeds, to securing emergency accommodation for tenants who’ve got the wrong dates for a move in! The life of a real estate broker is rarely dull and the ability to find answers to problems sets the best brokers apart from the rest.
Commission only roles can be hugely rewarding as the best brokers receive a very large proportion of the company revenue, far outweighing what they would earn in a salaried role. However, the commission only does mean that a broker needs to be disciplined and manage themselves well. I have seen many talented brokers become unsettled early in their careers as they have not managed themselves and their finances well. I have seen agents buy new cars on finance the day they do their first leasing deal. I have witnessed brokers start spending money they are expecting from a deal before the deal is signed, only for that deal to fall through. But it is not just financial management that is required. Successful brokers need to keep healthy and surround themselves with positive people who will support their journey and not try to derail their efforts. My advice for those thinking of getting into real estate is that it is vital you are in a supportive environment where those around you will invest in you and your career. If you have the raw ingredients to be successful, the right environment will catapult your career to where you want to be. Sales, real estate and commission-only roles are hard work. They require sacrifice and can be stressful at times but with the right attitude, a bit of self-discipline and the support of positive influencers, it can be the best career in the world!
Are you a broker that is looking at those at the top of the leaderboard and asking yourself, “how do I get there? How do they make it look so easy?” My answer is that there are no short cuts. Those at the top have probably invested many years to get there and will have worked extremely hard along the way. Work hard, make sure you have got the basics down, and build your reputation.
As I’ve said, there is no one ‘type’ of person that makes a great broker, rather there are certain traits that are found in most successful brokers. Drive, communication skills, resilience and resourcefulness are important for success and tend to be part of someone’s natural makeup. But they can also be learned and improved with hard work. Knowledge and experience are obviously incredibly important for the role and this comes with time, but a broker can invest in their knowledge by taking the time to learn what they don’t know. There are lots and lots of very different brokers who succeed in this industry, so my key point of advice is: do not try to be someone you are not. Be your best you.
Group Managing Director