In any career field, some skills are more important than others. And if you’ve been growing your business as a real estate agent, some of the top 10 skills detailed below won’t surprise you.
Communication, for example, is one of those skills that dominate in people-facing careers. And there’s always room for improvement.
Technology, too, is playing a larger role than ever as innovative tools make it easier than ever for agents to keep track of the finer details of every relationship they build. After all, to provide value-based follow-up, it helps to know a particular client’s preferences and pain points.
As an agent, make time to cultivate the following skills, so you can become the agent your community trusts to demystify the market and to leave each client better off than before they met you.
Communication is the premier relationship-building skill, and it contains legions of smaller skills every real estate agent should practice and continue cultivating throughout their career.
Strive to be an expert in all modes of communication, including face-to-face conversations, phone calls, emails, text messages, and social media comments and DMs. Each has its advantages and its limitations.
Agents also need to be fast at responding to communications from their clients and prospects, knowing every minute counts.
Active listening skills are another part of effective communication—as is using pauses rather than filler words such as “like” or “basically” or filler sounds such as “uh” or “um.”
How you communicate on social media connections is also important. Haley Ingram, creator of Coffee & Contracts, encourages everyone to show their personality on social:
Understanding is one of those skills that contribute to both relationship-building and knowledge-building.
With relationships, the understanding has to do with people. Active listening comes into play here, too, since you’re more likely to pick up on important information about your conversation partner. Interpersonal understanding also has to do with understanding social cues like body language, facial expressions, and intonation.
Understanding and empathy are also closely related. The more you can empathize with your clients and prospects, the more likely they are to feel heard, understood, and appreciated.
As far as knowledge building goes, when you build your understanding of how the real estate industry works, what’s happening with the national and local markets, how the economy is likely to impact your target market, and what resources you can use and recommend to them, understanding is less people-centered but still keeps client satisfaction as the ultimate goal.
Communication and learning play into understanding, because as an agent, there are conversations you need to be having every day—and industry news you need to be consuming —in order to improve and continually update your understanding of the market, so you can help your clients and prospects make smart financial decisions.
Here’s a prime example of what that looks like:
As a teacher, you’re building both relationships and knowledge. You build the latter to provide more value to your prospects, clients, and community by sharing the data and information they need to make smart financial decisions.
You might also build and share your knowledge of the real estate industry, agent marketing, agent tactics, etc., to serve as a mentor or coach for other agents—or to create valuable content for your audience on social media and for your email subscribers.
And there’s more than one way to do this effectively (hint: play to your personality. You don’t have to be funny to be an effective and widely-followed teacher in the industry).
Sometimes, it’s just about teaching your audience something that could save them a ton of money—or prepare for the real cost of their new home, as Taya DiCarlo does with her series, “Taya’s 2 Cents.”
You won’t have enough conversations to get your business going—let alone see any real growth—if you’re not putting yourself out there and meeting new people.
This is why the biggest edge you’ll get from attending networking events and conferences is the people you’ll meet—more than the actual speakers for these events (though they can definitely help you, too).
If all you’re doing there as an attendee is listening and taking notes, you’re missing out on the chance to build your network by meeting new people and having conversations with them.
Because those conversations could lead to lasting friendships or to meetings with people who will make a huge difference in your development as a real estate agent.
One of those new connections could become an accountability partner, while another could refer you business or share a hack that helped them 10x their engagement on phone calls.
You don’t know how you could benefit from even one new connection you make at a networking event. So, set a goal to make as many new connections as possible—for each event. And don’t stop until you’ve reached (or exceeded) that goal.
Once you have a prospect on the phone—whether it’s for an expired listing, a FSBO, or just someone who’s expressed an interest in buying or selling a home—do you know how to get an appointment with that person before the end of your phone call?
Or if you have a client, do you know how to negotiate the best deal for them as a buyer or seller? Or are you just hoping the other agent will make things easy for you?
They won’t. They’re in this to get the best deal for their client, and they fully expect you want the same for yours. If you’re too afraid to ask for what your client wants, you can expect to walk away empty-handed, with nothing but an apologetic shrug for your disappointed client.
At the other end of the spectrum is the agent who’s so driven to win, they lose sight of the end goal: getting to the settlement table.
There’s a reason many of the best agents out there use scripts—and practice them daily—to get the results they want from each phone conversation, each email, and each face-to-face interaction.
And there are different scripts for different situations—including expired listings and FSBOs.
Those scripts are still used by experts in the field. Because they work.
It doesn’t mean they all say exactly the same thing in the same order. The best in the business know how to use specific lines when the situation calls for them—and how to pivot when another phrase (even an unscripted one) makes more sense.
Negotiating is knowing when and how to ask for something. But if you’re not used to asking for things, and you resist doing so for fear of rejection, the best way to get over that is with practice.
Ultimately, your goal with each real estate transaction is to solve your client’s main problem of buying or selling a home.
It’s your responsibility as the real estate agent to do what you can, within reason, to get your client the best possible deal as a buyer or seller.
That said, you can’t always get what you want—or everything your client wants. When the expectations of both sides conflict, sometimes the best outcome is a reasonable compromise.
Again, the more you practice negotiating on a daily basis, the easier it will be to ask for what your client wants and to look for ways to get as close to that ideal outcome as possible.
Without that daily practice, you won’t have the tools to negotiate anything or to see and argue for the best solutions. And your client’s problems will likely remain unsolved.
With the technology real estate agents now have at their disposal, there’s no excuse for not being tech-savvy.
You don’t have to know how to write code or to troubleshoot software that isn’t working. You just need to know how to use the right software for your business.
At the very least, every agent should know how to use the following software types:
- Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Dialers—like Mojo or Vulcan7
- Email management software
- Prospecting or lead generation software
- Website/IDX software
- Open House software
- Team communication/messaging
- Project management
Most, if not all of the above provide mobile apps so you can access them on-the-go. The sooner you identify which tools work best for you and your team, the sooner you can get acquainted with all the features you need to make every day as productive as possible.
Expect to spend some time getting used to new software before it saves you time on a daily basis. But if it creates more problems than it solves, be prepared to let it go and try something else—maybe a tool recommended by someone you’ve recently met at a networking event.
Take ChatGPT, for instance. While it can save you hours on your listing descriptions, blogs, and even scripts for phone calls, it’s no replacement for your personality or unique skill set.
Learn how to make the most of this tool here:
And for more on implementing AI tools into your business, download AI Tools for Real Estate Agents.
Learn how to manage your time effectively so you’re spending more time on income-producing activities—and not just “being busy.”
It’s too easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re “doing the work” of being a real estate agent when what you’re really doing is keeping yourself busy with tasks you could delegate to someone else.
Find someone who can take those tasks off your plate—someone who can do those tasks just as well if not better than you can—and focus on the things only you can do:
- Meeting and building relationships with prospects and clients
- Building your knowledge of the local and national housing market
- Making phone calls and sending texts and emails to reach out to prospective clients
- Attending industry events to meet other real estate professionals and build your network
- Coaching or mentoring other real estate agents
- Creating videos with your unique voice for your social media audience
Prioritize activities that increase your income and help you get better at your job. And leave the other tasks to people on your team: a transaction coordinator, an office manager, or someone who takes on a variety of administrative tasks. Virtual assistants are an excellent option for this.
Being organized helps with time management. Keep your workspace and materials organized so you never have to search for things you need last minute or wonder what you did with an important piece of paper.
Use a CRM to digitally store important information about each and every client and prospect, so you don’t have to keep asking the same questions, which leaves your client with the following impressions:
- You weren’t listening when they answered you the first time—or
- You don’t have a system in place to help you remember important information
Either way, it erodes their confidence in you. Agents who are disorganized are constantly sending the message that they don’t have their sh*t together. And no one wants to entrust something as huge as the purchase or sale of their home to someone like that:
- Someone who could forget to make a critically-important phone call
- Someone who’s “too busy” to keep their clients in the loop about new developments
- Someone who could forget to bring important paperwork to an appointment
Decide to be someone who keeps their life and their workspace organized, for your own sake as well as that of your clients.
Another part of being organized is tracking and measuring your progress and storing that information in software or a spreadsheet, so you’re aware of specific performance metrics and how they’re changing from month to month and year to year.
Because, as Tom Toole knows, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Finally, every real estate agent should prioritize building their marketing skills. It doesn’t mean you have to know everything about every kind of marketing—or to spend all your time developing and fine-tuning your marketing strategies and materials.
You do need to know marketing strategy. But most of the work that goes into implementing that strategy is best delegated to someone else on your team, like a marketing manager.
That said, some of the marketing content will be yours to create—like videos of you breaking down a new market development, explaining a recent headline (with a green screen video), or narrating a video tour of your client’s property (or someone else’s).
Once the video is created, you can leave it to your social media manager or marketing specialist to post it on all the platforms, respond to some of the comments, and keep your channels populated with high-value clips and other content.
Here’s an example of a green screen video using a news headline from Gila Goodman:
Which skill will you work on this month?
While all of the above skills need daily reinforcement, some might require more of your attention right now than others. Identify those areas and decide what you’ll do today, this week, and this month to improve at least one of those skills.
And keep track of your progress. If a client asks you to clearly explain what’s going on in the market, and you blow them away with your knowledge—and, more importantly, help them understand and articulate what you’ve just taught them—that’s something to celebrate.
Keep learning and working on these skills. But don’t neglect soft skills like patience, curiosity, and empathy, all of which are critical to relationship-building.
And ultimately, that’s what your career depends on.