If you’re a regular here on BAM, you’ve probably heard the phrase “agent of change” quite a bit lately. In a nutshell, this is the agent that will define the new era in real estate. 

This is the agent you probably look up to right now—the agent you could be at your best. 

As the title suggests, there are certain skills the agent of change must build. And it’s not the usual set. As we enter the new era, the agent who can leverage the changes coming as a result of the NAR settlement is not necessarily the agent who has thrived in decades past. 

So, what skills should you be focusing on right now? 

In last week’s episode of the Knowledge Brokers Podcast, Lisa Chinatti and Tom Toole each shared three skills they view as critical to a real estate agent’s growth and success—for a total of six. The skills they described cover all three primary skill types:

  • Tactical
  • Relationship
  • Knowledge

Byron Lazine described today’s “agent of change” in this week’s episode of The Real Word. And you’ll recognize that agent in the six skills described here. 

These are the skills agents must have to turn leads into lifetime clients. Get familiar with them—and why they matter even more in today’s industry. 

Then tune in to Knowledge Brokers to learn more. 

Six skills agents need right now

Skill #1: Time management

Responding to Chinatti’s question, Toole was the first to present his top three agent skills, starting with one he’s talked about frequently—and for good reason. 

Having a fancy calendar is one thing, but actually sticking to it and prioritizing tasks is the real challenge. Time management is crucial, especially for building your pipeline, but many agents struggle with it.

Part of time management is…making sure that you’re prioritizing building your pipeline in your calendar. So I think that’s number one because that’s the biggest challenge for agents; they can’t manage their time. They have a situation come up that could be handled later in the day, and it just ruins their whole day.

Tom Toole

Skill #2: Skill-Building

The second skill Toole recommends is the ability and commitment to keep skill-building throughout your career as a real estate professional. He stated, “Actually working on your skills every day—whether it’s roleplay, practicing your appointment, making sure you have your scripts and dialogues down,” is essential in today’s market. 

The days of winning listings based solely on likeability and needing to list it fast are fading, as more clients interview multiple agents. And since over 70% of consumers hire the first agent they meet, being prepared and polished is more crucial than ever.

As for the main focus of this skill-building, Toole focused on scripts and dialogues as well as setting and holding appointments. 

Skill #3:   Detaching from the outcome

Detaching from the outcome is another critical skill for agents. He started by creating a mental image of an agent moping and complaining around the office because their deal just died. 

Toole is a big believer in working for the deal. But to build trust, you need to present all the viable options, one of which shows your willingness to walk away and help your buyer find something better suited to them. 

The following script provides an example of how to present those options to your client:

“So, I know we got this horrible home inspection report. One option is to negotiate with the seller and see if we can work it out. The second is to just buy the place. Or the third is to kill the deal and go find you a better house.”

When you have that sort of approach, that builds trust; it builds loyalty and it’s going to get people to want to work with you and refer you business.

Tom Toole

Skill #4: Learn and use strategies that are working NOW—not in 2021

Agents who are waiting for the 2021 housing market to return are not serving their clients well. 

We’re looking at an average mortgage rate of 7% for 2024, based on Fannie Mae’s revised forecast, which essentially reiterates what you’ve been hearing for months now from Byron Lazine on the Hot Sheet

When we say “real estate agents aren’t going anywhere,” we mean agents who keep up with strategies that are working right now. And that means continually educating yourself on those—as well as on what’s going on in the housing market, both local and national. 

Agents need to leave behind practices from 2021-2022…the days of no showings until the first open house—you have got to be so cognizant of understanding that that might not be the best strategy moving forward. And just because we did it in the past, and it makes you feel good, [that] isn’t necessarily in your client’s best interest.

The same with rejecting / not accepting that slam dunk offer that comes through after your first or second showing….Because as choices rise, there is going to be somebody with a higher motivation who will take that offer and you may end up regretting it

Lisa Chinatti

Skill #5: Negotiation skills

First of all, to understand why some agents are getting more business in today’s market, you’ve got to understand what kind of market buyers and sellers are dealing with. 

How else are you going to advise them when you get to the first fork in the road (not to mention every fork that comes after that one)? It’s not a good look if you know less about what’s going on than your client does. 

Understanding the market is critical to negotiating like a skilled professional. And that’s something every client has a right to expect when they’ve committed to covering part or all of your commission fee. 

Another [skill], on the buy side, is understanding that you are starting to gain some leverage and again building trust. And building all of that with your clients means not necessarily telling them that they have to waive all of these contingencies to get the home that they want—and understanding how market dynamics are going to play [out] so that the consumer doesn’t get cold feet and doesn’t back out because they start hearing that other people have gotten contingencies that they would have felt more comfortable with.

Lisa Chinatti

Once your client gets the impression that other people in their market are getting deals that should also be possible for them, they’ll either seize the opportunity to work with someone more skilled as a negotiator or, if it’s too late for that, they’ll join the ranks of consumers who have nothing good to say about their experience working with a real estate agent. 

Skill #6: Prioritize relationships with your clients and other agents

Chinatti pointed out that relationships will matter more than ever—and not just with your clients. 

Building relationships with other agents is strategic as well as mutually beneficial. 

When you’re trying to negotiate, the relationship can sometimes mean the difference between that deal coming together or not… 

And where I think that fell off—in my personal humble opinion—is listing agents felt like they didn’t need the relationship… Those listing agents are going to need the relationship more than the buyer agents in the near future.

Lisa Chinatti

Toole summed up the discussion of agent skills by describing the agent best positioned to benefit from the changes coming in August. But these skills are not new to great agents—nor have they only recently become important to develop. 

Everything we talked about there [is] what great agents have done for the history of real estate—it’s being a knowledge broker and it’s realizing that you know there’s the tactical side, there’s the relationship side, then there’s the knowledge side. And when you get all three of those clicking that’s what makes a great agent…they understand the value of relationships and how to build rapport. They also know their stuff—it’s not all just based on relationship building.…

I’m excited about the shift in the market because…people that work on their craft, they’re going to shine. And just like the NAR settlement, I think there’s a whole bunch of opportunity coming up here for the second half of this year and 2025 for people that want to get really serious about their business.

Tom Toole

Agents who are ahead of the game with developing these skills are already seeing the benefits. And it’s not too late to get started. 

All of the work that we did in Q1 to really frontload marketing and make sure that our databases were full of consumers, I’m starting to see it come into play now. I’m starting to see the impact of it, and I think it’s going to snowball even bigger as we near Q3.

Lisa Chinatti

Watch the full conversation for more. 

And don’t forget to check out our free Tom Toole course to learn 12 rules you must follow to build the mindset you need to handle ANY objection.