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FairfaxReal EstateRealtor Q&A: How is professional evolving?

Realtor Q&A: How is professional evolving?

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Local Realtors agree the overall market has changed in various ways over the years, and some were asked by the Sun Gazette what skill sets are helpful today that were unnecessary a decade or so ago.
Here are their answers.

Natalie Roy, Keller Williams: “A good Realtor could succeed without being a social-media wizard a decade or so ago. Today’s successful agent needs to have IT fluency both for research and communication purposes. This skill set also means being well versed on the dynamic IT changes taking place, which are dramatically impacting the housing market. Due to the pandemic, another key skill set an agent needs now is knowledge of critical public-health protocols. This was not the case a decade ago.”

Fouad Talout, Long & Foster: “The market is definitely different today than years back. The ability to connect with and respond to clients with speed, accelerated and magnified by evolving technologies. In the past 10 years or more, correspondence with clients went from days by snail mail, to hours by e-mail, to minutes by text. Now clients and customers expect quick responses and constant communication. Certain clients still prefer to communicate by e-mail. However, most of today’s clients increasingly want more immediate contact and responses. The one thing that will never change is the trust between clients and their agent. This remains the key to success in this business.”

Dean Yeonas, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “It all still comes down to relationships with clients. But e-mailing and texting have taken on a much bigger role of importance, and now the access to all the important information is in the cloud. So we have the capability of getting clients information on a property immediately, without having to wait until we get back to the office. I could be on the island or on vacation and still send them all the information they need without missing a beat. We have the ability so much more to use technology to interact with folks. But you have to know how to use that in the right way and keep updated on all of that technology.”

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Lizzy Conroy, Huckaby, Briscoe, Conroy Realty Group, Keller Williams: “Peoples’ lives have changed, so we have to change with them. In general, it’s social media and how to deliver the best customer experience through the different technologies. We have a phone in the palms of our hands, and we have to know how to utilize all of that to help the clients.”

Rob Ferguson, RE/MAX Allegiance: “I think a decade ago we were doing a lot of things in person and while the market was moving fast, the buyers were not doing as much work online with their own searches and advanced research. The real- estate agent today has to be much more computer-savvy with online meetings, online contracts and dealing with the ‘virtual’ presentations of homes so much more today than 10 years ago. So many more consumers are online doing a lot of virtual tours and research.”

Joy Deevy, Compass: “Unlike a decade ago, when the market was more balanced, Realtors have to resharpen their digging skills and create opportunities for buyers and sellers to meet and make their moves happen. Many home sellers are not moving because they don’t know if they will find the right home in a low-inventory market once they go under contract. There are creative ways for agents to help their sellers strategize. Coaching clients to feel secure and comfortable with their moving decisions is key to making a successful transaction.”

Jack Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “The property will sell itself. But certainly technology skills with the Internet need to be one of the top tools. But the number-one thing is still communication skills, and using the variety of ways to communicate with clients and determining what is the best way they like to be contacted – by text, phone or e-mail.”

Debbie McGuire, Compass: “First, the basic business of keeping in touch with your client base for their lifetime of real-estate needs has not changed, and is still the best way to build a successful practice. However, the way we communicate, market, negotiate and settle transactions has all changed with technological innovations, accelerated by the pandemic. Communications are now customized to the client’s convenience. There has to be multiple points of contact and strategies to reach out. Phone, e-mail, text, Zoom, FaceTime, Twitter, YouTube, Duo, Zillow, Redfin to name a few, have all changed the way we communicate with our clients. Presentation strategies now require a team of professionals with expertise in staging, luxury photography, video, social media, drone photography, automated floor plans, Internet addresses. Communication has to be effective and targeted, quick and easy to respond. Marketing has to be gorgeous and widespread online.”

Craig Mastrangelo, Re/Max Allegiance: “Social media has created an avenue of reaching our friends, family, co-workers and also our clients and future clients. As such, Realtors have had to become adept at using social-media platforms to promote their services, brand and personalities. Beyond incorporating Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, video has recently become an important differentiator. Our tablets and mobile phones can accommodate larger file sizes, and videos can be broadcast to a wider audience. And it’s not just enough to upload videos of one’s listings, but now agents are better served to get out of their comfort zone and get in front of the camera. This video will create the relationship with the viewer and in turn help them promote their real-estate services.”
Carol Temple, Coldwell Banker: “Familiarity with video, virtual staging, online showing, scheduling and Zoom immediately come to mind. Despite all of the advances, the need for staying connected with buyers and sellers is crucial. Pick up the phone and initiate the calls and don’t make the fatal mistake of missing calls/messages because your voicemail is full. That screams unprofessional.”

Craig Burns, The Redux Group: “Advising clients and negotiating multiple offers with very few if any contingencies are ongoing skill sets that were less needed a decade or so ago. Mastering computer skills and web-based technologies are not only helpful but necessary. Social skills including networking skills with ethnic and gender equality must be finely-tuned tools for all Realtors. Ethics with knowledge and understanding of fair-housing laws have always been necessary, but even more. Dealing with the rapid pace of change including but not limited to the current pandemic with the ability to transition quickly is most helpful and is a must for personal and business health.”

Betsy Twigg, McEnearney Associates: “Relating to people and solving problems is still the bottom line, and you still have to talk and communicate and work with people the same way to help them make good decisions. But now, a lot of this is done electronically, so its applied differently. Now you get signatures for things electronically instead of signed by hand, and you send things electronically instead of hand delivered.”

Diane Lewis, Washington Fine Properties: “Persistence, creativity and strong negotiation skills. In many cases, it can take writing several offers for clients before getting a house. Agents need to be creative and know how to write strong winning offers. We also have to be creative in finding off-market properties for our clients, since the inventory remains historically low.”

Joan Stansfield, Keller Williams: “Much has changed in 10 years regarding our roles, to include the skills needed to navigate and market homes efficiently and effectively through social media and other platforms, for tangible and intangible return on investments. Also, with the popularity of HGTV, the bar is far higher for a home’s condition, so with the critical low inventory of homes and the low interest rates, you need to surround yourself with a strong network of professionals, to include top-producing agents, lenders and contractors.”

Barbara Lewis, Washington Fine Properties: “A positive attitude is extremely important because buyers often experience a lot of disappointment when they cannot purchase a home due to the multiple offers that many homes are receiving. Also, it is extremely important to use the latest technology tools to keep up with market conditions and inventory.”

Dawn Wilson, TTR Sotheby’s International: “Social media has taken on a larger role over the years, and the popularity of different types of social media changes as new platforms are developed. Things are constantly changing and keeping up is important. There are many more different real-estate-related tools available now, and I am sure more innovations are coming. Going hand in hand with that is the ability to adapt quickly to changes. And finally, the ability to get things done quickly has become more and more important. As technology makes it easier for things to be accomplished faster, the pace of real-estate transactions has accelerated.”

Marybeth Fraser, Keller Williams: “Technology has moved from our desktops to our hands. Leveraging mobile technology to keep up with the speed of the real-estate market is critical to servicing clients who rely heavily on their mobile devices for information and efficiency during a sale or purchase of a home. In addition to mastering mobile technology, Realtors need to stay smart on trends that affect the total cost of a home (e.g. mortgage interest rates, repairs, renovations, etc.) and changes to the contract and rules and regulations. When agents are not current, they can make mistakes that may cost their clients money or cause their buyers to lose the home.”

Gloria Adams, TTR Sotheby’s: “Agents have greater opportunities to obtain much more real-estate training through classes taught by their respective companies and the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. In addition, the digital world has helped agents so much in their expertise of the real-estate industry.”

Ann Wilson, Keller Williams: “The skills needed today are basically the same skills Realtors required a decade ago. I believe those skills include communication, listening, understanding your client’s needs and wants, integrity, the fine art of negotiation, and proficiency in technology.”

Dave Adams, Coldwell Banker: “Technology is in the forefront of the new real estate market. Approximately 95 percent of typical buyers use the Internet to search for homes. Interactive online property platforms and smartphone applications have given buyers the ability to do their own extensive property research before enlisting the services of a real-estate professional. Instagram, Facebook, real-estate-reality-based content on television and other social mediums have changed how we see real estate today. Buyers are making offers, sight unseen, based upon the way homes are now presented by this new technology. An agent’s ability to establish a presence on social media will set them apart. The next 10 years social media will dominate the real-estate industry.”

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