Assertive not AggressiveReal estate agents who want to be successful in this business can’t hide in their shell or be a “wilting lily” – at least not in Silicon Valley.  Being able to get out there and find new clients with whom to work, encourage offers on listings, and negotiate well for buyers and sellers all require a level of assertiveness.  We may need to work outside of our comfort zone if the situation requires it.

But sometimes real estate sales people can go too far and venture into aggression instead of assertiveness.  The words “pushy” and “salesperson” almost seem to go together at times, don’t they?  (Personally, I hate buying cars because I loathe being on the other end of what feels like pushy sales tactics.)

A few years back, someone I met at an open house said that he didn’t need to like his agent because the agent wasn’t someone he’d want for a friend – it was someone who would push through what needed to be pushed and he didn’t need to be likable.  I found that a really interesting idea, but fundamentally, I disagree with the guy’s premise that successful Realtors basically have to be jerks.  It just isn’t true; in fact, the opposite is the case.

The most successful real estate agents share a few recognizable traits, at least most of the time.  I will list them off as I see them – not every top Realtor will possess all of these habits, skills or traits, but as a group, they emerge as a commonality found among most of them.

Top Silicon Valley real estate agents share these traits (at least most of the time):

  1. Prospect or market themselves continuously to attract new business (they cannot simply work on today’s business or tomorrow they will be unemployed).
  2. Have systems in place for how to work with buyers, sellers, sales in contract, prospects who are long term, follow up etc. Good systems are crucial.
  3. Work well with other agents and consumers – they play fair, communicate well, respond in a timely manner.  They are usually well liked by their colleagues. (This helps you to sell or buy a home – agents want to work with others they can trust to work well and fairly.)
  4. Know the contracts and forms and use them appropriately. They explain the contract to their clients so that expectations are in line.  Surprises are bad most of the time and can be avoided if everyone understands exactly what they are agreeing to.  And the contracts we use are clear: if it’s not in writing and agreed to by all parties, it is not a part of the transaction.
  5. Present their listings in their best light with enough photos, good descriptions on the MLS and online, make sure the home is staged or at least tidy and decluttered. You won’t find their photographs on the Facebook group’s page “Really Bad MLS Photos”.
  6. Take care of any mistakes they make to the best of their ability. (Mistakes happen: the question is, how do you address it when they do?)
  7. Can be both assertive and pleasant, not rude.  They are mannerly and follow instructions on the MLS when showing homes and abide by their clients wishes as to when and how to be contacted.  They are not afraid to ask tough questions or work around obstacles.
  8. They work hard and don’t blame when things go awry.  The go the extra mile – and will even ask if it’s possible to present an offer in person.
  9. Are discreet.  They don’t talk about their high profile clients or their business, but know how to keep personal matters (that don’t involve others) personal.

Recently I had a listing in which the MLS clearly stated that showings were by appointment only.  The for sale sign had a rider with the same information on it:  “Appointment Only”.  But because some agents don’t behave, naturally one of them knocked on my clients’ door a couple of hours before an open house and asked to be let in.  The answer was no.  Not only was the answer no, but the seller remembered this guy and later wanted nothing to do with him or his buyers.   His behavior crossed the line.  If you’re rude before you’re in escrow, when you should be trying to make a good impression, what would you be like if my clients accepted your offer?  Thanks but no thanks.

Another story of an agent who went too far:  at an open house of my listing, where there were many buyers and agents circulating through, one real estate licensee loudly called out all of the defects or flaws in the property.  The sales person holding this house open for me said that some  buyers left when they heard him. Didn’t sound like much of an accident.  That kind of nastiness makes it easy for an agent and her or his buyer to be passed over in a multiple offer situation.

A year or two ago, I was holding a listing open with another realty  agent, a friend and colleague of mine.  The open house was packed and there were agents showing the house as well as neighbors and serious buyers all circulating around.  I could just hear the tone of voice a showing agent was using on my colleague when asking her questions.  This real estate licensee sounded like he was being very critical, there was an ugly undertone.  Although it was hard to hear what was said, I could get the vibe – and it wasn’t nice.  Later, this same guy presented one of many, many offers on my listing. He was terribly pushy then – sort of slimey pushy.  I was relieved that he had the worst offer.  If necessary, of course, I could have dealt with him but what a relief to have a much more pleasant person on the other end of the transaction!  My clients were relieved too. In a tie, guess what? The nice agent/buyer(s) usually wins.

It is a huge mistake to think you should hire an aggressive agent, a pushy sales person.  Don’t do it.  Your agent is in many ways you – he or she represents you.  If you want to be perceived as someone nasty, then go ahead.  But you attract more flies with honey than vinegar, as the saying goes.

For further reading:

Do you need to like your real estate agent? Do you need other agents to like yours?

What do Silicon Valley real estate agents do?  (you might be surprised how they spend their time)

How responsive should your real estate agent be?

Silicon Valley Home Buyers: Should You Use a Buyer Broker Agreement?