Real Estate Experts
We believe that no amount of marketing can help a professional get business if he / she is not an expert. The idea is to ‘position’ oneself in the market as an expert and the only person that a potential client would think of doing business with or refer to his / her own network.
There is really no doubt that as real estate agents, our primary product that people will buy is our knowledge of property and it is vital that every agent thoroughly understands what they are selling. Those who have been real estate consultants for a long time might feel that the knowledge of their market is taken for granted. I say this as from my own experience as someone who has relocated from one market to another (US to India). The first market was one in which I knew everything about and the second market was one I knew nothing about! Of course this was years ago and now I know everything about the Indian market. And I can tell you that knowing your market is a far more comfortable experience than not knowing it. It is mightily uncomfortable when you have to sound as if you know what you are doing as a professional when you do not know much about it! Once a professional realtor knows the pleasure of being a master of the market, he / she can simply not imagine conducting business without the confidence that knowledge and experience imparts.
Being a Master of the Real Estate Market
When I say that a real estate consultant has to be a master of the market, what exactly do I mean by that? For me, knowing the real estate market means a number of things. Firstly, I am able to casually converse about it. When there is an opportunity to talk about Real Estate, say at a gathering of professionals or at a meeting with a client or a seller or even at a party, I know what I am talking about and I can air my views based on factual reports and analysis. I sound like I know what I am talking about because I DO know what I am talking about! It’s not just about rattling off stats and figures like a parrot. I have a real and deep understanding of the Mumbai Real Estate Market.
Being a master of the real estate market also means that when someone informs me about where he / she lives, I have a clear picture of the neighbourhood and locality. I may not necessarily know the year in which the apartment block or bungalow was built but I have an overall sense and feel of the affluence and ambience of the area and the amenities nearby. Thanks to my experience I will probably be able to also throw in a personal anecdote or two.
On the other hand, not ‘knowing’ a market means that if I come across a query or a statement about a locality and if it’s outside of my area of expertise then I am not going to be able to come up with much in terms of information or intelligence besides small talk. Actually there is no harm in not knowing a particular market because one cannot be an expert everywhere. But it goes without saying that the more familiar one is with property types and localities the more one will be able to build long term relationships with potential clients.
This is what I mean when I say that every real estate consultant associated with Gupta & Sen are masters of the market. Its not that we have a whole lot of statistics, data and figures mugged up but that we can speak confidently and knowledgeably about the local real estate market.
Mastery is Good for Business
Let’s face it. The world pays you as a professional for your services when you are an acknowledged master of the subject. Since real estate business comes from other people, they have the power to hire you, refer you to others and they have to eventually make a decision whether or not they are going to do that based on your mastery. This decision will emerge only after a conversation between a client and an agent. And during the course of that conversation, in some ways the other party must be inspired with confidence in your abilities as a real estate agent worth hiring or referring to.
Expertise Triumphs over Marketing
Most people do not care about lush and beautifully designed home brochures or flyers nor are they interested about your marketing plans or your agent-of-the-year awards. Do they wish to be added to your sms or email-blast lists? Probably not. But most potential clients would be interested to know the rate at which properties are selling in the areas in which they are interested in or which areas are recovering at a faster rate than others and the reasons why. We believe that if a person has some interest in the current residential or commercial real estate market and one can have an intelligent discussion about the same with this person, he / she is a client for life!
Let us look at a very all-too-common scenario taking place. An NRI in town for a few days decides to shop for a piece of residential property in Mumbai. He walks into the office of a real estate agency near his desired area. The agent on duty knows nothing about his market and wastes a lot of the person’s time trying to look up properties online on Magicbricks.com or 99acres.com! The agent cannot answer a single basic question on price range and whether the person can indeed buy a seafacing flat with the budget that he has in mind.
The next day, he researches the internet and comes across our agency. He visits us and speaks to one of our in-house agent – Utsav Ladiwala who knows everything about his local market and whose experience and knowledge belies his young age due to his background, education, communication skill and over and above all his passion about the real estate business. Within 15 minutes, Utsav is able to inform the client about the potential properties that are available in the area that the client is search for. Utsav also sadly but gently breaks the news to the client that sea facing properties are way out of the client’s budget especially in the area that he desires to live in.
Even though Utsav does not live in the area that the client wants to buy in, he is knowledgeable about the area and even though the earlier property agent’s office was situated in the area where the client wanted to buy his house, the agent was not able to exude the confidence required to effectively inspire confidence in the client’s mind to be able to trust the agent with business or referrals.
Mastering the Market With Property Portals
A lot of agents try to master a market by simply studying all those dime-a-dozen lookalike Indian property portals out there like magicbricks.com, makaan.com or housing.com. We believe that serious home buyers do not waste their time on such mass online marketplaces. Serious property experts also do not waste their time on such websites because they know that no amount of research spent sitting behind a desk poring through the information on the sites can help a person become knowledgeable about the market. They know that real knowledge is gained by physically looking at properties and neighbourhoods. At Gupta & Sen, we make physically previewing properties a priority for our agents because that is the only way you can learn about the market, know the sellers and their psychology for selling. I mentioned earlier in this article that a market expert has the unique ability to visualize a neighbourhood in his / her mind when given an address. And you cannot develop that kind of familiarity from poring through property portals.
Some property agents that a buyer may encounter even have the habit of memorizing “relevant statistics” such as Price per Sq. Ft., Average List-to-Sold ratios in a given area, absorption rates etc. I disagree with such tactics because while it may sound interesting to a property agent, it is highly unlikely that such information will be interesting to people you are having a conversation with. Cold hard numbers are by itself meaningless indicators of the real estate market if the person who is rattling off the numbers cannot relate the numbers to what is actually happening onground. Lets cite an example again:
A cheerful and jovial real estate agent meets you and gives you the average DOM (Days on Market) in your chosen locality as 102. What does that really mean? It could mean two different things. The figure of 102 means that some flats in the area were sold in 2 days and some were sold in 200 days to yield an average DOM of 102. It is also possible that 50% of the homes in that area were sold in the first 30 days and the other half took six months to sell which would result in a DOM somewhere in the middle. The same can be said of list-to-sell prices. Most houses may sell for list-to-sell percentages between 0 – 30% off the listing price. But it would be wrong and highly misleading to tell potential buyers that houses are selling at 92% of asking price which is just an average of those percentages!
If a home owner with a residence to sell asks me, “So Chloe, tell me what’s the average number of days a property like mine will stay on the market these days?”
I would probably reply to a question like that with something like, “Oh that really depends on the time of the year apart from the price range and the interiors of the home. Overall really good homes in strategic locations with the right pricing sell fast – under a month sometimes! But there is a lot of inventory right now in the 3 BHK residential segment what with the flurry of new luxury developments launched by prominent Developers. If your house is not one of the best available in terms of location, amenities and desirability of the neighbourhood then it may sit on the market for months and may not even sell at all.”
So you see, this is what I mean when I say that one’s knowledge about the market is more important than memorizing facts and figures 🙂