Less Is More for Apartment Brokers

Prospective buyers and renters are turned off by agents who speak too much or push too hard.

Having been in the residential real estate business for almost 15 years now, I have been surprised to see the change in many brokers’ approaches to leasing and sales. Numerous brokers today often sell themselves and the properties in an overly aggressive fashion rather than just being congenial and friendly in the hopes of developing client relationships that way. Many newer agents don’t realize that it’s typically more effective to let the residence sell itself than to be pushy about closing the deal.

It’s important to recognize that if people don’t have the need for what you’re offering, then there is no way to make them have that need. Thus, brokers should never employ begging as a strategy. When hiring potential agents, I always ask them whether they have the ability to make people rent or buy a listing. If they believe themselves capable of such a feat, then I know they are probably much more aggressive than I prefer my agents to be.

There seems to be a misconception among less experienced brokers that they should speak continuously throughout a showing. However, most clients find this quite obnoxious. Alternatively, I would advise brokers to speak only when first spoken to by a client. Brokers should certainly be prepared with the relevant information to answer questions but should never offer up those answers without first being prompted. The only exception to this rule is information about the residence of which clients must be informed by law. After all, choosing a place to live is a highly emotional decision and clients should be allowed to have that experience without interference. Of course, all brokers should attempt to be courteous and make small talk with their clients, but brokers should never feel the need to share personal information about themselves without first being asked or to convince people how intelligent or accomplished they are.

Brokers should refrain from pointing out completely obvious features of a residence, such as granite countertops. In addition, they shouldn’t comment on subjective factors such as a “great view” as these factors vary depending on the person. A better alternative is to phrase potentially subjective statements in the form of questions. For example, one could ask the client what they think of the view. Another common mistake that I see many newer agents make is that they begin negotiating the deal before they’re positive that the client is really interested. This is overly aggressive and often scares people. Brokers can certainly share the price if asked, but they shouldn’t feel the need to discuss the possibility of lowering the price or offering concessions until they are sure that the client is really serious about taking that particular listing.

As a general rule of thumb, I advise brokers to keep their speaking to a minimum and to think of themselves as being there to open the door and answer specific questions that are asked of them. Extraneous information only complicates an already complex process. Unfortunately, my advice is often not understood by less experienced agents, namely those who have been exposed to shows like “Million Dollar Listing.” These portrayals of the residential real estate business have a hyper-aggressive quality that encourages brokers to be completely extroverted and somewhat over-the-top. In an attempt to counteract this idea, I emphasize to my brokers that less is more. This advice is paramount in weaker residential markets, such as the one that we’re in the midst of now. Clients are more able to take their time in these markets and they will resent being pushed.

When it comes time to sign a lease or close a sale, the guideline of less being more remains true. All a broker can do is to give their best advice in a casual manner. It’s important never to lose one’s temper with a client. In an effort to complete the deal, an agent may follow up if a client’s paperwork hasn’t been submitted but should never inquire more than twice. It does not behoove brokers to nag. It’s important to remember that it’s the residence that people are interested in, not the broker. When agents realize that it’s really all about the home, they will begin to truly embrace the philosophy of less being more.

Adam Frisch is managing principal of Lee & Associates Residential NYC, the first residential division of the national Lee & Associates brand. 



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