Assistant Prof. Saumya Shirina shares her views on the importance of effective communication skills in real estate industry.

24 April 2017

Expert Talk

Communication is key in every aspect of life, and it’s especially crucial in the workplace. Whether a person is just starting out in business or are further along in career curve, there are specific business communication skills necessary for success. Effective communication is all about conveying your messages to other people clearly and unambiguously. It's also about receiving information that others are sending to you, with as little distortion as possible. Doing this involves effort from both the sender of the message and the receiver. And it's a process that can be fraught with error, with messages muddled by the sender, or misinterpreted by the recipient. When this isn't detected, it can cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort and missed opportunity.

Real estate is a people business and the way one communicates has a big impact on success of professionals. Real estate professionals’ help people buy and sell their homes, and attitude and communication skills can make that a good experience or a forgettable one for everyone. Research reveals that 97% of employees surveyed believe that poor communication as a result of inadequate business language skills can create misunderstanding. A staggering 83% of employees report that poor business language skills have resulted in a negative impact on sales, profitability and efficiency of operations in their organisations. Communication is at the centre of real estate. While it is crucial for the success of any transaction — from a traditional resale to a short sale — proper communication is almost never achieved without facing major obstacles. Simply put, a real estate transaction is a negotiation between a buyer and a seller who must communicate effectively to complete a deal.

Essential Communication Skills every real estate professional must possess. Here are nine essential communication skills every real estate professional should hone to develop necessary attitude for success.

Active listening skills 

The ability to listen to and incorporate other views in your communication. Listening shows you value opinions outside of your own and are open to new concepts. As a result, your audience views you as an equal partner and you can come to a solution that benefits the greater good. An active listener will allow pauses for interjections, repeat other people’s words and ask questions to affirm his or her engagement in a conversation.

Writing skills

Written communication for business should be brief but informative, and helps an audience focus on only the most important points. Good written communication also includes adequate follow-up, which closes the communication loop and shows proactive activity towards goals.

Verbal skills

The ability to communicate information (ideas, thoughts, opinions and updates) in a clear manner verbally. Like good written communication, good verbal communication in the workplace is also concise and specific. Researchers have found that today’s attention span amounts to only 8.25 seconds. Verbal communication allows employees to engage with one another in-person and come to a mutually agreeable consensus.

Interpersonal communication skills

Building trust and strong relationships with key stakeholders in a business. Another “soft skill,” successful interpersonal communication allows employees to find common ground, display empathy and build bonds with one another. Interpersonal communication means not only connecting on more than business level, but also a personal level as well.

Teamwork skills

Effectively communicating with others who may have different opinions and skill sets. In a business setting, this means putting aside personal differences and working toward a common goal. For teamwork to be successful, all parties must recognize that combined efforts are worth more than individual contributions.

Presentation skills

Presenting information and ideas to an audience in a way that is engaging, motivating, and effective. This method of business communication allows one individual, or a group of individuals, to share evidence to support an idea or argument. A good presenter is also a good storyteller, stories and examples to influence an audience to act toward a desired outcome.

Selling skills

Persuading stakeholders to pursue an idea, decision, action, product or service. Selling skills extends beyond just those whose jobs fall under the sales department. Employees with selling skills can use these skills to influence other employees to buy into a project, team members to choose a side, or executives to offer new products or services.

Negotiation skills

Reaching a mutually beneficial solution by understanding and leveraging the other side’s motivations. A mutually beneficial or “win-win” solution is one that both sides finds favourable, and maintains positive relationships for future interactions. In order to achieve this outcome, you’ll need to discover what factors would be most influential and agreeable for the other side.

The real estate transaction centres on the negotiation. It is during the offer negotiation process that communicating accurately and in a timely manner is absolutely paramount. There are often communication breakdowns in the time between when the buyer’s agent submits the offer and when that offer is accepted. Prospective buyers make their decision and expect an offer to be sent and received immediately; however, they are not always aware of the lengthy chain it must go through to be processed. By the time the listing agent reviews the offer and discusses it with the seller, days can pass. And, several hindrances can transpire before a counteroffer is made.

Networking skills

Displaying business value and encouraging others to enter into your business network. In order to network successfully, you’ll need to be interesting enough that others desire to partner with you in some way. A large business network can also be a safety net, and means you have more people to rely on when you require help, information or services.

Tips to improve on communication skills

Here are some tips to improve on communication skills so as to make the real estate professionals more successful and build goodwill and strong relationships with the clients /customers.

Ask questions

Show genuine interest in your vendors and buyers by asking well-considered questions. Find out what they’re looking for – don’t just assume you know. Position yourself as a knowledgeable expert by treating your first meeting with them like an interview. Ask questions to establish specific details about the type of property they are looking for and the time period they think they will own or live in the property. Find out if they have worked with another agent and if they have been satisfied or dissatisfied with their services and why. Closed-ended questions are those which can be answered by a simple "yes" or "no," while open-ended questions are those which require more thought and more than a simple one-word answer. The best practice is never ASSUME.

Listen carefully

Communicating is not just about you telling others what you know or think – it relies on both parties listening to what the other is saying. How else are you going to have any idea what your vendor or buyer actually wants? Pay attention and listen actively, responding to what is being said. Have your own input but stay on topic. Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences.

Improve your written communication skills

Find out how your buyers prefer to be contacted about property updates. Some will appreciate a phone call while others will be happy with a text message, email or property newsletter. Remember that your written communication skills are just as important as your verbal communication skills. If you are using a text message or email to communicate with buyers, ensure that all spelling, grammar, sentence structure and information is correct.

Avoid over-abbreviating and using jargons.

Respond to messages in an appropriate time frame. Time is of the essence in real estate, and if you fail to keep both vendors and buyers updated in a timely manner they will lose trust in your abilities.

Carry a positive body language

Selling a property can be a lot like dating. First impressions is the last impression and definitely a lasting impression your facial expressions, how you stand and what you do with your hands all play a part in the impression you give. Stand straight, look people in the eyes and relax; drop your shoulders and remember to breathe. If you’re not sure what to do with your hands, carry a clipboard or brochures – just don’t fold them across your chest as that blocks communication.

Likewise, it pertinent to recognise other people’s body language for necessary cues. When people are receptive, they will generally look at you, and if they mirror your body language, the conversation is probably going well and it’s a sign they are interested in what you have to say. If they turn their body away or display closed gestures, you might need to rethink your strategy.

Stay in touch

Good communicators know how much and how often to keep in touch. Poor communication from real estate agents is one of the biggest frustrations for people who are buying or selling property. What seems like insignificant information to an agent, who’s been in the business for years, can be really important to clients who are new to the real estate game. 

A vendor wants to hear feedback and results, but maybe not every time you receive an enquiry. Buyers and investors are interested in new property listings, so note their criteria and alert them using their preferred medium when a suitable property comes up, they’ll appreciate your attention to detail. 

Most importantly, all lines of communication, with all parties involved, must be kept open during the entire process in order to achieve success. Success to me means creating happy and satisfied clients who become raving fans and provide repeat and referral business as a result. Successful real estate professionals are those who make others feel good about them, so be responsive to your clients’ needs and questions. Treat everyone with respect and master communication skills that help you build rapport with people.