Compassion and sensitivity are the crucial character traits of an astute estate agent

Many of the systems and methods employed in the marketing of residential property have changed out of all recognition, with the use of computers and the internet revolutionizing the industry considerably. Nevertheless, the big factor which makes or breaks an estate agent is his people handling skills – and these remain as crucially important as ever, says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group.

Explaining this to a group of trainees at the Rawson Property Group’s head office in Rondebosch recently, Rawson said that estate agents have to be honest, friendly, knowledgeable on property matters (especially those relating to their area), tireless, persevering and always willing to learn. However, he said, all these qualities have to be founded on a base of compassion and sensitivity.

“One simply cannot over-emphasize that when people are buying or selling a home, they are likely to be in a stressed emotional state - they have to be understood, nurtured and comforted. The last thing they need is coercion or bullying and if the estate agent is inclined to these characteristics he or she will aggravate the client’s stress and will probably end up losing the sale.”

An agent with the right character traits, added Rawson, will always work to keep those he is dealing with out of trouble, whether they are sellers or buyers – and one of the most important ways in which he can do this is by inspecting the home with great diligence so as to detect any flaws. These then have to be brought to both the buyer’s and seller’s attention.

“If there is one behavior trait that we at the Rawson Property Group deplore,” said Rawson, “it is allowing the seller to hide a fault and to refrain from drawing it to the buyer’s attention. In a recent case, an estate agent had sold a home in which some of the windows were dysfunctional – but, possibly as a result of ignorance, had never mentioned this to the buyer. When later the buyer raised the matter with the estate agent, she was told that there was nothing they could do and she should have inspected the house more thoroughly.”

By the end of last year, the Rawson Property Group had, in 12 months, almost 8,000 people attend “training interventions” — 500 of which will have taken the initial induction course. Although great emphasis is placed in these courses on the techniques, accounting and legal aspects of estate agency work, said Rawson, equal importance is given to people skills and for many of those doing refresher courses, it is in reviewing their approach and attitude to clients that the greatest improvement can often be brought about.


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