It’s All About You

Real estate myths and the truth behind them


 Valerie Garcia  |    October 11, 2017
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After working in the real estate industry for the better part of two decades, it occurs to me that we say a lot of things over and over as if they are true, when in fact they are not. A myth is defined as “a widely held but false belief.” Sometimes these myths are passed down from one generation to the next. Often they are brought about by our own actions. So what are the most common myths we tell ourselves in this industry, and what are the truths that we should be replacing them with?

Let’s start with the most common myth of them all.

Myth: Buyers are liars

Nearly all of you have likely said this at one point or another. Some of you likely even believe it to be true. The real question, however, is not why do buyers lie? The real question is, why do people lie at all?

Humans are not hardwired to lie. We are actually hardwired for connection. However, when we are forced to make quick decisions, a funny thing happens in our brain. This particularly happens when we feel fear around these decisions. When we feel fear, a signal is sent to the back of our brain that tells us to freeze. A second signal is then sent to our nervous system. Our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure increases and — BAM! — we get a shot of adrenaline. We then make an instant choice. Fight or flight? Stay or run? Lie or tell the truth? We can’t really control this process; it’s a natural response. So instead of saying “buyers are liars” — we really are saying, “buyers are in situations where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and we are forcing them to make quick decisions, and they are choosing to protect themselves.” You see, we haven’t yet given them a reason to trust us with the truth. 

Truth: It’s not their responsibility to trust you. It’s our responsibility to earn trust. We can’t start asking all these questions when we haven’t yet built a culture of trust. The best way to keep a customer is to develop a sense of trust. And the fastest way to trust is a personalized experience. It’s your responsibility to make your customers feel that they aren’t just anybody else you talk to. The more they feel like you care and are truly in tune to their needs, they will be more likely to trust you with the truth. 

Myth: People care that you are No. 1

In this industry, we really think they do, and we spend a lot of time and effort making sure that our audience knows that we are No. 1. But our customers don’t actually care. 

Truth: People care about whether you care about them. Most people just want to be cared about. Service at its simplest definition is just “being nice.” And, more than anything else, service drives customer loyalty. When you have had really great service, you are far more likely to want to use that product or provider again. When you have had great service, you want to talk about it to others. As we work this back toward you, if your customer knows you care about them, they become loyal to you. You provide a great, personalized experience; your customers learn to trust you, and when you ask them questions … they don’t lie. See how this comes back to you?

Myth: The first impression starts at the kitchen table

This myth has been perpetuated for years. It’s one of the very first myths I remember learning, many years ago, in my first new agent training class. It was wrong, even back then. 

The real truth is this: The first impression starts in the moment when customers feel they have had their first contact with you. And most of us aren’t even there when this moment happens. Google studies show that buyers and sellers start their real estate search online an average of 90 days before they contact an agent. The first impression might start late at night as a potential buyer is surfing the internet and they start reading your website. It might start when they try to call you and get your voicemail, or when they are forced to fill out a form online to see all the photos of a listing. Or, it may start when they submit a lead form and never hear back at all. In short — each little interaction, no matter how small or insignificant it feels to you — is shaping the first impression someone has of you. The first impression starts way before you get to the kitchen table. Every single thing you do matters, and each one might be your “kitchen table moment.” 

Myth: You have to ...

You are constantly bombarded with messaging. Use social media, create Facebook ads, buy leads, try Instagram, use Pinterest or SnapChat, go paperless, learn technology, get back to basics, understand millennials, understand boomers, download this app, have a CRM, door knock, don’t door knock … It’s a never-ending stream of “you have to.” And because someone else did some of those things and found success, we feel like we have to do them as well. 

Truth: I am not saying you don’t have to do things. I am not even saying that the things I mentioned are wrong or that they don’t work. What I am saying is this: You don’t have to do everything. The fact is, the only thing you have to do is be willing to try new things. Try things that make you uncomfortable. The only thing you really have to do is be willing to do something consistently enough to track your results and then adjust and adapt. You don’t have to be everywhere; you just have to be somewhere really well.

Myth: Being busy is a good thing

I had one of those moms who constantly told us kids to find something to do. If you didn’t find something to do, she found something for you to do. And chances are, you weren’t going to like doing it. From a young age, we are taught that we need to always be doing something. And this myth just gets worse as we grow older. We focus so much on being busy that it becomes our default setting. Now, I know what you are thinking — “don’t I want to be busy? Isn’t that the point?” 

Truth: The truth is that being busy isn’t actually your goal. My mom didn’t just say, “Go find something to do.” She said, “Go be productive.” Your goal is not to be busy; it’s to be productive. Busy means constant movement, but being productive means to produce results. We often go through each day doing all of the things on our list, but we didn’t actually produce real results. The goal is to use your energy to produce results so that you can rest. When we time block and see actual results from our actions, we feel like we can take a deep breath and relax. This should be our goal. 

Myth: Content is king

The idea that “content is king” has created a kind of frenzied activity in our industry. We produce a ton of content. We are constantly making videos, posts, podcasts, fliers, postcards, ads, newsletters, calendars, magnets … the list goes on and on. The problem, however, is not the content. We could argue all day long about whether print marketing is dead or online marketing is effective, but the argument doesn’t touch the real problem in this industry. 

Truth: The truth is that the message is far more important than the content. We spend a lot of time planning and building and paying for our content, but we don’t spend nearly as much time on our message. See, it doesn’t matter where you say it, what matters is what you are saying.

And if most of our messaging is talking about ourselves instead of providing real value to our audience, we will consistently miss the mark. Our messaging should be building relationships, answering questions and solving problems. If you aren’t doing that, it doesn’t matter how much content you are creating. This is the grassroots of where we create that personalized experience. If we create a personal experience with our messaging, we speak to our audience’s needs, wants and fears — they then start to feel that we understand them and care about them. Our audience then begins to trust us, and they don’t lie to us. See how it all ties back to us?

Myth: Leads are people who want to buy or sell real estate 

We spend a lot of time talking about leads in this industry. The leads suck. We need more leads. Should I buy leads? Lead conversion, lead generation, leads, leads, leads. This is where I start to lose you. I mean, obviously leads are people who want to buy or sell real estate, right?

Wrong. 

The problem is that we subscribe to this myth, which affects our content, our messaging and everything we do down the line. 

Truth: The truth is this: Leads are people. Period. The problem with this myth is that we spend our days looking at people as if they are leads, instead of looking at our leads and acknowledging that they are people. A lead is just a person who has put up their hand and said, “I have a question.” If we can get to the point where we stop thinking of leads as leads and start thinking of them as people, then we can go the rest of the way through the journey to start thinking of them as relationships. If we can make that switch and replace the word “leads” in our vocabulary with “relationships,” statements like “the relationships suck” or “I need more relationships,” only serves to remind us that the responsibility is on our shoulders to build trust. 

Myth: You are your brand

We hear this myth so often. Individual companies and brands aside, we are often taught that we are our brand and ultimately, it’s all about us. As much as we tell ourselves this, it’s not true. 

Truth: The reality is that your reputation is your brand. The flag that flies over your head, no matter where you work, is your reputation. And so, as we look back over the other myths we’ve talked about, we have to ask ourselves: Are we building trust? Are we showing our customers that we care more about them than we do about ourselves? Are we providing really great service? Are we willing to try new things? Are we consistently doing things that produce results? Are we personalizing the message, and not just pushing out content? And most importantly, are we treating our leads like people? If we are doing these things, this is what others will talk about. This will become the narrative that our customers and clients share about us. And our reputation will automatically be building a foundation of trust for the customers who come next.

Which means, if they trust you, they are more likely to tell the truth. It all comes back to you.

Valerie Garcia is an international speaker known for delivering encouragement and truth with her straightforward style and sense of humor. Valerie focuses on the importance of overcoming fear, adapting to new ideas, and putting the customer first. Valerie has worked with real estate companies in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, and has spent over 17 years educating and teaching real estate professionals. Over the past several years, she has been creating and delivering education initiatives for associates across North America.

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