Lesson Learned: Offer Insights, Not Answers


In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry. This week, find out how Raleigh-Durham agent Matthew Szalecki learned that when it comes to the hard decisions, your clients have to be in the driver’s seat.

Matthew Szalecki

In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.

Real estate broker and Inman contributor Matthew Szalecki loves operations, processes and the way people work. As director of brokerage operations at Fathom Realty in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina and owner of Family Building Company, Szalecki is used to having all the answers.

Find out how he learned early on that when it comes to client care, your role is to educate instead of advise.

How long have you been in the business?

I’ve been in the business for five years. I got started after finding my glass ceiling in the retail management world. I bought a house, thought it was an interesting process, got licensed and quit my job. I started on teams and launched a productive team a year or so later.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

As an industry leader helping grow and shape a large brokerage, a regional builder in the Southeast and owner of a sales team supporting my new construction and development activities.

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?

Communicate in writing, and present options. Nothing good comes of telling your clients what to do or how to do it. Give them choices, and let them make the tough decisions. Advice means telling a client the pros and cons of a decision and allowing them to make it.

How did you learn it?

I had a client who was really interested in a property. We’re in a hot market, so the middle-class price point is selling here in three days or less, frequently for thousands above asking price. This client was in her fourth bidding war and determined to get the home.

I encouraged her to put in a large nonrefundable deposit on the deal, so her offer would be stronger than the rest. They won the offer, then found a bunch of things they didn’t like about the home.

To keep the story short, I ended up giving them a $7,000 credit at closing (my entire commission) to fix a bunch of items in the home that were deal-breakers for them because the alternative was to have no closing at all and refund the $5,000 deposit I “pressured” them to put in.

That’s when I learned that it’s not helpful to instruct clients how to proceed; it’s helpful to give them options and let them find their own path.

What advice would you give to new agents?

It’s like being a new parent. You’re going to get advice from everyone. Everyone says they’ve got the secret sauce and know the one thing you need to do to be successful. They don’t, and you don’t yet either.

Try a bit of everything, and find what works for you. Stay true to yourself, and work within your strengths. Stay patient with yourself while you figure it out, and you will get to where you want to be!

Do you want to be featured on an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here!

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on  FacebookTwitterInstagram  and YouTube.





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