Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Being an excellent Realtor is about much more than showing properties, listing homes and writing contracts.  Being an excellent Realtor is about solving problems, discerning value and developing an exceptionally high level of "EQ", or emotional intelligence.

When it comes to huge financial decisions, understanding emotional intelligence and the way humans process information is every bit as important as logic, reason and numbers.  

Many years ago, when fax machines were the breakthrough technology and I was just starting out, my managing broker in California imparted some wisdom that has stayed with me for 25 years.  

People make decisions based on how they feel.

Internalize this, and you will solve problems that other people cannot.  You will hold deals together that otherwise would die.  And you will earn loyalty and faithfulness from past clients that will sustain your business for years to come, no matter how many discounters and tech-based disruptors and disintermediators enter the market.  

If you can be attuned to how people feel, and then help them work around their fears and insecurities, you (and your clients) will win.

There are many reasons people fail as real estate agents, but I would say the two leading "causes of death" are as follows:

1.  Lacking a work ethic commensurate with what it takes to succeed in an insanely competitive market, and/or;

2.  A lack of emotional intelligence sufficient to put and hold deals together.  

Most of my clients will tell you that I over-educate, over-anticipate and over-manage almost all aspects of their real estate transactions.  And I'm not apologizing.

In my view, I am responsible for everything that happens in a real estate transaction.  I am responsible for doing my job, the other agent's job, the lender's job, the appraiser's job and the title company's job.  I am the filter for all information coming in and going out.  If anyone drops the ball, I simply own it as if it was my fault, because even though that involves taking on ridiculous responsibility, it also gives me tremendous power.  

I am not dependent on other people for my outcomes.    

So how do you function at this level effectively?

For one, you must realize that there is a huge difference in real estate (and in life) between identifying problems and actually solving them.  Great real estate agents understand that when there's a challenge, there is also a solution.  And part of your job is to figure out what that solution is, what it will cost, how long it will take, who will be most affected and what other alternatives might exist.

Don't show up at my door with problems, show up at my door with solutions.

This is one reason I document so many things with video.  I have a private YouTube channel with more than 2,000 videos I've accumulated over the past decade of leaky faucets, faulty electric panels and hail-damaged roofs.  I share information with contractors quickly and efficiently (always valuing their time more than my own, which is one of the keys to success) so I know what problems will cost, who can address them and how quickly we can get the work completed.  

Having a team of loyal, competent vendors who treat clients well and respect the value I create for them is one of the secret ingredients of effectiveness.  It's why I've spent thousands of dollars on an annual basis putting together a "Professional Services Directory" for my past and current clients, holding luncheons and networking events to bring tradespeople together and, frankly, removing people quickly from my contractor ecosystem when they fail to perform.

All to say, like any healthy and thriving business, I work hard to create value and take accountability.  I am humble enough to value others' time more than my own and confident enough to apply pressure and call in favors when I need to.  

Think of it this way.  If you're a passenger on an airplane and you experience turbulence, do you want the pilot to get on the intercom say "Ladies and gentlemen, we've hit some turbulence and I don't know what we're going to do.  It sucks.  Air traffic control was slow getting us out of DIA and now we're in this stupid storm.  Arggh!"  

Or would you rather hear, "Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the turbulence.  We're going to divert to the north and we should be back on a smooth track shortly.  We may be a few minutes late to our destination, but we'll do everything in our power to make up the time.  We appreciate your business and we're glad you're with us today."  

A good pilot has well-developed skills and emotional intelligence.  Same with real estate brokers.  Emotional intelligence is about calming the waters, both in your own mind and in the minds of clients.  Take the emotion out, focus on solutions, eyes on the prize.  

But fact is, much of my professional life is spent dealing with people who want to blame, vent and argue instead of simply focusing on solving problems (which is the fastest way to a paycheck, by the way).  They would rather slap the water with a paddle than row toward dry land.  

There's a great die-off coming in the agent population, not just in Denver but all throughout our industry.  With 55,000 transactions in the Denver metro market each year and 22,000 licensed agents, there simply isn't enough business to go around.  Professor Darwin was right, at least when it comes to real estate.  Only the strong will survive.

Those who survive will be those who have mastered the art of creating value, those who are willing to outwork everyone around them and those who understand emotional intelligence.  There are no shortcuts, and in an industry that has willingly and historically embraced part-timers, dabblers and wannabes, the new market will not be kind to those unwilling to adapt.