By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine
“Honesty is the best policy.” — An old saying that rings truer today in real estate than ever before.
REALTOR® and author Mario Jannatpour, a sales associate with RE/MAX Alliance in Louisville, Colo., is making honesty his mission in his recently-released second book, “The Honest Real Estate Agent: A Training Guide for a Successful First Year and Beyond as a Real Estate Agent.”
“Honesty is what our clients want today from us as REALTORS®,” says Jannatpour. “Combine honesty with knowledge, expertise and skills — this completes the profile.”
Jannatpour spoke with REALTOR® Magazine about his new book and the power of honesty in business:
Can you talk about the importance of honesty in agent-client relationships?
Jannatpour: In preparing to write this book, I did research on Twitter and Facebook. I spoke with people who were never my clients, asking them what they believed was most important when working with a REALTOR®. “Honesty” just kept coming up as an answer. It’s honesty in that you’re always doing the right thing for your clients, even maybe at the expense of killing a deal. You should always have the mindset, regardless of the deal, that you tell the truth because that’s what your clients need to know. Let them make the decision based on the information you present.
I’ve been in sales all my life and I’ve experienced situations where the sales professional holds back information. In real estate, you can’t do that. The house that people live in is the most important purchase of their lives.
How can real estate professionals break the stereotype of dishonesty?
Jannatpour: I actually have a chapter titled “I Hate Real Estate Agents.” That’s a thing we all deal with as REALTORS®, especially throughout the past decade in light of foreclosures, short sales, and the mortgage industry meltdown. Some real estate agents played a part in that, unfortunately. And we have an industry that includes a lot of people – over 1 million members of NAR – so there are going to be a few bad eggs. I think the way you counteract it as a real estate agent is by simply doing the opposite of the stereotype. Focus on the needs of your clients, be honest to them, and be honest to yourself. Some of my best clients are people who had bad experiences with other real estate agents in the past. When you show them you can do a good job and be honest, they really appreciate that.
What are some of the biggest mistakes new agents make?
Jannatpour: First, not doing a business marketing plan for their market and choosing their niche. Also, not understanding their personal finances and overestimating their abilities to be profitable in their first year to two years.
What were some of your struggles when you started out in real estate?
Jannatpour: For me, I had an advantage in that I came from a sales background. My biggest mistake was listening to more established real estate agents and trying to model some of their marketing methods. It just wasn’t effective for me. My biggest advice to new agents is you have to set yourself apart from the crowd. Just say no to refrigerator magnets and calendars.
It’s also important to research the type of company you want to work for. I got lucky, didn’t do a lot of research, but ended up in an office that was a good fit. But I know a lot of newer agents don’t evaluate the different company choices and then they end up changing companies in the first 3-5 years. It’s difficult to establish your brand and presence with your sphere and clients when you’re changing companies. It can also reflect poorly on you, depicting instability or indecisiveness. You don’t want to create any lack of confidence.
What are two tips from your book that are invaluable for new agents to know?
Jannatpour: Every job we have – whether in real estate or in other industries – there will always be issues and challenges. Don’t walk away from the foundation you are building in your real estate career. New, younger agents have an advantage in that they have already embraced and are living out technology via social media on a daily basis. It’s an advantage. Continuing on that path, connecting with your sphere on a personal and professional level will help grow your business. And never, ever give up.
People will tell you that you can’t do it. But you can. Block out all of the negative messages you get from friends, family, and the national media. Stay focused on what you want and you will achieve it. There will come a point in time when your significant other, husband, or wife will doubt your ability to succeed in your new career. Don’t let them coerce into giving up your dream of being a successful REALTOR®. Stay strong and seek out advice from other successful REALTORS®. Your Clients need you, so don’t give up.
You mentioned the advantage young professionals have by utilizing social media. Do you have any social media tips they can build on?
Jannatpour: Use it as a tool to market yourself, build, and maintain relationships with past, current, and future clients. Build a solid brand. Content marketing is how you have to build your brand. Think of it as “pulling” clients to you based on your knowledge and expertise rather than “pushing” yourself and constantly tooting your own horn. Push marketing is old school and in today’s fast-paced world of social media consumption, people are tuning out this style of marketing very quickly.
Good books to read on this subject are “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk and “Launch” by Mike Stelzner. Also feel free to check out my new video blog, www.sellinginsite.com, which is a great example of content marketing.
What aspects of your book could seasoned agents benefit from?
Jannatpour: In the book I discuss marketing yourself as an expert in your area or in your niche. Any agent – new or seasoned – should base their content marketing on their knowledge and expertise. Showing that to potential clients is essential.
What advice do you have for new agents struggling to make it in markets that are not quite on the mend and still battling high foreclosures and high vacancies?
Jannautpour: If you live in an area with a lot of short sales and foreclosures, then make that your area of expertise. Get to know as much as you can and be able to demonstrate your knowledge of the market. I have a friend who I profiled in the book, Jeff Rising, a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Irish Hills in Adrian, Mich., who’s market is very depressed. Now he specializes in short sales and bank-owned properties. He’s doing 50-100 transactions in a year because that’s the type of market he’s in. My advice to REALTORS® who are in a struggling market is to hone your expertise to grow your business.
Why is now a good time to get into real estate?
Jannatpour: Baby boomers are getting older and they will be retiring from the business in next 5-10 years. Real estate is an excellent career choice once you have established yourself. REALTORS® cannot be outsourced. It’s a belly-to-belly sales job. Plus it’s a fulfilling career. It’s the best job I have had in my life because I make a positive difference in the lives of my clients. And I get paid for doing this!
How do you define success?
Jannatpour: For me, success is based on helping my customers. We all have challenges and issues, but when it’s all said and done and I have happy, satisfied clients at the closing table – that happy, warm feeling I get is the definition of success. And the connection I make with clients through the process; that to me is how I define success (in addition to making money doing it).