Informed consumers are the greatest challenge facing REALTORS®, according to Jim Sherry, a real estate management and IT consultant based in St. Augustine, FL.
Sherry, who recently spoke to LeadershipPAR participants, said, “Consumers are taking charge of discovering data on where they want to live. Before buying anything, they collect tons of information and often show up with more data than the REALTOR® has.”
This requires a shift in how REALTORS® must perceive themselves, Sherry said. If a REALTOR® sees himself as a salesperson, he limits his value to a client who has already done most of the research and knows what he wants to buy.
“REALTORS® should consider themselves advisors who need to understand their clients’ needs and help them find a home that matches those needs, whether it’s a ‘green’ home, closer to their workplace or in a specific neighborhood. They should know specific data like what percentage of students from each school district go on to college. This is the kind of information an advisor can help with,” he added.
Sherry said more than half of homebuyers today are Generation ‘X’ and ‘Y.’ To work with these clients, REALTORS® must be versed in working with the Internet and social media, Sherry advised. “REALTORS® are being asked to change the way they do business because the consumer is demanding change.
“I’m convinced there’s a place for REALTORS® in this new market as an expert advisor, not as a salesperson,” Sherry said. “REALTORS® need to understand how events around the world affect their businesses. The recent economic changes have made that very clear.”
Sherry concluded that extreme customer service is of utmost importance. “REALTORS® provide a service for a ‘big ticket’ purchase and they receive a commission for that service. Their service should be of ‘big ticket’ importance to their clients,” he added.