DESPITE the economic downturn, the outlook for the property market still remains positive and there are opportunities for the hard-working and savvy real estate agent.

Selling real estate can be a rewarding career. Some agents net over a million dollars a year. If you like working for yourself, it can be an option. But you will need a lot of discipline to succeed.

Besides dressing professionally and speaking articulately, a good real estate agent should be:

*Genuine

You always provide clients with quality service and a listening ear.

*Empathic

You view things from the customer’s perspective. This helps build rapport, trust and mutual respect.

*Tactful

You know how to handle customers without offending them.

*Confident

You are at ease with prospective buyers who are rich and powerful.

*Tenacious

You don’t give up too easily while pursuing prospective buyers.

*Knowledgeable

You are aware of market changes and their impact on various sectors. Learn how to capitalise on these changes.

To succeed in a real estate career, you have to approach it as if it were your own business.

Here are some tips on how to manage your time and maximise your sales opportunities:

1. Make use of stunning visuals

Pictures of properties in mailers and brochures grab attention better than words, figures and statistics. Your content should be concise as clients will not spend a lot of time reading it.

2. Avoid mundane tasks; focus on your core competencies

An experienced real estate agent, who puts his value at $200 an hour, outsources mundane, time-consuming tasks. He says: “Instead of spending three hours distributing pamphlets around the neighbourhoods which would cost me $600, I engage someone to do it for $30.”

3. Choose the right territory

If you have a cosmopolitan outlook, a working-class neighbourhood may not be your ideal choice.

4. Determine who the decision-maker is

You need to sharpen your observation skills to quickly assess who the decision-maker is. This is the person you want to work closely with in your deals.

5. Hone your presentation skills

Practice makes perfect. Do a role-play of the situation — ask a friend to help you — before meeting prospective buyers.

6. Highlight the right features to attract the right buyers

Study the property in hand and list out the possible attractions of its key features — from land size, length of frontage, to environment, facing, accessibility to amenities and public transportation.

7. Ask for testimonials

Testimonials from satisfied customers enhance a realtor’s credibility.

8. Have a customer referral system

This allows your customers to earn an exponential income simply by referring prospects to you.

The rewards

With a good commission, a real estate agent can climb to the top of the money tree. Most agents can become good in their work within a couple of years. But only the “very top 5 per cent” will be able to progress from good to great.

And the rewards are not just monetary. A career in real estate makes you an all-rounder as you are involved in planning, strategising, financial planning, problem-solving, leveraging on manpower, negotiating, managing customers’ expectations and many more.

To stay at the top, never allow complacency to set in. Talk to mentors or senior experts in respective fields. Attend seminars and workshops that might help you come up with innovative ideas in prospecting and other areas of selling and marketing.

Lastly, take responsibility for every unsuccessful sales attempt and allow some time for introspection. Ask yourself what you have done wrong and how to do it better next time.