Eric Simon, the brains behind The Broke Agent.com, joins Adam and Matt to discuss dismantling the realtor facade, authenticity in business & future trends in real estate marketing. Adam and Matt also highlight five common mistakes people make when hiring a realtor.
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The top 5 things to consider before approaching a real estate agent
- Rethink the family friend
Many people want to hire their family friend who is a real estate agent. They’re someone you know, someone you trust, and someone you can work with quickly. But the family friend realtor isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes you’re only working with this person because you feel obligated to. Often, clients end up doing most of the leg work themselves (like going to open houses alone) because they don’t want to bother their family friend.
Ask yourself, am I comfortable asking my family friend for the level of service and attention I deserve as a client? Will this real estate transaction, that could get stressful and tense, hurt our relationship (will I want to see this person every Christmas if the deal goes bad?)? Am I comfortable sharing my financial information with this family member or friend?
- Strong SEO =/= strong realtor
Most people start their search for a realtor online and don’t go beyond the first page of search results. Unfortunately, strong search engine optimization (SEO) and good use of Google Adwords does not always equal a good realtor. Many of the top search results are companies that pass your info onto “top” agents who then give them a cut of the profits. You should always vet your own agent and not just rely on Google rankings.
- Aggressive isn’t always best
Everyone wants their realtor to be a shark or an aggressive bulldog in order to secure them the best deal at the best price. But aggression is a knee jerk emotional reaction. Aggression doesn’t make you a hard worker. An aggressive person isn’t going to be a good negotiator. A good negotiator needs to be assertive and deliver good arguments with rational and logical thinking. Your agent should be able to explain the logic behind their decisions and justify their strategy to you; not brush you off saying, “Just trust me!”
- Are you buying or selling?
You should ask different questions and possibly even use a different agent depending on whether you are buying or selling. The person you hire needs to be a good fit for your listing. Ask them about their experience, how many clients they are working with, if they work with mainly buyers or sellers, if they know the area, if they work with investors or end users, and so on. Some agents focus primarily on buying or selling, so it’s important to separate the two and find an agent who fits with your goals.
- Authenticity is key
At the end of the day, you want to work with someone who is authentic. When you sit down with your agent, you want them to portray their real self to you. This goes against what we think a realtor is – someone who is salesy and inauthentic. But you need to go beyond the sales pitches and awards and find out how this person approaches their work. Find someone who has your best interests in mind, someone who is being real with you and someone who is focused on your goals.
Interview with Eric Simon
Tell us about The Broke Agent
The Broke Agent is a real estate entertainment comedy brand. It started a year and a half ago mainly as a few social media accounts and has evolved into its own brand with a blog, videos and live events. It continues to evolve and has grown a massive following from just a few tweets.
Who is the target audience for The Broke Agent?
Real estate agents, for sure. It’s the inner monologue of a real estate agent. I eventually want to move into the commercial side and speak to title, escrow, mortgage, etc. As we expand with more writers, we’ll touch on those areas. But for now the main focus is residential real estate agents in the millennial demographic.
Why call it The Broke Agent?
90% of the industry is broke! It started out as a working title but we realized it worked because it’s comedy in itself. Too much of our industry is real estate agents focused on their online presence and showing off their last sold listing. The Broke Agent is for agents to laugh at themselves and find someone they can relate to.
You’re an agent yourself. How did you get started in real estate?
After college I was working at a comedy club called the Laugh Factory. Once I left there, I got a job working reception at a boutique brokerage firm in Beverly Hills. I eventually became an assistant, got my licence and then became a buyer’s agent. Now, I’m out on my own.
How did The Broke Agent start?
A friend and I were thinking of starting a real estate blog. We came up with this name and decided to focus on the comedy of real estate. We began tweeting, got retweeted and realized we had hit on something. A couple of months later, we spoke at a real estate conference and it blew up from there.
Will the audience eventually be the general public or only real estate insiders?
I’d love to create content for buyers and sellers too. The brand keeps expanding and anyone who wants to get involved in real estate can find something here. I hope to touch on more aspects of the market as The Broke Agent grows.
Do The Broke Agent and your real estate business overlap?
The Broke Agent has really given me a seat at the table in terms of attending these conferences and getting into brokerages. It’s a source of lead generation. I’ve met some agents online through The Broke Agent who send me leads in my area. But I also want to keep the two separate to a degree. No one really wants to hire “The Broke Agent” to work for them.
It seems like you’ve found something that fills the void and speaks to the new generation. Do you consider yourself a disruptor of the industry? Or how is The Broke Agent shaping the industry?
I guess I am a disruptor, but not like an earthquake. I definitely see that I’m fillng a void. There’s a need for this outlet for realtors to express their thoughts. By doing it under an alias and in a comedic way, it serves as a release. It’s not something you could do as an agent because you need to protect your brand.
My goal is to provide value in laughter. People can learn from our mistakes and see the journey of a real estate agent. It’s the truth about life as an agent. People can read our stuff and go, “He’s saying what I’m thinking!”
You see the same stuff from every agent online. It’s always “sell, sell, sell!”, my latest listing, my latest sold, etc. It’s all about their great success and connections. No one is talking about the other side. I want to wrap laughter around value, news and quick hitting humour.
Millennials are the driving force in the real estate industry. Some people are saying the traditional brokerage model and conventional real estate marketing are outdated. Where is the future heading?
These days everything is online and on your phone. Door knocking, cold calling and bench ads are going out the window – they didn’t work for me. Whoever has the upperhand online is going to come out on top. I’m not sure if the traditional brokerage model is totally destroyed; real estate agents will survive. People still want personal connections with their realtor. But building an online presence is key.
Is there an online platform that is on the rise?
At the end of the day, authenticity is the key to success in this business. People want to work with someone they can relate to. So using platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories to show off other things besides just your work as a real estate agent is important. You want to show personal connection. People want to work with realtors who are like them, who talk like them – not the suits you see at the conferences.
Or go on a reality show. That’s a quick ticket to success.
For more on Eric Simon and The Broke Agent visit http://www.thebrokeagent.com/ and @thebrokeagent on social media.