"No, I won't drop the price; I've got five tenants interested." Have you heard this before? Oft-repeated words by landlords, but he doesn't really have five tenants interested in his property. Does he?
This landlord is a victim of one fundamental problem in today's UAE real estate market: the lack of exclusive listings.
Let's rewind. While sitting in my office a friend asks which agency can help him find an apartment. I'm in real estate, so know a thing or two about good agencies. After a second I reluctantly said what everyone else says: "Go speak to several agencies, you never know who will have the perfect apartment."
So he did, and a funny thing happened. The agents narrowed down their listings, came back with options and each eventually found what they considered to be the ideal apartment.
But here's the rub: it was the same apartment. He was asked to view this apartment again and again by five different agents. What was worse, the landlord now thought he had five people interested in his apartment and wouldn't budge on the price.
This insanity stems from a very similar dance between every seller or landlord in the UAE and his agent, or in most cases, agents. Each seller or landlord wants exposure on all media channels, good advice, someone to take care of the viewings and the best possible price.
To most sellers this means one thing: List with every agent in town. But there's a fundamental flaw with this behaviour. How much time is wasted by the seller running around to multiple offices, giving each the necessary documentation, then trying to coordinate visits with each agent?
How much time is wasted by the agents adding the listing multiple times, meeting buyers and never being guaranteed commission for any of this effort? We, as an industry, can do better.
Agencies need to work together: This is the first step. So why don't real estate companies work together today?
Ease of access: Let's face it, at the moment it is nearly impossible to find accurate information on other listings outside your own agency.
Trust and Accountability: Companies don't and can't trust every other agent in the market. Who is accountable when a shared deal goes wrong? What is the recourse? Answers today vary from deal to deal which makes it's difficult to follow a standard practice and deals are conducted usually through personal relationships.
Agents need to sell the idea of exclusive listings.
The above scenario would resolve itself if this property was listed exclusively with one agent. There would be one agent speaking to the landlord, one agent listing the property and all other agencies would coordinate with that agent.
How can you convince sellers to list exclusively?
1. Make sure you're connected with as many trusted agencies as possible and only share exclusive listings with them.
2. Market the size of your network to sellers and reassure them that they'll only have access to your network if they list exclusively.
3. Calculate the total time savings to the seller in just listing with you.
4. Commit to take better care of the seller because he's exclusive.
Spend more time on your exclusive listings: Time wasted gives me the same gut-wrenching, soul-destroying feeling as being dumped by the significant other in a relationship. If you like that sort of thing, by all means continue spending time with:
n Sellers that eventually sell through different agent.
n Buyers that eventually buy or rent the property through a different agent.
n Keying information that has been entered before by someone else on... (enter your favorite portal here).
Spend time with your valuable exclusive listings and you will convince sellers one-by-one that they are special and deserving of your time. Reward those customers at the expense of the rest.
If we assume the total number of real estate transactions in the UAE will remain roughly the same then the best way for you to increase earnings and beat the competition is to become more effective with your time. Apply that to you and your business and you will succeed.
The writer is the CEO of Masterkey Systems.