Over the years I have watched real estate practitioners come and go. Some have built amazing careers that seem to have no limit their growth, and others never find any type of appreciable trajectory. The difference between those that reach the pinnacles of success, and those who remain mired in dark valleys of defeat seems to be almost unappreciable.
The long term success of a REALTOR® in the business of real estate doesn’t appear to have anything to do with educational levels, physical attributes, ethnic background, or social class. I have seen many instances of agents with poor grooming, lack of social graces, even with speech or other physical impediments reach truly stellar levels of success, while others that seem complete on the surface are left behind. So, the question is; what is the magic powder, the key to success in real estate?
The one attribute that appears to weave itself into every successful agent I have ever encountered is the ability to instill trust. The ability to present oneself in a genuine and competent manner, a manner that says, “I am reliable, honest, and will protect your interests at all costs”. The aura of trustworthiness crosses boundaries of race, class, education, and even health. For those who have the trust continuum built into their character, a long term career in real estate is guaranteed.
So, if developing a trust continuum is so vital to a real estate career… what is it really?
The definition of trust in psychology is based on believing that the person who you trust will do what you expect. It starts at the family level and grows to others after the early years of development. The ability to place trust in others is a key element to a healthy socialization process.
Trust is also integral to the idea of social influence. The fact of the matter is that it is easier to influence or persuade someone who has developed a sense of trust in you. The real powerhouse REALTORS® create that sense of trust in their clients. Perception of honesty, competence and common values are essential. Once trust is lost, however, it is very hard to regain.
Being and acting trustworthy should be considered the only sure way to develop a trust continuum with your clients. Stephen Covey has a great way of describing trust. He calls it the emotional bank account. One puts in deposits of trust, or makes withdrawals, based on responses to perceived actions. Where trust is absent, projects can fail, especially if this lack of trust has not been identified and addressed. Individuals that are in relationships characterized by high levels of social trust are more apt to openly exchange information and to act with caring benevolence toward one another than those in relationships lacking trust.
A key element in developing a trust continuum with your clients is being reliable. Philosopher Annette Baier has made a distinction between trust and reliance by saying that trust can be betrayed, while reliance can only be disappointed. Nonetheless, being reliable is a powerful tool in building trust with a client, while the reverse can destroy trust and empty out the emotional bank account.
In the discipline of economics, trust is seen as an economic lubricant, reducing the cost of transactions, enabling new forms of cooperation and generally furthering business activities, employment and prosperity. This observation created a significant interest in considering trust as a form of social capital and has led to research into a closer understanding of the process of building trust. It’s been claimed that higher levels of social trust are connected to economic development. It is widely accepted and demonstrated by economists that social trust benefits the economy while a lower level of trust inhibits economic growth. Trusting less leads to the loss of economic opportunities, while on the other hand trusting more creates the risk of unnecessary vulnerabilities and potential exploitation.
It’s worth noting that when someone says, “trust me” most people won’t. Trust can’t be forced. Building trust is something that must be demonstrated in many little ways. The subtle clues like eye contact, and body language play an important initial impression of trust worthiness. Even something as simple as showing up on time for appointments helps to demonstrate to others that they can rely on you and hence create the building blocks of a trust relationship.
The life of a REALTOR® becomes much easier when you have won the trust of clients, and peers. The majority of the calls that a manager or broker will receive are based on agent to agent or agent to consumer mistrust. Gaining and retaining trust makes the job easier, and makes life less stressful. It’s clear that the one ingredient that makes the secret sauce for all top producers is the trust continuum.