In 2023, deciding which skills a real estate agent should learn to build a sustainable career sounds easy at first. There are hundreds of real estate coaches, mastermind groups, and webinars promising to teach you exactly what you need to become a top producer. Just pick a guru, study hard, and you’ll be rolling up to your oceanfront mansion in a Ferrari in no time, right? There’s only one problem. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on which skills will actually translate to agent success in 2023.
Luckily, real estate coach Trevor James and I are here to help. In this article we’ll walk you through the nine skills we learned to build our own careers in real estate. We’ll also show you a few underappreciated skills managing brokers we know are looking for this year.
With inflation hitting a 40-year record high and a recession looming, succeeding as a real estate agent in 2023 is harder than ever. The one skill that can predict success in today’s market better than any other is resilience—aka the ability to bounce back quickly after rejection and failure. Also referred to as grit or conscientiousness, resilience is fast becoming the most important skill brokers look for in new agents.
How to Build Resilience to Upgrade Your Real Estate Career
Some people seem naturally more resilient than others, but there are ways to increase this important skill to benefit your career in real estate. It may sound a little woo-woo, but keeping a diary of cognitive biases and making a habit of challenging your emotional responses to failure can be a big help. Keep track of when you start to fall short, and identify what you have control over changing. You can learn more about building resilience here:
How to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent (6 Simple Strategies)
2. Communication Skills
We’ve all heard the saying, “communication is key.” This rings especially true in real estate, because every client is different. Luckily, communication skills are easier to build than resilience—you just need to learn to be a good listener. Ask questions and be curious. Don’t be distracted by your phone or the emails coming in while you’re with a client. There’s a time and place for virtual communication—if you’re face-to-face, make the most of that gift and be present.
A customer relationship manager (CRM) can help you stay in consistent communication with your clients. If you’re not operating your business with a CRM to stay on track, you are doing yourself and your clients a disservice.
How to Build Your Communication Skills
Remember that your goal is making your clients feel heard. Don’t make the mistake of pitching yourself and not listening to their needs. Ask them to identify their preferred mode of communication, and then act on it. Some sellers may want to be updated via phone call on their listing twice a week. Alternatively, some buyers may not be comfortable with phone calls and would prefer communication via text or email. You won’t know unless you ask.
Trevor and I put together a great buyer questionnaire to keep you on track with your clients and provide you with some prompts on important questions to ask. Take a look here:
The Buyer Questionnaire Top Agents Use to Build Rapport & Trust (+ PDF)
3. Negotiation Skills
Since both buyers and sellers have access to more information than ever before, negotiation skills are becoming increasingly important for real estate agents. The crucial lesson to remember about negotiating is that your goal is not to win, but to get a deal done. To do that, you will have to come up with a solution that will satisfy both the buyer and the seller. Of course, you also need to remember that the agent you’re negotiating with might be someone you will need to maintain a professional relationship with in the future.
How to Build Your Negotiation Skills
The best way to build your negotiation skills is through experience. If you know this is a weak spot in your skillset, you might try seeking out a Real Estate Negotiation Expert designation from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Here’s Tricia Lee, team leader at SERHANT, explaining why negotiation as a soft skill is crucial for real estate agents:
Tricia Lee, team leader, SERHANT
“It’s with the softer skills where you will find your rock stars. We want personalities that influence behavior and opinion, because they know what is right and their client can trust that. It’s one thing to say something—it’s a whole other skill set to impact movement or action.”
And if you’re a brand-new agent and have no experience negotiating, you can start by learning from the experts. In our negotiation guide below, we break down advice from some of the best negotiators in the world:
23 Clever Real Estate Negotiation Strategies From the Pros
4. Short-form Video Skills
Over the past few years, we’ve watched the length of videos that do well on social media shrink from 10 minutes to five minutes, and recently, to about 30 seconds(!) on apps like TikTok. While this may sound like good news for agents who hate making long videos, the truth is that the shorter your video, the harder it is to educate or entertain your audience. This means sharpening your short-form video skills can make you a more attractive candidate for top teams and brokerages in 2023.
How to Build Your Short-form Video Skills
The best way to improve your short-form video skills is to master the art and science of distilling your thoughts, writing scripts, and shooting videos. The goal here is to condense your ideas down into their essence and shoot them. For example, if you want to educate your audience on important real estate terms, focus on defining just one term in each video you create.
You can see some examples of agents crushing it with short-form videos in The Broke Agent’s article on Instagram Reels here:
10 Agents & Coaches Crushing It on Instagram Reels
If you ask anyone who thinks about the real estate industry for a living, most of them will tell you the days of the lone-wolf agent are quickly coming to an end. The National Association of Realtors’ 2023 Member Profile noted that nearly one-fifth of members, or 17%, belong to a team. Teamerages—hybrids of teams and brokerages—have also been crushing it.
How to Build Your Teamwork Skills
If you’re a newer agent in a busy office, building your collaboration skills is simple. Figure out what you do better than the experienced agents around you and offer to help them do it. Most top producers work long hours. They either show up very early in the morning or stay in the office very late. If you work those hours too, you’ll have the ideal opportunity to get to know them and what they need help with.
If you’re looking to start a team instead of joining one, check out my guide here:
How to Build a Real Estate Team in 2023 + 7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid
Like resilience, creativity is another skill that has become more important for agents over the last few years. When things change fast, you need to innovate to keep up. Whether it’s chopping your YouTube videos into short-form clips to use on Instagram Reels or hiring a hot dog truck to drive traffic to your open house, creativity is fast becoming a crucial skill for real estate agents.
How to Build Your Creativity Skills
While most people think creativity is something people are just born with, nothing could be further from the truth. Creative people—whether they’re writers, painters, directors, or musicians—typically approach creativity with a problem-solving mindset.
In other words, they break down creative projects into smaller chunks and treat them as problems to be solved. They also don’t wait for inspiration to strike. They work consistently every day to solve the problems they choose to solve.
If you want to learn how to be more creative, check out my copywriting article here:
7 Real Estate Copywriting Rules Professional Writers Swear by
7. Data Analysis
When it comes to access to information, buyers and sellers can’t hold a candle to the reams of data available to real estate agents these days. If you want to know more about pretty much any aspect of your local market, chances are you can find a service to provide it for you—often for free. That means agents who develop skills to analyze data will have an edge over those who don’t.
How to Build Your Analytical Skills
The first step is to learn just how much data is out there and what you can and can’t do with it. Predictive analytics, the practice of using artificial intelligence to parse large amounts of data to get actionable advice, has advanced more in the last five years than it did in the previous 20 years. You can get started by reading our predictive analytics guide here:
10 Predictive Analytics Companies Real Estate Agents Need to Know About
Empathy might seem like a straightforward skill, but ask any agent and they’ll say the toughest part of the job is dealing with clients. People don’t always know what they want, and for many folks, buying a home is just as much of an emotional decision as it is a financial one. You’ll also be dealing with many people’s private lives.
Moving is stressful, and it’s often done for a reason. Your clients may be grappling with their own feelings during the process, and it’s your job to walk them through it with ease and grace.
How to Build Your Empathy Skills
Building empathy is not always easy. However, as Shakespeare once said, “To thine own self be true.” Knowing how your personality plays a role in your business can help to try to put yourself in your client’s shoes.
Our in-house broker expert, Sean Moudry, put together a great guide on how to anticipate seller emotions and certain objections. This will help you know what to expect from sellers and how you can empathize with them.
How to Anticipate & Overcome Emotional Seller Objections
This last skill might seem a little odd for a fast-paced industry like real estate. But it takes time and hard work to build every single skill we’ve outlined so far—and you need to stick with it until it pays off.
This applies to soft skills and hard skills. Whether it’s cold calling or Facebook advertising, patient agents win the day. Selling homes is a long cycle, and there is a lot of ground to cover before you receive your commission check. Patient agents are successful agents.
How to Build Your Patience
The best way to become more patient so you can learn the soft and hard skills you’ll need in real estate is through an exercise routine or meditation. Both will teach you rudimentary lessons about incremental growth—an approach you’ll need to embrace to succeed at anything in life.
Our very own Jodie Cordell has done a fantastic writeup of 15 mindset hacks that can help you maximize your patience and level up your business.
15 Mindset Hacks to Level Up Your Real Estate Business
Over to You
Which skills have served you well in your real estate career? If you’re a leader in the industry, what skills do you look for in your new agents? Sound off and let us know in the comment section below.