I recently did an email interview with Colin Gorvett author of Real Estate Agents Handbook … only for Professionals! and co-founder of The Real Estate Doctor a Social Media community for estate agents.
Here’s what we talked about….
1. Hi Colin, can you tell us a bit about yourself before your career in property?
My career before property was very much 9 to 5. I moved to Cape Town from KZN where I had been responsible for overseeing the major and minor works of the buildings throughout the Natal region of the then Department of Agriculture; mostly administrative work liaising with the Public Works Department. I also spent a spell as Warden of the hostel at Cedara College.
2. When did you start in property, with whom and when did you start training agents?
My introduction to real estate was with Snowden Properties in Plumstead during 1990 while I was negotiating the sale of a Canoe Safari business I operated on the Breede River. When Mr Snowden retired a few years later, he offered me the opportunity to take over his office. Most of the people that we took on as agents were new to the business, so I guess this is where the training started. A few good mentors in-between certainly helped.
3. When and why did you write your book?
The book Real Estate Agent Handbook … only for Professionals! was written during 2007 and first published in 2008 as an eBook. The second edition was released in paperback and eBook during 2010. As to why the book was written, I’m not quiet sure … it kind of just happened. I was in Thailand the year before the devastating Tsunami where I met with a few property agents; and then during 2006 and 2007 I travelled through Europe, parts of USA, and Dubai spending most of my time with Realtors and estate agents.
The one thing that stuck with me was that the basic business of all the people that I spent time with was the same. Legislations varied, but the basic role of securing saleable stock and sourcing willing and able buyers was the same. This and, in part, seeing estate agents becoming ‘order takers’ rather than being the ‘consultants’ that they were purported to be started me journaling some of the methods and systems I’d used and taught in our office.
4. Tell us a bit about your book?
Real Estate Agent Handbook … only for Professionals! is a handbook which drills back down to the basics. While it should certainly guide people who are new to the profession, it is the experienced professionals that when they go off track need to stop and relook their activities from prospecting through presenting and marketing. I would hope that this book would assist them in quickly identifying areas that need correction or attention. It also encourages professionals to systemise their business because I honestly believe that any estate agent working the basics systematically … and effectively … day after day, week after week, and month on month can expect to achieve predictable results from their efforts.
5. What do you think is the key to your success in real estate?
Good question! I never really considered myself a success. Sure, there were times I knew I had done well, but generally I remember always working to stay in the race. The keys I implemented though, were very much to do with staying with the basics – even with technology, it had to fit in with and not change what we were doing – having systems in place that kept everything on track, and monitoring the results of all the activities. The fact that I have enjoyed most of the 20+ years has to have played a role too.
6. What are some of your most recent highlights?
My most recent highlight has to be the rapid growth of The Real Estate Doctor, a property specific social website pioneered by myself and Morne Beck. What has been most encouraging is that with very little promotion the site has already had over a million unique page views and that there is a regular stream of estate agents joining the online community. While the success of the site is rewarding it is also exciting to see that there are so many estate agents wanting to both improve in their business and embrace the internet for marketing and promotion.
7. How has the Internet affected your business?
CPS (Computerised Property Systems) was introduced by Stefan Swanepoel in the early 1990’s before the internet ‘arrived’. Sadly South Africa didn’t accommodate him and we lost him to the USA where he has become a leading and respected real estate authority. Who knows how our profession would have shaped out had he not left.
The internet has been a part of my business since around 1996 when I won our first website in a lucky draw, so that’s a difficult question to answer. At that time, not everyone had an email address and having a website meant you could promise your clients international exposure of their property via the ‘World Wide Web’ which we had to access with those irritating dial up modems.
Today the internet is integrated in one way or another in every aspect of my business.
8. What are your marketing predictions for real estate in the future?
I once heard someone say that there are no bad markets, only good and bad estate agents. I never forgot that and it has always held true. In every market there are professionals who excel. The future aside, the internet is already playing a major role in marketing and the current players need to embrace it or get left behind. While the old basics still apply, they do now include marketing via the internet.
I think that the future is going to amount to relatively small leaps forward with big changes that are going to require marketers to be ready and flexible to accommodate. The current wave of buyers and sellers are already internet shoppers spending months online (buyers researching and sellers watching area estate agents) before they contact an estate agent. The next wave – people currently in their 20’s – don’t have email addresses. This will require a big shift in online communication.
9. What advice can you give to new estate agents?
Stay with the basics and have fun!! If your mentor or office can’t or won’t show you the basics move on and find one that can. The real estate profession takes lots of work but is not difficult … until you make it complicated.
10. What are your plans for the future?
For the moment the future includes growing The Real Estate Doctor. The Real Estate Doctor is a social network for the benefit of all the role players in the real estate arena and as with any community it is its members that make it what it is. We have lots of exciting plans for it and we would like to see as many of them as possible come to fruition. With the rapid improvement of internet access into Africa, and the growing trade from South Africa into Africa we should all be ready for some exciting opportunities.
– By Tonie Koning – Internet Marketing Consultant (SA) – a Digital Marketing Consultant, who coaches effective Social Media Marketing and runs many successful campaigns for clients. Services include SEO, Social Media Plan, Online and mobile marketing