As an industry in the midst of major churn, Indian real estate is now headed towards yet another crossroad. The previous crossroad – the industry shakeup initiated by the rollout of RERA – necessitated changes in business models and traditional cash flows of developers. This one will demand newer skill sets and be all about setting tech-savvy, erudite, professional brokers head and shoulders above the kind that has dominated the industry so far.
In terms of career growth, the sky will be the limit for a new breed of brokers who have taken a conscious call to evolve; to up-skill or perish will be two choices left to those who have not.
Technology continues to disrupt a sector that is already en route to achieving unprecedented transparency levels on the back of the latest policy changes, and the Indian real estate sector is also gaining greater global exposure. More than ever before, foreign investors are focusing on the country’s housing industry, along with NRIs who have been exposed to international standards of doing business. These new dynamics make it imperative for aspiring and existing residential real estate brokers to operate with far greater professionalism, polish and technological skills than were required before.
What top real estate consultancies now look for
When it comes to becoming employable in the top-ranked residential consultancies in India today, aspiring property agents must go beyond being just smartly dressed – they must also display better ‘soft skills’, be tech-friendly, and able and willing to absorb and project a global code of dealing with customers. Individuals who display these competencies clearly stand the highest chance of getting hired by top-notch property consultancies firms today.
Cognizant of the fact that some of the required skills must also be imparted on the ground, the best property consultancies invest in training their employees by offering in-house ‘finishing’ courses. These courses are also useful in identifying high-potential candidates for leadership positions. Meanwhile, existing employees may be encouraged to take up relevant courses at real estate accreditation bodies like RICS.
A new breed of property brokers
Gone are the days when just anyone with a fire in their belly could call themselves a real estate broker. As the industry makes rapid strides forward in becoming more regulated, it is now mandatory for brokers to either have a license to operate in the industry or bow out. However, a license alone does not make a good broker. Home buyers and investors in Indian real estate now expect much more than just basic services from brokers today.
Professionalism and integrity are the minimum requirement of the best property brokers today. Integrity, both as a personal quality and a core value of the firm a person represents, means uncompromising transparency and scrupulous honesty. A broker of integrity will not inflate prices for any reason, and in fact highlight opportunities for negotiating lower prices where they exist. Such a broker will present a client with a full spread of options, offer complete information on every option and on all aspects of a transaction, and keep the client as the first and overweening priority.
Integrity apart, adequate soft skills can also no longer be dispensed with. The Indian stereotype property agent – crass, hectoring, juggling multiple phones while communicating in locally-flavoured ‘Hinglish’ and giving the customer manipulated facts or outright lies – is a dinosaur in today’s market environment. A high degree of soft skills – which, by definition, are personal attributes enabling a person to interact effectively and harmoniously with others – are what define today’s most successful property brokers.
What do these soft skills actually involve?
- A good dress sense
- A more than basic command over language (both spoken and written)
- The ability to give clients undivided attention
- Patience while presenting all the available options corresponding to the client’s exact requirements
- Advanced negotiation skills
- A pleasant demeanor throughout any interaction, and
- Not least of all, tech-savviness.
Tech-savviness as a differentiator
Today, catering to client’s needs involves engaging them in newer ways, primarily via leveraging technology. For example, the ability to present the merits of various property options in the company’s database via a visually-appealing app gives a new-age broker a decisive edge over his outdated predecessors. However, it’s not just about apps and advanced database integration – in today’s highly connected age, the quality of a broker’s personal online presence also matters.
Regardless of whether we are talking of top-notch real estate consultancies interviewing candidates or busy investors about to meet an agent, a person’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles will very likely be inspected well before the first interaction. It therefore makes more than just basic sense to ensure that such profiles exist, that they are well articulated and developed, and in every way possible reflect a high degree of professionalism. Being part of industry groups on LinkedIn and frequently participating in discussions in a credible and meaningful manner also adds to a broker’s ‘social clout’, reflecting a desirable depth of seriousness and knowledgeability of the latest industry trends.
With the fast-evolving expectations of home buyers and investors, it has become necessary for brokers evolve in tandem into high-grade professionals who are up to speed on matters of personal presentation, technology and industry trends. The market forces that define Indian real estate today will definitely also define the career path of such brokers rise in the coming years – and the country’s top-rated property consultancies will go all out to hire and retain them.
Sukhdeep Aurora is Chief People Officer at ANAROCK Property Consultants