A great insight that sadly was not shown from the filming we did for the BBC Money Documentary with Rhys and Sarah related to their experience with the estate agent. So I wanted to share with you something else that you did not see on the Money Documentary with respect to the viewing of properties.
During the filming of the BBC Money Documentary there were really five phases:
1) Preparation with Rhys and Sarah which was not really filmed but is essential when getting ready to meet estate agents and potential clients for the first time.
2) Meeting and interviewing the estate agent.
3) Viewing the properties – we looked at a few properties with Rhys and Sarah, covering different strategies for that area of London.
4) Post-viewing property analysis to determine whether they fit our criteria, what else could be done with them and the strategies for exit (profit).
5) Review of what Sarah and Rhys learnt from the experience.
Viewing the Property & Staying Humble
So, a lesson that really came out of one of our viewings with the estate agent was a deep insight that Sarah observed. Imagine yourself being 17 – 18 years of age, walking around with an estate agent who is 15 – 20 years older than you. For most young people the natural instinct is to try to impress the agent and to give a strong impression that “I know what I am talking about”. Actually, this does not just apply to young investors – generally, when any of us start out in something new, it is human nature not to want to look stupid or to appear that we don’t know what we are talking about. This is understandable, but it can often lead to a closed communication where we don’t learn anything from the other person and where a rapport is not built!
Raj and I learnt this very early in our property investing days. We were enthusiastic and passionate about the whole world of investing; having been mentored and been through various property seminars, we were buzzing. The problem is – if you overflow with what you know to people such as agents – they may not open up to you as much as if you were to simply relax, remain humble and at times almost ignorant of the area and the property market.
It is a fine line between establishing credibility and leaving space for the other person to show you what they know!
Sarah’s insight was in her observation of how Raj and I interacted with the agent. She found herself initially wanting to show what she knew – but then she noticed that Raj and I were asking simple questions about the property and the area; to many of which we already knew the answers. However, our goal was to create FLOW. In other words: use questions that you know will encourage the agent to open up and give you more detailed information. This is not about your ego – this is about gathering information and establishing whether this is a person you can work with, now and in the future.
So we were asking simple questions relating to the condition of the property; how much work the agent thought needed doing to get it into rentable condition; if he were to buy the property, what strategy he would implement. As we continued, what Sarah observed and fed back to us later, was the vast amount of information that the agent then opened up with, once we got the flow going. This also leads to the agent realising exactly what you are looking for. They may then say “actually I know of a few other properties that are not yet posted but I think they are perfect for you”.
What I love about Sarah’s learning is her realisation that it does not detract from you if you give the other person space to show you what they know; in fact, it creates a rapport that then, later, will allow you to ask deeper and cheekier questions than you would otherwise have been able to ask. This also includes asking favours that other investors may not be in a position to ask.
In a nutshell – develop a set of key questions: simple questions that help you to develop rapport and find out about the property too. Then practise!