James Bobbett got his real estate license and sold his first property when he was 18 years old. Growing up, “I ate, slept and breathed real-estate,” recalls Bobbett, who earned a B.A. in marketing in 2007. “My mom was a real-estate agent, and I helped her quite a bit. Since there were no GPS devices or smart phones back then, I wrote turn-by-turn directions for her, so she could take her clients from property to property.”
Like many CSUF students, Bobbett worked while getting his degree. But while many of his peers were working in jobs they were hoping to leave once they completed their education, Bobbett was looking to use his time at CSUF to help him build his fledgling career in real estate. “Given that agents spend a lot of time marketing and selling, majoring in marketing seemed like a natural fit,” says Bobbett. He fondly remembers taking classes with Dr. Catherine Atwong (“She was nice and supportive.”) and Professor John Jackson (“He was someone you can connect with and a very positive person.”). In particular, Bobbett benefited greatly from taking Jackson’s Entrepreneurial Marketing class, where he and his teammates conducted a business analysis for a local property management firm. “Being able to delve so deeply into another aspect of the industry I worked in was invaluable,” says Bobbett.
Bobbett took what he was learning as a marketing major and applied it to his career. He observed that his agency was not selling higher-end homes because it did not have the same reputation among wealthy clients as some other agencies. So he worked with his mom (who had now become his partner) to create a sub-brand that would cater to wealthier clients. The two spent their own funds and hired a marketing agency to build Bobbett and Associates.
While marketing is useful in getting the attention of the client, Bobbett also realized that in order to be successful in the real estate industry, he had to be good with people. And, once again, he learned from the best: his mother. To others who are pursuing a career in real estate or going to work in an environment where they deal with clients on a regular basis, Bobbett offers these tips:
Be genuine in your care and concern for the client.
Take the time to get to know your clients as people and understand what’s important to them.
Be explicitly honest.
Everyone appreciates honestly – even when you are telling them something that they may not want to hear. Besides, there is nothing worse you can do to your reputation than lying to a client. “If I know that a property is not going to be good for my clients, I tell them. Conversely, if I feel my clients have unrealistic expectations, I tell them that too,” says Bobbett.
Coercing someone into making a purchase decision is a poor choice because you are trading short-term gain for long-term pain. Rather, act as a guide to help your clients assess whether the product really meets their needs. “I don’t consider myself a salesperson,” adds Bobbett. “I’m more of an advisor.”
Less is more.
Rather than spend time talking about the product, focus your energies on listening. And don’t be afraid of silence, because it allows the clients to become comfortable with the product. “When I’m showing a home, I usually stay quiet and let them experience the house,” he says. “This helps to create an open dialogue where we can candidly discuss what they like and don’t like about the house.”
When someone is passionate about their career, two great things happen. First, work doesn’t feel like work. Second, career success is inevitable. After selling his first property – a condo – he went on to sell seven more units in the same complex. And Bobbett has never looked back: Even in the current hyper-competitive real estate market with historically low levels of inventory, Bobbett closed six properties last month. “I look forward to building the Bobbett and Associates brand in and around Orange County and assisting buyers and sellers in their real-estate transactions.”
Guest blogger Atul Teckchandani, assistant professor of management at Mihaylo, teaches courses in entrepreneurship, provides student advising and is involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship. His research examines how different types of organizations in a community collectively affect economic outcomes and entrepreneurial activity. You can follow him on Twitter @atulteck.