The Power of Playing Nice: Why Collaborative Agents Always Win 

First you fight them for business, then you fight them in the negotiation. But is the other agent in the room really your enemy? In fact, collaboration underpins every transaction in real estate.

Alex Wang met with founders Zaid Hanna of Real Estate 38, Cynthia Cummins of Kindred SF Homes, and Ron Abta of Polaris Realty to discuss how collaborating with fellow agents is key to any agent’s long term success. 

Why agent relationships matter

Nobody completes a transaction on their own. “A big part of success in real estate is recognizing that whoever the agent is in front of you, they may be the person who's going to make that deal happen,” says Cynthia. No matter the market, buyers and sellers need each other so it pays to always be considerate, professional, and generous. These are the hallmarks of a collaborative agent. 

Your reputation amongst colleagues is just as important as the image you portray to potential clients. “Buyers and sellers will come and go, but the agents are going to be around forever," says Ron. Like clients, agents want to do business with people they like and trust; it’s key to networking and the benefits it brings: insider information on your local market, unique and early opportunities on properties, helpful advice, recommendations and more. 

So how can you adopt and ingrain cooperation as your creed as an agent? 

Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to being a collaborative agent:

Don’t try to lowball and browbeat the other agent into lowering their price. 
Don’t bog down the negotiation with annoying (and insulting) critical observations of the property. Communicate your point in a way that keeps the conversation productive and respectful. As Ron says, “Instead of putting a spotlight on the negatives, focus on the positives and subconsciously that'll make me realize, ‘Okay, this is a collaborative person. Maybe I can get the seller to work with this offer, maybe counter it instead of not countering at all.’”

Do share information with other agents.
Sharing insider information about property offers, leads about potential buyers or sellers, your list of trusted vendors, and even general advice can earn the respect, reciprocity, and gratitude of your fellow agents.

“I love it when things happen serendipitously,” says Cynthia. “And my idea of great serendipity is when I run into an agent I know, or we have a conversation and they say, ’Hey, I have this great listing and nobody's brought an offer. Why don't you bring an offer?’ And then I think, ‘Huh, maybe I will.’ I mean, that's just a great way to get to do business instead of grinding it out.”

Don’t forget to return calls and keep appointments.
Respecting other agents’ time and interest goes a long way in ensuring good relations with people you may soon be working with. It’s a simple courtesy that any agent can and should extend to anyone with whom they want to preserve a positive image and good working relationship. “Respect people's time,” says Zaid. “We work very hard. So do you, and we know that.” 

Do consider showing the same level of appreciation to agents as you do to clients.
Ron has seen great success by extending his gifting program to agents he’s worked with. “I was given a gift by another agent after a transaction, and it made me think...why shouldn't I treat the agent just like a client? And that has served me well down the road… Maybe you'll get that phone call from that agent saying, ‘Hey, there's four offers. Your client isn't the highest, but if you do this, we'd love to work with you. We've worked well together in the past. If your client can hit this number, it's yours.’ And maybe the call wouldn't have happened if there wasn't more of a collaborative approach.” Even asking for feedback in the form of a follow-up call or survey can be enough to show that you care, and can be a great opportunity to learn and improve.

Don’t let yourself stay stuck in the “fighter” mentality. 
One of the biggest challenges to becoming a collaborative agent can be reframing a misguided mindset that may be deeply entrenched in yourself and those around you.

“A lot of times agents come out like boxers in the ring,” says Cynthia. “They posture, they start kind of having at each other in a negotiation and then you get kind of worn out and [you’re] hanging on each other in the middle of the ring? Well, that's really where you are with the other agent. The other agent is probably your best friend in any transaction, especially while the sellers and the buyers are duking it out. So just keep in mind who your friend is. It's the other agent.”

When you start viewing other agents as coworkers and not obstacles, your behavior will naturally become more collaborative. And when you improve your agent relationships, you’ll also grow your business. A huge thanks to Zaid, Cynthia, Ron, and Alex for sharing their valuable lessons and personal stories on collaboration!

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