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6 Soft skills every real estate professional should have

Learning how to give buyers and sellers difficult news and understanding social cues are key to your success

While most employers value hard skills over soft skills, in an industry like real estate, soft skills play a critical role. Although real estate leaders should know the intricacies of project financing, specific building codes, and writing contracts, they wouldn’t get far without customer service.

Real estate agents should polish their soft skills in communication, negotiation, and objection handling to become leaders in their industry. To become a successful real estate agent, you’ll need to develop your soft skills as you sharpen your hard skills. By cultivating the following skills, you’ll be able to buy/sell more houses.

Six skills all agents should have

1. Tactfulness

Depending on your personality, giving bad news can be a difficult. Real estate agents will need a bit of courage to tell an investor or homeowner that a property is too expensive. Or, you may need to admit a deal fell through despite your best efforts.

Tactfulness is the ability to say or do something without causing offense, and you’ll need a lot of that as a real estate agent. Speak to your clients or stakeholders in a calm, professional way so as to not burn any bridges that could interfere with projects or relationships.

2. Communication

Although you’ll sometimes need to be tactful, the rest of the time, you’ll need to communicate in a focused, positive manner. There are many different aspects to communication that go beyond the spoken word, such as understanding pain points, being respectful, and uncovering issues.

However, understanding your client’s body language is even more important. It’s estimated that more than 70% of all communication is non-verbal, and people instinctively know when your tone of voice doesn’t match your body language. It’s vital to work on both aspects of communication.

3. Social Cues

Social cues are an extension of body language, but they’re more culturally significant. Concepts like personal space, tone of text, eye contact, and choice of dress all convey the way a person wants you to treat them. For example, darting eyes confirm that someone is feeling anxious.

However, sometimes direct eye contact is considered rude in East Asian cultures. People with Autism or ADHD will fidget, but it doesn’t mean they’re uncomfortable. Either way, an impressive knowledge of social cues can help you land deals with more clients.

4. Active Listening

Without truly focusing on the speaker, you won’t be able to engage with what they’re saying. As a salesperson, agents must avoid interpreting or redirecting the conversation when their clients are voicing their concerns or home preferences.

To show interest in what’s being said, smile at the person and keep your posture inviting. Crossing your arms, for example, will indicate to most people that you don’t care. When having a difficult conversation, try to set aside your judgments and withhold your opinions.

5. Negotiation

It’s impossible to be a good real estate agent without some degree of negotiation skills. At the same time, you’re unlikely to be a good negotiator without active listening, communication, and social cue skills, so you need to develop all of your language skills fully to sell well.

Real estate agents need to be quick on their feet and know how to perform objection handling to sell homes. Buyers agents need to negotiate a lower price for their clients and make sure all parties come to a win-win resolution. With practice, you’ll be able to build rapport quickly.

6. Patience

Real estate agents are paid by commission, meaning they don’t get a paycheck until the home is sold. That can cause a lot of agents to become impatient, but if they aren’t careful, they could lose the sale. Through patience, the best agents will be able to wait out the process.

If you decide to specialize in commercial real estate or large housing developments, a sale could take years. From zoning to permits to construction, the process of developing land requires a lot of skill and patience if you want to make fewer mistakes and optimal returns.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of RealTrends’ editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Ken Boyd at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tracey Velt at