toby mcCosker - How to Professionalize a Real Estate Services Firm

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toby mcCosker - How to Professionalize a Real Estate Services Firm Today's property market scenario is not amenable to companies that do not present a professional front. Clients today are far more aware than ever before, and have become very aware of the difference between specialists and amateurs. Keeping this in mind, it is important to know what makes a real estate services firm truly professional in this new environment. The inherent nature of the real estate business makes it very different from other business lines. Since it is difficult for the average person to successfully make the transition into the real estate business, a significant challenge for a professional property services firm is sourcing and training the right professionals. Another challenge is developing a business plan or strategy that factors in the needs of the market. In today's scenario, it is surprising that there is still so much emphasis on brokerage, when in fact the required services bouquet is much larger than that. A truly professional real estate company needs to chart all aspects of the real estate market and have an entire array of service offerings. Considering the needs of the market today, the most successful real estate service firms offer every conceivable service - including research, consultancy, transactions, project and development services, integrated facility management, property management, capital markets, residential, hotels and retail advisory. Nor is just offering such services sufficient - because of the high competitiveness prevalent today, the company should have operatives that have considerable expertise and experience in each segment. I don't know how many of you will see it my way, but I have always believed that the most successful businesspeople surround themselves with people that are smarter than themselves.

This is very true in real estate, where it takes large teams of very talented people to find opportunities, zero in on them, groom clients and finally close transactions. If you don't have the right people in sufficient numbers and rely solely on a small core group of experts, your business will crumble. The value a property services company adds to the overall market depends entirely on its local expertise, experience in matching property to global requirements, its bouquet of services, the differentiators it introduces into these and whether or not it adheres to international best practices in property business. A professional realty firm has clear, concise, measurable and achievable goals. It knows its market, the dynamics that drive it and the people who run and patronize it. Its business verticals are clearly defined and impeccably staffed, with sufficiently autonomous departments that are nevertheless centrally controlled. Being a Jack of all trades and master of none only works well for smaller outfits that focus on making quick deals. A truly professional firm concerns itself with building a reputable brand that wields authority, respect and trust on the market. When we talk of professionalizing a property-related services firm, we must obviously touch on the true definition of 'professionalism'. Professionalism in any business line is primarily defined by two aspects - transparency and ethics. Australia real estate market is largely fragmented, and it is impossible to organize it all. By adherence to international best practices this business, a property firm can attract and retain corporate clients by offering the vital aspect of transparency in all its dealings and processes. Likewise, high ethical standards are indispensable to a professional real estate firm. To illustrate the challenges we face on this front, I would like to quote from the Management Guide For Real Estate Associations, which is a publication of the International Real Property Foundation - "Ethical perceptions and international business are highly influenced by cultural differences. Because of cultural and ethical relativism, real estate business that is conducted across national boundaries may discover ethical conflicts. Major ethical issues that complicate international business activities include sexual and racial discrimination, price discrimination, bribery, harmful products, and telecommunications - specifically, enforcement of country-specific laws, copyrights, and questionable financial activities."

To put it in a nutshell - in a professional real estate firm, things not only look right, they ARE right... and vice versa. Nothing less will do if a firm wants to set itself above and apart from others on the real estate market. It is evident that adhering to such parameters is not as easy as reading about them. In real estate, it is always tempting to find the shortest route to profits. This is a path that usually involves compromises. One tends to cut corners on hiring the best people, following professional ethics, keeping clients happy and staying current on the latest trends. Firms who choose to take this path will not make it far, and will never transcend the amateur level. It is firms who choose the harder, thornier path of never being satisfied with mediocrity and always striving for excellence in all aspects of their business dealings who are the true professionals.

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