Rules for CORE Agents #1: Find Out What People Need, and Give it to Them

Over the next few months, I’m going to be setting out what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog.  


Every business operates on a simple principle: identify what people need, and then find a way to give it to them.  If you’re good at satisfying people’s needs, then you’ll make a lot of money.  If you’re not good, you’ll go out of business.

Great businesses, though, have a larger vision: they identify what people don’t even know they need.  Essentially, they create their own category.  We didn’t realize that we needed a better way to listen to music, and then Apple created the iPod.  McDonalds virtually created the need for fast food.  Starbucks created the need for specialty coffee drinks.  Zagat created the need for restaurant guides.  The key to greatness is finding out what people don’t even realize they need until you start providing it to them.

Unfortunately, the real estate industry taken an extremely narrow view of what people need from real estate agents: people need agents to help them buy or sell a home.  That’s what they need from us, and those are the services we provide.  Of course, our compensation model generates a commission only when a client closes a transaction, so it’s pretty convenient that we’ve taken such a cramped view that we’re satisfying their need for services when we might just be satisfying our need to get paid.  If we got paid by the hour, for example, it’s likely that we’d take a much more expansive view of the services we could provide.

The problem is that when you take such a narrow-minded view of what clients need from you, you miss opportunities that could expand your market.  Zillow built a billion-dollar business by identifying needs people didn’t even know they had, and which the real estate industry was ignoring – homeowners’ needs to keep track of property values even when they were not buying or selling.  The industry was blind to those needs because we had such a cramped focus on only helping people who were buying or selling.  At best, we offered “Free CMAs” in our marketing, but really only as a way to solicit opportunities to pitch potential listings.  Zillow took a larger, more expansive view of what people needed, and built a successful business.

That’s the same approach you should take for building your business: constantly look for ways to satisfy people’s needs, even the needs they don’t realize they have.  Develop leads not by mindlessly calling a bunch of people you don’t know and asking if they’re moving, but by reaching out, finding what they need, and providing services to them.  Don’t just call an expired seller to pitch a listing opportunity, satisfy the need she has to find out why her listing didn’t sell.  Those people all have real estate needs that aren’t being met.  Meet them.

Take the long view. The more you expand your perspective of what you can do for people, the more opportunities you’ll find to service their needs. The more you service their needs, the more you’ll expand your market.  And the more you expand your market, the more business you’ll do.