For Eric Eaton—founder of Eaton Homes, a holistic approach to real estate is the only one that makes sense — particularly in this fragile market. Even under normal circumstances, an agent is tasked with deciphering the cryptic desires of a buyer, and the current situation has only solidified Eaton’s comprehensive approach.
It’s that dedication to customer service, plus an impressive track record of over 30 years of experience, that led to Eaton receiving the President’s Gold Award in 2014, presented to the top 10 per cent of sales representatives nationally. Since then, he’s split his time continuing to serve the GTA at Royal Lepage and training aspiring realtors at EXP.
With conditions and affordability expected to remain challenging this year, The Edge, A Leader’s Magazine spoke to Eaton about the fundamentals of earning a customer’s trust and the importance of mentorship.
As an experienced realtor, how do you get a customer to trust you?
For every customer out there about to hire a realtor, trust is probably one of the first things. Can I trust this individual to guide us through this process to take us to the finish line?
When you get that opportunity to actually sit in front of someone or to speak with someone about helping them through that process, I believe that you’ve got to come from a place where their concerns are more important than yours.
The statistics of trust when it comes to realtors as salespersons — it’s not at the top of the scale. Because we’re 100 per cent commission sales, right? There’s no income, there’s no salary to draw from. [We] are really dependent on making that sale.
My philosophy is really working with the client. Make sure that I ask a ton of questions. I go into it making sure that I know exactly what their needs are, their goals, their expectations, and I actually create a plan to be unique to them. It’s not cookie-cutter.
Because in their heart, their situation is unique. My approach is really from a customized service approach. And I let them know that upfront. By asking them all the right questions, I believe that they can see that I’ve got their interest at heart, first and foremost. I believe that they trust me. Not to mention the fact that I’ve now been in the industry for over 30 years. I’ve established a lot of contacts over time who I can lean on to provide a level of service to my clients that ultimately says, “I’m in it for them, not just for me.”
And you’ve certainly been recognized for it. The President’s Gold Award is awarded to the top 10 per cent of sales representatives in Canada. Receiving it must be a big achievement for you. What skills or experiences of yours do you think helped you land this honour?
Obviously, I’m honored to receive such an award, among many other awards over my career. When I receive an award, I know that there’s a lot that goes behind [it].
Obviously, there are certain components that really come together to make all that happen. Being organized and having structure in my business is really important. To have that communication skill set is [also] really important. I think all of these things combine to enable me to have a successful business.
Also, make sure that you’re asking the right questions no matter what it is, whenever you’re engaging with the client, because I can guarantee you that they’re thinking something completely different than what you as the agent are thinking. That just comes with experience.
In the past few years, some analysts were predicting real estate bubble collapse, but that never happened, and prices kept climbing. You described it as “the eye of the storm” a few months back. What are some ways property buyers can navigate this situation?
I will admit it is a very daunting task for buyers in the marketplace today. Not only is it a daunting task for buyers in the marketplace, we as realtors do not like the current market that we’ve bought because it’s not predictable. We don’t have the answers. Even when we look at the statistics that show that this home’s priced at X, it could very well sell for X-plus-plus.
We can’t control the emotional factors that come into play in the buying process. But here are the things that we can control. We can go through the correct steps when it comes to buying a home.
One of the very first things that we want to establish is, are we ready to buy a home? Are we financially sound to buy a home? Do we have job stability? Do we have the amount saved for the required down payment?
Once we’ve done those things, then it’s really important that we don’t start looking at homes that we can’t necessarily fit into our budget. In most cases, in this particular market right now, we probably need to look at homes below our budget.
Unfortunately, we’re not in a buyers’ market, we are in a seller’s market, and the seller really dictates the terms.
You’ve made several appearances on Facebook live to update people on the GTA market and talk about real estate. How do you feel social media has benefited you?
Social media is great! It’s great in order for you to get your message out there. What you don’t want to do is you don’t want to spend all day on social media.
The other thing about social media — it’s really all about who you can take from an online process to an offline process. That’s something I definitely strive for.
Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer