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The Art and Science of Real Estate

“Arts and Sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.” ~Albert Einstein

Few may consider the craft of real estate a science – and fewer a form of art when in reality, it is a combination of both.

Outside the technical and process components of facilitating real estate transaction management – the formation and fostering of relationships is the single most important activity of building a sustainable real estate business. Few would dispute this – but perhaps I can help you think of it in a different way...

A few years ago I was in London speaking at an internet marketing conference. On our last day, we took a train to Paris to visit the Louvre Museum. I remember seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time in person. The size of this painting was not as big as I expected it to be but the painting itself is amazing. I did not feel there were any distinct lines, but there was plenty of shading that allowed every part to flow right into the next.mona_lisa-large

Her facial expression is what makes her face the obvious focal point of this painting. It pulls out a lot of questions from the mind. Is she smiling? If so, what or who was she was smiling at? What was going through Leonardo Da Vinci’s mind when he painted this? But my biggest question of all was…

What if Da Vinci had gotten bored, or distracted (which is the norm of our times), shortly after he started and just rushed through it and on to the next?

The world would have lost the art.

Now imagine a song for a moment.

Let’s play Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven in our head – can you hear those opening chords? The song begins as a slow acoustic-based folk song accompanied by recorders before electric instrumentation is introduced. It’s one of the most well-constructed songs in the past few decades.

When Jimmy Page was asked about the song, he said “I had these pieces, these guitar pieces, that I wanted to put together. I had a whole idea of a piece of music that I really wanted to try and present to everybody and try and come to terms with. Bit difficult really…”.

What if Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had gotten lazy and shortcutted the song just to crank out an album filler?

The world would have lost the art.

Finishing these pieces of work required all of them to evolve beyond the people they were and acquire talent they didn't have yet. They had to work over and over, fail, get back up and keep working. And isn’t that the difference maker in anything in life that breaks through the sea of mediocrity?

There are plenty of painters in the world, plenty of musicians, and indeed, PLENTY of Real Estate Agents - but few tap into that reservoir of brilliance and finish their work.

The transaction is our craft. The relationship is our art.

What makes you as a Real Estate Agent any different? People’s lives are lived long before and after a sale…yet, why do so many of us seek only to engage a few weeks before a ‘sales event’ and stop when the transaction is complete? (Maybe you need a real estate CRM to help follow up with these past clients).

The world is losing our art.

With art, there is no absolute formula or shortcut to success. It comes from authenticity. It comes from being you. A real estate agent's 'art' is the work it takes to form and foster relationships month after month, year after year. THAT is how sustainable real estate businesses are built – otherwise, all you own is a job, and are essentially unemployed after each ‘deal’.

And I’d submit, that not only is our ‘art’ the most important foundation of our business – it’s the most difficult. It’s the most difficult because it requires us to grow as human beings – to evolve ourselves in every area of life be it health, fitness, adoption of emerging technologies, market conditions, intellectual and perhaps even spiritual capacity. It requires us to 'let go' of the old us and push ourselves - and this never ends.

Leverage the Science of Relationships

While we can’t do the heavy-lifting of evolving for you, we can help you understand the Science of Relationships so you’ll be better positioned to find people who Know, Like, and Trust you (isn’t this the type of people who you want to do business with anyway?).

Establishing a relationship is a multi-step process that moves people through four key stages. They move from 1) awareness of you, to 2) knowing you, to 3) liking you, and finally – to 4) trusting your advice and counsel.

And, as a real estate professional, you’re going to build a sustainable business in that last stage of the relationship.

But you’re not going to get to this stage, ever, by running your business on the hamster wheel of paid advertising, online marketing, open houses, cold calling, or sending canned mass emails.

While I'm not suggesting you don't employ those tools to meet and serve people - to build your business on those foundations, without the focus of adding to the depth of your relationships, is lazy and short-sighted. Instead, you need a strategic plan anchored in real science (and art).

The law of propinquity

In social psychology, propinquity (from Latin propinquitas, "nearness") is one of the main factors leading to interpersonal attraction. It refers to the physical or psychological proximity between people.

The theory was first crafted by psychologists Leon Festinger, Stanley Schachter, and Kurt Back in what came to be called the Westgate studies conducted at MIT.

The propinquity effect

The propinquity effect is the tendency for people to form relationships with those whom they encounter (or are exposed to) often, forming a bond between subject and friend. We see this frequently with people who work together, Occupational Propinquity, is based on a person's career.

Workplace interactions are frequent and this frequent interaction is often a key indicator as to why close relationships can readily form in this type of environment. In other words, relationships tend to form between those who are exposed to each other at a high frequency. Make sense? Good.

Outside of working together – other places physical propinquity can occur is your neighborhood, farm, church, fitness and community center, etc. But it doesn’t stop there…

There are two dimensions to propinquity, and they play different roles in finding people to build relationships. There is physical propinquity and psychological propinquity.

More and more of us are connecting and socializing online, which is psychological propinquity, as it most directly relates to forming relationships through the creation of online content and interaction.

Propinquity theory tells us that the more often people are exposed to you, the better they get to know you. This makes sense. Each time someone is exposed to your content, they are interacting with you, your thoughts, and your beliefs. This leads to a feeling of knowing you because it mirrors how we get to know people in the real world.

So let's say you meet someone at your church, children's school, or CrossFit Box - you become aware of each other - and then you become friends on Facebook. After repeated exposure to your posts, it moves them from simply knowing you to actually liking you. Again, this mirrors the making-friends context we’re all familiar with in the offline world.

The more we interact with people we know, the more we tend to like them – unless of course, they’re a jackass and post political commentary all day long.

Because they like you, they consume more of your content. As they do, a portion of the audience will find a common ground with your life and your beliefs. This intersection of your beliefs, interests, or personality and your audience’s creates Psychological Propinquity. And that is what leads to trust and influence….and possibly repeat/referral business.

Be Unrelenting in your Craft and Art.

Authentic relationships are the gateway to building a sustainable real estate business. Ignore anyone who tells you otherwise or tries to sell you shortcuts. It takes hard work, guts, personal growth, and time.

And a funny thing happens when you focus on the Science and Art of your craft; it creates the space for you to focus on creating. Creative work is a gift to our industry and every being that is touched by it. We need your contributions. It is there, where you reach that magical realm when your work becomes your passion and purpose. The joy is in creating something and putting it out into the world…the joy is found in what comes out of you.

Originally posted on 10/14/2013. Updated 10/24/2018

Dave Crumby

Dave is the Chairman of Firepoint / Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent in 1996. Dave authored in 2013 the book titled 'REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate’ that has since become a best seller. The book features Dave's experience and the wisdom of other successful real estate leaders, such as the CEOs of Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.


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