December 7th - 2013

Time management in real estate

In the fast-paced world of real estate, time management is more important than ever.

Businessman pressed for time

businessman pressed for time

In the fast-paced world of real estate, time management is more important than ever.

The pace of life has sped up for many people in recent decades, not just for REALTORS®. However, in a profession that has never fit the 9-to-5 model, finding greater efficiencies can help you achieve more work-life balance. The EDGE newsletter spoke with three experienced REALTORS® about the skills and tools they use to manage their time better.

“The first thing REALTORS® must understand is that there are 24 hours in a day but it’s how you manage that time that determines whether you’ll remain sane in this business or need to be committed,” laughs  Sara Hill, a Waterloo REALTOR®. “Time management comes naturally to some people but others have to learn it,” says Hill, who has worked in real estate for 20 years.

One key to managing time well is to realize that you control your own day and can set boundaries, Hill advises. She lets her clients know that she is available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; if they call after 9 p.m., she responds the next day – unless she is in the midst of dealing with an offer.

“You must run this as a business, and many people don’t,” she says. “If clients ask to look at a house, I give them several time options and ask them to pick one.”

Technology plays a big role in time management, according to various sources. Although tech tools can save time, Hill believes they can also waste time and add distractions when you are trying to focus on a particularly time-consuming task. “Find the ‘Off’ button on your smartphone,” she suggests. “Mine is off much of the time when I need to concentrate, such as when I do research for a CMA (comparative market analysis) of properties or when I’m handling an offer. I use it to my advantage and don’t let it control me.”

Time management is much easier thanks to technology, says Ed Valenti, a North Bay REALTOR® with 30 years of experience in the field. “If you use technology properly, it saves a lot of time. It’s a tool that allows us to rule time, instead of letting it rule us.”

His online calendar is a vital component of time management for Valenti. He and his brother, a partner in the business, enter all professional and personal appointments into the calendar. “That way, we always know where the other one is and don’t double-book ourselves. It’s the biggest single factor in keeping my life in check.”

Valenti works with a tablet computer and smartphone that doubles as a wireless hotspot, allowing him to work from a variety of locations. It’s a far cry from the days when he filled out forms with carbon copies. “I can do my paperwork anywhere. I can be on a boat in the middle of Trout Lake. Even when I was in Europe, I could check on things. It’s like a moving office, and I can respond to people quickly.”

Executives fighting for time

He agrees that controlling your cellphone, rather than letting it control you, is vital. During meetings, he uses Bell’s voice-to-text system to check voicemail without disturbing others. The system converts voicemail into text messages that he can scan quickly and quietly for urgent issues.  “I never turn my phone off, but I do let it go to voicemail,” he says. “When I’m with clients, I devote my time to them and don’t take other calls.”

However, Valenti wouldn’t dream of returning to the days before mobile phones. They allow him to reply to people promptly and to resolve problems that would have taken twice as long in the days of beepers, he said.

Technology is a wonderful time management tool for responding to clients promptly, agrees Oksana Jancevic, a Toronto REALTOR®.  She works with a BlackBerry and an iPad on the road and uses a laptop at home. “I can connect from anywhere and send things right away,” said Jancevic.

Saving time is about more than just using technology, though, she adds. It means looking at the big picture and examining which aspects of your schedule are eating up too much time, says Jancevic, who has worked in real estate for six years and focuses on the condominium market. She has learned to roll up her sleeves and complete certain tasks that, although they may take a bit more time in the short term, will yield time savings over the long term.

Jancevic tackles the task of booking her appointments first thing in the morning and plans them a day in advance. “I like to know that if someone cancels, we have time to rearrange,” she says. “It also gives everyone a chance to look at their schedules, since people are working. And it’s nice for my buyers, because by evening, they know what they’ll be seeing the next day. I can send them the listings and they can get more information.”

She books showing appointments by phone rather than online, calling real estate offices directly. “The receptionist usually has up-to-date information, so I don’t schedule an appointment and then find out the property is sold.”

Planning her route to various properties ahead of time is another strategy Jancevic uses. “An hour before showings, I pre-program my GPS. Then I just click on the next location. When driving with someone in the car, you can get distracted.”

Even dealing with potential clients is a time management issue, Jancevic notes. “Asking the right questions prevents me from wasting time with people who aren’t serious,” she said. “I learned that if a buyer hasn’t talked to the bank, for instance, that’s an indication that they’re not necessarily serious.”

In fact, that approach can be taken a step further. Assessing your client list to determine which individuals are worth the most time is a valuable time management strategy in real estate, says Jane Saber, chair of the marketing department for the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto’s Ryerson University.

“You want to consider the probability of profitability of each customer,” said Saber, who specializes in real estate. “List your clients to decide which are the ‘stars’, offering potential growth, which are the ‘cash cows’ producing a consistent revenue stream; and which are the ‘dogs’ who are not producing dollars. “You want to maximize the return on your time. It sounds simple, but it works.”

Time can sometimes get away from you despite your best efforts. If the day is not going your way, always try to find the humour in the situation, advises Sara Hill. “One of the most important things for your career is not to take yourself too seriously,” she says. “If I had realized that 20 years ago, I would have been far better off. Being able to laugh at yourself is 90 per cent of the battle.”

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Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations

416-445-9910 ext. 246