Lesson Learned: Focus on clients more than transactions

Manhattan agent Kimberly Jay left Wall Street behind to launch a real estate career. Find out how she learned that people are always the priority.

In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.

With a background on Wall Street and two decades as a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Compass’s Kimberly Jay offers service that has been recognized for its exceptional impact. She’s the recipient of the Pinnacle Award for excellence and is a Real Estate Board of New York Certified Negotiation Expert.

Find out how she learned that when it comes to real estate, it’s less about the transaction and more about the person standing in front of you.

How long have you been in the business?

I started in this business in the fall of 2008, during the financial crisis, after Bear Stearns collapsed. After 15 years on Wall Street, like so many others, I was let go from UBS.

A friend who runs a hedge fund said to me, it’s so tough for anyone to get a job right now, you should be a real estate broker. You’ve got a great Rolodex, you’re a hard worker, super professional, you’ll be smarter than all of them and my partner needs an apartment.

I said to myself, that’s not a bad idea. I got my license, and his partner took an apartment at The Plaza! I’ve never looked back.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself doing what I love, real estate. After spending 13 years at Douglas Elliman, I moved to Compass last year. They have incredible technology and support, which really elevates both the agent and the clients’ experience. I’m contemplating building a team, as my business has never been better.

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?

I learned that it’s all about the client or customer, never about the transaction. Listen and be patient with them and their needs.

How did you learn it?

When I started in this business, a buyer came to see one of my properties three times during open houses. The third time they came to see the property they said to me, we’re not actually here to buy this apartment. We are scouting out agents in the area to sell ours because we’re not happy with our current agent.

They said their agent never listened to them, but that I had been very respectful and attentive. Finally, they told me that they would like me to list their apartment. Since then, I’ve worked with them four times.

What advice would you give to new agents?

Real estate is not an easy business. It’s hard work, long hours, and full of disappointments. Learn your market. Visit properties. Offer to help seasoned agents.

Be ready to work off-hours when buyers are off work: holidays, weekends and nights. See every failure as an opportunity to learn. It’s never about the transaction, it’s about building lasting relationships.

Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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