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Buffini: ‘Emigrant Edge’ Is in Real Estate Pros’ DNA

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Brian Buffini said that despite the changing technological landscape, there are three basic elements in sales that will never change: building relationships, providing superior customer service, and growing your skill set.

Everyone has what real estate coach Brian Buffini calls “the emigrant edge.” In your ancestry is someone who risked everything to leave their country of origin in search of greater possibilities in America, and that strength of character is built into your DNA. “If you have a dream—if you have a goal—you are an ‘immigrant,’” Buffini, owner of Buffini & Company and author of The Emigrant Edge, told attendees during a Saturday session at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Chicago. “What would your predecessors think of your problems, and what would they do with your opportunities?”

Buffini—himself an Irish immigrant—said that as entrepreneurs, real estate professionals have the same fortitude and desire for boundless success as first-generation immigrants to the U.S. He laid out seven key characteristics of the kind of successful businesspeople who write the nation’s “rags to riches” narrative.

  1. A voracious openness to learn. You have to be willing to try new things—and fail—because those who don’t take risks won’t grow. “When you make the dumbest mistakes of your life, that’s when you can use your best thinking skills to readjust and try again,” Buffini said. “Your ability to earn and your desire to learn are extraordinarily linked.”
  2. A “do whatever it takes” mindset. “I see deals fall apart all the time because the agent encountered a ‘problem,’ such as a loan underwriting or escrow problem,” Buffini said. “Real estate pros react to a problem in a transaction like a surgeon who’s shocked to see blood.” In other words, get over yourself, stop complaining, and do what needs to be done to resolve issues and deliver the service your client expects. “‘Do whatever it takes’ is a mindset of servanthood,” Buffini said.
  3. A willingness to outwork others. Remember, there’s a difference between being busy and being productive. If you’re truly outperforming your competitors, you’ll put your energy into tasks that have a measurable impact on your business, either by attracting more clients or earning you more money.
  4. A heartfelt spirit of gratitude. Many people start their day on social media or watching the news, which gets them riled up and kicks off the day from a negative place. That, in turn, lowers productivity. “You can’t be full of complaints and full of gratitude at the same time,” Buffini said. “Remember your opportunities, and have gratitude for the moment.”
  5. A boldness to invest. This means more than investing properly in your business. “You can also invest in relationships,” Buffini said. “Relationships require great service and come with opportunities to grow skills.”
  6. A commitment to delay gratification. If you stopped buying a Starbucks coffee every day, you might be able to afford the monthly cost of a new marketing system that could move your goals forward significantly. Learn to look at the long view of your success, Buffini said. Those who truly have the wherewithal to achieve great things don’t need immediate gratification at the expense of longer-term goals.
  7. Remember where you’ve come from. “It gives you perspective,” Buffini said. “When you’re talking about how low inventory is, remember that there was a time when there was a lot of inventory—but everyone was upside down on their mortgages.”

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@realtors.org.

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