Real estate is a wonderfully complex industry- there’s nothing else quite like a career as an agent. But some agents don’t always have the best reputation. 

Have you ever had a sales experience that turned you off? Perhaps it was when you bought a car. You walked onto the lot, excited to start your journey, but ended up feeling hounded by an aggressive salesman. You felt like a prospect which is never pleasant. We have this problem in the real estate industry. Some agents have earned a reputation for being more interested in the sale than in the people they serve. Too many brokerages teach their agents to do business in a transactional way.

But this doesn’t have to be how YOU do business. How can you build a better real estate business? Start by being an agent who values the relationship with the client over the sale- every time. We have an opportunity to raise the bar in the experiences we provide our clients and that starts by approaching real estate with a relational mindset rather than a transactional one.

We’ll examine the differences between a transactional approach and a relational approach to real estate and how a relationship-focused approach to real estate will change the way you think, work with clients and do business.

What is a Transactional Approach to Real Estate?

Many agents approach real estate with a scarcity mindset. They are trained to assume there is a limited market of buyers and sellers and a lot of agents competing for those clients. They feel compelled to compete to get their share of the pie. Every person is a prospect and every prospect is a potential sale. Sales pay the bills so agents need to capture every opportunity they can. 

Agents who work with this mindset put profit over people- and their clients feel it. Everyone has felt like a prospect at some point. Whether buying a car or a mattress (or when your friend joined the insurance industry), you felt the pressure of a “transactional” approach to sales. Jostling with other agents for clients just leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouths- especially the clients.

Placing sales before people is not a winning formula. When you only see the sale, instead of the people, it’s impossible to treat clients well.

“Are you working with an agent?”

“Can I show you homes?”

“Please sign in on this sheet.”

“Click here for this free report!”

These are the phrases of agents trying to capture people as leads. Always asking people for their information and hounding them for a sale turns people off and is why many have a hard time trusting real estate agents. We don’t work with people we don’t trust.

It’s true you’ll make some sales blasting a database of 10,000 with a solicitation email every week. Even a broken clock is right twice a day!  But you’re only playing the short game when you work with a transactional approach. What do we mean by short game? It’s reducing someone to a sale, only to move on to the next transaction when you get your commission check. Treating clients like a product doesn’t foster a relationship and they’ll always remember the way you made them feel. 

For Example…

Let’s say you’re holding an open house. If you’re taking a transactional approach to real estate, everyone who comes in the door is a potential buyer or seller. These are leads to be converted.

But most open house attendees don’t buy the house and many are just nosy neighbors. So you go home feeling like your time has been wasted and your guests leave feeling hounded in the same way they were at the other opens they attended.

An open house where attendees are reduced to prospects is a missed opportunity to create connections, relationships and long-term referral opportunities. 

What is a Relational Approach to Real Estate?

A relational approach to real estate begins with changing your mindset from one of scarcity to abundance. Agents who approach real estate with an abundance mindset know there is no lack of opportunity in the market. People will always buy and sell homes. There is more than enough business for every great agent willing to provide a valuable experience for their clients. 

Agents who work with an abundance mindset see people, not dollar signs. In fact, they’re even willing to forgo a sale if it means the seeds for a relationship are planted. They know that the relationship will bloom in time. When we go the extra mile for our clients and place their needs ahead of the sale, they will love the chance to recommend us to their friends and family. 

Clients are people with hopes, dreams, needs and wants. You’re in the business of making sure those are met (and exceeded). Agents who work with a relational approach aren’t afraid to give rather than ask. Instead of hounding people for a sale, you can start establishing trust by sharing information and knowledge freely. For example, share a report on the value of a client’s home, not because you want them to sell it, but because they deserve to know what their house is worth.

Providing a valuable experience builds trust with your clients. Clients want to work with someone they trust- and they want to be able to recommend someone they trust to the hundreds of people they know.

Even if your client does not end up buying or selling, you’ve still won. Why? You provided a valuable experience for them. They can and will connect you to other potential clients in the marketplace by recommending you to everyone they know. They may even return to you when they are ready to buy or sell!  You’re playing the long game when you work with a relational approach.

What is the long game? The relationships and the network you build are valuable and should be nurtured. When you do that, you’re building a business that will continue to grow and works for you in the long term. 

For Example…

Let’s say you’re holding an open house. If you’re taking a relational approach to real estate, everyone who comes in the door is an opportunity to provide value. These are relationships to be built.

We know most open house attendees won’t buy the house, they may end up not buying any houses at all. But you can still give them a valuable experience. Talk to the nosy neighbors about the value of their own homes and find out what their real estate needs might be. You’ll leave knowing you planted the seeds of a relationship and your guests leave feeling like they were heard and treated like people, not prospects. 

An open house where attendees are seen as people with needs and wants is an opportunity to provide valuable experiences and build relationships and long-term referral opportunities.

It’s time for a shift in the industry.

As REALTORS®, we need to remember to value people over the sale. No one wants to be a prospect. We want someone to listen to us and understand our wants and needs. Agents have a golden opportunity to change the way we do business by focusing on the human element of real estate. A relational approach to real estate makes sense on a human level for two reasons.

1. First, clients are more likely to refer to an agent when they have a great experience. 

What’s the first thing you do after a great meal at a restaurant? You tell people about it. We naturally want to share good experiences so our friends and family can share in them and maybe experience them as well. 

2. When you have a high-stakes need, you ask people you trust for recommendations.

When was the last time you used Yelp to find a babysitter? Probably never. When you have a high-stakes need, you don’t just pick a random person. You’d ask your friends and family to share their experiences. You’re asking to be referred to someone they trust. 

We can and should shift from trying to get people to buy and instead invest in creating value for the people we encounter, whether it be at an open house or anywhere else. Only then do we open the door for people to do what they love to do, which is refer to great value.

This is the key to building a better real estate business. 


We are passionate about building businesses that foster relationships. It’s how we operate and how we’ll always do business. If the idea of a relational approach to real estate resonates with you, we’re here to discuss it further. 

 Feel free to reach out to us at


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