Anna Riley was fortunate enough to earn a National Rookie of the Year Award during her first year selling real estate based on her sales volume. Her broker at the time explained that Riley had a knack for getting people to trust her. “You have a gift that you’re able to demonstrate that you are competent and people can trust you in one meeting,” he said. “If you could bottle that, we’d have a higher success rate in our business.”
Riley has spent years since winning that award honing and developing that skill, and it’s resulted in a 17-year career in which Riley’s sold more than $ 1 billion in real estate. She’s going to be speaking at Luxury Connect about how she humanizes her connections, October 16 through 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.
To build trust with clients, “it’s really important for you to understand your client’s connection points; it affects how I deliver information to them,” Riley explains. “Some people are really affiliation-based, and they’ll trust you based on affiliations with their friends; for others, it’s strictly data-driven, and they feel comfortable in your level of expertise, your knowledge of the appointments of their home.”
She’s spent a lot of time, for example, learning about the unique attributes of luxury homes, such as the different stone finishes and options in the neighborhood where she typically works, which “gives clients confidence that I can convey the attributes of their home to someone else.
“And it’s not just the expertise of the house, it’s the expertise of the area,” Riley adds. “In luxury areas, there’s knowledge that’s curated over a long time. I keep my expertise in a very small geography, and that’s intentional — that’s one of the ways I’ve conveyed expertise over time.”
Hear more from Riley at Luxury Connect, October 16 through 18 in Beverly Hills.
What do you think the luxury agent of the future looks like?
I think they have really good technology skills, I think the luxury agent of the future needs to have great accessibility, lots of affiliations with local organizations in terms of social organizations, and very technology-savvy, very connected to your community; you have to be adaptable and flexible, and you have to provide tangible value in terms of both expertise and results.
Information is fair game for everybody, buyers can get so much information from the internet that at the luxury level you really have to provide value both in terms of access and connection, resources — I thin it’s going to be very much a concierge-like service and you have to be able to know the alphabet from A to Z.
What do you feel are the challenges facing the luxury market this year?
I think they’re coming from a lot of different areas. I think rising interest rates and the length of our recovery — we’ve had a long economic recovery, and I think that people are sort of waiting and a little nervous about a recession coming up. And I think some of the political climate — there’s some uncertainty there, and uncertainty is always destabilizing to the luxury market because people like stability. And the combination of those events, I think, make people a little uncertain about the direction ahead.
What are some of the biggest problems you’ve faced in growing your business?
The trickiest part is who you are working with and who your support people are, and so finding support people can be challenging. Real estate is amazing in that you can really build the size of business that you want. For me and my style, I have very much a small boutique business. I have one partner who just joined with me this year, an assistant, and our company’s administrative staff. We do an amazing amount of business for our size. Candidly, my biggest challenge over the years has been taking care of my wonderful clients seamlessly; it hasn’t been a lack of business.
How has technology changed your business, and what are you most intrigued by that you’re not currently using?
Technology has changed everybody’s business. It’s the accessibility piece that is huge. We have to be accessible all the time now, and information is everywhere; culling through that information has been huge and it’s created more work from the standpoint of leveraging social media, which is really important, and print media, and corporate resource media, and the old-fashioned spending time with people, while it has definitely increased our reach, I think you have to be careful about how you elect to spend your time. Because it can become — there’s always one more thing that you could do, so really trying to be mindful and deliberate about what is effective to use, knowing your critical path to getting the client, doing the job, which is selling the home or finding them a home, you have to be really deliberate in terms of how you do a fabulous job accomplishing the main mission while also using technology to support that.
If I find a technology tool interesting, we try to use it, but I would say the biggest piece — there isn’t anything right now that is wildly intriguing to me. What I spend most of the time thinking about is how we define our message and make sure that our brand is conveyed consistently in all the different avenues of conveying it, but that isn’t a particular tool, it’s more of a mission statement and making sure all the technology pieces support that.
What’s the question you hear most from your clients? And what’s your answer to them?
“What’s happening in the market?” I hear that all the time, at dinner parties, everywhere I go. It’s the forecasting. And I remind them that if I had a crystal ball, I would have used that for Lotto tickets many years ago, and then we just have a conversation about how there’s no one right time to sell and go directly onto their goals. That’s the question — it’s really hard to ever go anywhere without 20 minutes of any conversation going “Oh, you’re that person, I see your signs all over, what do you think’s happening in the market?” An old real estate sage when I first started said, “Always tell people the market is good no matter what’s going on,” and I don’t really do that. I think you create trust with the truth. Telling people how things are and how you navigate through it — that’s why they hire you.