Debbie Hanlon_crop - webTo make it in real estate, and by “make it” I mean be a success, not just eke out a living, there are two things you need more than anything else: an inflated ego and the ability to keep it under control.

Without the first you would never be able to walk into someone’s home and convince them that you are the absolute best person to represent them on the sale of their home, better than all the other agents out there. For most people selling their home is a roller coaster ride of emotions and you need to gain their confidence and instil in them a sense of trust and security. It takes confidence bordering on swagger to be able to do that and we have to do it on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. No small feat. No big deal.

Now, psychologists tell us that an inflated ego is a healthy thing because it’s better to think too much of yourself than too little. During the low points in our lives, the belief that we deserve better allows us to get through it, as opposed to thinking we have no choice because it’s all we deserve anyway. However, these same psychologists also warn us that, if not kept under control, our inflated ego can turn on us and harm us in a hurry.

You’re probably thinking, well that’s all fine and dandy Debbie, but are we going to have to send out a search party to find the point you’re trying to make here? The point was driven home just last week when I was asked to do a CMA on a home. As soon as I got there the owners told me another agent had been in a couple of days earlier. By the tone of their voices and their expressions it wasn’t hard to tell that they had not been impressed. I knew the agent well. She is with a local firm and from the story they told me it was obvious this agent had an extreme case of the “all about me’s”.

Over a cup of tea they said she spent an hour going through her listing presentation and the first 55 minutes had been all about her. “We kept waiting”, the woman said, “for her to talk about our house, its worth, the current market and stuff, but she just went on and on about how wonderful she was.” Finally, after an hour of  “I did this” and “I did that”, she finished by telling them what she thought their house was worth without bothering to explain clearly how she had landed on that price. Hardly a mention of what her plan of action would be to get a sold sign on their property. Imagine that!

As agents, we have to sell ourselves to prospective clients. We have to showcase our accomplishments, our strong points and our skill sets, but only in relation to how those points can help the client buy or sell their real estate. We must explain what’s in it for the client. Otherwise, what’s the point?

For instance, I’ve won three Top 50 CEO Awards and I’ve been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs out of over 800,000. But if I just throw that out as a “look at me” statement, the homeowner is going to think, well that’s nice but how does it help me? So I always bring my achievements back to their needs. I’ll tell them that those awards speak to my negotiating skills, skills I will use to help them get a better deal. That’s what they want to hear. They want to know what’s in it for them.

We all have certain skills. It may be as simple as knowing the neighbourhood and that means you can confidently sell the location and not just the house. It is about you, but only as it relates to what you can do for your client. I realized this and that’s why I signed up that deal and the other agent didn’t. I’m sure she’s a fine agent, but she got lost in herself.

So the next time you have to do a CMA, walk into that home loud and proud with your ego inflated like a helium balloon, but for goodness sake don’t over inflate it or you’ll just get carried away. I hate to burst your balloon but that is just the way it is.

Debbie Hanlon is a real estate broker who has helped train hundreds of sales reps and brokered and managed a national real estate franchise. She also founded an independent real estate firm. Currently she coaches sales reps all over the world. She is a proven business woman and past political figure. She is the CEO of All Knight Inc, a global educational mobile company, as well as a published children’s author and the creator of the national I’m No Bully Show. 

Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.


  1. Debbie:
    What you are describing as the desirable personality trait that a great Realtor should possess is akin to the expertise of a controlled explosion expert, the type who sets and rigs controlled explosions to strategically bring old buildings down in confined areas without damaging surrounding properties. In other words, the ideal Realtor knows that his/her ego is naturally unbridled, but he/she nevertheless is able to keep it reigned in within the presence of others. That ability speaks more to wisdom than egomania, which wisdom usually is only achieved through living to a certain point in life (usually later on) after realizing the past follies of one’s inward-looking self-importance. It also helps to be smarter than the average bear, which you certainly are.
    Too bad there are so many Realtors out there who possess undeserved inflated egos who thus lack both the smarts and the wisdom factor. However, having said that, it opens the door for smart, aware consumers to be able to differentiate between the amateurs and the pros. The not-so-smart and/or lazy, easily impressed consumers get stuck with the amateurs it seems, over and over.
    Another excellent article Debbie>

  2. You speak such truths, Debbie. If you “own” a territory on a map as a result of farming, or are known in a broader area due to success such as yours, you are often contacted, precisely, because of visibility.

    But until one develops some sort of rapport at the first point of contact, and secure an appointment face to face, as you note – the contact will never become a contract.

    If one is fortunate enough to have had local success acknowledgement precede the meet-up, it helps to carry to the meeting actual copies of sold and or current listings that have your name embedded in the printouts.

    If an agent doesn’t have any, it can be a useful opportunity to promote the office as a whole, perhaps.

    I find owners often only think they have correct neighbourhood information, that is often terribly skewed. They may have simply interpreted the information incorrectly or maybe their source didn’t get it right.

    Providing copies of actual printed data, or even an online presentation of same, enables the owner to visit the tangible, and supports the proper CMA presented.

    I have always found this a useful discussion and it supports the agent “success” in a way that only this information can. In other words, it speaks for itself, enabling the conversation to centre around the client needs and wants (which often are not one and the same).

    Carolyne L

  3. I enjoyed reading this, Debbie. It brought to mind 2 quotes which pretty much make the same points you are making:

    First, from Marianne Williamson, who said :

    “Your playing small doesn’t serve the
    world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
    won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children

    Second, from my late Uncle Alf, a blunt old soldier who had no time for “look at me” types:

    “X? Yes, he used to be arrogant. But now he’s perfect.” :)

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