Selling Yourself: Mastering the Art of Story in Real Estate

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Every family has at least one – a master storyteller who keeps the rest of the family perched on the edges of their seats while they share fascinating tales. The stories vary a bit depending on the situation, but the thing that makes them special is that each story is compelling. In my family, my Uncle Jim has earned the role of designated storyteller. He tells stories of daring, danger, or how he (or someone he knows) managed to overcome insurmountable odds.

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What you may not know is that mastering the art of story might just be the fuel you need for explosive growth in your real estate business. Compelling stories can sell clients on working with you, can help you when marketing a property, and can help rescue transactions when things go off the rails.

In short, stories sell.

3 Categories of Real Estate Stories You Need Today

The real estate stories I think you most need to develop for your real estate business fit pretty neatly into 3 basic categories:

  • Your process – While much of the real estate buying and selling process is the same regardless of who is at the helm, each real estate agent brings unique ways of doing things to the table, including unique twists that can give you a competitive edge. Being able to articulate these process details can instantly turn you into a trusted, valuable resource for prospective clients. Knowing how you’ll explain your process in story form can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
  • Marketing Stories – These are stories you’ll develop for marketing purposes, such as the story you build all of your marketing campaigns around. Better yet, you can use story to craft compelling marketing messages that can set you apart from your competitors – in attracting prospects, as well as selling or even helping someone find the home of their dreams.
  • Situational Stories – These are stories that can help to rescue a deal, put your clients’ minds at ease, or help you to illustrate a point. Regardless of the situation, the effective use of story can make you a hero to the people you serve.

While you you’ll start with a single story for each category, you should make a point to eventually come up with many stories, to make sure you have something for each situation.

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The DNA of a Good Real Estate Story

Regardless of how you plan to use it, every good story is made up of core components that make it so effective:

Each story has a point – Before telling your story, give some thought to the point you’d like to get across to anyone listening to your story. For instance, if you’re sitting at a listing appointment, your prospect might be feeling a little apprehensive about your ability to get their home sold within a reasonable amount of time. At this point, a quick story about a past client who felt the same way might be appropriate. Make sure the story you tell has a point, and is on point – in other words, is appropriate for the situation.

Every story is compelling – The best real estate stories are compelling. What makes your stories so compelling is up to you and your imagination, but regardless, you need to hook anyone listening to your stories, so they will pay attention to what you have to say. In short, your stories should grab the listener’s attention and refuse to let go – until you take them to the natural end and they understand the point you’re trying to make.

It grabs the attention and refuses to let go – People rarely pay attention to boring. To keep from losing your listeners, make sure your story is fast-paced and uses plenty of sensory details – and that every word you say drives your story towards its natural conclusion. Try to put together a story that you can easily adapt to the situation while addressing the main issue, goal or concern that prompted its telling in the first place.

The story changes a little each time it is told – Think for a moment about some of the best stories you’ve heard. If your experience has been anything like mine, the best stories are well-rehearsed and change a little each time they are told. The reason is because the person telling the story usually remembers little details that add layers of authenticity – and make the story more relatable and believable.

A Simple Process for Finding Effective, Compelling Real Estate Stories

Putting together effective, compelling real estate stories doesn’t have to be difficult. Your best resources are all around you – people and situations you observe personally, you hear about in your office, or you hear about from people outside your office.

When one of these ideas strikes you as interesting, write some of the details down. You can periodically review some of the stories you’ve heard for inclusion in stories you can share with clients or prospects.

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Pro Tip: Story Ideas Come from the Strangest Places

Story ideas will come to you from all kinds of places. What you may not know is that some of the best ones come from the strangestplaces and are simply adapted to create a compelling real estate story. For instance, maybe you saw a movie, heard a song, or read an article about something completely unrelated to real estate that you feel is a cool, interesting, or insightful story. Or maybe you were at an event – a wedding, a social gathering, even a political rally – and you saw or heard something that gave you an idea. Simply adapt an element (or a few elements) of that story to somehow link it to real estate. With practice, you’ll get better at finding linkages that will work well.

Story ideas will come to you from all kinds of places.

Storyboarding Your Story

Regardless of where your story ideas come from, you’ll need to do a little planning to make sure you story is as effective as it can be. One of the most common mistakes I see when real estate pros try to use story is that they get so hung up on providing authentic accounts of real-life situations that they inadvertently kill what otherwise could have been an effective, entertaining or educational story. One way to avoid this is by planning how you’ll present your story to your prospect – storyboarding. As you think about a story you’re considering using in your business, ask yourself if any of the details you’ll share will be confusing to the person hearing your story. The best, most effective stories are simple, easy to share, and more importantly, drive home a point, and don’t raise more questions than they answer.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Mastery of core storytelling elements won’t happen overnight. It will take some practice. Here’s the good news: With practice, the stories you choose to tell in your real estate business will get better, more effective, even fun. Practicing your story delivery will help you to master some of the nuances which will help others to appreciate your story (such as pacing, delivery, and timing). When you think you’ve mastered the fundamentals, have a trusted friend listen to you tell it a few times. The key point here is that the person listening should be given the freedom to honestly evaluate what they think of your story. This means you have to agree not to have a fit if they don’t like your story! Simply revise it a little and give it another shot. Soon, you will have a story that works for you and anyone hearing it.

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With practice, the stories you choose to tell in your real estate business will get better, more effective, even fun.

Stories Give You Authenticity

There’s an active movement in marketing today for authenticity. I’ve found very few tactics and strategies as effective as stories in giving you a level of authenticity that nothing else can. Stories also help you prove that you’re the best person for the job your client is hiring you to do, regardless of whether you’re being called upon to list a home, help a first-time homebuyer find the home of their dreams, or simply demonstrate that you can help resolve problems when they come up.

A Few Things to Avoid with Real Estate Stories

One of the hidden dangers in developing stories you can use in your real estate business is giving in to the temptation to say things which could be offensive. At the same time, you don’t want to so sanitize your stories that they have zero personality. I’m simply asking you to be aware of some of the dangers and to avoid obvious stories and topics that could alienate or anger your prospects and clients.

A Final Word About Using Story in Real Estate

Whether you’re the person who keeps people on the edges of their seats or you prefer to listen when a family member starts talking at a family reunion, it is possible for you to develop enough storytelling skill to effectively use story in your real estate business. It can be fun, invigorating, and might just be the thing you need to set you apart from your competition.


Ken SpeegleKen Speegle is Realty ToolKit’s resident real estate industry expert. Every week he writes insightful, in-depth articles about topics related to real estate marketing, each designed to help make you a better, more profitable real estate professional. Ken is the founder of therealestatewriter.com and has been a real estate copywriter since 1994.