No one will ever be a good valuer without self-awareness

One of the regular discussions we have on our instructions training programmes centres on what attributes and qualities are essential to ensure that a valuer achieves constantly exceptional performance.

Predictably, the usual suspects include punctuality, presentation, trustability, knowledge and a will to win.

However, one of the most important elements in a valuer’s success is often missed off the list until I prompt it to be included. And believe me, it must feature on the list, given that it is the most important of all – the quality of self-awareness.

So what does that mean and why should it be top of the tree in terms of the ingredients of a valuer’s performance?

To answer that question, we first need to assign a clear definition to the concept of self-awareness.

Googling it throws up countless versions but it is perhaps best described as “having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. It allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.”

An integral part of emotional intelligence, self-awareness plays a massive part in achieving true skill development.

The best people I get to work with on the training side of our business are those who have a high level of self-awareness including an appetite for candid self-assessment to ensure real habit change. (As Epictetus put it: “Self-scrutiny applied with kindness.”)

Self-awareness means recognising that they are not perfect, that they have strengths and weaknesses that need to be harnessed and addressed respectively. And conversely, the most frustrating delegates on our courses are those suffering from a distinct lack of self-awareness which manifests itself in the “Why do I need to be on a training course?” attitude.

The irony here is that the very fact that question is being asked answers it!

Author Paul Jun puts it this way: “Self-awareness is defined as conscious knowledge of oneself; it can help you make wiser decisions, and helps you tune into your thoughts and feelings. So often we place blame on externalities because it’s the easiest excuse, when in fact we should be thinking about our thinking, reflecting, trying on different perspectives, and learning from our mistakes.”

To apply this to our industry, a valuer lacking in self-awareness will blame all sorts of “externalities” for losing instructions (“the other agent overvalued it”, “my competitor offered them 1%”, “the vendor knows the other agent’s wife/ uncle/ milkman” etc etc) whereas the best highly self-aware valuers upon losing an instruction will go down the “thinking, reflecting” route, replaying the whole appraisal appointment and ask “Where did I go wrong?”

The importance of self-awareness in estate agency cannot be overstated yet the lack of it within many practitioners within the industry is alarming. The “blind spots” this issue creates represent a significant gap between what a valuer thinks they do and how they actually act.

I remember accompanying a valuer on an appraisal where he talked way too much. Many of you will have heard the old adage “Two ears, one mouth – use them in that proportion” – sadly this had passed the valuer in this case by.

At one point I timed him talking non-stop about his firm and their services for almost 20 minutes without seeking feedback, inviting questions or pausing for breath. The client looked increasingly bored during this experience and ushered us quickly out of the front door at the earliest opportunity.

Afterwards, I asked the valuer the classic coach question “How did you think that went?” to which the valuer replied: “Really well. That is the best presentation I’ve ever done.” He is no longer an estate agent.

Other examples of a lack of self-awareness I have witnessed in recent years in estate agency include: male estate agency owner asking a female estate agent how she managed to work long hours when she “had to get home to get dinner ready” (chauvinism always riles me); an overseas presenter at an industry conference making reference to his $700 suit (the “big I am” attitude never goes down well in my eyes); an agency director who refuses to give his business card to people at the start of meetings or valuations based on the fact that “if they don’t know who I am after me being in the town for 30 years, it is their own silly fault” (arrogance beyond belief); and people arriving late for courses having kept all the diligent, organised, punctual attendees waiting (lateness, particularly when not coupled with a sincere apology, speaks volumes about the culprit).

There are even frequent examples within EYE itself. Some of the comments to articles and news features on here … goodness me. A handful of people spend incalculable amounts of time posting their reactions and then getting upset at the reactions to their reactions! Vitriol, hot air, lashings of spelling mistakes … and to achieve what exactly?

I want to tell them to develop a bit of self-awareness, think before they comment, particularly about how they and their comments will be perceived, and also to consider spending this valuable time doing more productive things like reviewing customer phone calls, appraising staff or accompanying their valuers on appointments and coaching them to achieve higher standards.

That’s what I want to tell them. But I don’t. Because I heed Paul Jun’s words about “stopping yourself and admitting, ‘Wait a minute, I’m trolling right now because this person’s opinion just sucker-punched my ego, and I feel a visceral desire to tell this person they’re an idiot so I can feel better!’”

And if I have failed to convince you, I will leave the last word to Billie Jean King: “I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.”

Julian O’Dell

TM training & development

07718 634235

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  1. Richard Rawlings

    Julian – this is SUPERB…couldn’t agree more!


    1. julianodell

      Thanks Richard. Much appreciated.

      1. padders42

        I must say that I thought that this article was probably one of the best I’ve ever read on this website/newsletter – a profoundly insightful look into not just into the art of valuation within Estate Agency, but also into the role of ego, grandiosity and the human condition when applied to the business enviroment. Outstanding.
        Who’d of thought I’d be reading philosophy quotations from the Stoics in an Estate Agency newsletter…?
        Most elucidating, and very enjoyable.
        Thank you.
        Patrick Rampton
        Rampton Baseley

        1. julianodell

          You’ve just made an old man very happy Patrick. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Best wishes, Julian

  2. AgentV

    I think in my early days of valuing I was far too over sensitive about potentially disappointing people. I didn’t want to have to explain why their property wasn’t achieving the offers they had been told blatantly by other overvaluing agents it would!

    I think my honesty lost me some business, but at the same time won me some as well.

    I am far more confident in my ability nowadays but I have one question for Julian. What is his suggestion for answering and combatting the question ‘And what final sale price do you think we will get?’ when you know that other agents have deliberately overegged their answer, even made ridiculous guarantees they will never keep, just to win the business. I never feel comfortable with lying and I am sure it would show all over my face if I did.

    I know what I do, but I am always eager to learn, and would welcome alternative suggestions.

    1. smile please

      “The market will decide”
      If you have priced it in the right ball park, done some top class marketing, got people through the door. 
      The market will decide the final price.

    2. shrewdagent170

      Re the free valuation read the chapter “The Way Forward” in The Real Estate Agent and the Great Conspiracy Theory to see a proposal to stop overvaluation.

      1. PeeBee


        I repeat my previous question…

        You got yerself a book published by any miracle of chance?

        1. smile please

          Looks like you have already read an extract PeeBee!

          1. PeeBee

            Funnily enough, smile please, I didn’t have the faintest recollection of that article until a few minutes ago.
            It’s all come flooding back, now…

          2. BobSmeaton01

            Smile Please, I am sure Ros won’t mind me sharing the email I sent to her regarding the review – a sample of the book is also available on the publisher Austin Macauley’s website.
            From: Robert Smeaton

            Sent: 13 November 2016 11:02

            To: rosalind renshaw

            Dear Ros
            A belated thank you for your review. I have the feeling that you did not take much from the book but you can only write as you see it, and perhaps more kindly omit what you do see. I am grateful that you took the time to look at it and include it in your “news”. So you know, I do not think I said that I believe the that mortgage rationing was a deliberate ploy to aid the Corporate cause. The chapter was to show that had been the effect.
            As to whether it was deliberate I ask the reader to decide. Still, at least your readers are saved the cost of buying the book to find out what the conspiracy theory was, although unlike one of the commentators, I would not rule out the possibility of aliens!
            My hope for the book always has been that the problems such as conflict of interest, overvaluation etc. discussed pretty well on an a weekly basis on PIE (Ed Meads recent article on what the public think agents do, and particularly the response from one commentator about getting more viewings and a higher price could almost have been taken from it.) get a wider audience and perhaps with public scrutiny things may be done which will restore transaction levels and restore the ability of the public to move house more easily.
            Many thanks again.

            Kind Regards

            Bob Smeaton

        2. Robert May

          Is this book available on Audible? Has anyone read it? Is it any good? What about a  book review Ros? Get one of the site’s silent intellectuals to have a read of it.

          1. P-Daddy

            Two things from this article. The first, thankfully there is business to be won as a result of dinosaur attitudes leading to arrogance and lack of self awareness. A message to my competitors; please carry on as before, you are definitely always right!  Don’t retrain.

            The second point is thanks to Smile Please, PeeBee, Robert May and shrewdagent170, I never saw the article on the The Real Estate Agent and the Great Conspiracy Theory

            Its literary gold! I haven’t laughed so much! extract from the Eye article “Perhaps the easiest way to get market share for the corporate estate agent is very simply to stop people buying houses.”


            1. smile please

              Careful P-Daddy your comments may come under the ” offensively rude, needlessly negative, arrogant, and unprofessional.” catagory. 😉

    3. PERCY

      I am not surprised at how many people who work in the property industry cannot distinguish between arrogance and confidence. The former are the ones who make up excuses about why things didnt go their way, its always someone or something else that got in the way – their level of arrogance blinds reality. It would be more constructive and progressive to reflect and change their approach. So much ‘chest beating’ is very ‘old school’ and doesnt work anymore – we are in a modern world. Good agents get a dialogue going, build rapport and translate the features of their service into the benefits and what that means to customers. More self awareness and self belief in proportion.

    4. julianodell

      Too long an answer to post here. We cover this at length on our “Winning Quality Instructions” course, or if you’d like to give me a call, I’ll happily talk you through some ideas. My contact details are on our website
      In the meantime, thanks for reading the article!

  3. Property Personnel

    Very good article Julian. Your examples of the stereotypes who lack self-awareness had me nodding in agreement as we all know real live people who fit those bills – and they’re in estate agency!

    1. julianodell

      Thanks for the kind words of feedback. 

  4. smile please

    Interesting piece and very apt for me.

    I have just had to let a women go.

    20 years in the business, she was fearless, made the calls, asked the question but converting calls/ appointments into properties for sale was horrendous.

    Tried coaching her, she would listen and then revert back to type straight away. Always an excuse why they did not come on with her but another agent.

    Listening to her on the phone, observing her appointments the thing that was lacking was rapour building and self awareness (she was also not very good a selling our benefits, tangible differences).

    Its a shame as she could have been great but her attitude was not right as she could not take the feedback and its always someone elses fault.

    “You cant teach a dog new tricks” sounds harsh but if somebody has been doing something for 20 years and they do not want to change, not much you can do even with the best coaching and support.

    1. Frown Please

      Why not after 2 years? or 5 years? or even 10?You seem to have wasted 20 years of (hopefully) hard work and effort and got nothing in return…

      1. smile please

        Sorry, to clarify. She was with us 9 months, she had 20 years agency experience. 

        1. Frown Please

          That makes more sense :)I would worry about the past ‘experience’… My cat has 9 years experience…. Of sleeping during the day.

          1. CPestateagentesq

            20 years Agency Experience or 1 years experience repeated 20 times?

  5. Ted58


    “There are even frequent examples within EYE itself. Some of the comments to articles and news features on here … goodness me. A handful of people spend incalculable amounts of time posting their reactions and then getting upset at the reactions to their reactions! Vitriol, hot air, lashings of spelling mistakes … and to achieve what exactly?”

  6. Nick Salmon, M.D. Property Industry Eye

    Julian has hit such a big nail on the head with this one today.

    Some of the comments to articles and news features on here … goodness me. A handful of people spend incalculable amounts of time posting their reactions and then getting upset at the reactions to their reactions! Vitriol, hot air, lashings of spelling mistakes … and to achieve what exactly?

    We really enjoy seeing the lively and often robust debates and discussions on EYE. They knock every other publication into a cocked hat for the quantity – and mostly, the quality.

    But on my travels I do hear people say they find some of the comments offensively rude, needlessly negative, arrogant, and unprofessional. For that reason they will read the threads but not get involved.

    I have to agree with them. There are some on EYE who use tone and language they would never dream of using face to face and it can spoil what would otherwise be a civilised exchange of views.

    So it would be really good if Julian’s words were heeded by the repeat offenders (you know who you are) and next time you want to post, just pause for a moment of self-awareness. ‘Do as you would be done by’ is something we should all practice…

    1. Property Personnel

      Hear, hear!

    2. smile please

      Granted Nick, 
      To be honest i do not see many that are offensive or rude (maybe i am one of them?) – There are the usual suspects who post on certain stories but regular poster know their M.O.
      The only rude individual i can put my finger on is the chap that only comes on here to rant at posters because they dare challenge him.
      I would also say careful what you wish for 😉 The other “Pub” is very clean but has very little regulars and certainaly no atmosphere. 

  7. Property Paddy

    Re: No one will ever be a good valuer without self-awareness


    Never discuss price with a client, just tactics

    To be self aware, you need the client to be self aware too, otherwise it’s a one way conversation.

  8. David Cantell

    Very good article, common sense remains the overriding factor of success – few understand precisely what that means, including myself. Even though I attempt to incorporate it frequently, on a daily basis.

  9. David Cantell

    Very good article, common sense remains the
    overriding factor of success – few understand precisely what that means,
    including myself. Even though I attempt to incorporate it frequently, on a daily basis.

  10. Tablespider006

    If I was to comment (which clearly I am about to…) I’d add that there is a slightly more positive slant to be had.. less “what did I do wrong?” simply because to quote some wise old person in the past (as one does) “there’s nowt so queer as folk”.

    Might another angle be: “Did I/we do everything we could do?”

    The answer might be the same, just a glass half full slant on it?



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