Here are ten other things you can do when you are first starting your real estate career to be more successful:
- Find the right managing broker.
Your first real estate company and broker can set the tone for your success or failure in real estate sales. Look for a managing broker that advocates sales, prospecting, technology and transaction training. You should feel comfortable with your new broker's professionalism, ethics, and time management skills. Expect your new broker to run an efficient, organized and real estate consumer-centric office.
- Find the right real estate company to hang your license.
Your new company is as important as your new broker. Is management agent-driven? Look for a strong market presence backed up by thorough penetration in newspapers, yard signs, direct mail, Internet and other media from your new company. A solid training department is a must if you want to acquire the skills to go to the next level in gross closed commission sales. Keep in mind that the costs your company incurs to provide you with an office, administrative staff and technology are high, and they are expecting a return on their investment when they welcome you aboard.
- Create a business plan for your first year in real estate.
Your new business in real estate is a business within your new company. Don't expect to succeed in real estate sales if you don't have a solid, realistic business plan. Your mentor or managing broker, in addition to your local library business section, is good resource on how to develop a business plan.
Your plan should include the following areas: realistic sales goals, how you will prospect for clients as well as how will you reach these prospects through your marketing plan. How much of your financial resources will you spend on technology, marketing, and professional development?
- Build yourself as a brand.
Choosing a company that has an established presence is a good foundation to build your own brand as an agent. Start marketing yourself to real estate consumers as a brand within your brokerage; consumers identify more with the agent than the brokerage they're affiliated with. Your agent brand is mobile and can move with you if you decide to change companies.
Develop a tag line such as "Rebecca Salesagent makes the market work for you". Train consumers when they think of real estate to think of you. Study a variety of consumer product marketing pieces, and pull elements that you want to test in your marketing plan. Look for ways to differentiate you from other agents. If everyone is farming, try niche marketing. Market yourself to other agents from around the country to send you referrals in your market. Market business-to-business to transaction participants such as attorney's, home inspectors and mortgage brokers for referrals.
- Find a mentor that can fast track you beyond the basics.
Find a mentor in your new real estate office and fast! New agents spend a lot of time in the first few months in real estate learning the multiple listing service, the transaction process, office and industry jargon. But they don't learn how to negotiate, close a sale or prospect for new clients, because they're so busy learning all that non-revenue producing administrative procedures and protocol.
To get you up to speed fast find a mentor in your new real estate office that has similar professional habits and style as yours. Your mentor can focus you day-to-day on what's important to start those commission checks rolling in. Mentor's are great at telling you not to waste your time with a client that's eternally looking and not going to buy. Or to help you move forward with a stalled negotiation, your bad breath or body language that might be offensive to clients, or how to write a prospecting letter thanking those that came to the public open house you hosted this last weekend.
- Love people and their personalities.
Having an appreciation of architecture, decorating or interior design won't be of much help with those emotional, stressed and volatile clients you will be working with. Real estate is about people and their personalities. Houses are just the vehicles for the personalities to interact. You have to truly like people and want to help them to achieve their goal of buying or selling real estate through the good, the bad and the ugly.
Out-goingness, reliability and even-temperedness are all traits of successful real estate agents. Consider role-playing difficult client personalities with your mentor to gain experience in dealing with the emotions that come with real estate transactions. Having prepared for these situations in advance, you will be able to show your clients that when they are strung out you are the voice of reason.
- Work smart and use good time management skills.
After the fiftieth home you have shown your potential buyers, it's not about the homes anymore, it's about your clients. Learn how to qualify your clients from your mentor to save yourself time and energy that you could spend on clients that are ready, willing and able to go to contract. The sooner you learn to terminate nonproductive clients the easier it will become. Many agents dislike firing clients because of all the time they have invested with them. These same agents though are the first to announce they're self-release from the clients that were really just shoppers, abusive, or were working with multiple agents.
Real estate offices can offer many distractions to new agents. The constant parade of other agents, clients and administrative staff through the office can offer social interaction that eats up a lot of time. If you don't feel as focused or productive as you would like to be at your brokerage office consider spending part of your time at a home office. I have struck a balance between the two and the quiet, privacy and focus my home office offers clients and myself is attractive.
- Use the Internet. It's changed how buyers start their purchase process.
It wasn't all that long ago that a buyer had to call agents to find out what properties were available to purchase. But as multiple listing services moved to the Internet and the public could access listing information. a dramatic shift started to occur in real estate brokerage. Instead of floor duty originating buyer leads calling on office listings, buyers started their home search on Websites such as Realtor.com before contacting a real estate agent. So how do you get in the path of these technology-savvy consumers? Have a Web presence on both your brokerage site and have you own real estate website.
Learn how to be technology proficient. Ask your mentor to teach you how to e-mail listings from your multiple listing service. If you are considering a computer purchase, a laptop will offer you the portability to take it out with buyers as well as on listing presentations. A digital camera is an efficient way to take listing photos and have them available in digital files to e-mail or use in marketing materials. New model cell phones with cameras can offer on-the-spot pictures of listings you see on office or brokers tour for your buyer clients. Virtual tours give home buying consumers an easy option to have a virtual showing from another city or locally 24/7.
- Know all the details of the transaction process.
When you deliver your one of your first offers to a listing agent and she says to you that there are multiple offers on the property, this is not the time to learn about the strategies for multiple offers. Have your mentor or managing broker explain the transaction process, participants, documents, and disclosures. You need to know all the transaction terms from attorney review to walk-through. Ask about common wrinkles in transactions in your market and what you can do proactively to eliminate them.
Remember that your clients have only one focus and that's buying or selling a home. If you don't know something, don't improvise, find out and report back to your clients. Don't give legal, don't violate fair housing laws, but do celebrate after a successful closing!.
- Keep your client pipeline pumping.
You'll find other agents at your office multitasking to the tenth degree, talking on the cell phone, landline, and e-mailing at the same time. They have four transactions going and all they do is manage them, they're too busy for open houses, prospecting or direct mail campaigns. Then suddenly they all close in the course of two weeks. The agent has now hit what I call "pipeline failure." It could be at the least thirty days before the agent finds a qualified buyer or seller, puts a contract together and goes to closing.
Transactions are exciting, but don't get distracted by the day-to-day management of them. You have to keep looking for new clients that will keep your pipeline going after your current transactions close.
Write this simple message and keep it in a prominent position in your work environment: Is my pipeline filled for the next six months? If you can answer yes every time you look at that question you will be a great success in real estate.
Mark Nash is a broker associate with Coldwell Banker in Evanston, Illinois. Mark is a contributing writer for REALTOR Magazine Online and other publications to the trade. Author of "Reaching Out: The Financial Power of Niche Marketing" and "The Original New Agent's Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate". His new titles for 2004 are "1001 Tips for Buying & Selling a Home" and "Fundamentals of Real Estate Marketing". Contact Mark at