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Re: ‘One of one million Realtors, sweating for first sale‘ (April 12)

Dear Rookie:

Twenty years ago before I became an attorney I sold real estate for a little over a year. While the nights and weekend hours kept me from continuing I found myself in the same position as you when I started. No clients. However, I soon learned that the most successful agents had lots of listings and plenty of referrals. I started farming an area and knocked on doors till my fingers bled. I soon realized it was too hard to compete with the established “farmers” in my area. So, what to do? I went to the most successful agent in my office, the one with all the listings, and convinced her to allow me to sit open houses on some of her listings. She couldn’t be at more than one house every weekend and I knew that I would meet people who wanted to buy houses. Of course there were a lot of “lookie loos” but there were also people out looking who were serious. “Are you working with anyone?” was the first question I always asked and usually you can tell if they’re telling the truth if they give the name of someone you know in that area. I found some buyers my first month and closed my first 5 weeks later. I made a pretty good living that first year from buyers alone and the few listing I got from my farm. Interestingly I had clients who I sold a home to call me two years after I had left the business. Treat people right and your client base will grow.

Dennis W. Fried, Esq.

Dear Rookie:

Do not despair friend. I am also a rookie agent. I obtained my license on Dec. 1, 2003. I went with an agency that boasts 120+ agents, with new agents and experienced agents, coming aboard weekly. I am the main breadwinner, married with a family to support. After 25+ years as a local truck driver, I took the initiative and became a Realtor. I also had the self-doubt and internal turmoil that you are experiencing. Thankfully, the Company I chose has such an in-depth training program that there is no room for failure in my business plan. I have three deals waiting for the settlement table and two potential listings coming as well as currently working with five potential buyers. The first trick is floor time, volunteer to cover other agent’s time on the floor. A lot of busy, seasoned, agents don’t have the time or desire to do floor calls. (Good for you). Take the cold floor call and work them.

The next trick you may want to consider is joining an established team. Although this may cut into your commission, they may provide you with good solid leads or actually give you buyers or sellers to work with. This will enable you to become established and eventually allow you to break away or increase your take on commissions, from the team. Learn, learn and learn! A knowledgeable real estate agent is worth his weight in gold. Learn your agency’s listings. Get on the same page as your prospective client. Mirror them; if they are jovial and upbeat, you do the same. Quiet and reserved, you do the same. I’m not saying change your personality, just adjust it a bit to equal theirs. Always be totally honest. Always be self-assured, you clients will pick that up immediately. And what I believe to be one of the most important things with clients, be available. I have talked to so many people whose biggest complaint of our business is miscommunication or no communication at all. This is by far the most annoying thing about Realtors I have heard. Letting days go by with out contact to a potential client is very bad. This makes a buyer/seller feel they are on the outside looking in. They deserve to be kept in the loop. Show them you’re hungry, go the extra mile. You will be rewarded in the end with a loyal client who will refer you to all friend and family and who will use you again on their next realty transaction.

Start a small, prospective, farm area. This may take awhile to cultivate, but will pay off down the road. Take note how I refer to potential buyer or seller, client, not customer. A customer may be there one time and never be seen again. But a client is someone who you stay in contact with, listen to their wants and needs, and someone that you are forging a lifelong relationship with. Don’t tell em’ and sell em’. It may work for the one deal, but you won’t see them again. If you are spinning from all the things in real estate that schooling did not teach, ask questions. I was always taught the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. I am not in a major city. There are three real estate agencies in the small town I am in. So, I have no edge over your predicament. I take every piece of information I learn and take it to heart. Be patient and diligent my friend, It will come. If you want to talk, please contact Inman for my e-mail address and then I will get you my phone number. Keep your head high, YOU CAN SUCCEED!

Matt T.
Pennsylvania

Dear Rookie:

Hang in there Rookie. For new agents, the reality of the feast or famine atmosphere of the real estate business is all too real and new agents are usually on the famine end. I have a couple of suggestions:

1. First, I would make sure your broker affiliation is the best possible situation for you now. For example, if you like the broker and company you are with I would go to that broker and offer to accept a lower commission split and have no office/desk fees if you have any now. Or shop around for another broker who is willing to offer you a low or no overhead relationship.

2. It may be a good idea to try to find another new agent or two to partner with; this would: reduce your prospecting costs proportionally by the number of partners you team with, multiply your potential prospecting pool and multiply your advertising budget.

3. It may also be beneficial to find an experienced agent to work for as a licensed assistant. This would probably not be as financially rewarding but would offer invaluable experience in your market and good exposure.

Hang in there.

Mark S. Heatherly
Broker/Owner
Executive Realty Concepts

Dear Rookie:

After reading your heartfelt comments about wanting to throw in the towel, I had to respond. I believe that you are suffering from a slight inferiority complex in your relations with your fellow Realtors. They, like you and I, are merely people-subject to their own flaws and gaffes. Most of the Realtors I have worked with thus far (only 15 months in the business) strike me as hard working, conscientious and driven. These are traits to admire and strive for, not to draw away from or be in fear of. If probed, even the most successful realtors will likely entertain you with tales of their ghastly early mistakes.

I recommend that you find an experienced realtor who will take you on as an assistant (buyer’s agent is a great way to start), and let them mentor you at a pace that is beneficial to you both. Don’t worry if you don’t make a killing in the beginning. With proper tutelage, and hard work, success will come to you. Patience on your part, and the acceptance of constructive criticism, even from other veteran agents, is paramount if you are to meet your goals. I took just such a position with a successful, well-respected Realtor in Delaware, and it is paying off on many levels. He has lived up to all of his promises of training and assistance, and I am truly satisfied. I have closed over 20 transactions in 15 months, all while on a streamlined learning curve, and under the skillful eye of a caring mentor. I can’t even count the pitfalls he has helped me to avoid as a new agent. I recommend this approach to any newly licensed realtor or agent. This field has entirely too many aspects to be learned in a matter of months or even a couple of years. And one more thing, when you do something dumb, which we all have…laugh at yourself; you’re not as alone as you think. Best of luck to you.

Daniel T. McGrory
RE/MAX Sunvest Realty
Wilmington, Del.

Dear Rookie:

I was administrative assistant in the real estate business for eight years. I saw rookies rise to the top and a lot that didn’t get off the ground. I was in charge of tracking the success of the agents in our company. They had over 1,500 agents. The secret to your success is “farming.”

Our most successful rookies had a great “farming” marketing plan. Pick your neighborhood/market and plan your post card mail-out campaign. They may not keep your postcards but if they see your face often enough, when they do decide to list they will call, because they believe you’re best in the area because they see you face and name frequently.

One of the rookies in the company I worked for wanted to target a high-end neighborhood. So she did her research, advertised in the publications that target their market and sent out the post cards (every 2-3 months in selected areas). In two years she was listed among the top five agents in the company.

Also, be licensed with a broker that already has an established name, i.e., Prudential, Century 21, etc. At least these names will get you in the door.

Jeanne Rocha
Administrative Assistant, Sr.

Dear Rookie:

The problem I see with the industry as a whole is that licensing law does not require that agents are prepared to enter the real estate field – they are only prepared to pass a state exam. They do not have enough information to know if they want to be in this business and the tools to help them succeed with the short pre-licensing education they get. It would be better if legislators considered requiring more education…or an apprenticeship period after licensing to help folks get started!

Deirdre Felgar
Broker/Owner
Realty America

Dear Rookie:

My humble suggestion is that you stop trying to get listings for the moment and focus on getting some good buyer prospects. One way to do this is to hold Sunday open houses for other agents in your office. Buyers coming through will meet you face-to-face, and you will ultimately begin to develop a group of individuals who are “ready, willing and able.” The listings will come later–including the people you sell a home to and who want to trade up in time. Try not to get discouraged. Learn how to qualify buyers as to how serious they are. Demand loyalty from them and you in turn will give them 110 percent. Learn to know what you’re talking about, but instill confidence mainly through what you do vs. what you say. And in the end, enjoy being your own boss and a six-figure income….

Tony Conte
Pacific Marketing Associates
San Francisco

Dear Rookie:

I’m a long-time real estate recruiter. I hire over 400 new Realtors per year, and I can tell you that you are on the verge. Don’t quit yet. A few suggestions:

Learn how to do a GREAT Open House. There are lots of buyers out there wandering around who are not with a Realtor. Our training class at our company is called “How to Write a Contract at Every Open House.” The scripts we teach are magic. I’d be happy to send you our training materials. Let me know if you’d be interested.

Tracy Buck
Director, Marketing and Development
Sterling Real Estate Group

Got tips, ideas or advice for the Rookie Realtor? Send them to Rookie@inman.com.

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