If you are a real estate agent, or thinking of becoming a real estate licensee, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Success as a Real Estate Agent” by Marilyn Sullivan is a must read. But don’t be turned off by the title. I didn’t like it either.
This new guidebook begins very slowly, almost boringly, but by the conclusion it evolves into a winner. The book provides a survey of what new real estate agents should expect and what experienced realty agents should aspire to become.
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The book starts out by explaining what alternatives a person considering a real estate career should consider. Sullivan explains few individuals consider real estate careers when graduating from high school or college. Then she shares why many people contemplating second careers often choose real estate, primarily residential sales.
But she also emphasizes alternatives, such as commercial real estate, mortgage brokerage, appraisal, and property management. Her real-life examples make the explanations very realistic.
The worst part of the book explains the pre-license real estate education requirements (which vary state by state). Then Sullivan launches into the ordeal of taking the license exam, an equally boring topic. Finally, she switches to the more interesting topic of how to select your real estate office if you elect to enter residential real estate sales.
“The best way to start out on the right foot is to act as if you have a regular job. Of course, you don’t, and that’s why you’re smiling. But if you adopt the work ethic an employer would require of you, you will develop a discipline that will serve you for the rest of your career,” Sullivan advises.
The author advises the reader to specialize. By that she means new licensees should choose a specialty such as relocation buyers and sellers, first-time home buyers, retirement housing, luxury home sales, or a specific neighborhood. Then she emphasizes why today’s successful realty agents shouldn’t tackle all specialties, except perhaps in a small town.
Heavy emphasis is placed on why today’s successful “top dog” realty agents need to understand and use technology. Although Sullivan never gets down to specifics, she heavily recommends laptop computers, personal digital assistants (PDA), and computerized daily plans. It would have been helpful if she recommended products and software that she uses. “Wean yourself off of paper,” the author advises.
One of the book’s best chapters suggests how to build a 20-year referral system. Then she explains, “The referral system model is based on the premise that every qualified person you come in contact with becomes a relationship you will have for the next 20 years.” Next, Sullivan shows how to keep in contact with people you meet who may not be hot buyers or sellers but they will refer profitable clients if you keep in touch.
Toward the book’s conclusion, the author explains her “New Ideal” image for “Top Dog” real estate successful agents. Perhaps a bit idealistic, Sullivan expresses her wishful thinking by stating, “You’ve come to a profession that is held in low esteem. On the ladder of disrespect, real estate agents come just above used-car salesmen.” Then she emphasizes how successful realty agents are “facilitators” like doctors and accountants, rather than hard sell salespersons.
Chapter topics include “The Attraction of Real Estate”; “The Spectrum of Careers”; “A Day in the Life”; “Your Prelicensing Education”; “Choosing Your Office”; “Building Your Business”; “Building Your Power Team”; “Making Your Market”; “Managing the Time Demon”; “Computer Technology”; “Building a Referral Stream System”; “The New Ideal”; “A Winning Listing Presentation”; “Using the Transaction Documents”; “Cutting-Edge Top Dogs”; “Staging Your Listings”; and “Future Income Streams.”
At first, as a weekly reviewer of real estate books for many years, I didn’t like this book (primarily because of its title). But the more I read, the better I liked the author’s ideas and explanations. Although this new book is far from perfect, it provides a great introduction to real estate sales careers and what it takes to be successful. On my scale of one to 10, it rates a solid 10.
“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Success as a Real Estate Agent,” by Marilyn Sullivan (Alpha-Penguin Books, Indianapolis, Ind.), $19.95, 321 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.amazon.com.
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