Editor’s note: Never in the history of Inman News has a reporter or columnist generated more reader mail than the Rookie Realtor. In the latest column, the Rookie’s spouse weighs in with ideas for this sputtering real estate career. Letters like this from Realtor William Lublin are typical in that they are long and thoughtful.
I am one of the people who seems to be involved in regular correspondence with the Rookie Realtor. And while I have been angry and adversarial in one instance, then disappointed but hopefully educational in another, I still felt drawn to send in a response when I read this week’s column. This time I feel conflicted and consultative.
A few facts about the real estate industry are well publicized, including the fact that it takes some time to get started making a good living. The interesting fact about it taking three years for most agents to really begin to be successful is the corollary that most new agents leave the business in fewer than three years. Even so, I have to agree with you that it is not acceptable for an agent to work for an entire year without selling a house in this market. And while I ranted at the rookie about his lack of respect for the ethics process and tried to walk him through the issue of steering, now I find myself wanting to lay out a few things that might help keep him in the industry, and your family sane and economically secure.
I was lucky. When I began my family, I had already been in the real estate business for a few years, and there was no question of what career I was going to follow. My wife understood the uncertainties of the job and sent me off every day with a kiss, saying, “Sell a house!” However, I did work as an agent through some really tough economies, and I suffered the ups and downs of a commission income. One thing remained constant, however. If I wasn’t making enough money, I took more appointments and met with more buyers and sellers, until there wasn’t any time left during any hours when people couldn’t meet with me. Ours really is a business about which Horatio Alger could have written and which exemplifies the American dream. If you’re willing to work hard enough and see enough people, there is no limit to your success.
I don’t know where you live or what the Rookie’s training has consisted of nor the opportunities provided to him by his company, but the job is really pretty simple and analyzing where we fail is pretty easy. I would hasten to point out that once we have completed the simple analysis, fixing the problem is also pretty easy.
Is the Rookie meeting a large enough number of buyers and sellers to obtain appointments? Does the phone ring in the office with buyers to talk to? Does he make calls to local for sale by owners? Does he prospect for sellers or buyers using technology like HomeGain? (There’s a shameless plug for his editor’s company!)
If he is getting the opportunity to meet with people who need his service, is he able to make appointments to show property and make listing presentations on a regular–hopefully daily–basis?
If he is getting the opportunity to talk to people and to show houses and make listing presentations, is he asking the buyers to buy and the sellers to make a commitment to using his services?
When he meets a buyer or seller, successfully obtains an appointment and remembers to ask them to buy or sell, but they still don’t does he ever pick up the phone to call them and ask where he failed so that he can improve?
Once the Rookie analyzes these questions, the keys to success are in his hands.
If he is not meeting enough buyers and sellers, he needs to meet more. If the office doesn’t generate that opportunity, he needs to find ways to meet people on his own. For sellers, it is easy: just call more for sale by owner and expired listings sellers. For buyers, he should go to bridal stores, baby stores and apartment buildings and hand out flyers offering his services or subscribe to an online leads service.
If the Rookie is getting the chance to meet buyers and sellers, but is not getting appointments, he is not providing them with what they need when he talks to them on the telephone. I would suggest that he consult Realtor.org if no one in his office can help him with that.
If he is getting calls and making appointments, but has no sales, he might not be asking the buyer to buy. It is actually a common failing among salespeople because avoiding the question also avoids the rejection that goes with no. It may sound silly, but as an agent, when I had shown a property, I would often turn to the buyer and say, “According to my broker, I have only one question left.” I would then wait until the buyer asked, “What is that?” to which I would reply, “Would you like to buy the house?” This blunt question would result in a little giggle on the buyer’s part and often opened a dialogue that ended in a sale.
If the Rookie seems to be doing all of the things that an agent needs to do to make money and is doing those things in sufficient quality, all that is left to do is to call the buyer who bought a home through someone else or the seller who listed a home through someone else and say: “I am trying to learn from my errors, and somewhere along the line, there must be something that I can improve upon to help me become a better Realtor. Could you take a minute to tell me what I might be able to do to improve my skills?”
Simply put, getting a license doesn’t mean you’re in the real estate business. Even going to the office every day doesn’t mean you’re working. What does mean you’re working is when you meet with buyers and sellers every day, make new appointments every day and ask people to buy property or services from you every day. If the Rookie is taking three appointments a week, he needs to make six appointments a week. If he’s taking six appointments a week, then he needs to take nine or 12 or as many as it takes to get someone to say yes when he asks them to buy.
I don’t think the Rookie should just hang in because hanging in is just not enough to do anything except strain yourself. And I don’t think he should keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, since that is a simple definition of insanity. What I would encourage you to do is to review the problem, then seek some help with the answers. There is a bucketful of information available for real estate salespeople, and it is available for any one who wants it.
If all else fails, call me with some more of his background and needs, and I’ll try to provide a free career consultation.
William H. Lublin is CEO of Century 21 Advantage Gold in Pennsylvania.
Got tips, ideas or advice for the Rookie Realtor? Send them to Rookie@inman.com.