Whether you are a new real estate agent, an “old pro” agent or an individual contemplating becoming a real estate agent, you will enjoy “Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies” by real estate success trainer Dirk Zeller. Although the book starts out slow and a bit disorganized, it picks up speed, and by the conclusion it has covered virtually every topic new and experienced realty agents need to understand.

The introductory chapters, about how to get started selling real estate, are a bit weak and unfocused. Frankly, it’s hard for any new agent to make right decisions at this critical time, but the book isn’t much help. But don’t give up. The book gets much better.

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Author Dirk Zeller is a successful residential real estate sales agent who is now CEO of a real estate sales training organization. As a result, he has clients nationwide who tell him what sales methods are working and which ones aren’t. Along the way, Zeller might change agent minds about traditional sales tactics, such as weekend open houses.

For example, Zeller admits when he was selling homes he didn’t like holding open houses for his sellers. The reason? He wanted to take weekends off to spend with his family at their weekend home.

But he recommends open houses, especially for new agents, to (1) make sellers happy because they see some “action” and (2) to meet prospective buyers and sellers. However, the author says only about 5 percent of open houses result in selling that particular home.

The most practical section of the book, and probably the most controversial, deals with agent prospecting for listings and buyers. Zeller says prospecting never ends and the most successful agents set aside time every day to gain new clients.

His favorite targets are expired listings and for-sale-by-owners. He explains how to contact them with inoffensive but effective methods.

Although the book contains a few examples, it could have benefited from many more of Zeller’s personal experiences and those of his realty agent trainees throughout the nation. As experienced authors and teachers know, examples usually illustrate a topic far better than routine explanations without application to real-life situations. Hopefully, the book’s next edition will contain more personal examples.

As the book moves toward its conclusion, it gets better and stronger. The author recommends that realty agents carefully study their local residential sales market and then gain a competitive advantage in a specific “slice of the market.” In addition, Zeller emphasizes keeping clients for life, using periodic update contacts, rather than viewing a sale closing as “the finish line.”

The book’s best chapter emphasizes the importance of using time effectively by setting priorities, scheduling in time blocks, and stopping others from wasting your time. The author shows techniques for keeping phone calls short, spending time on important matters, and letting go of the rest. Although Zeller recommends using technology effectively, he’s not a “gung ho” techie to the exclusion of personal contacts. But he does provide an invaluable list of Web sites for realty agents.

Chapter topics include “Discovering the Skills of a Successful Agent”; “Residential versus Commercial”; “Pairing with the Right Agency”; “Prospecting Your Way to Listings and Sales”; “Mining Gold from Referrals”; “Winning Business from Expired and FSBO Listings”; “Planning and Hosting a Successful Open House”; “Presenting and Closing Listing Contracts”; “Determining a Home’s Ideal List Price”; “Marketing Yourself and Your Properties Online and in Print”; and “10 Biggest Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.”

Although this book has its ups and downs, overall it is the best “how to be a successful realty agent” book currently available. The author’s many years of home sales and training experiences result in wise advice based on his success. On my scale of one to 10, this outstanding new book rates a solid 10.

“Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies,” by Dirk Zeller (Wiley Publishing Co., Indianapolis, IN), 2006, $21.99; 350 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.Amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

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