I am having one of the best years I have ever had selling real estate. It may even be the best ever, but I don’t know because it isn’t over yet and the business just keeps coming.

I have already doubled last year’s sales, and last year I almost tripled my business from the year before. I exceeded my goals for the year and I had my best month ever in real estate in July.

Success stories make great articles and books, especially when success can be attributed to one or two simple things that anyone can do, but that most people won’t.

I attribute my success to a combination of increased demand for the services of an experienced Realtor, and years of prospecting, marketing and advertising. It’s like a perfect storm.

In analyzing successes and failures of the last 12 months, I thought it would be fun to write a list of things that I did not contribute to my success.

There are many ways to be successful as an agent and there are many ways to fail. Each item on my list can help generate business, and I would never discourage anyone from doing any of them. There isn’t anything wrong with doing anything and everything on my list, but it is possible to be successful without doing all of them or even any of them.

Here are 10 things that did NOT contribute to my success this year:

  1. Working in a real estate office. I spent a total of four hours working in a real estate office in the last 12 months. I wish I had time to go to an office everyday but I don’t.
  2. A brand.
  3. Open houses. The last time I did an open house was in 2008.
  4. My website. I have neglected it terribly.
  5. Drip email. I can drip but I don’t.
  6. Premium accounts on the popular third-party websites.
  7. Newspaper advertising.
  8. Postcard mailings. I have not sent out any kind of a mailing since 2009.
  9. Attending “Young Professionals Network” (YPN) social events for real estate agents.
  10. I have not produced any business-related videos this year.

I limited the list to 10. I could have added that I don’t wear a dark suit everyday or drive a large expensive car, or work through a large national franchise, or on a team.

I won’t rule out the possibility that if I did everything on my list, my business might be even better. But here are five things I did that I know helped me succeed this year:

  1. Familiarity with my market and knowing the numbers.
  2. Having a real estate blog and actually publishing articles almost everyday that are mostly about real estate, housing or related local stuff.
  3. Prospecting everyday.
  4. Attending local business and social events, and being a volunteer in my community.
  5. Keeping my overhead low, and using technology that helps me accomplish more in less time while spending less.

There are so many ways to prospect and to market, it makes sense to go with our strengths.

Being around people at an open house is not a good thing for me. It may even do more harm than good.

For me, it’s better to use the time I would spend at open houses taking pictures or writing blog posts that attract clients.

There are always agents willing to do open houses and it will always be a source of business for them.

How an agent works is important, but going into an office every morning does not guarantee success. People who go to offices are not always productive there.

How we spend our time working, and what we actually accomplish, is far more important than where we work.

There are no magical, effortless tricks to making money as a real estate agent. It just isn’t realistic to expect a new app, or a new website to make us rich. Everything we do does add up, but it takes hard work and a little luck to succeed.

If you are having the best year ever, consider the fact that it may be easier to make money in a recovering real estate market. Home sales are up, but there are fewer agents because so many left the business during the downturn.

I plan to make the most of the current market, because the economy and the housing market are cyclical.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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