• Research. Learn as much as you can wherever you can to map out your best strategy for success.
  • Find a mentor. Learn the ropes, ask questions and model your work habits after successful brokers.
  • Frustration will fade to success if you keep working.

After 20 years in the fashion industry, I decided to change careers and enter into the highly competitive, yet highly rewarding world of NYC real estate. This took a huge leap of faith, and I was a rookie at a brand new career.

When entering a commission-based career, you have to prepare yourself not to earn income the first six months. I believe you should have at least a year’s worth of living expenses saved.

Whether you are just starting out in real estate as your first career or you are entering as a second career, these are the steps I took to go from rookie to rising star.

1. Research, research, research

I spent two years researching the real estate industry in my market. This included signing up for classes at our REBNY office (you can take classes from realtor.org, The CE Shop or your local college), attending conferences (I attended Inman Connect), reading every book I could get my hands on, carefully watching established brokers and asking questions. Every tip helps. This allowed me to map out my career.

Pauline Evans and Rebecca Cavallaro

Pauline Evans and Rebecca Cavallaro

2. Find a mentor

Finding a great mentor is the most important tip I can give you. My mentor Pauline Evans, now at Ward Wight Sotheby’s, set the bar high for my career. She introduced me to all the players, answered every question I had, guided me through countless board packages, mailings and negotiations and showed me the ropes. I would not have had the structure, courage or skills to succeed without her guidance.

3. Create a routine and practice good work habits

I learned from my mentor to be in the office every day by her example. When I came in at 8:30 a.m., she was already there. If I didn’t know what to do with a full day at the office, she taught me how to do a mail merge, read floorplans or prepare a board package. I still wake up and go to the office ready to work every day.

4. Engage in social media

I was not on social media before I started in real estate. This has been an invaluable networking tool. By following real estate brokers, developers and local businesses, I keep on top of market trends.

I also took notice of how social media is used and modeled my social media accounts on some of the top brands. I have received referrals from brokers in other markets, connected with new buyers, reached international clientele and formed relationships with local businesses, all for free and from my desk!

5. Just keep going

I am not going to lie. The first three months in real estate I was ready to quit every day. I have never been so frustrated in all my life. My support team (my family and my mentor) kept me focused by telling me just to keep going.

What simple, great advice! Complete a new task every day, no matter how small. Just keep going.

I was Sotheby’s International Realty’s nomination for the prestigious REBNY Rookie of the Year Award and have had the privilege of listing and selling some of the most exclusive listings in NYC.

Just keep going. Success will be even sweeter when you realize how hard you worked to get there.

Rebecca Cavallaro is an associate broker Sotheby’s International Realty. Follow her on Instagram or on Twitter

Email Rebecca Cavallaro.

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