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In the opening scene of The Music Man, a train car of successful salesmen chant about knowing their territory. Truer words have never been spoken for new real estate agents.
In my first year in the business, I faced three major shortages: knowledge, confidence and money. Taking educational courses helped immensely with the first two obstacles, but money was tight. I found one surefire path to success that was easy, cheap and helped to conquer all three stumbling blocks: know your territory.
Here are a few tips from my novice experience to help you newbies as you learn.
1. Get out there, and see the inventory
As a new agent, you likely have empty pages in your schedule. Take the time to preview homes in every price range, type and area. Driving the territory costs little more than gas.
First things first: Go see your company’s listings. Your fellow agents and your broker will be pleased, and you may want to hold one of the listing’s open houses. Check out competing homes on the market; they will be the fallback for potential buyers and sellers as well.
When you’re experienced, and it’s time to select homes for a specific client, you will naturally zone in on the client’s preferences.
When you are new, you need to familiarize yourself with everything that’s out there, and fast.
2. Use reminders to keep track of the homes you’ve seen
With so many homes to see, it’s important to keep notes about something remarkable for each. What will help you recall a particular house? What can give you a talking point with potential clients? Was it the huge palm tree in the front yard, the slide in the backyard pool, the derelict condition or the gorgeous woodwork?
Focusing on one feature can help you sound smart, gain knowledge and keep your brain from exploding.
Did you see something really special that excites you? Tuck it into your conversation-starters memory bank, and chat about it to friends. You never know who they know or what they may want.
3. Keep tabs on developments
If there are subdivisions of new homes in your area, visit them, and pick up the developer’s brochure and floor plan. Keep them. You will find these useful in future years.
In my fifth year in business, I was invited to do a listing presentation at a townhouse. At the kitchen table, I pulled out the original builder’s brochure and told the sellers, “You have the Rockrose model. Here’s information about the original floor plan I can use in marketing your home.”
They thought they were signing up with a pro, when I was merely a clever packrat.
4. Be open to business from all directions
You may hope to become the “expert” in your neighborhood, but you still have bills to pay. Are you going to turn down business that’s not in your specialty? It’s a narrow (and costly) path for a newbie to attempt.
The truth is we never know which potential buyer or seller will sit next to us at a school assembly or who will want to chat about values at a neighborhood party. This business comes at us from all directions, and we never know when. So, have something to say!
5. Share what you’re learning
Your goal is to start a conversation that positions you as a go-to professional. How about mentioning homes that you recently checked out? If you establish that you know something about the territory, you will sound knowledgeable — and get a chance to make a connection and maybe a future appointment.
If you don’t have anything that matches their needs, you can always say “I saw three homes in that neighborhood recently, but none of them sound like they’d be right for you. I’d be happy to check out a few others I have in mind.”
6. Find a newbie buddy
When you’re new, it’s both comforting and useful to scout the market with another new agent. You can share opinions, bolster your confidence and learn from one another.
Experienced agents may not have the interest or time to see homes for which they don’t have any buyers. Newbies may not have any potential buyers (yet), so have fun, and explore everything!
In my first year in business, another newbie and I previewed a home located at the bottom of a very steep driveway. My friend was driving and started to park at the top, suggesting that we just walk down to the home.
I advised her, “If you are afraid to drive down, how can you expect any buyers to buy this home?” The driveway was no longer a hurdle for her.
The next week, a huge bouquet of flowers arrived in my office. My friend’s note said “Remember that steep driveway you made me take? I showed that house, and the buyers bought it. I never could have done it without you. Thanks!”