The best way to avoid failure is to recognize — and sidestep — the major pitfalls. Here are 11 ways agents fail and how to evade the major problems. 

We’ve all seen that real estate show with some young gun, aggressive real estate agent who makes millions and makes it look effortless. But reality TV is anything but real.

It’s human nature to believe that we can accomplish big things by taking a cue from the successful agents we see on TV, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. And a fruitful real estate career will take a little more effort.

The best way to avoid failure is to recognize — and sidestep — the major pitfalls. Below, you’ll find 11 ways agents fail and how to evade the problems.

1. Not investing the time

It’s going to take time to build your real estate career, and there simply isn’t a way to make it go faster.

I spoke to two leading agents to share some of their insights. Miguel Lima, broker for Century 21 Heritage Group, talks about the countless times he has seen agents fail because they don’t take the time to nurture their relationships. To that point, Bryan Sinnett, team leader and broker of Sinnett Realty Group, adds that there is no silver bullet.

In his many years in real estate, he has seen agents (rookies and experienced ones) purchase a franchise in the hope of getting leads fast. He seconds what Lima said, you have to take the time to nurture relationships, and if you don’t, this business just won’t work for you.

2. Being afraid to take risks

The only way to take big steps forward is to take risks. Therefore, if you simply dip your toes in the water you’d likely fall short. If you are committing to real estate, you must be fully in.

I have seen many agents fail because they thought they could do real estate part time and not give it their full attention. Leave your existing job, so you can invest in your real estate career.

It’s a sacrifice, but if you won’t take a risk, you can’t reap the rewards. If you’re waiting for the right time, there is no time like the present. 

3. Not getting support from your family 

Real estate, particularly at the beginning, is going to demand a lot of time and money. You’ll have to discuss these life changes with your family and try to get their blessing as you build your real estate career from the ground up.

Even when you’re settled into your career, your family will need to be supportive when calls come in during dinner, or you have to leave an event unexpectedly. Lima credits his wife Laura for his real estate success. Without her complete understanding he couldn’t have done it.

4. Flying by the seat of your pants

No plan in place? That’s a sure sign that you are going to fail as an agent. When was the last time that you sent out a direct mail piece? When are you planning to send the next one? If you answered I don’t know, or merely shrugged your shoulders, you lack consistency.

It’s extremely important that you have a follow-up system in place and that you reach out frequently to prospects. Investing in marketing here and there isn’t helpful because it does not work. You won’t see results, and you’ll be forgotten.

5. Acting like an employee

According to Sinnett, when you first get into real estate, you have to treat the business like a start-up, not only in the amount of time you invest, but also the money.

To be successful you have to put a lot of time, and there will be a lot of sacrificing. Expect to spend long hours, late nights on the computer and also sacrifice personal time. You’ll also have to invest in your personal brand and the marketing that goes with it, much like a start-up you’ll be unknown.

6. Remaining stuck in your old ways

If you are doing the same thing you’ve always done because it worked ten years before, your future as an agent is grim. Renovating and refreshing your methods will allow you to look back and learn from past mistakes.

Again, risks reap rewards. Granted, change will cause discomfort, but it is absolutely necessary. 

After all, you would not use a Polaroid camera to shoot your listing. Just as technological innovations are constantly redefining our world, your practices, marketing and procedures have to follow suit. Outdated and stagnant marketing practices will rapidly make you obsolete.

7. Picking the wrong brokerage

Knowing where to hang your title can be critical, particularly as a newer agent who requires higher levels of support. Are the brokerage leaders willing to provide training? Are there easily available and affordable marketing resources?

Do other agents work together, or are they fiercely competitive? You can’t be successful if you aren’t given the right tools or if the environment is not conducive to success. Staying with the wrong broker could guarantee your failure.

8. Complaining about clients 

If you like to find things to complain about, you won’t last long in this industry. Working in real estate means working closely with many kinds of people with distinct personalities who are going through different situations; some may be excited, others worried, and still others sad about the move.

There will be a lot of emotions involved, but if you do not have the patience to deal with it all, being a real estate agent is not the career path for you.

Sinnett stays upbeat and ready to support clients every step of the way. He knows how important it is to remain calm and helpful at all times. Unfortunately, he has seen agents fail because they were constantly complaining and as a result became unhappy, which made them more likely to complain and so forth.

9. Putting off idea execution

You might have a lot of amazing ideas, but you lack the drive or means to execute them. You might have an amazing campaign for your brand or a perfect way to get a house sold in record time, but you do not follow through, that is, your ideas never see the light of day.

If things aren’t getting out the door, you are going to find that your phone stops ringing and your email inbox stays fairly empty. To succeed in real estate, you have to be willing to set aside the time and have the drive to execute plans.

10. Not setting goals

As an agent, you must know where you want to go, so that you can map out the steps to get there. Do you want to be the No. 1 agent for your brokerage firm, your city, your price point? Are you looking to work with a team or open your own brokerage firm?

It’s important to have the answers to these questions to make the game plan for getting there. Take the time to think about what is truly important and why you got into the real estate business in the first place.

Your goals might even center around giving buyers or sellers a unique experience that no other agents are offering. Make detailed goals and proceed to figure out how to achieve them.

11. Not having patience

Real estate takes time, a lot of time, states Lima. If you aren’t patient with clients, you are going to lose them as clients. All people are different, and while some may quickly decide on a home, others will need to see many options before they are ready to commit.

As an agent, you have to be in it for the long haul and be understanding of their needs. Buying a house takes time, and it’s a long-term decision. Some clients may take weeks, months or even years, but if you have a strong follow-up system, they will come back to work with you.

You need to be patient if you want to make it as a real estate agent. And again, don’t forget to follow-up.

While surely this list could be extended further, I was looking to keep it to the top reasons real estate agents might fail. Of course, there are other factors that play a role, but by avoiding the items on this list, you are on the right path.

Laura Ure is the CEO of Keenability, a full-service marketing agency specializing in lifestyle and creative real estate marketing. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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