In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
When Houston real estate broker Doris Snipp was just starting out, she found, like many of us, that there is no single roadmap to success. Instead of giving up, she created her own roadmap and uses it to help other agents learn the ropes and reach their true potential.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been in the real estate business 21 years. I became a broker in two years. I volunteered to serve on the Texas Association of Realtors Professional Standards and Ethics Committee.
It was the best decision I ever made.
I was involved with a large number of experienced professional agents whose knowledge was shared with me in many discussions.
After three years with two different brands, I determined I was responsible for my success and that they not only had not contributed to my success, they actually created an uneven playing field by fostering non-acceptance of new agents by their present agents.
I felt there had to be a better way and purchased my own real estate franchise. I sold the company 8.5 years later. I reduced my hours and focused on my own business.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Running an agent-centric brokerage. This time, I’m letting the agent keep the money. I learned most agents come to the office rarely. I dropped the bricks and mortar overhead and went the WeWork route.
I rent the conference room when needed and can meet an agent or client in a beautiful quiet sitting space with a coffee bar, immaculate bathrooms and spotless desk areas.
Marketing materials are introduced that I know will work for the agent. Tech is brought in and continued until everyone understands. Not everyone works at the same speed. I remember getting lost in many classes and then the class was over. So discouraging.
I am agent-centric from the broker side, and they in turn become client centric. Everything has to produce a positive result; we do not need to practice things that do not.
Agents who trained under my tutelage still tell me that what I asked of them was hard, but it led to their success. Many now run their own firms.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
I’ve learned how to help agents get into production and find success in their real estate careers.
How did you learn it?
When I first started, I had no sphere of influence, was new to the area and knew nothing about real estate. The company training with brand companies varied from rah-rah sessions to technology training, marketing materials I could purchase, etc.
They tout the same ideas now. Some are tech heavy, some you could take training classes for a year, but one does have to get around to selling.
I was an outgoing person, but did not know how to address a buyer or do a presentation. We role-played, practiced scripts. When I rang the bell for the presentation, nothing prepared me for knowing how to start the presentation, and the prospect totally veered from my learned scripts.
I had prepared a CMA. When the client ask questions, I could only answer simple questions, and those answers were already on the paper. How clueless is a CMA?
Just because the square footage was the same and the number of bedrooms were the same, the homes were not. However not being able to tour a home already sold, I could only look at photos and guess. Often when I got to their home, it looked nothing like the homes I had chosen as comps.
The same with buyers when they began to ask questions about the utility cost, the school bus stop, the school rankings, that particular elementary school. Was that a reroof? Why had the home been on the market so long? Who was the builder? Why did this house only have one air conditioner and the last house had two?
I began by spending each day viewing the homes listed in my market. I took the information I was starting to gather, and when an agent in the office made a remark about a home, I could share my thoughts, sparking a conversation where I might glean a new bit of knowledge.
I then started visiting builders. I followed other couples as he took them through the model or sat quietly outside his office listening to his conversation with buyers.
Sundays were great days for this because of all the people house hunting. I started visiting the models during slow periods to ask questions of the salesperson such as “What makes this builder special?”
I listened to how the salesperson greeted new buyers. I learned if I wore my name tag when I came in with a buyer, the salesperson would always greet me by my name saying it was good to see me again. I didn’t need a fancy name pin. I just needed a readable one from a distance. The client felt as if I was known by the builder.
I started learning the nuances of the business. I learned that even though some seminars said cold calling worked, it did not for me or a lot of other agents. It was a costly lesson. I just couldn’t do cold calling.
I learned a lot of things agents were taught to do including Realtor Day. Actually the Realtors who were productive didn’t have time to come. The ones who came seemed to be coming for a prize or free food. It was done mostly to show the sellers their agent was doing something
I thought, why not think outside the box and try something that would work. I began to build an awesome program. My CMAs began to mean something. Not only had I seen some of the other homes on my previews, I looked for holes in the market where my listing might fit at a higher price because there wasn’t any competition at that price point.
By the time I opened my office, I had a program that worked for every agent. I added to the program as changes began to occur in the communities.
What advice would you give to new agents?
My advice to new agents is to carefully select where you choose to work. Understand your schooling has little to do with practicing real estate. Understand your impact on the lives of your client and their savings.
Realize you need a mentor that prides themselves on your success. My mentor told me on introduction that I knew nothing, I was his competition, and he hoped I failed. My second mentor said they were too busy. In one year, I had met with my mentor a total of 15 minutes.
Interview the broker and ask hard questions concerning the stats on sales for their first- and second-year agents. Ask questions about who your mentor will be, how long had they served as a mentor. Were the mentors evaluated? How did the mentors find time to mentor? Was the mentor schedule adhered to?
New agents are afraid they will not be wanted. They need to be sure where they tie their star. Brokers with a large number of agents should have a competent tier of people in place to assist the broker in overseeing and propelling forward the success of their new agents or new hires.
Are you an agent with a story everyone can learn something from? Reach out to us (contributors@Inman.com). We look forward to featuring more of our best agents and brokers in a future edition of “Lesson learned.”