We asked this question, and, boy, did industry pros respond! Everyone has secrets, tips and wisdom that they wish had been communicated to them from Day 1. Here are just a few of the responses we gathered from the real estate community at large. 

Whether you’re a rookie agent, a rising team leader or an established veteran broker, we can all benefit from sharpening our skills. Follow our “Back to Basics” series to learn fundamental strategies, tactics, philosophies and more from real estate pros across the industry.

Real estate is a team sport, and the managing broker is probably the first coach most agents come into contact with. Some brokers take their responsibility very seriously, nurturing new agents and guiding them as they build their businesses.

Some operate more on the “throw them in the deep end and force them to swim philosophy.”

So what do you wish your broker had told you when you first got into real estate?

We asked this question, and, boy, did industry pros respond! Everyone has secrets, tips and wisdom that they wish had been communicated to them from Day 1. Here are just a few of the responses we gathered from the real estate community at large.


Attitude is everything

Ophelia Angelone

Ophelia Angelone, broker-owner, Action Realty, Sebastian, Florida

“You can not be successful if you TRY and sell real estate part time! This is a full time, 24/7 career choice, and nothing is ever a done deal until the checks are dispersed! As a broker now I make sure that new agents know it’s not an easy job, and there are plenty of frustrations; they need to get as many extra education classes as they can fit in. The more you know, the better off you are!”


Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown, real estate consultant, Keller Williams Realty Showcase Properties, Braintree, Massachusetts 

“Systems and scripts get you started but compassion, consistency, going the extra mile, and a brand/culture of service are what gets you a big business.”



Set boundaries

Sam Dowlatdad

Sam Dowlatdad, broker at The Agency, Portland, Oregon

“Time is valuable. I wish someone would have told me to set boundaries, especially when it comes to time, with clients. If you’re always a ‘yes, ma’am,’ your time is not valued as much. It’s important to be responsive, but don’t drop everything to accommodate (unless, of course, there is a deadline involved).

“If you have plans with your kids or your family on a Saturday or Sunday morning, be OK with saying you’re unavailable until the afternoon. If you get a text at 10 p.m., don’t feel the need to respond immediately.

“You can wait until the following morning, when it’s more appropriate to discuss the deal or repairs with your client. Your time is extremely valuable. If you don’t protect it, people will take advantage and have unreasonable expectations. You will also burn out quickly and not be as good or as effective in your job and to your clients.”


Think long-term

James McGrath

James McGrath, co-founder, Yoreevo, New York City

“I think new agents often underestimate the likely payoff from keeping in touch with everyone — whether that be an actual lead who decided now wasn’t the right time, or your personal network.

“It’s very easy to focus on the next deal, especially when your next deal is also your first, but by working the entire sales funnel (which for a Realtor can be as wide as you want at the top), you’re building business for the future and your ROI (the investment being mostly time) will be very high.”

Hoda Martorana

Hoda Martorana, Long & Foster Realtors, McLean, Virginia

Invest in a coach! You’re in the business and running a business. You need someone on your team to be able to help you look at the big picture, and identify tasks and activities that are crucial to your business.

“It’s insurance for your business. There are many coaches out there. Do your homework, and find the right professional that closely aligns with your goals and values.”

Mason Rowland

Mason Rowland, associate agent, Lyon Stahl Investment Real Estate

“When receiving my license, it would have helped me significantly to hear more about the long-term nature within the business of being a real estate broker.

“As a salesperson, I assumed that the approach to every deal, prospective client and situation was to try and just close the deal right then and there. However, that mindset can sometimes (in my experience) limit future business.

“I feel that that the most important thing to remember in this business is that the relationship comes first. The more honest, thorough and dedicated I am to each client relationship it seems that more business develops as a result.

“Real estate is very cumulative. I choose to treat each day with the mindset that I need to be of service to each client regardless if my actions that day will result in a paycheck. In the long run, I believe that when I treat each day with a chess-not-checkers mentality, I am actually attracting more business and clients.”


Find your niche

Chantay Bridges

Chantay Bridges, Worldwide Enterprise Marketing, Beverly Hills, California

“Work with everyone, yet riches are in the niches. Many times brokers will encourage Realtors to work with buyers or sellers of all types, yet it could be to your benefit to have a specialty.

“If you niche in an area, you become known for that and can obtain a stronger following of consumers seeking someone who knows what you know. If you work with everyone and say you do everything, no one really knows when to call you.

“If you specialize in a particular area, you gain insight into it and are subject to become the hometown expert.”


Work your plan

Mustafa Abbasi

Mustafa Abbasi, Zolo Realty

“What I wish I’d known is how disciplined and organized you have to be in order to keep the focus on customer service. It starts with a business plan — a design for how you will grow your business in the short-, mid- and long-term.

“Quite often, the plan shifts and changes, but that’s not the point. The plan helps you stay grounded and prompts you to set up processes that enable you to be productive.

“It could be as simple as knowing what time, each day, you make prospecting calls; or what day of the week you sit down to write hand-written thank you notes. These small details add up to big results, but they don’t happen by accident. A plan keeps you organized and on-track. It’s the missing piece, I wish I’d known when I first got into the business. Now, it’s the strategy I teach when working with new Zolo agents.”

Uriah Dortch

Uriah Dortch, The Inspiring Investment, Raleigh North Carolina 

“I think the biggest thing I wish they would have told me is to not spend much time on ‘classes’ (basic classes a lot of RE firms offer on ‘how to be an agent’ and countless seminars).

“I should have spent more time building relationships and working on getting referrals. The more you get out there and hustle, the better your chances of being successful. Sitting in classes isn’t going to make you any money.”

Bruce Ailion

Bruce Ailion, RE/MAX Town and Country, Atlanta, Georgia

“There are several pieces of advice I was not given that now with 40 year’s experience I share.

  • “First everyone knows someone who is thinking of buying or selling. Work your contacts, stay in touch, let them know you could use their help to grow your business. The vast majority of long-term successful agents work off repeat and referral business.
  • “Find a team to work with or a top agent as a mentor. Every top agent or team has marginal business to send your way till you get on your feet financially.
  • “Get involved with the local Realtor association and community groups. Support charities.
  • “Attend your brand or the National Association of Realtors convention at least every other year.
  • “Between education, prospecting and work, plan on putting in 60-plus hours a week in the earlier years if you want this business to become a full-time career.”


Details matter

Valerie Burmester

Valerie Burmester, Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty, Redmond, Washington

“I wish my broker had shared the details of the non-glamorous side of real estate and how to avoid them or deal with them.

“For example, when in the middle of an offer in the negotiation, paperwork goes back and forth with changes. Those changes are critical. I once missed a shorter inspection correction and almost had to pay for a new chimney.

“Another example is the importance of a transaction coordinator and how they can help avoid mistakes, follow the timelines and keep an agent organized. Most agents know how to sell houses, but the paperwork can be overwhelming and keep you at a desk versus out in the field where your expertise lies.”

Thank you to all of you who shared your own hard-earned wisdom.

Do you have a piece of advice you wish your broker had given you in the beginning? Please share in the comments section below.

How do you stay ahead in a changing market? Inman Connect Las Vegas — Featuring 250+ experts from across the industry sharing insight and tactics to navigate threat and seize opportunity in tomorrow’s real estate. Join over 4,000 top producers, brokers and industry leaders to network and discover what’s next, July 23-26 at the Aria Resort. Hurry! Tickets are going fast, register today!

Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy tickets together. Contact us to find out more.


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