In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
Everyone talks about niche marketing, but Jonathan Addison has made a career out of the narrowest of niches — navigating the city of Washington D.C.’s byzantine local bureaucracy on behalf of his landlord clients.
His company, RentJiffy, offers research and operational support to help the owners of rental properties ensure compliance with strict District requirements. Find out how this D.C. agent learned his trade then used that knowledge to build his business.
How long have you been in the business?
Does from birth count? I’ve been a licensed agent since 2001 when I was 20 years of age. That said, I already knew a lot about the transactional/backend side of the business being the son and grandson of brokers and having to teach them how to use the computer for their professional purposes.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ideally, I’d like to see myself with a portfolio of properties and no longer doing the day-to-day of real estate sales. Since I typically work with clients who develop properties, I’d like to buy to flip and/or hold.
I enjoy the development side of the business immensely, which to me is also the creative side.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
Education as a key to a successful career. Educate yourself, and then educate your client and potential customers. By educating people, you become the expert and gain their trust. This invariably will lead to you having clients who also refer you out.
How did you learn it?
Educating people comes naturally and is something I learned from watching my mother. She graduated from a teachers college and was a supervisory investigator. Spending an equal amount of childhood around her job, I got to see first-hand how she would teach her employees and constituents the laws, regulations and requirements.
As a new agent at 20 years of age, the only thing I had was what I knew. Luckily, I had worked around my father and grandmother a lot who were both real estate brokers, so I got to absorb their knowledge as they spoke.
Truthfully, I didn’t learn this lesson until a couple of years after I started, thanks to a client who mentioned they would have never hired me if they had met me in person first because of my age. They were thankful we had spoken because they realized age didn’t matter — it was about what I knew.
It was then I joked I wanted “blind” clients — ones I could meet through non-face-to-face interaction. From this point forward, I quickly learned I had an advantage, and that allowed me to excel in the client department.
Ask yourself: Would you trust a young looking kid with what is likely one of your biggest investments? Probably not. If potential clients called in, and I spoke with them while on desk duty or corresponded with them by email I had the chance to make an impression with what I knew.
I cannot tell you how many clients told me if they had seen me first they would have never hired me, but it was because of what I had taught them that they could trust I knew what I was doing.
What advice would you give to new agents?
Educate yourself, and then educate your client/potential client. I admit, I was lucky I was able to be around my grandmother and father’s businesses where I was afforded the opportunity to learn a lot by pure osmosis. Most do not have this luxury, and so the question becomes: Where do you, the agent, learn?
Certainly, books and research help, but I suggest a trip back to the older style of real estate and working with a mentor for a year or two. Yes, they will take a cut of the commission, but learning what they know is invaluable.
Additionally, a lot of mentors will invite you to work on deals with them and give you a percentage for your work on their deals, too. Oh, and mentors can teach you about the business side of being an agent, like how to market, how to handle yourself, how to deal with difficult people, how to negotiate, but, most importantly, what you need to do for yourself, too.
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Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr