There’s never been a better time to be a real estate agent.

The industry is booming, prices are skyrocketing, and there’s money to be made. However, along with the growth in the industry comes a stiff increase in the number of agents. To succeed, you need a competitive edge.

Research suggests that there are roughly 2 million active real estate agents in the United States — including nearly 1.36 million agents who are officially members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

In case you’re wondering, this figure is at an all-time high. Just seven years ago, the number of NAR members was hovering just a notch above 1.04 million agents. There are now 30.4 percent more agents than there were in 2012. In other words, competition is steep!

As home sales drop off and the economy inevitably contracts, professionally it’ll be a game of real estate agent musical chairs.

If you want to continue to succeed, you’ll have to focus on your value proposition.

Here are some ideas:

1. Develop a unique value proposition

Every successful company has something called a unique value proposition (UVP) that explains what they do and what sort of value they offer clients. It’s typically summed up in one or two sentences. As a real estate agent, you need one too.

“A unique value proposition is the statement you use to position yourself and what benefits you provide to your clients,” real estate marketing professional Candace Green writes. “It takes time and careful consideration to craft a concise UVP, and then it takes effort to ensure that your prospects are aware of it.”

An example of a UVP for a real estate agent would be, “I help homebuyers who are relocating to the city and are looking for turnkey single-family homes at competitive prices.”

Another example would be, “I’m an experienced agent who understands the local market and has consistently sold homes at an average of 3 percent over list.”

2. Proactively schedule time

Part of the appeal of being a real estate agent is that you can set your own hours, work as much (or little) as you want, take days off, go on vacation, work early in the morning or late at night, manage a side hustle, etc. And though there’s nothing wrong with flexibility and independence, things can easily spin out of control.

Success in real estate requires a high degree of self-discipline. There’s ultimately only one person who will hold you accountable — and that’s you. If you think you can wake up in the morning and adopt a take-it-as-it-comes approach, you couldn’t be more wrong.

If you’re willing to tighten up and proactively schedule out your time each day and week, you’ll wring more out of your day.

3. Join a coworking space

Not every real estate agent needs an office. Many work from home (or even from their vehicles). But there’s something nice about being in an office setting and having the flexibility to switch up your work environment.

For real estate agents, a shared workspace yields many benefits. A place like Novel Coworking, for example, is used by professionals in a variety of industries and creates opportunities to network, collaborate, and establish work routines and structures.

4. Keep networking

Another term for real estate agent is salesperson. You’re in the business of selling, and it’s impossible to be successful if you don’t have a steady flow of clients coming down the pipeline.

Networking isn’t something you do once or twice a month at conferences and events — it’s a lifestyle. Be certain you’re networking in the big moments and the small moments. Don’t be annoying or pushy, but let people know that you’re in the business. Have a 30-second elevator speech prepared for parties, chance encounters and even family gatherings.

5. Know your competition

You can’t gain a competitive edge without knowing who your competition is and what they’re doing. It’s OK to network with other agents and build rapport — in fact, it’s encouraged! This happens in person, online, at conferences and during open houses. Make sure you’re always aware of what’s happening around you.

The more you know about your fellow agents, the easier it becomes to create a distinct personal brand that does everything they’re not doing.

6. Embrace your personality and strengths

Don’t try to be something you’re not. Although you can create a fake persona for business and use it to reel in a few clients, this approach is ultimately unsustainable.

As you look for a competitive edge, embrace your own personality and strengths. Look for ways to amplify these qualities as you set yourself apart.

When done well, this sort of transformation will provide powerful returns for years to come.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant specializing in entrepreneurship, technology and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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