Regardless of what age someone enters real estate or what decade it is, some things are consistent. There is a lot of turnover in the industry, perhaps due to unrealistic expectations many new agents have of what is required to succeed. The path to success is simple, but not always easy to achieve. Follow these steps to maximize your chances of success.
Have the right mindset
Starting a new business always requires having a positive mindset. These are several helpful hints to keep you on the right track.
- Have patience — it takes time to gain knowledge, build your reputation, & receive referrals.
- Help others — it’s about watching out for our client’s best interests above all else.
- Expect to work very hard, up front — don’t expect business to come to you, go after it!
- Act professionally — always tell the truth, take the high road and respect others.
- Follow through — do what you say you’ll do when you said you would, every single time.
- Have fortitude — With unlimited potential there is unlimited uncertainty. Be prepared.
- Promote yourself — You are your business, so promote yourself using your credibility
Have a plan
Many new agents fail because they think real estate involves little, if any, work and believe just walking around with a coffee in your hand talking to people will do it.
Licensing classes teach you very little about the actual business of real estate. Being in real estate with no plan is pointless.
It comes down to who, how and when:
- Who: Put together a spreadsheet of everyone you know, and I mean everyone. Include as much as you have: their name, email address, cell phone number, social media links, and home address. Include them in your list as long as you have one piece of contact information.
- How: Create a communication plan that will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge, credibility, and interest in the person you are communicating with, using the contact information you’ve gathered on them
- When: Strategically create a systematic process for contacting them many times throughout the year. Gary Keller, author of the phenomenal book “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” recommends 36 “touches” or more per year. That may seem like a lot, but it isn’t, and my business has thrived by creating my own 36 touch system for connecting with people in my database
- Managing: If you’ve successfully completed the first three steps, you’ll likely get to a point when you need to hire someone in order to help more people while still maintaining a high level of service
Be a life-long learner
The longer I’m in this business, the more I find that I need to learn. Agents who think they know it all tend to act that way, and are usually left behind. Don’t be one of them.
- Study the market — knowing your numbers thoroughly gives you knowledge and credibility.
- Find experts to lean on — there are likely respected and experienced agents you know right now who would be willing to help guide you. Think about:
- Who you plan to learn from
- What you plan to ask them
- How often you plan to talk with them
- Read business books — whether about real estate or business in general, read something.
- If you haven’t decided on a broker yet, ask those you’re interviewing with what they do for training. Have them be very specific, and shop around until you find the right fit.
Act like a concierge
Regardless of the business, if you are the client, you want to be taken care of. Your clients are no different.
- Anticipate what your clients may be thinking or what they might need from you.
- Be their “Hub” — whatever they might need, be the one to get it for them. Be it the name of a good painter or plumber, the best moving company, whatever. If you don’t know the answer, you can still find it and be the “answer person” for your clients. The more they can rely on you, the more comfortable they’ll be referring you to their friends and family.
- Clients much prefer to hear you say “I got this” rather than give reasons why you don’t
Be smart about money
If you start in the business assuming you’ll immediately be getting commission checks, you’re in for a rude awakening. Make sure you have 9-12 months of living expenses saved up, just to be safe. You are making an investment in yourself, and need to have the funds to sustain your normal life before your hard work starts resulting in actual commissions.
Once in business, there are many companies hounding you to use their services with promises of leads and closed deals. Only spend money on something if an agent you trust confirms they have seen a 5x return on the investment. And DO NOT forget to set aside money for taxes. Realtors are 1099 independent contractors, and thus no taxes are taken out.
Be smart about time
Every client deserves the time to help them achieve their goals. The amount of time you spend often depends on how well you set expectations with them. Do these things to help make the best use of everyone’s time:
- Ask detailed questions upfront — this shows either buyers or sellers that you are prepared and illustrates your intentions of helping them get exactly what they want.
- Share the process with them — this helps avoid confusion down the road, emphasizes that you know what you’re doing, and that you’ll be prepared for whatever may happen.
- Understand that not every client will turn into a closed transaction. You may start to see common threads occur for clients who will eventually close, and other consistencies with those who don’t. Pay attention to them and trust your instincts.
- If a client is struggling to make a decision that you see is best for them (buyer to make an offer, seller to reduce their list price), ask yourself these questions:
- Am I supplying them enough information for them to make a decision?
- Is there more I can say or do so they can make their most educated decision?
- Are there choices they are considering that realistically should be eliminated — if so, how can I effectively communicate that?
There are, of course, many different activities that could be on this list. Based on my own experience, and having heard the feedback from several other agents, these are the most important things to do. Even if you’re an experienced agent looking to reinvigorate your business, the rules are the same.
Dave Nimick is a real estate broker and the head of The Nimick Team, Inc. with Keller Williams Lincoln Park Realty in Chicago. You can find more of his writing at his blog, Chicago Real Estate Minute. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.