Nicole Solari is a top-producing broker-owner in Northern California whose regular bimonthly column, which covers real estate marketing, selling strategies and working with clients, publishes regularly on Tuesdays.
Remember your first year in real estate? So much material to master to get a real estate license, and almost none of it covered what agents truly need to thrive in this business.
I may be biting off more than I can chew, here, but if you want to give your new agents a head start, here are a few major resources — some they have to bring to the table — that you should encourage them to lean into.
1. A professional attitude and appearance, plus the stuff to maintain it
The maxim “If you’re going fishing for Moby Dick, take the tartar sauce” says everything about a professional mindset. From the clothes your agents wear and the (clean, always gassed up) cars they drive to the electronics they use, and the confidence they project, all speak volumes about their professionalism and preparedness. And they may need to hear this from you before you bring them onboard.
Once they join your agency or team, must-have resources include a change of clothing in their car or office (even if they don’t personally have kids capable of projectile vomiting), shoes they can walk in, portable chargers for their phones, tablets, computers, and a “ready for anything” box in their trunk containing a half gallon of water, paper towels, WD40, spray cans of flat-fixer, a bottle of air freshener, alcohol wipes, a First Aid kit and a bottle of dishwashing soap.
Finally, an agent’s very best professional resource is an on-call, back-up person who will take over at home when short-notice client issues demand immediate attention.
2. The multiple listing service
The MLS is the go-to resource for gaining and keeping market knowledge — for all agents, new or seasoned. And the electronic Supra key is a new agents’ fast pass to building marketplace awareness if they use it to visit vacant properties, with MLS info in hand. How else will agents learn what “make it your own” means?
3. A hawk-like sense of direction (or total command of mapping apps)
Is there anything more unprofessional than an agent wandering hopelessly trying to find a property with clients in the car? GPS is wonderful, but imperfect. And while being able to bark, “Hey, Siri, get directions to . . .” is cool, Siri’s directions aren’t always crystal clear either. So, encourage new agents to use a mapping app (Waze, Google Maps, etc.) in advance of showings to plot their route from meet-up point to all properties on the tour and back. And suggest, if the route is unfamiliar, that they drive it before they get clients in the car. They can also use the drive-by as a stress-free opportunity to play “spot the lockbox” at each home on the upcoming tour.
4. A business pipeline and systems to maximize it
Contact management software has come a long way since Constant Contact debuted in the 1990s. It’s still around; but, now, Salesforce, Zendesk, NetHunt, Follow Up Boss/Pixel and others have jumped into the CRM space as well. Your office may already have a preferred CRM system. If so, your new agents need repeated, hands-on training in using it. I always say “the best CRM is the CRM you use.” That database of theirs is gold.
5. A mentor to help jump start their career
The best resource you could offer your new agents may not be all that high tech. Consider the benefits of providing an in-house mentor to get newcomers up to speed on your business practices and the tech you use. The mentor would, ideally, show new agents how to:
- Use the team’s contact, project management and communications software/services. We could devote a lot of space to the latest technology for managing repetitive tasks and automating client contacts and lead capture. Right now, we’re loving these options . . .
- Asana for team project management, which integrates with
- Slack for team communications (MS Teams could be a better choice for larger teams)
- Google Drive to store, sync and share files
- MoxiWorks, a cloud-based real estate agent platform
- RPR’s national property database (a benefit of NAR membership)
- Access essential real estate forms (Bless you, Zipforms!) and your agency’s transaction/file management systems.
- Run open houses and use the mentor’s open house software/app. Nothing gets an agent up to speed like practice in real time, so encourage new agents to staff open houses regularly and get comfortable interacting with prospective buyers as well as your favorite open house tech.
- In the final analysis, the most beneficial boost a mentor can provide is to let new agents shadow them through at least one sale and one purchase transaction. During those transactions, the mentor should also demonstrate how to use Disclosures.io, create CMAs and produce net sheets outlining seller costs and proceeds (we use Fidelity Agent for that task).
6. Realistic expectations
The real estate business can be alarmingly feast or famine. You’ll do new agents a massive favor if you help them set realistic expectations from Day 1.
A six-month financial cushion is the minimum needed, especially if the responsibility for the household’s well-being hinges on the new agent’s income. Here again, a good mentor can be your best weapon for keeping mentees upbeat in lean times and tempering their spendy tendencies when that first commission comes in.
7. Outside sources of motivation
Promising leads evaporate. A relative, friend or neighbor lists their home with another agent. Deals fall apart. Our funds dwindle and expenses don’t. Some days challenge even the most hardcore self-starters. Encourage your agents to draw day-to-day encouragement from real estate agents and other businesspeople who’ve faced similar setbacks and succeeded anyway — and lived to write/talk about it.
As long as you’re recommending outside resources to keep new agents going, hook them up with reliable places to get real estate-specific news and information. Think Inman News, Placesters and GeekEstate, for starters.
8. The ability to laugh at our industry’s share of the world’s weirdness
We work with a product that involves breathtaking sums of money and the highly personal place our clients call home. Stuff happens, and it’s not always bad. But it is often totally off-the-wall, as well as completely outside our control.
When you hear veteran agents say, “Oh, I learn something new every day,” that “stuff” is what they’re talking about. So, this, the Lighter Side Of Real Estate, should be considered essential reading — for everybody.
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Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.