Veteran real estate professionals share what it takes to build a business, forge relationships, manage finances and create a mindset built for success.

To the average person, 2020 could be seen as one of the worst times to enter real estate. The coronavirus brought homebuying and selling to a halt in March and April, unemployment rates remain at record highs, markets are shifting at lightning speed, and the end of the pandemic seems to be nowhere in sight.

However, experienced agents and brokers have told Inman this market — much like one during the Great Recession — is the perfect training ground for new agents looking to build the skills and grit needed to succeed.

Here are 32 pieces of advice from the industry’s top veterans, crowdsourced from Inman’s Coast to Coast Facebook Group. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

On building a strong mindset and habits

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“Focus on doing these three things daily: [building] relationships, [solving] problems and [having] fun. Everything else will take care of itself.” — Sean Carpenter, Realtor and CEO, Coldwell Banker King Thompson and Sean Speaks, LLC

“Never take anything [personally].” — Ean Kofsky, mortgage loan officer, Fulton Mortgage Company

“[Build] consistency and good habits — the not so ‘secret sauce.'” — Renee Funk, owner and partner, The Funk Collection brokered by eXp Realty

“Do it full time, full throttle. No holding back.” — Charlotte Bonini, agent, Keller Williams Loudoun Gateway

“Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison kills joy. Focus on your strengths and be authentic to who you are.” — Elizabeth Riley, agent, Luxe Property Group brokered by eXp Realty

“Don’t think of selling real estate as a get rich quick scheme.” — James Lewis, broker, Johnston & Daniel

“Be disciplined and never stop learning the craft.” — Edward Barrios, broker associate, Vista Sotheby’s International Realty

“Be patient.” — Missy Meguire Yost, broker, Yost Group Properties

On choosing mentors and brokers

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“Find a good broker that’s responsive and will mentor you or has an agent that will mentor you. And, answer your phone and emails. Understand every word of your purchase contract and addendums and be able to explain them in plain English.” — Jay Thompson, retired broker and industry expert, current Inman contributor

“Interview multiple brokers and ask them specifically how they will help make you successful.” — Bob Wahl, Realtor and broker-owner, Wahl Real Estate

“One more piece of advice: Make sure there is an experienced managing broker and managing team that you have access to.” — Andrea Geller, broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago

“Don’t interview the broker — stop [and] interview their agents.” — Greg Fox, broker, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Alliance

“Learn from and shadow a pro. Be a sponge.” — Racheallee Lacek, sales associate, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty

On client relationships

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“…It’s all about relationships. If you go to open houses and watch HGTV [it’s] nothing like what it’s actually like to be a Realtor. If you genuinely want to help people you will succeed.” — Terri Harder, Realtor, Keller Williams Integrity Roseville

“It’s not about you, it’s about them. Empathy and listening is what makes you a great agent” — Tamara Bakir, New Developments Director, Vista Sotheby’s International Realty

“Enjoy the new people you meet. In my opinion that is the best part of the job.” — Dawn Holohan Roy

“Learn how to identify the clients who don’t trust you — they suck your energy and enthusiasm.” — Ira Serkes, broker, Compass Ira & Carol Serkes Team

“…Remember your fiduciary responsibility.” Linda Licause Hobkirk, executive broker and instructor, RE/MAX Real Estate Results and Results Real Estate Academy

On building your business

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“Have a good plan before you start!” — Tom Bailey, agent, Coastal Real Estate

“Focus on building a sustainable and predictable prospecting pipeline.” — Jason Shouldice, business partner, Leadz Engine

“Get all your contacts gathered up and stick with one CRM!” — Ryan JW Styles, agent, Ehrlicher Styles Group

“Prospecting is your business. Home sales is your product. Have a great product and prospecting [will be] easier.” — Greg Fox, broker, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Alliance

“Being an agent is presented, ultimately, as a shortcut to wealth. There are no shortcuts. If you cannot determine how you will differentiate yourself in an overcrowded sea of agents, then save yourself the loss of time and expense. But if you can run this like a planned business and know how to really create value, then you don’t need my advice.” — Glenn S. Phillips, broker-owner, Lake Homes Realty

“Educate yourself on the processes, market, systems and trends.” — Sabrina Brown, broker-owner, Brown & Brown Real Estate

“Trust but verify. Assume that everyone has their own interest in mind.” Jordan T. Marx, broker, Bend Realty Nerds

On finding your focus

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“Pick a listing niche. Own it.” — Michele Bee Bellisari, Realtor and social media expert, RE/MAX Services and SoooBoca Lifestyle Blog

“Learn the tools to accomplish the end goal. Rather than looking for the shiny new penny, associate yourself with a brokerage who has the tools and can provide the training. Crowdsourcing to learn from Facebook groups is not the way to learn.” — Andrea Geller, broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago

“[What’s your] why? What’s driving you to real estate? [A] career change? [A] life change? Be ready for [the] worst 18 months of your life. If you can answer the questions and you’re coachable and you’re ready, let’s go!” — Loren Coburn, marketer and real estate coach, Hyper-Local Digital Marketing and LOCO Yotta Coaching

“I believe there are a lot of great answers. Yet, only one asked ‘Why?’

If it’s to create an additional source of income, understand it’s MORE than a full-time job. You will now be owning a business based on your knowledge of real estate. To be great at sales, in any industry, we need to know the product. If you don’t have time to learn, you’ll be hoping Aunt Judy gives you her listing.

If you [don’t] want a full-blown business, then I’d need to know more as to why you want to become an agent. There are many agents that are starving for business that do two to three transactions a year. Maybe they aren’t starving and only wanted to do two to three transactions a year.

If you want to own real estate, I’d suggest asking how many agents actually own real estate outside the home they live in because if you want to grow wealth, there’s another question to ask: “How much money do I make if I live in it?”

If anyone were to know why you want to do it, it should be you. Mine suggestions are just ideas to consider and help reinforce your why.” — Matt Rillera, general partner and managing member, EntreTec

On finances

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“Do not start out undercapitalized.” — Frank Chimento, founder, Frank Counseling

“Have capital [and] use it wisely.”– Ryan Bokros, Realtor and team leader, Navigation Real Estate Group

“Have two years of living expenses in the bank ready to go or some other passive income.” — Sofie Langhorne, agent, Compass Langhorne Group

Email Marian McPherson

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