New to the industry? Get started with everything you need to know about the early decisions that’ll shape your career, including choosing a brokerage, learning your market, creating an online presence, budgeting, getting leads, marketing listings and so much more. If you’re a team leader or broker-owner, New Agent Month will be jam-packed with resources to help your new hires navigate.
After years of watching hundreds of newly licensed agents come into this business, I’ve seen both successes and failures. One of the biggest reasons most agents fail is not working on their plan — or not having one in the first place.
So, if you’re a new agent who’s still figuring out the business, this following list is for you. Here, I’ll provide you with the most effective early-career action steps you can take to help ensure your success.
1. Build a database
Begin building a list of all the people you’ve ever done business with, interacted with or paid money to, including:
- Your dentist.
- Your hairdresser.
- Parents of the children your children played sports with.
- People from service organizations you belong to.
- Anyone else you can think of who you’ve engaged with in a personal or professional manner.
Your database provides a group of people you can add value to, and building it creates a great starting point for your growth efforts. Begin sending weekly or monthly newsletters that share what’s going on in the community and highlight the current state of the real estate market as well as feature properties.
Consistently adding value to the people who already know you will keep you top-of-mind when the time comes for them to buy or sell.
2. Private-message anyone you’ve ever bought anything from
I got this idea from Molly Slagle out of Houston, Texas, who shared her strategy of reaching out to all the people she had ever supported in their own business ventures or fundraisers they were participating in.
She used Facebook Messenger to reach out to them with a personal request. She sent a message like this one:
It has been a pleasure to support Johnny’s baseball team in the past, and as I build my real estate business, I would simply ask that you keep me top of mind, and mention my name if you hear of someone who is thinking of buying or selling.
These are people you’ve already organically supported, and the law of reciprocity — which states that people feel compelled to respond in kind when someone does something to help them — will likely prompt them to do just what you’ve asked of them.
Let them know that you’re in the real estate business, and ask them to support your efforts.
3. Document your journey
Social media makes it easy for you to share your day with your audience by giving them an inside look at your work. Take them along as you preview houses and give them a look inside the houses to generate excitement about your process.
This kind of content will help you find business opportunities without directly asking people if they want to buy or sell. It also leads to referrals as you immediately come to mind when they hear of friends, family or co-workers preparing to buy or sell.
4. Market to agents in feeder markets
Heidi Harris from Raleigh, North Carolina, shared with me that we all have feeder markets, or places that people routinely move out of when they move to our areas. Harris recognized that people frequently moved from Charlotte to Raleigh, so she found other agents in the feeder market, and she sent them handwritten notes.
Here is an example of what these notes should look like. The front of the note says: “I love to pay referrals …” Inside, write this (by hand) to a group of top-producing agents in your feeder market:
I’d love to be a resource for your clients who are moving to (their city), and I’d love to pay you a 30 percent referral fee for sending them my way. Thanks for keeping me in mind, and I look forward to serving your clients with the level of service they’re accustomed to receiving from you.
Harris sent about 50 of these types of notes out with a business card inside, and years later, she said she still generates about six to eight referrals each year from these relationships she built.
Identify your own feeder markets and target the top-producing agents as a source of consistent referrals.
5. Join a networking group
Probably every chamber of commerce in America has some kind of lead-sharing group program like Business Networking International, where people work together sharing referrals. Members gain admission to the weekly meeting by bringing a referral to one of the people around the table.
If you don’t already have one in your area, you can create one yourself, which I did years ago by bringing together a home inspector, an insurance agent, a lender, a title company, a handyman and anyone else I could think of who was dealing with potential sellers or buyers.
It’s a great way to start building a network of people who will help you grow your own business while you help them build their own.
6. Attend conferences
Now that everything is reopening after COVID, go to events where you’ll interact with people who are in your industry or related industries.
Tiffany Curry in Houston, Texas, got her start by going to state conventions, Inman Connect events and national events put on by the brand she is associated with, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. She intentionally sat next to different people at these events, introduced herself, followed up with them, and built a network of people who still deliver referrals to her today.
The advantage to these conferences is that they’ll generate lots of ideas, and you’ll be in the same room with others who are looking to grow their own businesses. You’ll also be in a position to receive referrals and send referrals to your new network of like-minded professionals.
7. Host open houses
Because real estate is a contact business, your best opportunities will occur when you’re face to face with potential sellers and buyers.
Hosting an open house will get you in front of people, so even if you don’t have any listings of your own, ask a fellow agent in your office for permission to host an open house on her behalf.
You will meet people at open houses, but the growth is in the follow-up. Send a video via text right after the open house thanking them for attending, and send a handwritten thank you note to each person that attends. Add each person to your database.
Set them up on a program that automatically emails them properties meeting their criteria. Your consistent follow-up with open house attendees will generate business.
If you aren’t sure how to host an effective open house, there’s lots of information on YouTube that will help you understand how to do it well.
8. Choose a farm
The core fundamental of successful real estate agents is that they have a neighborhood or area they farm and are the expert for that area. Choose a neighborhood, and learn everything you can about it:
- Recent sales
- Price-per-square foot
- Days on the market
- Specific properties for sale
- Current sales compared to last year
Become the person that people think of when they think of a certain neighborhood, and if you’ve already built a farm in one neighborhood, consider building another. Use direct mail, phone calls, circle prospecting and walking the neighborhood to meet the people who live there, and then build value for them on a consistent basis.
Again, if you are not sure how to build an effective farm, there are tons of resources available through YouTube or articles on farming.
9. Call expired listings and for-sale-by-owners
Expired listings and for-sale-by-owners (FSBO) are a group of people that raised their hands to let everyone know they want to sell. These ready, willing and able homeowners are looking for help.
Many new agents have a fear of calling these homeowners, but with training and practice, there are unlimited opportunities for new agents to take listings from these groups.
I would begin by focusing on a subgroup of this category that is not being called constantly by agents. I would start with homeowners that had their listing expire 3 months to 12 months ago. These owners are not being called by dozens of agents every day like they were right after their listing expired. Make sure these homes have not been relisted or sold and then start calling this group.
This script for the start of this call is straightforward:
This is Sally Agent with ABC Realty. I saw that your home came off the market 6 months ago. The market is on fire and I was just calling to see if you still plan to sell your home.
Once you get the conversation started use any other follow up questions you may have been trained to use for expired listings. You will create opportunities by calling this group.
10. Take action and have conversations
Industry averages show that it takes about 50 real estate related conversations on average to close one sale, so ask yourself whether you’ve had 50 conversations. If you’re looking to close two transactions each month, plan for 100 conversations.
Take action. Real estate is a contact business, so if you want more transactions then have more conversations.
Whether you’re just beginning the work of building your business or you’re an experienced agent seeking to grow your business, now is the time to go all in with a plan of action that works.