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In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.

With more than two decades as a full-time Realtor, Dave Nimick, team leader of The Nimick Team and broker with Keller Williams Momentum, has been recognized among the top producers in his Chicago market. He has earned the Five-Star Professional Award all 12 years it has been offered in his area and represented the highest-priced listing in his office’s history.

Find out what lessons he’s learned along the way — and what he thinks other real estate agents need to know to flourish in the always-competitive industry.

What are 3 things you’d like readers to know about you?

  1. I thoroughly enjoy educating others on all the facets of residential real estate and launched a weekly podcast to demystify many of the confusing aspects of the business.
  2. I am a happy husband and father of two great kids, a 13-year-old, award-winning daughter in both dancing and dive competitions, and a 6-year-old son who is looking to watch every single Star Wars movie/show ever produced before turning 7.
  3. I have been nationally ranked in the sport of paddle tennis.

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?

That you as an agent are your brand. The NAR annual survey shows this each year, with only 1 percent of people deciding on an agent because of which brokerage they work with. Indeed this is a “sink or swim” business, and regardless of the challenges or benefits of any given market that we’re in, you as an agent cannot change the market, but you can read the market and help your clients interpret it.

I have always felt that real estate is an industry of service, not sales, and that has served me and my business extremely well.

What would you tell a new agent before they start out in the business?

Expect to work hard — very hard — for the first three or four years in the business, until your reputation has been established. Business does not just fall in your lap from the beginning, and if for whatever reason it does, it won’t last long unless you have great habits built up.

People know that real estate is a transient industry, and even if they’re not saying it to your face, every time people hear about a friend getting into real estate, they are secretly thinking “OK, let’s see if he/she makes it …”

I started in early 2001, and worked 240-plus days in a row without a day off to establish my habits and get momentum going, until September 11th when everything stopped. Thereafter, I still worked six or seven days a week for many years.

The beauty of real estate is that you can create your own business process, and thus become very efficient if you choose to do so. Anything that you do with regularity, you need to analyze and create a logical system around it to make it work best for you and your clients. I have become extremely efficient with my work, and yes still often work six days a week, but have created processes to make things run most efficiently, always maintaining the client and the center of everything.

What do clients need to know before they begin a real estate transaction?

The single most important thing that anyone looking to buy or sell a home is to have clear expectations about the process (which generally don’t change) and the current market (which are changing all the time). 

Before looking at their first house or signing with an agent to list their home, clients need to feel 100 percent confident that their choice for an agent has set crystal clear expectations about both the process and the market.

What do too few agents know that would make their lives easier?

It seems many agents feel that this business is about promoting themselves and how great they are, rather than just focusing on serving their clients’ best interests. As an agent, if you act more like “The Guide” than some kind of “Superhero,” people are more likely to trust and work with you.

Just because most agents self-promote doesn’t make it the right approach, and it cheapens us as a whole in the eyes of the public. Agents who break their arms trying to pat themselves on the back are only soothing their own precious egos, whereas finding ways to put the spotlight on their clients instead will almost invariably bring an agent more business.

What is the one thing everyone should be doing to make their life and business better?

The ability to adapt to the situation at hand is one of the most important talents someone can have, whether dealing with the challenges of being a Realtor or with life in general. Analyze the situation, determine what you can control and what you cannot, don’t focus on what you can’t change and instead just pay attention to creating the best outcome out of what you can.

Do you want to be featured on an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here!

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