Personal Finance

How to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent

real estate agent house soldSuccess is measured in many ways. For a real estate agent this can be measured in how well they navigate the many roles he or she must fill in the course of any given day. A realtor doesn’t just sell a home, the job brings with it a myriad of other responsibilities that he or she must carry out in order to keep the industry moving and thriving.

There are many hats to be worn in order to make that commission, as a real estate agent acts as a liaison, a marketer, a consultant, a dealmaker, an advocate for the client, a housing market analyst, and of course, a staunch supporter of the real estate industry. Having the ability to perform all of these tasks with grit, enthusiasm, ambition, and a never-ending drive to provide the best possible service for the client is what it takes to succeed in today’s real estate market.

The business is always expanding and evolving and the good agents will not only be able to recognize where the trends are heading but adapt accordingly. That brings with it a whole other set of obstacles that must be understood and navigated. Those who can’t see two steps ahead are soon phased out as the industry passes them by. Successful real estate agents display a proclivity for identifying every opportunity and they do it with thorough preparation and an entrepreneur’s eye towards the art of juggling many tasks at once.

Perhaps most importantly you need to have passion, as this business can be difficult and overwhelming for those who aren’t cut out for it. Most folks think all they need to do is take a quick real estate license course and pass the exam before, voila, they’re making money hand over fist. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. This is a job that makes demands on your time and can test the patience of those with the steeliest of resolves.

In order to find success, you need to look to those who have done it before you and follow their lead while blazing your own trail towards achievement. It can be a rough game but if you know how to play it better than the other guy, you’ll have no problem getting ahead.

We have some helpful tips to give you that edge on the competition. Read on and see how many of these you practice every day and which ones you could do well to adopt as part of your daily routine.

Commitment for the Long Term

Entering into any business venture is going to require your full and undivided attention and the real estate industry is no exception. There have been too many realtors who didn’t last long because they viewed it as an idle pastime instead of an actual business. I’ve met more than my fair share of agents who decided to get into real estate because their other plans had failed, career paths crumbled, and dreams didn’t pan out. They figured they’d get into real estate because you can make a lot of money selling houses. Not to mention the course and the exam were relatively easy to pass.

For those individuals, the real estate industry had become a safety net. They weren’t fully aware of what it took to actually succeed, they viewed selling houses as something that was pretty simple to do. Little did they know what they were getting themselves into; the long hours, the longer weeks, and the less free time than they had anticipated.

To be honest, many of them didn’t want to work that hard and were blindsided by what was required to get ahead. The first, and perhaps most paramount, of things you need to become a successful real estate agent is complete dedication for the long haul. You won’t get rich immediately, you may not even make much of a commission on your first couple of deals. But it’s like anything else, the longer you stick with it, the more rewarding it will be for you.

If you’re reading this right now with a consideration towards pursuing your license, ask yourself if this is something you actually want to do with your life or if it’s merely a safety net from something else that you’re more passionate about doing. In the case of the former, you should continue reading ahead and if it’s the latter then go back and give the job you want to do another shot. Don’t quit now or you’ll never succeed at anything, be it real estate or otherwise.

Franchise vs. Independent

Okay, you’re still with us. Good. Now, let’s talk about how you’re going to break into the biz. We’re going to assume you’ve taken the real estate course, passed the exam, and you have your license. Congratulations! Now the fun begins.

You next need to decide which path you’re going to take to start your career. A majority of new agents set out on their own and hang up their shingle as an independent real estate agent. That brings with it some distinct advantages and liabilities in equal measure.  For some it’s the more preferable route than working as part of a large franchise like ReMax, Coldwell Banker, or Century 21. Being independent means that you will have more flexibility to work on your own schedule, you can grow your own local network of clients and vendors organically, and you have more authority over where you work and how.

This direction gives you greater autonomy to be your own boss – and who doesn’t love having to report to the one person that they trust the most? Of course, the drawbacks are that you’re out there all on your own, with a limited amount of resources and a limited support system.

This is the pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps approach to becoming an agent. That’s not to suggest that there aren’t some lifelines out there to help out, namely the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a membership organization of the leading independent residential brokerage firms based in over 50 countries worldwide. These are the smaller firms that bring a sizable annual revenue boasting over 120,000 associates among their ranks. Independent agents often find this organization to be an invaluable resource as they strike out on their own to make a splash in the industry.

The alternative, of course, is joining with one of the large franchise firms. Most of them are household names that have been well-established, including the businesses listed above. Joining one of these brands brings with it the power of corporate resources, support, a substantial inventory of listings, and just about everything you need to get ahead.

However, with all of that assistance comes less freedom to market and brand yourself, less control and input, and it will cost more out of pocket if you want to be a part of this larger team. Only you know which of these scenarios is more your speed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try both to find out where you fit best.

success flow chartSeek Out Strong Guidance

The biggest misconception is that the real estate industry is one of the most cutthroat and ruthless fields going today.  While there is stiff competition among agents and firms, the truth is there are many professionals willing to help someone new find their footing as they’re just starting out.

Like any business, it helps to have a mentor who can show you the ropes, identify the challenges you’re likely to face, and give you good advice on the best way to navigate the pitfalls and avoid making costly mistakes. This can be especially helpful if you do decide to join one of the big brokerage houses as your colleagues can be an endless source of information and helpful hints towards finding your way.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you get the hang of things. These people do not even need to be part of your firm, either. You may need, or wish, to seek out colleagues in other places. You may befriend someone who works at an independent firm or even a competing franchise. It’s okay to ask for guidance from any number of sources, seek out the realtors who are getting it done, thriving in a rough market, and pick their brains. Every good success story starts off slow, yours should be no exception.

Training and Volunteering Opportunities

Improving your knowledge and developing your skill set is one of the essentials for success. Seek out and sign up for any training seminars and tutorials to better acquaint yourself with all of the necessary components of the industry. Whether it’s learning about the latest technologies that realtors use most often or sharpening your sales capabilities, you should find any areas that you can improve upon and take the steps to do so.

Training courses are a good start, but finding a venue in which to stretch those muscles will do wonders for you. If that means volunteering at a call center to hone your cold-calling skills or attending open houses to see how true professionals in the industry conduct themselves, find the time do it. If the firm you work for has a certain type of software that they employ, then become an expert on how it works and the best ways in which to make the most of all of its features.

That also goes for the protocols and practices of the brokerage itself. Your new firm will likely issue you a company manual and you’ll want to read it and know it backward and forward. It will not just make you a smarter member of the organization but a better employee and agent within that company. Any opportunity you can find to give yourself a leg up in the brokerage should be exploited in this regard.

Don’t think this eagerness for improvement stops once you’ve been working as an agent for a year or two or five, either.  The best agents are always identifying new and different ways to build upon their talents and the desire for educating oneself should never end. There will always be some new technology to understand and some new trend that has become the norm within the industry. You should be on the hunt for new ways to train yourself at all times.

Leads and Listings

The lifeblood of the real estate agent is found in the homes that he or she can offer to his or her clientele. If you don’t have properties to rent or sell, then you’re not closing deals on those properties. Without leads or property listings, you don’t have clients. Without clients you’re not going to find much in the way of success.

Traditionally, a real estate agent’s job was to work with the seller of a home to find someone who wanted to rent or purchase a property. Over the years the industry has evolved so that the job of an agent involves working with sellers and buyers alike. If you’re part of a realty firm, then the company’s inventory is likely going to be your best bet for drumming up new business.

Whether you’re working alongside prospective clients who want to find a property to rent or own or are dealing with a seller, your job is to protect the client by giving them your best advice on the moves to make in the market at that point in time.

Independent realtors may have a tougher time of it, relying on a variety of sources to generate leads. Talk to vendors, investors, previous customers, people you meet at social functions, or individuals who show up to an open house to find new leads.  You’re going to need to be creative about getting those crucial leads on potential customers who are looking to buy or sell property.

Listings have also proven a challenge in today’s digital world with websites like Zillow and HomeFinder offering available listings to the general public in direct competition with local agents, both independent and part of a franchise company. Leads can be hard to come by so you need to hustle, work every angle you can within the community you serve and don’t turn down any deals. This is especially important if you are just starting out.

Turning away a buyer or a seller just because you feel as if the transaction is too small (and thus it won’t earn you much commission) is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. A small deal now can quickly translate to bigger properties and commissions later on down the line. The successful real estate agent can see value in almost any transaction because it helps you build a reputation. Your reputation is a crucial part of getting those leads that will generate more business.

Garnering Publicity

Your success is only limited by your exposure to your customer base. The best way to improve your fortunes in that department is to garner as much publicity as possible. Only you can brand yourself properly and you’ll need to exploit the many options available to you for maximum effect.

You can go the direct route and hire a publicist to get your name and likeness out to local reporters as the premiere expert on real estate in your community. You’ve no doubt seen advertisements for realtors around your town; they’re often found on bus station benches or in waiting areas of your local car wash. There are even ads in local newspapers and magazines for realtors that offer their services for a certain region.

You can buy this ad space and paper the town with your smile and a witty catchphrase. Of course, a publicist and ad space is going to cost you money. If you work with a large nationwide firm they will take over those duties for you, but you won’t have much say in what gets put out to the public.

These are just some of the more traditional methods for attracting attention, but you can find new channels by embracing technology and social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can all be useful tools for getting your name and your brand out to hundreds of thousands of potential clients at once.

This approach requires more than just having a social media presence as you also need to engage and interact with your audience. That means keeping your content on those portals current and having your name fresh in the minds of your followers and other casual onlookers alike. This way, when they’re in the market to buy or sell a home, you’re the first person they think to call.

However, while social media is a valuable tool to help get yourself out to the public, building a website is vital to your success. This is the main hub of your online marketing strategy as it brings everything about you, your credentials, past accomplishments, accolades, current listings and any other important information together in one easy to access nerve center. Clients can see what you’ve achieved through the homes you’ve sold and read through listings of homes that are available. You want your site to be easy to navigate for even the most inexperienced Internet user.  Find the right web design company that can deliver a site that looks sharp and professional without being overly complex.

hello i am networkingNetworking and Relationships

If leads and listings are the lifeblood of the real estate agent, then networking and maintaining long-lasting relationships is the backbone. The old adage of who you know, not what you know certainly applies here. The successful real estate agent has an inexhaustible penchant for networking with colleagues and like-minded professionals at the same level of the industry.

The goal is to amass a list of contacts who can not only bring you more clients but also provide necessary services that will serve you as a real estate agent. This can include everyone from contractors to lenders, insurance providers to appraisers, and so on. Having a wealth of these individuals in your contacts list helps you and it helps them as well.

When you have a client who needs someone to come and appraise their home before a sale, you can put them in touch with that person in your Rolodex. It makes you look good when your client is satisfied with that person’s work because you’re connected to the best people in the business. Additionally, that appraiser pays back your loyalty by putting you in touch with someone they know looking for a good realtor. Having hundreds of these types of relationships will increase your potential for referrals and contribute to the overall success of your business.

Networking goes beyond associates and colleagues in your industry and related fields.  It also extends to the community in which you work, live, and serve. That means getting involved in that community.  Attend town meetings, volunteer at local charity and fundraising events, press the flesh with local officials, and show a genuine interest in the local area. This will demonstrate that you understand and know your community.  Being involved shows that you care and that compassion is something people are going to be attracted to when they want to conduct a sale or purchase real estate. It’s about engendering trust from the citizens in your neighborhood.

Our Final Thoughts

Every good real estate agent values one thing more than any other: their client’s satisfaction. The more clients that are satisfied, the better your reputation gets and the more successful you will become. That’s the core formula right there. Make people happy and they’ll tell other people how happy you made them.

The best realtors are also amazing at follow-ups, they answer calls and emails in seconds, and contact clients after closing a deal to check in and see how they are settling into their new home. Developing the technique of exceptional customer service, combined with all of the other points we’ve discussed, will put you on the road to success and get you where you want to be much quicker than you might expect. But remember, you have to commit fully or else you’ll never reach your full potential in this business.

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