The kids are out of the house and you’re looking for a “part-time” job. Or perhaps you’re simply seeking a career change. Or maybe you just love houses and architecture, and you want to “share your love” with the general public.
Those are all lines frequently repeated by those who’ve decided it’s time for them to “dabble” in real estate. These enthusiastic individuals are ready to sign up for their licensing courses, choose an office, and take the real estate profession by storm. No doubt, before long, they’ll be the top-selling agent in their office. First, they might want to read some of the top selling books for Realtors.
Well, sometimes things work out as planned, but more often than not, budding agents truly don’t understand the complexities of being in this profession. It takes a lot more than the ability to drive someone around in your car, oohing and aahing and hoping you’ll find their potential next home. A career in real estate is multi-faceted. You need to be good with people. You must get to know your local market AND be a good marketer. It’s essential that you’re tech savvy. You need to possess extreme amounts of patience, and you must work at being a good negotiator. You should be good with numbers and able to function in an office environment, sometimes one that’s not so friendly.
Many men and women who plan a career in real estate or are making a switch from another profession to the real estate business are mistaken about the responsibilities of an agent. There are a lot of things they don’t tell you in that real estate licensing classes. So, below, we’ve outlined some aspects of real estate sales with which you should be familiar or on which you should concentrate once you get started. We hope it’ll make the road a bit easier.
Be Realistic about your Schedule
It’s rarely possible to be a “part-time” agent, especially if you’re intent on making a living. Being a real estate agent is often about being an accommodator – you must work around other people’s schedules and, often, those schedules don’t mesh with your working hours. Buyers and sellers don’t care if real estate is your “hobby”. They just want good service. If you are indeed viewing real estate as a “hobby”, then it is your duty to turn your clients over to someone who treats it like a career. It’s that simple.
Be aware that you may be working on weekends. You WILL be working on weekends. Most house hunters are free on Saturdays and Sundays, and that is their preferred time for viewing listings. You may miss Junior’s baseball game or be late for your daughter’s dance recital. Of course, you’ll do your best to work around your personal schedule but you won’t always be successful. It’s the reality of the business.
Be an Entrepreneur
While you will likely be hanging your license with a particular broker in a local office, remember that this is YOUR business and you need to treat it as such. No one is going to be giving you a salary during your real estate career. What you will make depends on your dedication and tenacity. And, remember the adage: You have to spend money to make money! You’ll need to invest in your business. You may be pulling money out of your pocket for various business expenses long before you see your first commission check. That’s okay. If you do it right, you’ll get it back ten-fold or more.
It often helps to also read some books about entrepreneurship including how-to guides for bookkeeping and other essentials. For many, it’s scary to be responsible for the size of your paychecks and when they will arrive. Take this responsibility seriously. You might even consider a real estate “coach” or mentor who helps you get organized at the start and keeps you on the right path.
You need to work harder than everyone else, especially when you are just starting your business. You must outwork and outsmart your competition. That takes a lot of stamina and determination and is much harder than arriving for a salaried or hourly job each day, where what you must do is dictated to you by someone else. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and difficult, but if you have the drive, success is yours for the taking.
Be a Prospector
A good rule of thumb to remember is that everyone is a prospective client and you need to let everyone know about your business. That includes family members and friends. You MUST be a cheerleader for your own business. That means you send postcards announcing your new endeavor to those family members and friends and gently remind them now and then that real estate is your career. You never know when someone will be ready to list their house or buy a new one. When it’s that time, you want them to remember you. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you annoy them all the time with pushy suggestions and statements. It just means that you keep them apprised of what you’re doing so that when they think “real estate”, your name pops into their head.
You’ll also need to do plenty of prospecting outside of your circle of friends. Prospecting is often the hardest part for new agents. Cold calling, for example, is a palm-sweating exercise for most, but often a great way to pick up expired listings and new buyers. The only way prospecting for business gets easier is if you do it consistently. Eventually, the nerves will subside.
Get Involved in Your Community
Get your name out there! By getting involved in community activities and becoming well-known to movers and shakers in your local area, you’re automatically creating prospective clients. Sponsor little league teams, set up a booth at the local fair, promote causes and organizations in which you believe, participate at your child’s school, and volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! All of these activities will serve to enhance your reputation as someone who truly cares about the community. Be sincere, not phony, and you’ll gain new friends and admirers that may someday need to sell or buy a home.
It’s also a wise idea to join community groups that promote networking, such as your local Chamber of Commerce or organizations like Le Tip, which has 400 chapters throughout the U.S. and is dedicated to “exchanging qualified business leads amongst its members.” Also, joining service organizations such as the Rotary or Lions’ Club can be helpful.
Use Technology and Use it Wisely
It should go without saying these days, but – as a Realtor – technology is your friend. You need to have an online presence so set up a website and keep it up-to-date. Build your brand through your site and help clients get to know you on both a professional and personal level. Learn how to search engine optimize your site to appear high in the rankings or hire an SEO specialist to do it for you. Not everyone is a technology guru and sometimes your time is better spent on other tasks, so consider spending some money for tech assistance.
Use social media to your advantage. Post appropriately on Facebook, Twitter, and other media platforms. DO be careful about everything you post and stick to posts about listings, sales, trends, and other real estate-related topics. Avoid political posts and other things that can cause you to lose clients (or potential clients) quickly.
Research Potential Brokers
Where you hang your proverbial shingle will help determine your success. Compare a few options. Look at company earnings, meet some of the agents who are currently working there, look at the overall office culture, and – of course – chat with the broker about commission splits and other items that impact your bottom line earnings. Inquire about training and education programs and ask about plans for the office or franchise. While it’s always possible to make a switch if the fit isn’t just right, it’s better to make the best choice at the start.