Entering the Real Estate Business?
I Hope You Don’t Mind But I Have Some Tips
I still remember getting the word I had passed my real estate licensing test and was ready to start in the business about 15 years ago, back in the Boston area.
I had been in the corporate world for 16 years in a number of jobs and was ready to live my dream in the real estate business. And while giving up the security of full time employment, a regular salary, and benefits, was scary, it was time for a change and something I really wanted.
And this career change was sorta forced on me, since the online marketing company I worked for in Boston went Chapter 11 following the dot com melt down, and I had no job other than our art gallery my wife and I started, which was only minimally profitable. But that’s another story.
I had been a homeowner 6 times by that point, with 2 major relocations, so I thought I knew it all. Ha, that was my first mistake – and don’t you make that mistake either. However, I can say, quite confidently, that having had experience buying and selling a home does help when you are getting in the business since you understand in a general way what happens in the process for buyers and sellers and the emotions involved, but there are plenty of good agents who don’t have that experience.
I already knew what broker I was going to work for (RE/MAX Destiny in Cambridge MA - photo above), having already had 2 transactions with him and another agent – a purchase and a sale while I was still in the corporate worl. Most new agents are not that lucky, and I would urge any new agent to be very thorough in your investigation, think long and hard about the things that are important to you personally (mentoring, training, access to the broker and those who can AND will help you, trust, style) and the kind of environment and culture you want, and interview brokers thoroughly and carefully.
My first broker was an amazing mentor and it made a huge difference. Another piece of unsolicited advice - never underestimate the value of a good mentor to guide and support you.
You may be coming from a formal office type of role, or not, so going into the office may not be your thing…or you might relish it.
I can say that it worked for me in terms of developing a consistent schedule so I could plan, but also being around other agents that I could listen to, talk with, question, and learn from. And of course they could get to know me as well.
And for me personally my daily presence in a store front office in Harvard Square in Cambridge with great walk-in traffic allowed me to volunteer for floor time which led to a series of transactions…also another story. I won’t tell you it will be the same for you but it was a great side benefit, and a financially lucrative one, of being in the moment every day during the week and sometimes weekends.
And that of course also allowed me the chance to interact more with people face to face and on the phone, and become more confident in talking general real estate stuff and the specific of the market and listing inventory.
So what do I wish I had known the very first year I was in the business that cost me lost business or income?
I don’t think I realized how important it was to follow-up on every lead…every one. You just never know where a lead might, well, lead, but you also develop a habit of good follow-up in doing so. And when you have no business, well, the answer is obvious. You need leads, and there are many ways to find them. A lost lead could be lost revenue!
The other thing I recall is that, while I told a number of people about my change from corporate Human Resources to real estate, I did not do a very good job of being in touch with everyone possible about this. That was a huge mistake and no doubt there were lost opportunities.
Was there ever a time I questioned whether I had made the right choice of being a real estate agent? And are there events that caused me to stick with it and succeed?
I can’t say I have ever questioned the decision entirely, but there have been times when certain unpleasant transactions or a lack of business made me wonder if this was the right thing to do. I got past that quickly, especially by not focusing on my emotions at the moment, but there are times ones can get disheartened.
Know that there WILL be difficult people to deal with (buyers, sellers, lenders, others in the business) and challenging transactions. It's the reality, like it or not. If you are expecting pie in the sky you are in the wrong business, my friend. But there are so many rewards and wonderful people you will work with and that’s what you will appreciate most, plus the involvement in people’s life decisions
What are 3 things you have learned along the way that have positively affected you and helped improve your real estate business?
It’s hard to say there are just 3, but for what it’s worth the following have really helped.
1. FOLLOW-UP. I cannot stress this enough, and when we so often hear about lousy customer service, doing a great job of following up is essential. Others expect it, need it, and appreciate it and you benefit in your business, and referral business, by being good at it. Not to mention not jeopardizing a client’s transaction by lack of follow-up, creating tension and anxiety.
2. LISTEN TO YOUR CLIENTS. You need to listen, carefully, to what they are saying, but also to what they are not saying (not only face to face but in emails, texts, and voice mails). Don’t interrupt when they are talking, and be sure to truly show you are listening, not thinking about something else you want to be doing or readying an answer for them pre-emptively. I think I have always been pretty good at this, especially having learned while in Human Resources, but it’s something I have continued to need to work at.
3. AVOID NEGATIVITY. This is your own, oh, especially your own, in all situations, but steer clear, when you can, of those who are negative or are naysayers. You may find prospects who are that way, or agents in your office. You don’t need the negativity to add more stress to your life or to impact your attitude or have you second guessing. And you certainly do not want to come across that way with clients, no matter how challenging they may be.
Know that you CAN choose who to work with, as tough as that might be especially when you do not have much business. And as a wise agent in the business share at a seminar I attended some years ago…get the jerks out of your life!! That's true, of course, outside of real estate.
Good luck, and have fun, too. You will have the ride of your life…roller coaster and all…with an opportunity to play an incredibly important role in people’s lives and decision making.
You will have endless opportunities to learn about yourself, to educate yourself every day, and to work with a myriad of different people and personalities.