5 Surefire Ways to Work Less and Make More Money (really!)

Real Estate Agent with United Real Estate Partners, LLC LA #0000042692

Well, the headline pretty much says it all, so let’s dive right in!

1) Specialize

I firmly believe that we are quickly moving towards a time where specialization in real estate will become the rule, rather than the exception, just like it has in law, medicine, and many other professional service businesses. 

But whether or not that prediction comes true, one thing is certain: Professionals who become authorities or experts in a certain niche—and in real estate, this typically means a specific geographic area, or a particular type of property or type of client—

• Enjoy a greater level of respect from both colleagues and consumers,

• Command higher than average fees for the services they provide, 

• Have less real competition from their “generalist” peers, and

• Tend to attract well-qualified clients to them, rather than having to chase after uninterested prospects.

Less Work, More Profits? Yes, please!

2) Focus on Doing More Profitable Transactions

I had a consulting client a while back who was closing a very healthy number of transactions for a solo agent, but she was running herself ragged and—worse yet—after expenses, she wasn’t making a whole lot of money, especially compared to the amount of effort she was putting in. So, she booked some time with me to help her figure out how she could improve her situation. We wound up making improvements in her business in a number of areas, but here’s one that really made an impact:

She focused on increasing the average price of the properties she was listing and selling.

This agent was working the low end of her market, but with a few changes to her marketing and prospecting and to how she was positioning herself in the marketplace, she was able to increase her average sale from about $120,000 to a bit over $200,000 with no real loss in volume. 

At say 2.5% per transaction side, that translated into about $2000 in extra commission for every closing, with no more work on her part!


3) Focus on Working with More Profitable Clients

Just like focusing on more profitable transactions, there are many ways to approach this one and many ways to improve your “profitability per client.” But here’s the most important one, in my opinion:

Stop working with PITA (Pain in the Ass) Clients!

• Stop working with buyers who won’t get pre-approved for a mortgage before starting to look at houses.

• Stop working with buyers who won’t sign a buyer’s representation agreement, or won’t otherwise seriously commit to working only with you

• Stop working with sellers who won’t price their property reasonably.

• Stop working with sellers who won’t follow your advice, with regards to staging and repairs.

I could go on, and I know you could, too, about the kinds of clients that are PITAs. But the point is: Cut your stress levels and invest your limited time and energy more profitably by kicking them to the curb. :-)


4) Stop Doing Minimum Wage Jobs for Your Business

I know you’ve heard this one before, so I won’t elaborate too much. But a couple of times a year, you should do an audit of all the activities you’re doing (or should be doing) for your business.  Make a list all of the tasks that are menial, that you hate doing, or that you’re just not good at, and look into delegating, automating, or outsourcing them. You’ll be more effective and less grouchy!


5) Find Your Joy and Passion and Focus Your Energies on That

The best kind of work is the kind that doesn’t feel like work at all. For many of us, our business is one of the central aspects of our lives; it becomes part of who we are. 

So, it is very worthwhile to invest the time and effort into molding your business in such a way that you can focus mostly on those aspects that play to your unique strengths, talents, and capabilities.  

And guess what? This tends to be more profitable, too. ;-)

[Photo Credit: Tommy Schultz]


Have you changed anything recently that’s allowed you to work less and/or earn more? Are you planning to? Tell us about it!

Comments (80)

Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Great list! I've been encouraging agents to specialize for some time now. It won't work in a small town where there aren't enough listings in one speciality - but if you live in a heavily populated area, pick a niche and become THE expert. 

And yes - fire the non-profitable clients! 

Aug 29, 2013 09:22 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Good advice Craig, especially the first point about specialization of an area--that pays off! 

Aug 29, 2013 12:44 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great seeing this post!  I can definitely relate.  As a green realtor, it's been great focusing my "energy" on that segment of the market and I've made a real name for myself.  Plus targeted marketing is paying off. Great advice for any agent!

Aug 29, 2013 01:17 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Bob & Stephanie - Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Marte - I think you're right in principle about niching in less popular areas, but I believe I heard that 80% of North Americans live in urban areas now. And when it comes to small town and rural areas, I think in the vast majority of cases, it is still possible to specialize with some creativity. But, irronically, in these cases it ususally involves expanding your geographic service area. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

Mary - Glad you agree! :-) Thanks for stopping by.

Jan - Just taking a quick look at the type of thing you're doing, it's a great example of what I'm talking about. Congratulations on being ahead of the curve on  this one! :-)

Aug 29, 2013 04:46 PM
Pam Graham
All Real Estate Options - Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville, Clay & St Johns Counties

Awesome recommendations! I have decided to narrow my focus to a geographic area where I live. I'm making a list of everything I need to know about the area and I'll be researching to learn it. It's close to my house, which will save me on driving time, big enough to make money, but small enough not to be too overwhelming to learn.

Aug 30, 2013 06:26 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

That's awesome to hear, Pam! And congratulations on being ahead of the curve on developing a special area of expertise! :-)

Aug 30, 2013 10:33 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Craig!  I included this post in today’s Last Week’s Favorites.  Please drop by and check it out, and have a great week!

Aug 31, 2013 11:55 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center 262-567-2455 - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

This is great advice...I know alot of agents dont want to turn down any business, but I believe in your specialization thought

Sep 01, 2013 12:02 AM
Brad MacKenzie
Brad MacKenzie - Duxbury, MA
Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore

Great post!

Sep 01, 2013 01:10 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Craig, Pat speaks very highly of you and I wanted to see what she meant and glad to have read this post. Clients must be on board to get to a successful end, otherwise we are spinning wheels, you might say!

Sep 01, 2013 04:41 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Pat - As I commented on your blog post, I am humbled by the inclusion and by your kind words. And I don't mind saying so twice! :-)

Kristin - I'm glad you agree. I think many agents don't realize that there's a very real negative cost to trying to do too much and learn about too many areas of real estate.

Brad - Thanks!

Wanda - Pat is too kind. And I couldn't agree more with your sentiments about clients. It has to be a partnership, if each party is going to get what they need from the transaction (one of those parties being you!).

Sep 01, 2013 12:32 PM
Helen and Larry Prier- Re-Max Gateway - Residential Real Estate
RE-MAX Gateway- Residential Real Estate Sales - Anacortes, WA
Anacortes & surrounding Skagit & Island Counties

craig, Once again you give us all great advice. I am a staunch follower. Thanks

Sep 02, 2013 01:00 AM
David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

I couldnt agree more. I think being a specialist is a key as well as when a client gets out of hand, and its not often but does happen, we simply have to get it back online or end the transaction. Too much work and too much business to have to deal with PITA's!!!!

Great post

Sep 02, 2013 04:08 AM
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Craig - again more good tips...   I am taking out new clients on Wednesday... I am asking for that pre-approval!

Sep 02, 2013 09:01 AM
Rosie Moore
Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City - Sugar Land, TX
Thanks for the helpful tips. I've wasted my time early in my career on unqualified prospects, but now I prequalify and ensure a representation agreement is signed before I devote my time and resources to a buyer.
Sep 02, 2013 10:30 AM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Craig, specializing always gives a bigger return. As a Relocation agent, it is necessary for me to know a large geographic area, but I do know the area where I live best of all. Another excellent post!

Sep 02, 2013 01:05 PM
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson

I find that if I blog about neighborhoods I get those clients. I have started to streamline picking out the areas I know that are more upscale. Seems that lately my phone is ringing with higher priced sellers. 

Sep 02, 2013 06:56 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Helen - You are too kind. :-)

David - Folks after my own heart! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

Gay - That is wonderful. Good for you!

Rosie - Definitely the way to go!

Sharon - Focusing on Relo buyers can be a great area of specilization, and though there are definitely advantages to focusing on a small geographic area-- focusing on a type of property or a type of client can have other advantages (as I'm sure you know).  

Janis - Awesome! What's the old saying? If you're trying to catch a particular type of fish, it certainly helps to be using the right bait. ;-) Thanks for commenting.

Sep 03, 2013 05:24 PM
Des & Spiro Kouridakis
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CA Properties - Yorba Linda, CA
- North Orange County Experts

Love your acronym for PITA. lol   Most of the things on your list don't cost a dime, so it's something that's achievable by all. Who doen't want to work smarter not harder?

Oct 19, 2013 02:24 PM
Mike Crosby
Mike Crosby Realty - Placentia, CA
Placentia- Yorba Linda Real Estate - 714-742-2897

Good reminder post.  Higher price homes, Avoid PITA clients. Delegate or automate tasks

Oct 20, 2013 01:26 AM