As the start of a new school year debuts in the DFW Metroplex, the sage advice we whisper to our young scholars returns to herald their way back to classroom corridors: "You will be known by the company you keep."
Your Business Associations Matter
For every reason this advice works to guide our children to choose their friends wisely -- and to select positive associations that will serve to support them and lift them up toward higher goals -- it applies to new and seasoned Realtors, alike. Your business alliances, ranging from choice of Broker / Brokerage, mentor(s), colleagues, and business partners (vendor partners) are not only a direct reflection on you, they will also work to shape and influence you both personally and professionally as you progress in your career.
"It will be fun," they said.
I love the doe-eyed innocence of every newly-licensed realtor who proclaims a get-rich-quick plan courtesy of real estate sales.
Newsflash: Pre-licensing courses do not prepare Realtors for production in real estate. Although they do provide a fundamental knowledge base upon which to build a practice, they do not provide the practical skills that can only be earned through actively engaging transactions and working through real-life business challenges.
The hard truth is that when they first start practice, new Realtors typically feel like they are walking on solid ground. They usually have assistance from their broker / trainer / manager, and are closely supervised on first transactions to help make sure all goes well.
Once agents get a little more independent and have at least 10 - 15 transactions under their belt, they start to lose a bit of that newbie innocence and gain a new understanding by virtue of the adversity and challenges they have faced along the way. Real estate is a very rewarding profession -- and it is also hard work. That glamourous Hollywood portrayal of slick salespeople driving around in fancy cars and living a life of leisure quickly gives way to reality… Real estate is more about people than it is about million dollar mansions, glamour, or prestige -- in any market.
In every "people" business, there are always wildcards. The clarity that comes with transaction experience is that the stakes can run high, and the responsibility of licensure is a serious matter. Agents often experience a sudden realization that the 'solid ground' they thought they were walking on is really nothing more a glass plane. And when the light bulb turns on, they can see that there is water underneath that glass. And swimming in that water are sharks -- circling and waiting for an unsuspecting agent to step onto a surface flaw.
Having the right TEAM in a real estate transaction is critical to a successful practice. There are so many things we cannot directly control... By exercising influence in areas where it CAN make a difference (hiring & referral decisions) Realtors can directly impact their success rates.
Elements agents can control:
- Agents can control themselves (knowledge, skills, competency, insight, and learned strategies)
- Expectations for performance and duties
- Referrals and Recommendations
- Resource and Strategy Partners
Elements agents may be able to influence, but cannot control:
- Parties to the transaction; Attitudes and Perceptions
- Client or Negotiated Hiring Decisions
- Strict adherence to contract timelines by all parties
- Outside Third Parties (Neighbors, Contractors, Vendors, Family, Friends)
Best practices and continuing education go a long way toward surviving in the Wild, Wild West of real estate. Fortifying these measures by surrounding oneself with encouragers, well wishers, and folks who can give wise counsel when challenges and struggles are encountered are veritable 'shark repellent'.
Who are the folks who make up a Realtor's core "Shark Shield Team"?
BROKER / MENTOR / MANAGER / TRAINER -- Regardless of tenure, the most important career choice a Realtor makes during the course of her career is the combination of Sponsor and/or Trainer. The Law of the Lid dictates that the leader(s) a person chooses must operate on a higher scale than themselves if they wish to grow and reach higher levels of success. For the career-minded professional, the right mentorship affords accountability, encouragement, vision, leadership, coaching and development. If you don't feel that you are reaching your full potential, remember YOU are the only one who can hold YOU back. Are you ready for a change?
LENDERS -- Buyers may come to us with a lender already in tow. If your client is committed to a lender, this can be a great way to meet a new lending partner. After all, you can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. An awesome lending partner will be accessible to the client the same way you are -- 24/7. An awesome lending partner will have strong industry knowledge, and a technology-based transaction management system that tracks contract dates. There's nothing worse than a lender who notifies the client the day before closing that they will need another week to get a clear to close because of underwriting delays… Except a lender that notifies your client the day AFTER the 3rd party financing protection period expires that he won't be able to obtain financing.
ESCROW OFFICERS -- Let's face it, most consumers don't even register that they have a choice about title companies, and fully rely on Realtors to make good suggestions in this area. A knowledgeable and experienced escrow officer and/or title attorney can be the single most important recommendation you can make as a real estate agent. Our policy is not to get into tug of wars over title companies; however, simply "going with the flow" can be a big mistake. Don't depend on Nancy Naïve-agent to make a good hiring choice for your client based on her franchise brand's marketing agreement to use a specific office or Title brand. The heaviest project management responsibility in any transaction is carried on the shoulders of a GREAT title agent. A weak link in this category can easily place your client in contractual default if you aren't minding the details closely. The kind of trust you need to out source this level of responsibility is earned -- not given.
HOME INSPECTORS -- Much like title companies, our clients (and even our customers) are going to look to us for recommendations about hiring inspectors. Whether a generalized home inspector, or a specialized vendor (like pest, sewer, roof, foundation, plumbing) the right partner(s) can make a big difference in consumer education and confidence. The licensing requirements for home inspection are relatively simple. Anyone can take a few classes and get a license. The specialized knowledge and bedside manner that comes with a construction background and years of experience cannot be taught from a book. Neither can honesty. The right inspector partner will be able to warn a client about issues that are high cost or safety concerns, and will likewise not try to 'add value' to his role by over dramatizing things that are no big deal. A good inspector will also be able to admit when he doesn't know what he doesn't know… and recommend qualified, specialized consultations when appropriate. A fundamental thing that any agent can do -- regardless of their tenure in the business, and for FREE -- that can help them to become a better Buyer's Agent: attend home inspections from start to end.
Once agents fill core areas of their Shark Shield Team, they will be able to start extending and enhancing it. From General Contractors to Family Practitioners and everything in between, one of the most valuable things we provide as Realtors is the expertise our clients need to make informed decisions that will best serve their needs and goals.
Surround yourself with excellence, for you will be know by the company you keep. #sharkproof