I have been a real estate agent just over two years now. I completed all my apprenticeship hours and my first renewal is paid. Whew! I am here to stay.
While still taking classes for my license, I found a brokerage that fit like a glove. As soon as I got my license I bought a house to familiarize myself with the process. Then a friend gave me the listing for her home - I got two sales from her neighbors - and another friend referred me to her friends and family. Two of my neighbors had leases that were up and I found them homes. "Gee, this is EASY," I said to myself.
Not so fast, sister!
In year two, I've been spinning my wheels. A lot. Buyers are in multiple offer situations and not winning. (Despite my advice, they still think they can low-ball offers in this hot, hot, hot Austin, Texas market). Sellers have decided to wait another year to list their homes. I am trying to walk that very fine line between "staying top of mind" and being served a restraining order.
So here are ten things I wish I'd known before I so blindly thought I had arrived on Easy Street with my SOLD! sign in the yard:
1. YOU GOTTA SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. As agents, one of our jobs is to set expectations for our clients. But what about setting expectations for ourselves? We recently had a motivational speaker at our office and he asked the room "How many of you are on track in meeting your goals this year?" Only a couple of hands went up. The easiest way to sabotage your career is to decide you need to make a gazillion dollars in your first year. Don't set yourself up for failure!
2. YOUR LICENSE WON'T HELP YOU GET ACTUAL CLIENTS. While learning about Riperian Rights, easements and the numerous ways to get sued is vital, the licensing curriculum fails to address sales and negotiating skills. That's a whole other conversation and if you are not comfortable with that, you will need to take some classes to build your confidence.
3. WE'RE NOT ON HGTV. When I got my license my mom actually thought I only had to show three houses and then they would have to make a decision - like on House Hunters. If only it were that simple to get a deal done in an hour - including commercials! I didn't realize how many houses it takes sometimes - between low inventory and buyer wants - to find the right fit. And sometimes clients decide to stay put. Which brings me to ...
4. IT'S NOT CLOSED UNTIL IT'S CLOSED. A friend (not a client) was self-employed and did not have all of her taxes done so her loan did not get final approval and she was denied on the day of closing. It happens! Don't book that Tahitian vacation until the check has cleared.
5. SOME CLIENTS ARE REALLY NICE. You'll be amazed how quickly great clients can become extended family. They appreciate your hard work and cheerful demeanor. They respect your time and energy. In a word, they are awesome.
6. SOME CLIENTS ARE JERKS. They won't respect your other commitments, won't get back to you when you have questions, expect you to find them a "unicorn" in a tough market and resent your commission. Occasionally, agents on the other side of the transaction can be jerks, too. Don't be a jerk.
7. THE BEST WAY TO MAKE MONEY IN REAL ESTATE IS TO SELL STUFF TO REALTORS. Between MLS dues, start-up costs and car expenses, the first few years require a bigger investment than you may prepared to spend. While there are many tools for agents out there, don't pony up for every lead generator you get a spam e-mail for. In fact, it pays to be frugal.
8. YOU GOTTA GET OUT THERE. Online is great, but to gain traction you really need to meet people face to face. Be a people person. Or an animal person. Just don't be a couch potato person.
9. TAKE IT ALL WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. I am so tough on myself when a client is disappointed - by not getting the house they love, a less than stellar inspection report, buyer's or seller's remorse, a number of things that are not always under my control. Keep the tough stuff in perspective and soldier on.
10. IT'S FUN. That Christmas morning look on a client's face when they fall in love with a house and it really becomes theirs is worth the bumps in getting there. A happy client is a friend for life. And real estate is a great way to enjoy that Christmas feeling all year long!