You have passed the Real Estate License Exam. You have a state-issued real estate salesman's license, you have signed up with a reputable Real Estate Company. Your business cards are in hand, and you have a page on your Broker's website. All of this is well and good, but none of that will put commission checks into your bank account.
Now it is time for you to gain the real-world knowledge that will help you sell homes and land! It is time to establish yourself, to educate yourself, and to brand yourself as a Real Estate Agent who will appeal to Buyers and Sellers!
The following advice is based upon the real life experiences of the author of this article. Fred Griffin began his career as a real estate salesperson in 1985. He opened his own real estate company in the year 1993.
1. You are in Sales - know how to Sell
Look at your Real Estate License... just about every real estate license will contain the word, "Salesperson". You are in Sales! To be successful in Real Estate, you must understand the basic concepts of Selling.
Learn how to identify "buying signs". Learn how to overcome objections. Develop good listening skills, and learn how to observe body language. Even when you represent a client (have a fiduciary relationship), there may be times when you need to give them that push to make a decision. Know how to "get the signature and close the sale"!
You must be confident and assertive when asking Buyers for a preapproval or proof of funds letter. You must be able to convince a Seller that they have to price their house realistically. You must be comfortable talking to FSBO's, and be able to show them why they are better off working with a Real Estate Agent (you!).
There are many courses, webinars, seminars, videos, and books on "The Art of Selling" available to you. Start mastering the skill of selling today!
2. Tell Everyone that you are in Real Estate!
Let everyone know that you are a Real Estate Agent. Tell your family, your friends, the neighbors, your acquaintances, the cable guy, your auto mechanic, your mailman, your doctor, the cashier at the grocery store, the waitress at your favorite restaurant... tell every person that you meet. Offer them something of value - tell them to call you any time they have a question about local real estate. Then ask if they are thinking of buying or selling a house. Do they know anyone else who is thinking of buying or selling a house? Be sure to give them a business card!
3. Get Inside some Houses
Look at some houses! You should preview both occupied houses and vacant houses.
You may wish to start by visiting some Open Houses. The door will be open; another agent will be there to greet you. Search your MLS, Zillow, Realtor dot com, and other sources for Open Houses. You should also visit "Broker Opens", which are generally held on weekdays and attended only by agents and brokers.
Next, preview some vacant houses. You can look at occupied houses later, after you are comfortable locking and unlocking doors.
Choose a price range or area of town that appeals to you, then search out properties in the MLS. Important: make sure you comply with the showing instructions in your MLS! Be very careful with "appointment only", "alarm system", "must be accompanied by listing agent", or other special showing conditions. Talk to the Listing Agent if applicable. If your Board or Association has a Showing Service, get familiar with that system. If asked to leave feedback, say "Personal Preview by Agent".
Learn how the electronic lockbox ekey works (Supra or Sentrilock or whatever your Broker or MLS is using). Be sure to familiarize yourself with the lockbox ekey's website, which is where you pay your monthly bill, track showings, leave feedback, and get support when needed. Also learn how combination lockboxes work (commonly used on foreclosures and bank-owned properties).
4. Learn your Contracts and Forms
You must be thoroughly familiar with your Contracts, with Disclosures, with all other forms that are pertinent to your area, Board, or Association. This may require attending classes. Contact your Board or Association to see what training they offer.
You need to learn how to complete the Forms online (if applicable to your area). You must also be able to fill out the paper forms with pen and ink (if the computer goes down, you do not want to tell your Buyer, "Let's wait until later").
Print several copies of your Sales Contract, Listing Agreement, Buyer Brokerage Agreement, and Disclosures. Read them, write on them, practice, practice, practice! Choose some houses from your MLS, then fill out some imaginary contracts using "John Doe" and "Jane Doe" for the parties.
When you are "live" in front of a buyer, a seller, an investor, a client, or a customer, you MUST be completely familiar with the forms. You must be prepared to fill them out right then and there!
5. Establish an Internet Presence
Set up a Website. It is not good enough to be a "page" on your Broker's Company website. You need YOUR OWN website that highlights YOU as the go-to Agent for your local area. Be sure your website complies with your State Real Estate Commission rules on advertising.
Blog regularly, either on your own WordPress website, or on a site like ActiveRain. Be the source for local real estate information.
Create a Social Media Presence. Keep it professional; keep it about real estate.
Establish a profile on Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor dot com. These websites are where the Buying and Selling public is searching for houses and real estate information.
6. Brand YOURSELF, not your Broker's Company
You may be proud to work with your Big National Real Estate Company, but do you really need to promote that company? No! You need to promote yourself. Your business card, your website, your promotional and marketing materials should be mostly about YOU, not about the Broker or company that you work with.
7. Grow and Establish a Support Network
Find Mentors! Have lunch with Top Producers and seasoned Real Estate Agents. Ask questions, then be quiet and listen to your Mentor. Be mindful of their time. When lunch is over, offer sincere thanks, suggest that "perhaps we can do this again next month", and of course be sure to pick up the check!
Be Active in your local Board or Association of Realtors. Attend the weekly meetings, participate in the "Socials". Shake hands, introduce yourself, ask for business cards. Be sure to meet the officers, directors, and staff members of your Board or Association.
Network with Lenders, Surveyors, Appraisers, Home Inspectors, Insurance Agents, and Title Company or Title Law Firm personnel. If they are hosting or promoting a class or event, be there, introduce yourself. Get their business card and any handouts or materials that they are offering.
Get a good CPA. You want a CPA who will help you keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible, while complying with IRS rules on quarterly estimates, self-employment taxes, home office deductions, auto mileage, and so forth. You also need a CPA who can advise your sellers and buyers about capital gains taxes, mortgage interest deductions, and other financial matters.
Get a good Real Estate Attorney. Ask the Top Producer that you took for lunch which Attorney he or she uses. Or, find out who the lawyer is that represents your local Board of Realtors.
Meet some Technology People who can help you with website design, smart phone issues, and computer setup.
8. Have a Winning Attitude!
Associate with winners, not losers. Surround yourself with successful, optimistic people. Even when the Market is tough, successful agents are making money. Keep company with these people.
Keep your car in showroom condition.
Dress for Success. People judge you by the way you look. Even if your area is laid-back, casual, or rural, you must be well-dressed and well-groomed.
Act Professional. Real Estate Agents refer to themselves as "Professionals". Act that way!
9. Be prepared to Work Hard, Very Hard
Those "Reality Television" shows where the Agent takes a Buyer through 3 or 4 houses, then writes an offer and the deal closes a week later, make it look way easier than it really is. They don't show the many hours of preparation and follow-up in getting from the showing to the contract to the closing table. There is a lot of hard work involved!
Congratulations on passing your Real Estate License Exam. Master the steps that are listed above, and start putting commission checks into your pocket!