Want to Become a Real Estate Agent? What do I need to know?

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799

I started in real estate in 1991 when I found myself a single mom. I hadn’t worked in years and knew I needed to make a living and I didn’t want to go back to teaching or retail management.

What do I wish I had known the very first year in business that cost me lost business and income?

Years of volunteering at the kid’s schools and local charities gave me an instant audience to tap but I was embarrassed my husband left and I had to move to a rental. In my first few years in the business I should have swallowed my pride and told everyone I was in real estate instead of being a secret agent.

I was good about telling new acquaintances and everyone I’d meet that I was a real estate agent but I should have tapped my friends and neighbors and been ahead of the game instead of searching for new business.

Was there ever a time I questioned whether I‘d made the right career choice?

My first year was scary and I had to dig down deep to find the resolve that I could make it in this business. There was a lot to learn: subdivisions, forms, contracts, builders, how to establish a team of professionals, how to learn to brand myself but I knew if I surrounded myself with optimistic people and a good mentor I could be a success. It was going to take hard work but I was willing to give it my all. My first year was the hardest but I stuck with it. Be sure and give it time and don’t give up early on being an independent contractor.

What three things have I learned along the way that positively affected me and helped improve my real estate business?

1. I took the Floyd Wickman course and was a sweat hog for weeks! To this day I still remember things I learned. More than anything the course gave me structure and defined how I wanted to conduct business. I learned to set goals and measure them. I discovered the “why” I was in real estate and who I wanted to work with to maximize my talents and ability.

2. I started my career in a boutique firm and had some awesome mentors but when my broker closed I joined the NW Coldwell Banker office and knew I had found home. Finding the right fit is crucial!

3. Having a winning attitude and conducting your business like your personal life, doing things for the “right reason” is the only way to operate! Consumers can spot a fake a mile away. Teddy Roosevelt said it best “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

“There is no secret to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”   Colin Powell

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Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Dorie, excellent advice. I agree finding the right broker is very crucial. I finally did.

Jan 12, 2018 06:47 PM #4
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.AtHomesCharlotte.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Doing things for the 'right reason' and finding the right broker are definitely critical, Dorie! I'm so proud of what you've become and I'm certain that everyone around you is as well. You're such a wonderful mentor for so many agents as you do things RIGHT!

Great post. Happy Friday!

Jan 12, 2018 07:27 PM #5
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Hi Dorie

There is so much good advice in this post for anyone starting gout or even those who have been in the business for a while. Glad to see it features - so well deserved.


Jan 12, 2018 09:39 PM #6
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

The part that resonated with me is when you said you had volunteered for years but you didn't let them know you were now in real estate. For some reason, I felt the same with my Carmel Art Festival volunteering, I wanted to keep it separate. Until I didn't this last year, and it was the best decision I could have made. 

Jan 12, 2018 11:31 PM #7
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Dorie, indeed that has been my motto : Never Give Up... even when things look hopeless, next thing you know things change... I have so many stories about this, I could write a book, Endre

Jan 12, 2018 11:42 PM #8
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning again Dorie.

My first year 2008, I had one sell.  Made less than 2,000.00.  The second year things started to turn around.  Since then I've never looked back.  

Jan 13, 2018 01:07 AM #9
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Great advice! Never give up, tell everyone what you do and be real.

Jan 13, 2018 04:56 AM #10
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

I agree with what you said,

"Consumers can spot a fake a mile away"

Jan 13, 2018 06:30 AM #11
Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line

Great advice any new agent can take to heart.

Jan 13, 2018 06:37 AM #12
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Dorie - The following paragraph you wrote, is full of a lot of wisdom.  Pride often keeps us from a lot of things.  I'm glad you did prevail, however!

"Years of volunteering at the kid’s schools and local charities gave me an instant audience to tap but I was embarrassed my husband left and I had to move to a rental. In my first few years in the business I should have swallowed my pride and told everyone I was in real estate instead of being a secret agent."

Jan 13, 2018 07:43 AM #13
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Learning from our mistakes is so important and sharing that knowledge with others is a sign of a true professional! Well done Dorie!

Jan 13, 2018 08:41 AM #14
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Dorie new Agents would do well to take the advice of a successful Realtor like you, especially the last point you made.

Jan 13, 2018 10:30 AM #15
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Objectively speaking there is no way you can really fail with anything in the USA

Jan 13, 2018 11:10 AM #16
Delphine Nguyen
Baird & Warner - Northbrook, IL

Great advice, Dorie. Your points can apply to new and old agents. In this business, we've got to be known. Our new website is doing wonders for us. Thanks for sharing! 

Jan 13, 2018 12:21 PM #17
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market

When getting into this business you have to do it right. Pick the right brokerage and mentors and, as you say, do it for the right reason. If you are just in it for the money it is going to show.

Jan 13, 2018 02:55 PM #18
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

You have great advice. Thanks for sharing it. I am glad that you made it here to share your knowledge. 

Jan 13, 2018 04:59 PM #19
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Dorie- Thank you for sharing how you began in this business. I have to admire how hard you must have worked, especially while caring for your children at the same time. You have come so far and continue to grow. 

Jan 13, 2018 05:33 PM #20
Don Taber
Our Town Properties, Inc., Wilson, NC - Wilson, NC

Dorie,  when you prepare and continually learn you will recognize the opportunity when it comes and you will be a success.  One of the keys I have always told new agents is work it like a job.  If you leave an 8-5 job, put just as many hours or more into becoming the best agent you can be and you will be successful.  So many agents want to work part time for a full time income and it generally doesn't work that way.

Jan 14, 2018 08:09 AM #21
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Dorie, My initial time as an agent I feel into that "secret agent" category at my engineering job.  I didn't want anyone thinking I had a conflict in priorities.  Over time I became more comfortable in letting my "other" work be known too.  I still don't push it heavily, but most know I have dual careers at this point. Bill

Jan 14, 2018 06:01 PM #22
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

Hi Dorie Dillard Thanks for sharing your story on how you started.  We ALL have skeletons in our closets and have things that we THINK others will look on us with disfavor.

Usually that is not even close to true...they do not care...and yet...Perception is the deception of reality!!   

Your story and pointers are huge to new agents. And I have one!

I am sharing this blog with my new agent, Lindsey Haden who just received her active Nebraska real estate license a few weeks ago and also has just joined AR.

If you have spare time, please send Lindsey a message of encouragement...I believe she is one of the future leaders of the industry in central Nebraska...but she has to get through the early days...and months...and years!!

Have a great day!

Jan 16, 2018 08:16 AM #23
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Dorie Dillard

Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate
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