The ActiveRain Network prides itself for its role in the creation of one of the most amazing communities of real estate professionals in the world. The wealth of knowledge from experience that has been generated in the Rain is outstanding, to say the least, and we're constantly amazed at the generosity of Rainers in their quest to help others achieve the same level of success that they enjoy. So we wanted to start this post off by thanking everyone who have consistently participated in the Rain as well as those who took time off their busy schedules to share their experiences to the new agents fresh on their road to success.
They say experience is the best teacher and so to kick off 2018 on the right foot, we held a contest that called on everyone to share their advice for new agents getting into real estate. We asked Rainers to answer these three questions:
- What do you wish you had known the very first year you were in the business that cost you lost business or income?
- Was there ever a time you questioned whether you had made the right choice of being a real estate agent? What events caused you to stick with it and succeed?
- What are 3 things you have learned along the way that have positively affected you and helped improve your real estate business?
We received a lot of awesome advice from veterans in the Rain and new faces alike and it was quite heartwarming to read all the entries of everyone's bittersweet recollections of their first year in the industry. Their blunders, their struggle, their inspiration for sticking with real estate and the key ingredients that led them to the success they enjoy today. From all the entries that came in we chose 12 posts that we feel every new agent should read to ensure that they don't just become another casuality and statistic to scare off future agents from the wonderful industry that is real estate. Whether you're a newly licensed agent or someone looking to take that head long plunge into real estate, first learn from the mistakes and experiences of those that walked the path ahead of you.
Nina Hollander: Becoming a Realtor® is not About Having a Job
You may have been lured into real estate by the prospect of controlling your own time, the "big" commission check, or how "easy" the life of a real estate agent seems. If you're coming from corporate world then you're in for a rude awakening, mostly because very early in your real estate career you need to shift your mindset from being an employee into that of a business owner. Nina Hollander stressed the importance of knowing the difference between a a job in the corporate world and a career in real estate which she also described as a profession and a calling. If you really want to know what you're in for make sure to read Nina's entry just to have an idea of what it means to be a Realtor® and what is required of you as professional
Patricia Feager: Communication, Negotiation, Empathy and Self-Respect
Communication and negotiation skills are things that newbie agents who have no experience in sales have a difficult time developing, and even those that come from a sales background inadvertently brings with them their hard-closing tactics that can rub clients the wrong way. Patricia Feager's post stood out as she mentions the importance of the art of negotiation and communication in real estate, particularly knowing how to empathize with your clients' plight while having enough self-respect to understand your time is valuable and your services aren't for free.
Pat Starnes: On Being a Follow-up Pest and Long-Term Survival
Knowing how to follow-up a lead is vital for one's success in real estate, but real estate school doesn't actually teach you how it's done. Pat Starnes shares her experience on knowing the difference between routine follow-up and pestering your leads and clients. Building client loyalty is important but knowing when to and how to follow-up leads or past clients is going to make or break you in this business.
Pat also shares the importance of adaptability and the constant need to develop your skills. Both go hand in hand in making that you are able to survive regardless of whatever direction the market shifts throughout your career as an agent
Lottie Kendall: How to Handle the Follow-up Mental Roadblock
Speaking of follow-up, there are two sides to it, if one can follow-up to the point of being obnoxious, an agent can also be really shy and not follow-up enough. This is the story of Lottie Kendall who in her first year lost business because she couldn't overcome the mentality that following up on a lead is tantamount to pestering. If you have this same problem Lottie offers these words of advice"When you come from a position of offering assistance, helping, it takes away the self-centered fear." We found this to be an incredibly powerful statement as it helps you understand your real purpose as an agent, to help your clients get to that closing table and achieve their dream of home ownership.
Jeff Dowler: The Importance Following-up Every Lead and Listening to Your Clients
You might be getting sick of the word follow-up by now, but as Jeff Dowler puts it "I don’t think I realized how important it was to follow-up on every lead…every one. You just never know where a lead might, well, lead, but you also develop a habit of good follow-up in doing so."
Developing a habit of good follow-up is crucial in all aspects of your business, not just in converting leads into clients. Good follow-up plays a key role in the actual real estate transaction; communicating and following-up on requirements with your clients are important to ensure a successful and anxiety-free experience. Happy clients mean an increased potential for referrals or repeat business, but again only if you follow-up.
Tammy Lankford: Finding the Right Brokerage/Broker and Establishing Emotional Balance
One of the first things that you're going to do as a fresh real estate agent is to find a brokerage to hang your license under. Finding the right brokerage that matches your personality and goals is important to your growth as an agent. Tammy testifies to this fact as she shared her story of how her broker took her under his wing and how vital he was vital to her development as a budding real estate agent. Even as she started taking clients of her own her broker was there to guide her on the right direction when she strayed from the best path. Tammy also stressed the importance of balance in the emotional roller coaster that is real estate. In her words "learn to be a compassionate person without letting the emotions of this business get to you. "
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin: The Impact of Negative Environment and the Importance of Preparation
Not everyone is lucky enough to find their ideal brokerage the first time around and this causes a lot of agents to quit altogether, Wanda's experience is a testament to that. Knowing that she was soft-hearted and an easy target her project developer consistently berated her to get her to leave. Fortunately, Wanda had it in her to bounce back and experience only strengthened her resolve to stay in real estate. There will be a lot of negativity in this business and it's up to you whether it will break you or challenge you to push forward. Wanda also mentioned the importance of preparation "Prepare and then expect to be tested.". You can never anticipate everything that can derail a transaction, but with enough preparation you can limit the amount of surprises coming your way!
Tammy Emineth: The First-Year Draught and the Cost of Staying in the Business
While on the subject of preparation... we want to ask you this question, how much money do you have in the bank? We don't want to burst your bubble or anything but unless you're a savant and have the absolute perfect conditions to work in, you're probably not going to close 20 deals in your first year like you're expecting. In fact you have to go out there and hustle with all your strength to get business and frankly most likely struggle in your first year. Tammy Emineth had her own rude awakening on her first year, business did not come to her as she expected and like all agents she had to spend money on marketing to generate business. The cost of marketing tools adds up and when you combine this with your own monthly living expenses suddenly that money you have saved up looks pretty meager. Tammy didn't even have her first sale until the 5th month of marketing herself.
Not generating any income for 5 months while continuing to put money into your business is a scary prospect, but you have to be prepared for it in case it does happen to you. We think Tammy sums it up pretty well with her advice to her nephew "he hard to really think about whether he was getting in it for the job or for the love of the job"
Liz and Bill Spear: Having Dual Careers and the Importance of Finding a Niche
Now that you're probably shaking at the prospect of going broke in your first year of real estate, let us calm you down a bit, you can in fact have dual careers. Most agents will tell you that part-time agents won't make it big in real estate, but we're not suggesting you part-time, we suggest having two full-time careers (at least until you're stable enough in real estate to let go of your full-time job). Can you really do that? Yes, people have done it and in the case of Bill Spear, continues to do it! Bill shared how having a dual career allowed him to stay afloat despite all the expenses of real estate. Bill shared how he was able to avoid this pitfall by having dual careers "if you're tight on money you'll take on "clients" that you should have never touched if you weren't desperate." Desperation can often lead to sticking to toxic clients or to moral and ethical dilemmas and having a monthly injection of income will keep you safe from this.
Another piece of advice that Bill provided is one that ActiveRain advocates too, niche marketing. Finding your specialty separates you from all the agents in your area. Finding that underserved market allows you to dominate and become the go-to agent in your area. If you want to know just how effective it is try searching for Patio Homes in Ohio.
Diana Zacarro: Mistaking Being Busy With Being Productive
It bears repeating that a career in real estate requires long hours and a lot of hard work. It may seem like it is a breeze from the outside looking in, but that's only because successful agents have refined their processes to the T making it look easy. Those successful agents crawled and stumbled before they could walk and that's the lesson shared to us by Diana Zaccaro. Your first couple of years in real estate will be focused on learning what works for you and what will bring in business. Agents can easily fall into the trap of thinking they're being productive when in reality all they're doing is keeping themselves busy. You need to learn to look at market conditions and think proactively instead of reactively. If you start behind the 8 ball, you're never going to get ahead. Diana also cautions new agents about developing the Shiny Object Syndrome. As a new agent you'll be barraged with the latest and greatest shiny objects in the market. Be discerning of these and remember to stick to your budget!
Diana's post really drew our attention because of this particular excerpt on how real estate is a lifestyle not a job "If you are a hard worker and caring person, the mortgage business will get in your blood and it will become a lifestyle, not a job. There is no better feeling than helping people when they need a caring, honest advocate”. That was true in the mortgage business and it is equally true in real estate."
Fred Griffin: 9 Tips to Help You on Your Way to Success
So as a new agent let's say you get over the hump, you have the right attitude, you find the right broker and you have enough money saved up to support your venture into real estate. You get your first couple of deals under your belt and that's good, you've made it right? Survival is one thing, success is a whole other thing entirely. After all you didn't quit your last career just to make a mediocre subsistence living in real estate right? So what does it take to move from survival to success, Fred Griffin laid out 9 amazing tips that are sure to help you get started on your road to success.
Fred stressed the importance of knowing what a real estate agent is at its core, a salesperson! Learning the basic concepts of selling is crucial to your success! Furthermore, knowing how to sell yourself by getting a megaphone and screaming to world that you're a real estate agent (ok may be there are more subtle ways of doing this), strengthening your foundation by knowing contracts and forms inside and out, building a great support network, building your brand and establishing an online presence. Fred touches on these and many more so make sure to read his full entry for the in-depth guide!
Kat Palmiotti: The Newbie Agent Checklist
If you reached this point of the post and you're absolutely sure that real estate is for you then it's time for a checklist of all the important things you need to do and consider as well as questions you need to ask yourself for your journey to success. Kat Palmiotti created a comprehensive list of things that you need to consider as a newly licensed agent or as someone considering a career in real estate. From questions you need to ask when you interview your brokerage (yes , you're the one interviewing the brokerage not the other way around), to planning out your marketing, planning your finances accordingly and owning your business, Kat covers them all and will definitely help you cover all your bases!
This post is by no means exhaustive and there are a ton of other posts that were not included here that gave excellent advice and you would do well to read them too! (we'd probably have 50 Rainers here if we wanted to include everyone that gave us an aha! moment) Make sure you visit the Contest Post to find more helpful tips.
Remember that even veterans of the industry continue to learn something new everyday. Hopefully the experiences and tips shared by your colleagues help you get years ahead into that learning curve. The fact that you're on ActiveRain and reading this means you've already taken a step in the right direction! Keep learning, keep improving your craft and hopefully one day you can help a newbie on their own journey into real estate!