By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent
How do you feel about roller coasters? Do you get nauseous or do you feel the thrill, throw your hands in the air and yell with excitement? If you want to succeed in the real estate industry you must learn to love unexpected turns of events and a wild ride. The real estate market is in an up and down cycle just like the stock market. Currently, many agents fear a soft or slowed market but the market has simply adjusted, as it has in the past. Change is a part of life and in the business of real estate you can count on it.
Two Words: Marketing Plan
Over the last few years many agents rode in on the sellers market and started a business with leads from family and friends. Unfortunately, relying on these types of leads is not a sustainable way of marketing yourself as a REALTOR®. In the excitement of a hot market many agents failed to think ahead and are now struggling to compete. Nationally there is a marketing frenzy that, without a plan of action, will shake you right out of the market. According to real estate expert Terry Watson, one of the "Top 7 Rookie Mistakes" in the real estate industry is having no marketing plan. "When you go into real estate sales, you are going into business for yourself," states Watson. "But many salespeople have no clear goals or timeline for achieving their goals," he continues, "Consistently, real estate professionals who have a written business plan are more successful than people who don't".
Be an Entrepreneur
Basically a REALTOR is an independent contractor. Don't get confused and think, as an agent, you work for a broker. If you are not earning a commission split of ninety-five to one hundred percent why take your money and pay fifteen to fifty percent of every commission dollar? This alone will put your real estate career in the toilet. At the end of the day you:
Lack the money to market yourself.
Are unable to claim the maximum number of tax write offs.
Cannot afford an office assistant so you can meet with clients and prospect.
Terry Watson calls "Not Maximizing Your Productivity" another one of the "Top 7 Rookie Mistakes". "According to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Member Profile," Watson says, "real estate practitioners who used at least one personal assistant had a significantly higher sales volume than those who didn't. You may erroneously think that you can't afford a personal assistant. But think again." Also every agent should partner with a franchise. Although you have to generate your own leads, you put more money in your pocket and take charge of your own destiny.
Technology Isn't Just for Geeks
Another key to a successful real estate career is to utilize the technology available. As a real estate agent, technology makes you more efficient and organized. Again Terry Watson writes "If you look at top-producing real estate professionals who are selling 600-plus units a year, you will notice that they have two things in common: assistants and systems." He continues, "These practitioners are multiplying their efforts and increasing their output through people and technology." Also, approximately eighty percent of all buyers begin their real estate search online. The Internet is a tool no REALTOR® can afford to ignore. As an agent, I not only have web sites to attract online buyers and sellers nationwide, I have assembled a team of Internet marketing specialists. A focus on my niche market, those planning to retire or relocate to the Williamsburg region, makes Internet marketing essential. Don't spread yourself thin, find a marketing strategy that works and invest in it!
Last But Not Least: Customer Service
Although exceptional customer service should be the top priority of every real estate agent, it isn't. Customer service counts, especially when assisting people with the sale or purchase of one of their most precious investments, a home. I find more new clients by answering my cell phone and returning messages within four or five hours. Homebuyers and sellers don't want that "real estate if you're lucky" feeling, they want a REALTOR® for life. Also, when you are with a client don't answer phone calls. Give them your undivided attention and be responsive to their needs. These practices ensure referrals in the future.
Your career as a REALTOR® can lead to success if you are willing to put your sweat, heart and ambition into this ever changing industry. Find a real estate company to work for that is agent friendly and in turn you will be customer friendly. Approach successful real estate agents and ask them to mentor you.
For more information, visit my website at www.voncannonrealestate.com