Last Saturday I crossed a career threshold: 15 years since I received my Ohio real estate license. There's a lot that has happened between that day and now, and a lot of lessons learned. Things that for the most part were NOT taught in real estate school.
Now I came into the business without any delusions of fast, easy money. I'd been watching Liz (and occasionally helping do some of the grunt work) for a couple of years, and the reality of going through downsizing after rightsizing after restructuring made it clear I'd better have a clear back-up plan for income. 15 years later, I'm still dual career.
Now when I started, the real estate landscape was significantly different. The Internet was dial up. There was no ActiveRain. No Z. A lot of "the disruptors" of real estate weren't even the faintest speck of an idea.
So how do you keep going year after year? The path is different for each of us, but there are some general tips to help you avoid burnout and keep paychecks in your pipeline, some that took me a LONG time to learn and implement. In no particular order:
1. Protect your time. This is a business that CAN and WILL suck up every minute that you'll give it. Reserve the time for your faith and family. Find some time to recharge. For me, puttering around in the flower garden and taking pictures offsets the work demands of engineering, real estate and taking care of our furry four legged zoo.
2. You don't have to work with EVERY buyer and seller that calls, even when you need the money. Sometimes it's a business decision. Showing $30k homes takes as much (or more) time as working with a $300,000 buyer. And some people are just jerks and if you value keeping your blood pressure low, it might be best to hand those folks off.
3. Learn your strengths, do what makes sense for you and hire out your weaknesses. I'm an engineer, so I'm analytical. I understand my market trends. Writing market reports is a piece of cake. Ask me to design a logo? Nope, that's what fivver.com is for.
4. Get yourself out there. People have to be able to find you, or you have to be finding them. For me, it's pull vs. push. Blog and create web pages. People I want to work with find me.
5. Set yourself apart from your competition. There are literally 6400 active agents in my primary MLS. How many do you think have my patio home knowledge? I put that expertise out there and item 4 kicks in.
6. Overpromise and underdeliver! Just kidding! I'm realistic with my clients on what to expect. Pricing. Time on market. What I can and can't do. Clear expectations lead to a MUCH better working relationship.
7. Recognize the red flags. There is risk in this business. Listen to your spidey sense and protect yourself.
8. You don't have to scream, shout, curse and otherwise raise hell to be a good agent or "negotiate". This does NOT have to be an antagonistic business. Your client and my client both want the SAME thing: to exchange a home for an agreed upon amount of money on an agreed upon day. Let's see if we can find a middle ground where they're both happy or both unhappy, but at least they're agreeing.
9. Check the ego. I'd rather have the FSBO seller mad at me and loving my buyers than vice versa. I'll be out in my car in the parking lot during the closing :)
10. Pay attention to the industry, but don't get wrapped around the axle. We could perpetually be running around with our hair on fire over the latest thing Z is doing, or iBuyers, or the latest brokerage model, or.....whatevs. We need to see what we need to see to know how to adapt, and we need to work on the principle that we are NOT guaranteed employment. Add value or disappear.
11. Understand your goals. Mine? I have zero desire to be the #1 volume producer in my market, EVER. Nor do I want to be a megateam leader, nor do I want to be an agent recruiter. I'm happiest with one on one contact with my clients.
12. Refer out business. Too far to be convenient? Not your price point? Not your type of housing? Find an agent that fits and be happy with the referral fee. Let the other agent do the work :)
13. Never count on a check until it's in the bank and cleared. The unexpected happens. Along the same lines, keep a cash reserve.
14. Be supercritical of business "partners" that want to reach into your pocket. Unless you've got the follow up systems in place, having a 100 leads from the Internet is the same as having zero. And if I had a dollar for every time I heard "just one closing and it pays for itself!", I'd already be retired.
15. Keep learning. I pick up plenty of tips from other Rainers, or from Facebook real estate agent friends. And to borrow a cliche, the best tools are the ones you'll actually USE.
16. Bonus tip: protect your reputation. No shoving that genie back in the bottle if you do something really stupid. Sometimes the best opinion is the one you keep locked up in your head.
Look, I could keep going, but it's time to wrap this up, because the other thing I know? I've got to be VERY efficient with my time :)
Until next Tuesday, Ask An Ambassador if you need help!
Bill of Bill & Liz aka BLiz