Hooray! You’ve passed the exam, and you have a shiny, new real estate license. You a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to make that first sale.
Getting into real estate can be overwhelming for new agents, especially those coming from a W-2 job. Here are our favorite 25 tips for new agents to ensure they hit the ground running.
Most brokerages also have a cap on how much commission (Typically between $15,000-30,000) they’ll take from you each year. This will usually reset to zero on the first of each year. Don’t be afraid to ask about this and enter it into your spreadsheet.
1. Choose your market niche.
If you try to hit too many targets, you’ll miss them all. You can’t be all things to all people, so decide what niche of the real estate market you want to serve. Deep knowledge and expertise in a single area (geographic, property type, client type, etc.) is a greater benefit to your customer than knowing a little bit about a lot of things.
Knowing who your ideal customer is will make a lot of marketing decisions for you. If you are focusing on retiring seniors who are downsizing, you may be able to safely skip a social media campaign. But if you’re marketing to millenial first-time homebuyers, neglecting your online presence would be suicide.
Choosing a niche doesn’t mean you will never serve a client that is outside your target market. Instead, it will allow you to focus your efforts so you can be an expert (and therefore more valuable) to a particular type of client.
2. Use multiple channels to get leads.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Advances in technology are changing the way people communicate, buy, sell, and evaluate products and services. What worked 10 years ago won’t work today, and what works today will probably be obsolete 10 years from now. Having multiple methods for generating leads keeps you nimble, able to adapt to changes you see in the market and in consumer trends.
In a study by Experian Marketing Services, 97 percent of marketing professionals saw an increase in their business by using multiple marketing methods. Keep careful records, and track which avenues are the most fruitful. The easiest way to do this is to ask your clients how they heard about you. Hone in on those channels and devote more of your marketing dollars to them.
3. Get to know your market.
Become the expert on the neighborhoods you serve. Where are the good schools? How heavy is the traffic? What are the property tax rates? Where are the best restaurants? How far is the airport?
Sure, you could pull out your phone and look these up, but the ability to rattle these things off will give you additional confidence in your local knowledge, which will build your trust and reputation with clients as an expert on the area.
4. Form strategic partnerships.
Business-to-business partnerships can be very powerful. Forming relationships with other companies who are attuned to people moving in and out of the city is a great long-term strategy.
Look for anyone who touches a house when it is being renovated, flipped, staged, bought, or sold. This includes movers, home improvement stores, storage facilities, builders, electricians, painters, and roofers. Partnering with title companies, lawyers, insurance brokers, and other people who are part of the buying and selling process is another great tactic. Use social media to promote their businesses and they’ll sometimes return the favor!
These partnerships will not yield results immediately, but they will gradually spread your brand and reputation to potential clients in an organic way.
5. Take good great listing photos.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and potentially thousands of dollars. Listings with a plentiful number of professional quality photos sell faster and for a higher price. Research has shown that including only one photo in your listing can cost you 50 more days on the market than if you include 20 photos or more.
While quantity is important so your client can see the whole house, don’t fall into the trap of fudging on the quality. Hiring a professional photographer can be expensive, but professional real estate photos usually mean a higher sales price for most price points.
Part of being a great real estate agent is playing to your strengths. Real estate knowledge and an SLR camera do not make you a photographer. So bite the bullet and delegate the photography to a professional. He will help you take full advantage of new technologies like drone footage, video walk-throughs, and 360-degree views.
Here is a flyer with an example of a flyer with great photos.
6. Think about having another income source when you start out.
You may go a long time without a paycheck when your salary is exclusively commissions and you have yet to make your first sale. This alternate income can be in the form of savings, another job, or a spouse’s job, but build in some padding to give you the time to get your business going.
If you go all in from the beginning with no backup, you risk making rash business decisions (or miserly ones) in the name of making ends meet. Clients can smell commission breath a mile away, and it stinks. Avoid that desperation by having a plan in place to meet your needs while you build your business.
Check out this list of side hustles for real estate agents.
7. Real estate is a business, not a job.
Being a real estate agent comes with some great perks: the freedom to set your own hours, the flexibility to work from home, and not being tethered to a desk all day.
But it’s a double-edged sword. The only person driving sales, completing paperwork, maintaining structure to your schedule, keeping clients happy, and holding you accountable is YOU. If you want to be your own boss, you have to act like your own boss. Even if you work with a brokerage, you are responsible for every element of your business.
8. Join a supportive brokerage with good training.
You don’t know what you don’t know. And unless someone who knows can show you how it’s done, you will never know. Look beyond the commission split, and make sure to partner with people who are willing and able to take the time to train you.
Not all brokerages are created equal. Interview with as many as you can, and seek out the ones that offer comprehensive training or mentorship programs to get new agents started.
9. Find a brokerage that is a good fit for your personality and business style.
A company that focuses on first time homebuyers will look very different from one marketing million-dollar mansions or agricultural land. Make sure the brokerage you choose targets your preferred nice so you can relate to your clientele.
While you can change offices if you decide one doesn’t work for you, doing so will cost you money and clients. Avoid this if you can by doing your homework on the brokerage before you sign on.
10. Create a business plan.
Everybody’s favorite task, right? While creating a business plan may seem overwhelming at first, a business plan is just a fancy way of organizing and presenting the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your business.
According to the National Association of Realtors website, a business plan includes the following key components:
- A mission statement
- Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
- Specific long-term and short-term goals
- Strategic plan
- Time frame
- Target audience
- Systems and Processes
Having a real estate business plan sets you up for success. It will be the guiding star for all the day-to-day decisions you make in your business. It is the yardstick by which to measure your own success. It allows you to take lofty goals like “make $1 million in gross sales” into daily action items like “follow up on five leads today” or “arrange an open house for this weekend.”
In order for the business plan to be meaningful, review it regularly and measure your progress against your goals.
11. Build your network (Even before you pass the test).
Starting out, we recommend reaching out to a minimum of 100 people and letting them know you are (or becoming) a real estate agent, ask them if they’re looking to buy or sell soon, and for their e-mail address. Once you have this information you’ll want to add it into your CRM and follow up. For example, if a lead says they’re not ready to buy or sell for 6 months down the road you’ll want to follow up monthly to say hi or send a home they may like. If you don’t have a CRM Pipeline is a simple, easy to use CRM for new real estate agents and only costs $9 a month.
As the saying goes, your network is your net worth. Create meaningful connections with potential clients and those in your sphere of influence, and care for those connections. Tend the relationships like a garden. These aren’t just set-it-and-forget-it arrangements.
Be genuine. Nurture these contacts not just to make a sale, but to add value to your customer’s lives and to the community. People can smell a phony or fair-weather friend. Customers buy from people they know, like, and trust. Fostering real, win-win relationships is a great way to win trust.
12. Use a CRM system.
As your clientele grows, keeping track of prospects will become more difficult and will require some organization on your part. No one wants to miss out on a great lead because the sticky note with the contact info fell down or a business card was misplaced.
Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help you keep track of contact info and conversations with clients. (Goodbye, sticky notes.) There are several free options for real estate agents out there, although paid software comes with more bells and whistles.
Having a CRM from the get-go will create a good habit of keeping all your leads organized and make follow-up a breeze.
13. Keep updated info on Zillow, Trulia, and other MLS sites.
More home buyers are using these MLS sites than ever before. Half of home buyers in 2018 found their home on the internet, whereas only 28 percent found it through a real estate agent.
Make sure your listings and your contact information are all over these sites. After all, that’s where the customers are. Zillow even has an agent training section on their website with resources on how to build an online profile, generate leads, and more.
14. Consider hiring a real estate coach.
This can be an expensive option for newbies (an average of $300 to $1000 monthly for one-on-one coaching), but the ROI should more than compensate you for the initial investment. Over a third of agents who worked with a coach saw their business increase 10 to 25 percent over the previous year, and half of agents saw even greater increases.
Agents cited their top reasons for working with a coach as added accountability, perspective, and training to use certain business strategies.
If you decide to buy coaching, do your homework when interviewing a real estate coach. Ask about his/her experience, philosophy, and strategies. Check his/her references. Find a coach that fits your niche, personality, and business model.
15. Get overflow business from a more established agent in a busy office.
Many of these agents have more business than they can handle. They are willing to pass on lukewarm leads or small properties because they have limited time and they can afford to.
As a rookie, these can be your winning ticket. Many agents have built their business taking on clients that the big guys would not.
Develop good relationships with other real estate agents. That way when they have a client they can’t help, they will trust you enough to pass them on to you.
16. Use social media.
Social media is a great way to expand your sphere, prospect for new leads, and interact with potential clients. By posting or tweeting about things that are not just related to real estate, you can position yourself as an expert in your niche or geographic area.
Post up-to-date information about news or events in your neighborhood, tips for buyers or sellers, life hacks for homeowners, or any other tidbits that would be useful to your target audience.
Research and utilize best practices for each social media platform. Use images in your posts whenever possible. Facebook posts with images attract 104 percent more comments than ones without.
17. Create your own website.
In 2018, 95 percent of homebuyers used the internet to search for homes. Chances are, if a homebuyer is looking for a home online, they will be looking for a real estate agent online as well.
While it’s great to have five-star ratings on review sections of sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Yelp, having your own site is essential for any small business — doubly so for real estate.
Having your own dedicated URL not only legitimizes your business, but is a great way to showcase your listings, display testimonials of happy clients, as well as generate leads. Look into using sales funnels or offer a free eBook, CMA, or list of home-selling tips in exchange for your customers’ contact information.
Your website doesn’t need to be fancy; you can use a free service like Wix or Weebly to throw one together in a few hours. If you are in a luxury, high-income niche, you can hire a web designer to create a beautiful site for you.
18. Expect feast and famine cycles in the market.
While 2008 was an outlier that none of us want to see again, markets will rise and fall. These ebbs and flows are normal, natural, and should be expected.
Create some padding in both your personal and business bank accounts to allow for lean times.
Also, consult a mentor or coach for suggestions on how he/she weathered the storms of low inventory, the loss of a major employer in the community, an economic downturn, or a natural disaster.
19. Role play.
What do cooking, playing the bassoon, tennis, and real estate have in common?
It takes practice to master them.
It’s easy to equate skill in music, sports, or culinary arts to the amount of time a person practices, but somehow we miss that connection in business. In real estate, practice is called roleplaying.
Grab a partner (maybe a friend, spouse, or another agent) and create a few client scenarios to go over. Formulate a script that works and feels natural to you. Ask for constructive criticism from your partner on what you can do better. Then do it again.
Roleplaying might feel a little awkward, but if you don’t practice on your friends, you will practice on your clients. And that’s expensive. Get your mistakes out during practice time, when the stakes are low.
20. Find a mentor.
If you want to be successful in real estate, gather knowledge from those that have already had success in the business. Find another agent you admire (preferably in your geographic area and niche) and ask if you can buy her lunch and pick her brain.
Learning from mistakes is as important as understanding the secrets to success. You can skip several decades’ worth of mistakes just by listening to the stories of others.
Mentors help you gain perspective. They have the gift of hindsight, which you cannot have when you first start out. They can help spot the invisible pitfalls in front of you and help you plot a course from where you are to where you want to be.
21. Organize your business as a business.
That means the peas and the potatoes don’t touch. As soon as you can, separate your bank accounts, credit cards, and account statements for your real estate business and your personal finances. If you are using a personal car to get to appointments, keep track of your mileage (it’s tax deductible!). The sooner you do this, the easier your life will be come tax time.
Even if you are strapped for cash in the beginning, consider hiring an accountant or a bookkeeper to help you out. Meeting with an accountant can help you avoid costly tax mistakes in the future that may well justify the money you spend. An extra bonus to outsourcing this portion of your business is that it frees up more time for what you should be doing — selling real estate.
22. Don’t skimp on marketing.
Marketing yourself and your properties costs money. A lot of money. This might make you cringe if you are used to W-2 employment, but the saying “you have to spend money to make money” is a truism for a good reason.
As a real estate agent, you should expect these costs. You need business cards, yard signs, MLS and other membership fees, etc. Your customers won’t be able to find you without them.
But don’t forget that not all marketing strategies have dollar signs attached. It costs you nothing to give a past client a call, let your friends and family know you’ve started a new real estate business, start a Facebook group, or tweet about a community event.
Utilize these free resources and make calculated decisions on where to spend your advertising dollars.
23. Top-notch communication with your clients.
Great communication is one of the best skills you can acquire as a real estate agent.
The role of the real estate broker is changing. The agent is no longer the gatekeeper of information. With a few searches, clients can find most of what they need to know about a property on MLS sites. They can even take 360-degree tours and pull comps.
Your value as a real estate agent is not just the information you provide. Clients are looking for someone they can trust to hold their hand through the buying or selling process. With good communication skills like listening, parroting, and asking questions, you can build this trust and hone in on each client’s priorities, values, and communication style. This knowledge will help you to better meet your customers’ needs.
24. Continue to educate yourself.
Thanks to the internet, there are an infinite number of books, seminars, podcasts, meetups, social networking events, business groups and other education opportunities for real estate agents.
Take advantage of these resources to stay on top of your game. It is imperative to educate yourself on the everchanging laws, regulations, taxes, trends, and technology surrounding the real estate industry.
25. Be consistently persistent.
Real estate is not a get-rich-quick scheme. This business is built, and building things takes time, creativity, and elbow grease.
Whatever lead generation strategy you try will take a while to test out. You can’t drive for dollars for one afternoon or run one Facebook ad, then decide that method doesn’t work. Let your methods marinade for a few months (tweaking your tactics as you go) before you decide to go in a different direction. Commit to the hustle and give your strategies time to work their magic.
Being persistent doesn’t mean being stubborn, though. Be willing to reevaluate your approach and pivot if something is clearly not working.
Your success, however, will not come from dabbling in a dozen different marketing strategies. Try out a bunch and choose a few that work best. Then tweak and refine your tactics to work for you like a well-oiled machine.