Dear New Agent,
Congratulations on passing your real estate exams! You’re about to embark on an exciting new adventure in one of the world’s hottest real estate markets.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was you – shiny real estate license in hand, ready to take on the world. Looking back on those days now, I realize just how ill-prepared I was for this business. I didn’t know that the average new agent doesn’t sell something for 6 months. I didn’t know that my friends and family wouldn’t be toppling over each other to use my services. I didn’t know that my time would be at the mercy of my clients and that my hours of work were about to get longer (not shorter) and my ability to travel would get harder (not easier). I didn’t know how hard this business would be.
So today, I share with you the advice I wish someone had shared with me when I first became a REALTOR:
1. The brokerage you choose matters. Brokerages offer vastly different levels of training and support in exchange for part of your commission. You can pay up to 50% of your commission to your broker, or you can pay a few hundred dollars per transaction or sale. My advice: don’t get caught up in the commission split game but do make sure that you’re actually getting something in return. If you want to make a living selling real estate, the number of sales you make is WAY more important than the amount you pay your broker. Choose a brokerage that offers in-depth training and support to get you on the path to success faster. 90% of zero won’t pay the bills. Want to make more money? Sell more houses.
2. Consider joining a team or getting a mentor. Working with experienced agents will help you get experience without putting unsuspecting Buyers and Sellers at undue risk. You’ll learn how to build relationships with clients and learn from all the crazy things your mentor has seen and done (‘the-what not-to-do’s’).
3. Your education has just begun. Let’s face it: those courses you just passed haven’t prepared you for the real world. With all the focus on paperwork and metes and bounds, the licensing courses neglected to teach you the fundamental success factors in this business: marketing, negotiation and strategy. It’s time to learn those skills yourself.
4. Get to know the market for real. Being able to access MLS data is very different than actually understanding the real estate market. Get out there and start looking at properties, attending agent open houses and tracking what those properties sell for. Pricing a house for sale is hard and you really need to know what houses look like on the inside and why the neighbour sold for how much he sold for, before you can really help your clients. The pictures on MLS only tell part of the story.
5. Stop acting like you know everything. Just because you’ve passed 3 courses does not mean you know it all, so stop acting like you do. We all know when we’re dealing with a newbie on the other side of a negotiation, and the ‘fake-it-til-you-make-it’ mentality will hurt both you and your client. Know what you know, and when you don’t, ask for help. Good agents can see through your BS.
6. Build a trusted network of professionals – stagers, cleaners, handymen, painters, lawyers and lenders. Your clients will look to you for guidance when the basement floods or the toilet is clogged. Yea, I know they didn’t teach you that in school – but truly partnering with your Buyers and Sellers means being a resource for them in ways you can’t even imagine.
7. Stop taking everybody’s advice and figure out the agent you want to be. Just because door knocking, cold calling or blanketing the city with 20,000 postcards every month works for some agents in your office, doesn’t mean it will work for you. What kind of an agent do you want to be? Who do you want to work with? Where would you look for agent?
8. Start building a strong brand today, with a proper marketing strategy and a set of marketing tools. Anybody can just put a house on MLS and hope that it sells – being a great agent means being a great marketer.
Real estate is a strange business: it’s one of the only careers where on your first day on the job, you get 100% of the responsibilities and liabilities that you’ll ever get. Who could possibly be ready for that?