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8 Things Real Estate Agents Wish They Knew When Starting Out

Bill Gassett's picture
Things to know as a new real estate agent

What to Know as a New Realtor

So you want to get established in the real estate business. Maybe you want a remote-ready job with growth prospects. Or perhaps you’re escaping a ho-hum 9 to 5 routine.

What’s certain is that a realty career has a lot of promise for self-motivated professionals with the right skill mix.

What’s also certain, however, is that the housing market is currently white-hot. As inventory remains historically low, surging housing prices have made it harder and harder for buyers to find and afford homes.

Interest rates are starting to rise, and getting a home loan with a low credit score becomes more challenging.

With a median time on the market of 54 days in December 2021—down a hefty 30% from December 2019—the housing market isn’t just a challenge for buyers. For upstart Realtors, low inventory can mean more competition for clients, limited options for buyers, and longer hours.

It can be a real struggle for the average real estate agent.

To help you make the most of your start, here are eight insights that successful Realtors wish they knew back when they were in your shoes.

Find a Good Mentor Fast

Finding “a great mentor” is the single “most important first step in becoming a successful real estate agent,” according to Megan Micco, who brings ten years of experience in the ultra-competitive Bay Area market.

It’s a complex business that can easily overwhelm first-year agents, but there’s no need to go it alone. For Jimmy Hughes, broker-owner of JMR Realty Oklahoma, real estate is part of “negotiation, sales, communication, and a whole lot of hustle," so “having a mentor that has walked the road before you is invaluable.”

Embrace All The Training You Can Get

Choosing a brokerage is one of the first decisions you’ll make, and it’s a big one that shapes the rest of your career.

Crucially, you’ll want to find a brokerage that commits to training. That may sound pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised.

Of the many things to learn as a new agent, “nothing is more important than understanding the Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA),” according to Micco, so it’s critical to ensure that your broker offers regular contract coaching.

For brokers, exceptional ongoing training is a great way to retain real estate agents.

Prospect For Leads in Your Zone of Influence

“Lead generation is the business,” for Jacob Naig, owner of We Buy Houses in Des Moines. And you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get rolling. Where better to start than your own personal network?

“Right now, write down everyone you know …” recommends Corey Tyner, a real estate investor and founder of Buy Yo Dirt, “... including your doctor and the parents of your children’s friends. That is your zone of influence, and it is crucial.”

Your friends, family members, and acquaintances may not be in the market today, but who knows what tomorrow holds? As you build your zone of influence, keep an organized database of all your contacts, with emails and phone numbers, and you’ll be ready to reach out directly when the time is right.

Success Grows Outside Your Comfort Zone

You’ll need to get comfortable operating outside your zone of influence, as well. For Megan Micco, that means engaging “people in the supermarket when shopping … it can be intimidating, but if you are genuinely curious about the needs of other people and make yourself of service, most people respond generously.”

The key is to communicate and network with more people everywhere you go. Long-time New Jersey real-estate investor Nicky Taveras of DNT Home Buyers looks at it this way: “you need to be very loud about your profession. Tell everyone … any chance you get. Start … by asking them [about themselves] so you can share a little about you following their response. You might not get a client, but you might get referrals and connections.”

If you’re like me, you probably don’t spend much time on the phone these days. But direct-dialing leads remains one of the best ways to ensure that you get your message across.

Finding the correct contact information for a lead isn’t always the most straightforward task, but a lead generation and contact tool for real estate agents can help speed up the process. One easy way to keep calls on track is to write yourself a quick script ahead of time.

Embracing technology is always a critical task for a top-producing real estate agent.

Social Media is a Local Marketing Machine

Before you start burning your marketing spend for the year, consider brand-building with social media. “Do not shy away from using social media to build your sphere of influence,” Megan Micca advised.

“While many new agents are scared to film themselves for Instagram, TikTok, or other video-based social channels, the benefit of building a brand through these platforms is invaluable.”

Her tip for dealing with camera shyness? “Just start small, don’t worry about how you appear, and be authentic.”

Tanya DiNicolantonio, a Realtor, operating in the booming Ontario market, emphasized how social media creates a safe space for clients to engage with your brand on their own terms.

Her insights continued, “the reality is that they are making some of the biggest financial decisions they’ll ever make, and they need to know me on a level that allows them to trust me.”

Expertise and Service Sell Themselves

“Pick a niche, and learn its depth and breadth,” Tanya recommends, elaborating that “in this industry, what we don’t know can absolutely hurt us — and our clients!”

Finding good houses is an art that is “almost as important as finding good clients,” according to Leonard Ang, CEO of iPropertyManagement. It’s well worth the extra effort “to look off the beaten path for potential homes, including checking public records for distressed properties and contacting private sellers to see if they want your services.”

Cynthia Cummins, realtor and founder of Kindred SF Homes, notes how helpful it is to remember that you’re in client services, not sales. “Don’t get your S words mixed up. Whenever you get a lead, think ‘Service,’ not ‘Sale.’ Start by serving, and you step cleanly into the fiduciary role of caring about your clients … They’ll see you as a competent practitioner and not as a salesperson.”

Do Your Best to Find “You” Time

Yes, you should expect nontraditional hours sometimes. Deals do not abide by a 40-hour workweek, and you should expect long hours when offers are due, or there’s an emergency in escrow.

But it’s all too easy to fall into “working 12 hours a day, seven days a week,” so it’s critical to “train your clients regarding your working hours,” Megan Micca recommends.

Ryan Poppe, Broker/Owner of the Colorado Property Group, wishes he “would’ve known the value and importance of taking a break, prioritizing tasks and allotting time to each task instead of driving full-throttle at everything all day long.”

In the long run, burn-out is simply bad for business.

Sometimes, it’s a Good Idea to Say “No Thanks.”

It may feel risky now, but Melony Trementozzi of Simply Texas Real Estate Group advises “setting yourself up as a professional who doesn’t say yes to every little thing.” In fact, occasionally saying no “actually allows you to be better and more productive.”

And there will undoubtedly be times when it makes business sense to say no. For Corey Tyner, it’s essential to trust your instincts: “Don’t take a listing that you know is overpriced since it will never work out.”

You can aim to please, but you can’t please everyone all the time.

As with any business, success in realty depends on making your service stand out in marketing and your relaxed approach to clients. What these experts wish they knew can help you do just that.

What insights would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author: The above article on things real estate agents knew when starting out was written by Nate Johnson.

Nate is a Real Estate Investment Expert at NeighborWho, a leading property search site whose mission is to help people find in-depth information about properties and property owners in order to find new investment opportunities. We make public real-estate records really helpful for agents, investors, homebuyers, and more. Whether you’re researching a community or a unique investment opportunity, NeighborWho is where real estate listings and your community collide.

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