Building a successful real estate career requires the drive to persist, learn from others and the ability to execute. It’s estimated that 87 percent of all real estate agents fail in their first 5 years, so how can you avoid joining them? We talked to some successful real estate agents for their tips, tools and insights.
Here are 21 real estate agent tips that you can use to build your own successful career:
1. Be Tenacious
Judy Williams, Real Estate Agent, Halstead Manhattan
This business requires a lot of patience, especially for a new agent working among agents with 30 years of experience and a book of clients. In order to start off on the right foot — that is, a positive mindset — new agents must be determined to identify and follow through on opportunities. When I started working as an independent agent, I reached out to agents who had a lot of for sale listings. I sent emails letting them know that if they ever needed coverage open house coverage, I would be more than happy to help and host an open house for them in exchange for access to any direct buyers who attend the open houses.
2. Give Your Business a Runway
Andrew Given, Real Estate Broker, The Given Group at Lofty Real Estate
Give yourself a realistic timeframe to get up and running. You are starting a business, and any business requires time in order to begin to make money. Between and 12 and 18 months is a realistic time before you start to see business on a regular basis. That means you need to make sure you have money to live on and money to invest in your marketing during that time frame. Proper timeline planning and budgeting will ensure you have a fighting chance to make the career work.
3. Have a Scalable CRM
Gavin Graham, Editor, FitSmallBusiness
Nurturing contacts and leads is the bread and butter of building your digital Rolodex. A great customer relationship management (CRM) like Freshsales allows you to start off with a free product that you can use for as long as you wish and scale up with features as necessary. It’s a great way to start off your career because the expense is low, but the payoff is big.
4. Maintain a Budget & Embrace the Untraditional
Jared Barnett, Real Estate Agent, Compass, The Barnett Bittencourt Team
Expect to work on the weekends when clients are usually available to view properties. As a real estate agent, you are only paid when you sell or rent a property. For this reason, paychecks do not come on a set schedule, so it’s important to create a budget to manage your cash flow, so you are financially stable during busy and slow periods.
5. Use Real Estate-specific Websites
Marc Prosser, Co-founder, FitSmallBusiness
New agents or those who want to scale and grow would do well to choose a website like Placester. First, it’s absolutely free to NAR [National Association of Realtors] members and, secondly, it has genuinely solid features for agents who want real estate-specific functionality like IDX [internet data exchange] integration, email tools and lead generation features.
6. Check Your Online Reputation
Jonas Sickler, Marketing Director, Reputation Management.com
Reputation is everything for real estate agents. Potential clients will most likely investigate realtors before reaching out, so it’s important to frequently Google yourself to see what’s been published by you and others online. Bad reviews or defamatory social media posts can destroy a real estate business overnight. Even your own private social media posts can alienate clients if you share politically charged views or use vulgar language in posts or comments.
7. Combine Process with Value
Delroy Gill, Real Estate Agent, Sotheby’s International Realty
Everyone can find homes online, find out the good school districts or how close it is to work. What are we as real estate agents bringing to the table that makes us stand out and why are we doing this? Please don’t say for the “money.” Find your value, what you offer and your purpose for doing it!
Know what “value” you offer as a Realtor as you grow is important, but having a real database you build on is also a piece of the foundation in a stable real estate career. When you combine process with value, you have a recipe for success.
8. Communicate Quickly and Reliably
Tommy Mutchler, Real Estate Agent, RE/MAX
While you might think I’m beating a dead horse, it’s the little things that matter. Responding to clients text and emails right away — ideally within minutes — although before the end of the day is better than nothing. It’s too easy to respond to someone later. Go above and beyond and respond now. If someone calls you — answer. I don’t care if it’s a telemarketer trying to sell you Facebook ads. Answer your phone. If you have to miss the call, call them back ASAP, not before you leave the office. Just do it. Putting follow up on the back burner will kill your business.
9. Be the Neighborhood Expert
Victoria Carter, Real Estate Agent, Victoria Carter Team
You will never truly succeed unless you offer real value-added to your clients. You need to understand the local school system, different neighborhoods, housing markets and trends, commuting options and the finances behind buying or selling a home.
10. Always Be Learning
McKissock offers real estate education for those who want to become agents, do appraisals or upgrade their license to brokers. You’ll notice that many of the successful agents on the list have a solid educational background, and one way to grow in the field is to upgrade your license when you have the experience behind you. Keeping more of your commissions and opening your own brokerage could be in your future, but it’s not an option without the education.
11. Pick the Right Brokerage to Start Your Career
Brenda Di Bari, Commercial Real Estate Broker, Halstead
Once you’re licensed, you will need to find a brokerage to sponsor you or better known as where you will “hang your license.” This is a very important step because I believe that we are very affected by the people we are surrounded by. Find a brokerage that has successful agents and a good vibe when you come into the office. I also encourage you to find a brokerage that has a comprehensive agent development program which may include continuing education courses, a mentor, referrals to new client leads and a marketing budget to help get you started. Be sure to choose an agency where you get along well with the managing broker. Together with your broker be sure to create a business plan.
12. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
Kate Broddick, Real Estate Agent, The Kate Broddick Team
Don’t be afraid to “risk it all.” I played it very safe the first few years while building my business, and I wish I’d known that if you want to stand out in the crowd, you’ve got to be a little risky and do something different than everyone else. Once I started taking more risks and letting the real “me” shine through, my business tripled in a year. I let go of all barriers, rebranded myself and started a team and presented the world with a marketing platform that was a bit edgier and centered myself around a less “mainstream way of marketing.” I discovered I never, ever wanted to be the person following the crowd again — I wanted to be the one leading the trend. I did.
13. Treat Every Client Like Gold
Talbot Sutter, President & Broker, Sutter & Nugent Real Estate
When it comes to building a successful real estate career, the most import advice I could give a new agent is to treat every deal the same. No matter if it’s a $100,000 sale or $10 million sale, treat every transaction and client like it’s the most important yet, and it will pay off tenfold.
14. Amp Up Your Motivation
Dan Spransy, Broker & Owner, Realty Executives Cooper Spransy
Motivation is key. Self-motivation can be low when transferring into real estate from a 9-to-5 job or stay at home role. At Realty Executives, we train our executives on how to master the business, but once they have the knowledge, it’s up to them to execute.
15. Build a Toolkit of Solid Marketing Materials
Starting your career in real estate will require that you have marketing materials that begin to get your name and brand to your farm area. The marketing materials of ProspectsPLUS! allow agents to customize and even provide services for distribution if you want them to mail it on your behalf. Be sure to choose a company that has a real estate specialization to produce your flyers, postcards, door hangers, newsletters and other marketing materials.
16. Have a Mentor
Billy Rodriguez, Managing Director, Central Florida Retail Investment Team, Cite Partners
Have a mentor. I can’t say how important this is. Everyone is faced with difficult decisions. It’s great to have trusted advisors who will always give the best advice and who will always benefit you and your family. I have three mentors and talk to them often. I always learn something new and gain so much more at the end of our meetings.
17. Be Consistent and Hold Yourself Accountable
Reilly McGregor, Broker Associate, Harborview Realty
Real estate is not something you will become an expert overnight. What you can become an expert in immediately is your approach to each day. Be consistent. Write a list of items that you are going to accomplish at the beginning of each day and at the end each day, hold yourself accountable. Commit to learning something new on a daily basis. This can range from new information about a community or understanding contracts better. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We were all new agents at one point, and there are many people willing to help.
18. Build a Strong Network of Prospects and Clients
Augusto Bittencourt, Real Estate Agent, Compass, The Barnett Bittencourt Team
The most successful real estate agents have a strong network that provides a steady source of business and referrals. A mistake many real estate agents make is forgetting to maintain the relationships of their core network while focusing on creating new contacts. While it is important to grow, it’s equally important to maintain all relationships. Since there is a lot of competition in real estate, join organizations where you can meet people who you have things in common with which will help you develop a niche clientele.
19. Go All In
Ally VanderHarst, Real Estate Agent, The Kate Broddick Team
You have to commit to succeed. For me, I began my career as a Realtor part-time. While I did learn a lot from this position and was managing to serve my clients effectively, it wasn’t until I took the step into full-time real estate that I was able to see myself succeeding and my business growing.
In less than one year of full-time real estate, I was able to focus on providing exceptional customer service to my clients and, as a bonus, I nearly tripled my salary. But you’ve got to commit to it. You can’t sit back and wait for clients to come to you. You’ve got to put 100 percent of your effort into working hard, following up on leads and making sure you’re providing the absolute best customer service to every single person that you come in contact with. If you don’t, someone else will.
20. Understand the Diversity of Your Clients
Miles Chapin, Senior Managing Director, Modern Spaces
Our workforce reflects that diversity we have here: every one of our agents was drawn to real estate from a different background, and every one of them has a different skill set and a different place they’re coming from. However, many of them, especially the newcomers, don’t even realize that they have a skill set or a sphere of influence to begin with. So, I say to them: take a good look at your resources: your own personal resources of local knowledge, contacts and expertise.
Try to identify the areas where they have strengths and push those. At the same time, try to identify what you need to learn and find a place or a situation, where you can get that knowledge. Get out of your comfort zone and try to understand how other people think. Everyone is different: millennials use online apps more than baby boomers; empty nesters have different needs than younger, single people. Don’t get caught up in any one methodology — balance your time searching online with actual time in the field.
21. Set Aside Time Every Day to Grow Your Business
Mike McElroy, Founder & Managing Broker, Center Coast Realty
It’s important to set aside time every day to prospect for new clients to help grow your business. Sometimes new agents get too caught up in closing their current transactions that they forget to look for new clients to work with, and they’re left with nothing after those existing deals close.
BONUS: Don’t be afraid to Text
Marlene Orlandi, Real Estate Agent, Aiva
Millennials and their love for technology have influenced the real estate industry to a large extent. Most agents have a large number of leads flowing in from multiple online sources and contacting them is a challenge. Smart agents understand their customers and aren’t afraid to text their online leads. Text messages have a high open rate and response rate, much better than email and significantly better than calls.
The Bottom Line
Successful real estate agents offer the tips that can ignite a stalled career or help you get a new agent kicking in high gear. By following real estate agent tips such as picking the right brokerage and having the tenacity and planfulness to push through the hard times, you can help position yourself to win in an uncertain environment.
If you are just starting your career and want to learn even more about what it takes to be successful, see our article on the top 28 new real estate agent tips.