Brokers who’ve been in the business a long time have seen and heard almost everything. They are keenly aware that real estate isn’t easy, with ever-changing markets, demands, and regulations. So, a few of them are passing on their business wisdom to agents who are new to the trade. Here are their top 10 ideas on how to succeed in real estate while also building a fulfilling life.
1. Do things for others without expecting anything in return. Volunteer at a school picnic or coach a team; get involved with a cause or try to help others grow their business. Once people see who you really are, they will go out of their way to refer you, says Andy Alloway, president and CEO at Nebraska Realty in Omaha. “Whether you are on the PTA or in a church group or civic group, go out of your way to help others,” he says. “I think this is huge in creating relationships.”
2. Brand yourself early on. "Make sure you have an individual brand outside of your brokerage’s branding," says Jen Ortman, managing broker and owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Visions Realty in Barrington, Ill. For instance, agents should use their own private branded email that they can keep even if they change brokerages — that also goes for their cell phone number and URL. This way their clients can always get a hold of them directly.
3. Communicate promptly. Whether it’s a buyer or seller, an online inquiry, or a request from another agent, respond or follow up as soon as you can, says Jim Keffalas, GRI, broker-owner of Keffalas Real Estate Inc., in Butler, Pa. In today’s world of text messaging, voicemail, emails, and old-fashioned phone calls, communicating is easier than ever. Slow responses show a lack of interest and ability, he says.
4. Manage your time wisely. Most agents, especially newer ones, don’t realize the importance of time blocking. “Real estate is not a 9-to-5 job, and there is no expectation that you are at work at a certain time doing certain tasks,” Alloway says. If more agents treated real estate like a nontraditional career outside 40 hours a week, they would be more successful, he says. In order to do that, they need to learn how to schedule time each week for prospecting, learning, marketing, as well as time with family and leisure. Time management is key for not getting burned out, Alloway adds.
5. Your fellow agent is your colleague, not your competition. Interact with other successful agents, network together, and share tips. And always operate with the utmost professionalism when negotiating a deal. Ortman says you never know when you’ll come across a cooperating agent again and need their help in making a deal come together.
6. Be prepared to pick and choose your business and clients. When sellers insist on an unreasonable price or buyers are dragging their feet, send them to other agents so you can focus on more motivated clients, Keffalas says. Also, gear your marketing toward the type of clients you enjoy serving. It might take a year or more to establish your niche, Keffalas says, but in the long run, you will be more productive and happier.
7. Always build relationships. Building a successful long-term career based on referrals still comes down to relationships and staying in touch with people, Alloway says. Marketing yourself to your sphere is key for success, and it takes time to do it well. Just remember, the longer you’re in the business, the fewer ups and downs you’ll experience as your referral network develops.
8. Don’t call me boss. Too often, Ortman’s agents call her their boss and refer to themselves as employees. But agents are independent contractors, and they need to think and operate like small-business owners. As a new agent, you should be looking to build a small business under the brokerage’s umbrella, Ortman says. It’s about mindset and action.
9. Listen more than talk. “God gave us all two ears and one mouth. Listen to clients twice as much as you talk to them,” Keffalas says. Learn how to tactfully ask probing questions in order to learn clients’ true thoughts and wishes.
10. Remain motivated through it all. Find ways to stay inspired, whether by connecting with mentors, attending classes, hiring a coach, or trying a new business technique. The most successful agents are continually working straight through the ups and downs, knowing that there are good months and bad months — and even good years and bad years, Keffalas says.