Hindsight is 20-20, and in a career that’s constantly changing, it’s nice to have some insight when it comes to long-term success. Though there’s no crystal ball in real estate, professionals can glean insights from colleagues with experience.
Whether you’re a broker-owner, managing broker or broker-associate, consider this hard-won advice from seven seasoned brokers as you build your real estate career.
Focus on Connections
“Today, brokers think they need to produce content and be social media rock stars, but what’s more important is becoming known and trusted,” says Skye Michiels, Head of Agent Development at Compass. “I wish I’d understood the impact of very small actions repeated every day, like maintaining connections with people you care about. If I’d updated one person’s information in my CRM each day and reached out to them from 2002 until today, I would have made millions more.”
Michiels believes that conversations and person-to-person acknowledgment go a long way in the business.
“Every day, increase your conversations. Conversations can be as simple as texting or calling someone and asking how they’re doing. Or tell them you were going through your records, saw their name, and it made you smile. That little reach opens the human door and is semi-professional but also personal.”
Find a Mentor
Mentorship proves invaluable to many leaders. There’s something to be said about being surrounded by people who know where you are and can help you get where you want to go, which Lisa Hill found to be true.
As broker-associate and team lead at Team Pro Central, Keller Williams Realty at The Parks in Orlando, Fla., and president of the Orlando Regional REALTORS® Association, Hill, C-RETS, RENE, C2EX, says getting involved and asking questions makes a big difference.
“I would highly recommend joining a broker forum that gets you working with veteran brokers and different brokers at every stage of the business. Our broker forum meets every quarter.”
Adaptation is a requirement in an industry that sees so many ups and downs. A certain amount of resilience is required to make it as a broker, and that stems from the ability to adapt, says Mauricio Umansky, founder and CEO of The Agency in Los Angeles.
“Don’t be afraid of change and to pivot when necessary. As a broker, challenges in the market should be seen as opportunities. When things seem to be trending downwards, take the opportunity to find new ways to reinvigorate your business by harnessing the tools at your disposal, whether that’s technology, your relationships, or unique marketing opportunities. Always bring creativity and determination, no matter the current climate,” Umansky says.
Save for Taxes
The rules for taxes for independent contractors are different than full-time employees, and many new brokers underestimate what they’ll owe.
“When setting your goals for the year, always calculate in and estimate what you may need to pay in taxes and put it away in a savings account,” says Natalie Davis, AHWD, CRS, C2EX, broker and founder of The Evolution Group at Keller Williams Downtown Denver LLC.
Partnering with a CPA who works with independent contractors is a great idea, Davis adds.
Personalize Your Approach Based on Agents’ Goals
Not all agents have the same goals, and it’s important to keep that in mind when it comes to managing a group of people. Steve Snider, managing broker at One Sotheby’s International Realty in Aventura, Fla., learned this after a while.
“When I started managing agents, I believed everyone had the same desire to grow. So, I invested the same energy in all my agents. But I soon realized there are different circumstances, like a stay-at-home parent with a license who only sells to their friends and is not interested in marketing or CRM. They just do their deals and are happy—they don’t need to sell $100 million in real estate,” Snider says. “Then, I started classifying agents and working with them differently depending on their sales goals.”
It helps to remember that agents often look at brokers as mentors, so helping them achieve their goals is part of a personalized approach.
“After finding out what motivates your agents, help them achieve it. Whether it’s family, freedom, flexibility, or money, work with them to come up with a plan,” says Andrew Bell, AHWD, PSA, C2EX, broker-owner at NextHome Assurance Realty in Jacksonville, Fla. “When you provide what’s important to agents, they’ll be more loyal.”
Make Meetings Compelling
Agents aren’t employees, which means brokerage meetings and training are mostly optional. Brokers have to find some way to compel agents to show up. “Make sure your meetings provide the information and value your agents want and need,” Bell says. “Explain what’s going on in real estate and how it will affect their business and try to give them insights into the next six months. Share and explain market stats and review how they can use this data in their business.”
Most agents, and especially new agents, will look to their broker as a source of support and guidance. Brokers are busy, but being available is important for agent retention. “Let your agents know you’re there for them to give them the encouragement they need,” Hill says. “I’ve always made myself readily available. I’ve witnessed other brokerages where agents can’t reach their broker and that’s difficult. Especially in the first year of an agent’s career, you need to hold their hand and make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Expedite New Agents’ First Sales
Real estate looks like a shiny, easy way to make money to the outsider, but seasoned agents and brokers know that’s not the case at all. New agents, however, might not understand how much work goes into the business. Early sales are important for them to maintain momentum.
“The quicker you can teach agents and get them into production, the better. Aim for a first sale within 90 days. This will help keep their morale up. I meet with all my mentees monthly and coach them, finding out how many calls they’ve made and how many appointments they’ve gone on,” Hill says.
Michiels now understands how work-life balance and self-care can make a difference in a high-stress career. She encourages her agents to take part in self-care practices and provides them opportunities to engage.
“At sales meetings, talk to your agents about practicing self-care, like meditation. I run a group at Compass called ‘6AMERS,’ where we meet twice a week on Zoom at 6 a.m. On the first call of the month, we create a one-word intention for that month, and on other calls, we interview inspiring people inside and outside Compass. If you wake up positive and motivated, that will carry through to your real estate career.”
Opening a brokerage might seem like the next step or the pinnacle of a career, and many aspire to it without fully understanding the demands. That’s why Cole Slate, CRS, SRS, broker-owner at Slate Real Estate and SRE Propery Management in northeast Florida, has learned to let go of struggles.
“If you’re considering opening a real estate firm, prepare for financial overhead, the peaks and valleys of our profession, hiring and firing, a lot more documentation, putting out fires, and more. But there are going to be ‘a-ha’ moments and realizations for which you can’t prepare. Be eager to learn and compromise.”