Brokers' Tips for Lasting in Real Estate

Seasoned pros offer their most valuable advice for launching your business and keeping it soaring.
broker speaking to agents

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The real work begins to establish yourself as a real estate pro after you’ve secured your license. Once you’ve got a foundation of knowledge, how do you start constructing your business to last well into the future? To help you start out on the right path, 19 seasoned practitioners offer their best business-building tips.

  1. Tell your clients a “story.” Brokers get business by developing relationships. I love the ‘stories’ feature on Instagram and Facebook. Consumers can follow what you’re doing, view your videos, and see you in action. Pros using ‘stories’ are getting so many contacts. —Annie Blatz, CRS, SRS, Kinlin Grover Real Estate, Brewster, Mass.
  2. Show thoughtfulness when answering client questions. Sometimes, you might want to pause and think about the answer, even if you readily know it. If you come across as a know-it-all who doesn’t even have to pause to think on something somebody else doesn’t know, you can seem arrogant. I suggest strategically pausing and thinking through the answer so it appears you’re not talking down to customers. —Fritzi Barbour, CRS, GRI, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS®, Greenville, S.C.
  3. Focus on your role as an adviser. The biggest stumbling block that separates agents who make it from agents who don’t—notwithstanding all the hard work and networking—is that some agents struggle with understanding what their real transaction role is. You have to understand your clients as people and be a problem-solver and an adviser. You’re not there just to sell a house. —David Stark, GRI, Stark Company, REALTORS®, Madison, Wis.
  4. Don’t let fear take over. Every day, say to yourself: “What is it that’s keeping me from what I want to do? What’s my fear today?” Then, work through it so you’re not afraid. No one is fearless, but you can fear less. Get out there and do it. —Kate Lanagan MacGregor, ABR, BOLD Moves Real Estate, Mattapoisett, Mass.
  5. Work overtime in the beginning. Your business is like an airplane taking off. You must move forward full throttle for at least two to three years, or your business will never take flight. Once your business gets off the ground, you can throttle back a bit. However, you always need to maintain enough power to keep your business soaring. —Dawn Lahlum, CRB, GRI, Park Co., REALTORS®, Fargo, N.D.
  6. Living transaction to transaction will keep you from succeeding. Don’t be a transactional agent. Most good agents’ businesses today—mine included—are based on referrals. And referrals are based on the fact that I built relationships over the years. Those transactional salespeople tend to leave the business quickly because they’re not building business. —Christian Schlueter, ABR, RE/MAX At Barnegat Bay, Toms River, N.J.
  7. Don’t wait for someone to guide you. Know the culture and mission of the brokerage where you’re considering hanging your license. You need to remember you own your business under the umbrella of the brokerage. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do in the first year is set a business plan with your broker or mentor. —Kathy McQuilkin, CRS, SRES, RE/MAX Professional Realty, Exton, Pa.
  8. Get educated and build your confidence. When a new agent is in school and getting ready to get into the business, they tell everybody that they’re going to be in real estate. But as soon as they get their license, they become secret agents. Suddenly, they lose confidence when they’re expected to perform. If you do your homework on the industry and your local market, you’ll be confident when you’re speaking with a new client. —Mary Ann Hebert, GRI, SRES, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Bannon & Hebert, Middlebury, Conn.
  9. Mentors are a huge help. Consider finding a mentor who is an active selling agent and has been in the business awhile. Make sure it’s someone who can share things that have and haven’t worked in the local market and best practices that have been success. A mentor can be a huge help with the mechanics of your business. —Lori Doerfler, ABR, CIPS, Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
  10. Take breaks from your business. It’s OK to take time off. Yes, real estate is 24/7, and we want to do well and be there for our clients. But we have to take time off to recharge, and we can’t be afraid to do that. —Brooke Miller, CRS, GRI, Long & Foster Real Estate, Fredericksburg, Va.
  11. Determine activities that generate income. When you get up, what’s your routine? Do you look at what’s new on the MLS or start scheduling showings? What are your income-producing activities for the day? Whether it’s writing notes to people, making calls, or sitting at an open house, you have to work the market, be all in on real estate, and set those habits. —D. Patrick Lewis, Realty Executives, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  12. Take your time during transactions. The best tip a veteran broker shared with me was to slow down to go fast. This means take the time up front to learn how to do things right the first time and not rush through a bunch of steps because you need to get paid. —Shawn Kunkler, Compass Real Estate, San Francisco
  13. Don’t mimic another agent. Be true to who you are, and don’t try to be someone you’re not, because having to reinvent yourself too many times can hurt your business. I see salespeople hitch their wagon to a mentor and try to be that mentor rather than themselves, and that’s too hard to keep up with for your entire career. —Liz Rhoda, Five Star Real Estate Eastown, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  14. Build relationships with other agents, too. You’re going to do business with fellow salespeople more than clients, so it’s just as important to build rapport with colleagues as it is with customers. Earn their trust and faith so that when you're in challenging transactions, you know who you’re negotiating with. —Cindi Bulla, GRI, Realty Central, Amarillo, Texas
  15. Be able to articulate your value proposition. Be in touch with what makes you different because salespeople are a dime a dozen, and consumers could name five they know right off the bat. You want to tell clients what makes you different from your competitors, more valuable, and your unique value proposition. —Brad Cohen, Funkhouser Real Estate Group, Harrisonburg, Va.
  16. Find a brokerage that fits your style. The advice I give to new agents is make sure your brokerage meshes with your personality and style of doing business. Shop around and ask questions before deciding where to hang your license. Ask about training opportunities as well as the culture because you need a strong support system in a rejection business. —Tricia Schlosser, GRI, Century 21 Morrison Realty, Bismarck, N.D.
  17. Get over your fear of cold calls. I see agents struggle with confidence. Your biggest challenge is your own mind. What stopped you from picking up the phone and calling people? If you're too afraid to pick up the phone, you will never move forward. You have to get over that fear. —Heidi Kasama, ABR, CIPS, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, Las Vegas
  18. Don’t lose touch with clients after closing. No one ever told me, “Don’t lose touch with past clients after they close because they could turn into a referral source.” I learned that too late with some customers. But if you keep in touch, it makes them remember you and want to continue to give you business. —Judi Gabler, Gabler Realty, Delmar, N.Y.
  19. It may take a while to generate income. One of the biggest hurdles for salespeople starting their real estate career is the all-commission aspect. If you don’t work, you don’t have an income stream. Once you start, it can take four to six months to receive a substantial paycheck, so you must have savings to live comfortably until then. —Jody Lockshin, CRS, GRI, Habitat Hunters, Austin, Texas

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