In 2013, I found myself in a place I never expected. I was between jobs, and my father had recently passed away. I was in search of a career where I could make enough money to support my family but also have a flexible schedule so I could be present at home during this difficult time. I’ve always found it easy to talk to people, and my desire to help them led me to work in real estate.
Over the past three years, my job as an agent has rewarded me in many ways. I started with an inconsistent stream of business and built my pipeline to a steady flow, selling about $4 million this year. (In my market of Frederick, Md., that’s a healthy clip.) Thankfully, I now have the flexible schedule I need for my family, a pretty reliable source of income, and a professional reputation among my peers and local community.
But getting a real estate business off the ground is harder than it looks. It calls for long hours and a demanding work schedule, but at the end of the day, hard work and consistency pay off. Looking back, there were three major things that helped me to grow my business into what it is today.
Find a broker who is willing to be your guide and mentor. If your broker says “welcome aboard and good luck!” and then disappears to leave you fending for yourself, that is not the right person to help you learn how to be successful in this business. You want a broker with a proven track record in your market who can introduce you to other awesome agents, avoid common rookie mistakes, and help you focus on the right aspects of your business. For most new agents — myself included — the most difficult part of getting started is deciding where to focus your energy. When I was looking for the right broker, here are some things I considered:
- The broker isn’t the only one conducting the interview; the agent should interview the broker about why their company is a good fit.
- When interviewing brokers, focus on finding an office with solid resources, including regular training, contract and paperwork support, and the technology that you need to be successful.
- Consider the office culture. Ideally, there will be camaraderie between the agents in the office, and the environment will be positive, supportive, and ethical. Customers will quickly assume you are like other agents in your office, so if your company isn’t respected in your community, it might be hard for you to gain the respect you want and need to be successful.
Get friendly with “rival” agents quickly. Having agents you know working on the opposite end of your transactions often makes things go much more smoothly. It’s difficult to get to know every agent in your market, even if you’re a power networker, but becoming acquainted with as many as possible will ultimately benefit your clients. So use your local REALTOR® association — volunteer for committees and attend events — to meet agents outside the office. I make five to 10 new connections with agents at every association meeting. On one of my first transactions, the cooperating agent was someone I had already established a meet-and-greet with at a local event. Our acquaintance made coordinating the home inspection and communicating financing timelines much more effective. The more people you know, the better off your deals will be.
On day one as a new agent, I got involved with the Young Professionals Network. My local YPN, the Frederick County Association of REALTORS® YPN, was my go-to resource for networking and learning more about the real estate industry. It provided me with leadership and networking opportunities and quickly provided avenues for me to get involved in my local community and get my name out there.
Turn your family and friends into fans of your business. Think about your own life: When was the last time you made a major purchase or life decision without getting a recommendation from a friend or at least reading an online review first? Being a salesperson means many people will inherently distrust you at first, so the best way to break down those walls is to have the people who already trust you sing your praises. This helps you get your foot in more doors.
To cultivate even stronger relationships with my friends and family — and turn them into ambassadors of my business — I send them a letter every month telling them whom I’ve helped in real estate recently and how I helped them. I make sure it comes from my heart. It’s like a Snapchat story on paper, and it reminds them that I can help them and people in their circles with their real estate needs.
The key is to be consistent with whatever systems you’ve put in place for connecting with prospects and clients. Starting out in real estate can feel like you’re running in mud, but the results will come if you keep at it. Remember to have fun; the best way to get through every day is to smile a little, network a little, and laugh a little.