After passing the necessary state pre-licensing course and exams, you are probably eager to put your new knowledge to work and begin your real estate career. Now that you are done with the educational component, you are ready to move on to gaining industry experience. There is something to be said for your spirit and determination! However, do you know exactly what to do in your first months as an agent – or, more importantly, what not to do? Being a new real estate agent comes with new territory. Make sure you are prepared so that you can avoid making these rookie mistakes.
Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Brokerage
Of course it is admirable that you want to jump right into your new career. However, taking the time to interview with several different companies and doing your research is the key to starting your career off on the right foot. By far, the most important choice you will make in becoming a real estate agent is choosing the right brokerage for you. The brokerage you select to work with will help plan out your career, guide you and map a pathway to career success with you. Finding the most knowledgeable brokerage you can means looking for a company that offers educational training to its employees and has strong leadership. Finding these qualities will give you, a beginning agent, the greatest opportunities for success. Interview with several brokers to compare the compensation packages they are offering, experience they have in the industry, and leadership qualities they possess.
Mistake #2: Not Having a Business Plan
Make no mistake – becoming a real estate agent is not like being an employee at a company. You are now working for yourself, by yourself. To succeed, you will need to create a powerful business plan defining what it will take to make you successful in the industry. Begin by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive. What do you want for yourself as an agent? For your family? How do you want to represent your brokerage? Start with an idea, like “I want to sell one house a month,” and then redefine it using the S.M.A.R.T. method. Next, choose which specialty niche you are interested in like residential or commercial or if you are in buying and selling or renting.
Becoming a real estate agent, developing your brand and your marketing strategy takes some capital. Being a real estate agent normally means being an independent contractor, paid by commission. Therefore, it is extremely important to be strongly motivated and to have an airtight business plan. Without a business plan, you might find yourself without the necessary funds for insurance, taxes or licensing fees.
As you formulate a business and savings plan, ask yourself the following questions. Are you going into real estate full-time or part-time? What expenses are you responsible for as an agent? Marketing promotions, especially when you are starting out, can be very costly. Real estate agents make a substantial amount of cell phone calls – is your data and roaming plan up for the task? What about your computer? How about the vehicle you are going to use to take clients around town in? You will be spending a lot of time driving and you will need to budget for additional gas money, in addition to keeping your vehicle clean, presentable and in good working condition.
More often than not, it could take six months for you to close your first deal. That is six months of developing clientele, but also six months without a steady paycheck. Have at least six months of money saved up for living expenses. This is a great rule to live by. Not every seemingly perfect deal will close, not every day will consist of normal business hours and not every paycheck will be the same.
Creating a separate marketing and promotional plan is also integral. How will you promote yourself? Who are you marketing yourself to? What methods are other agents using in your area? Set a daily marketing plan and stick to it!
Your marketing plan and business plan is not complete without a business website that reflects your passion, professionalism, work ethic and commitment to your clients. Why did you get into the industry? What can clients expect from working with you? What references and education do you have? Make sure your website is on your business card and listed in search engines for potential clients to easily find you. In addition to branding yourself as a real estate agent, training is of utmost importance. Just because you have a license now does not mean business will magically find you! Constantly prospect, network, research and learn new skills. Cold calls will become your new best friend, so have a great phone presence. This is where your brokerage choice will really make a difference in the skills you develop as a successful agent.
Mistake #3: Forgetting to Focus on Service
Real estate is a service industry, meaning agents are always in service to buyers, sellers, fellow agents and other integral professionals. You know by now that to be a successful entrepreneur and real estate agent, you must be self-disciplined, focused on your career and goal-oriented. You must possess a kind, foward-thinking demeanor, fantastic active listening skills, the ability to work effectively with others and the aptitude to prioritize your clients’ needs. This includes remembering what your clients want from you as you begin to establish your brand and your market. What sets you apart from other agents?
It is important for you to be available to your customers when they reach out to you. If they feel you are not, there is always someone else who is. Your integrity and reputation as someone who provides a service to others is on the line. Be honest with clients. This should be a no-brainer, but even making promises and guarantees you cannot keep is giving your clients false hope. Also, be honest with yourself. It takes time, capital, energy, and networking to make this career shift successful.
Beginning any kind of new career can be a daunting task. Before you launch your career, you will want to ensure you are equipped for the industry, the job itself and any hurdles that come your way. Start yourself off on the pathway to success with IFREC. Choose a course, learn the tricks of the industry and discuss real estate career opportunities with one of our expert career counselors today. With more than 30 years working with students in the Central Florida region, our faculty and staff are equipped to help you make the best decisions for your real estate career!