How To Start Your Career in Real Estate

sold signA career as a realtor can be an incredibly fruitful one, which is why it is such a popular choice. According to the National Association of Realtors, as of 2019, over 2 million agents are working in the US. The industry offers the opportunity for professionals to flourish regardless of their background because the personality and willingness to succeed may turn out to be more important than experience. 

Working in real estate gives you the possibility to work flexible hours and connect on a personal level with those from all walks of life. If you are able to form a solid client base and guide them on the way to buying their dream property, it can be a very rewarding experience. 

Over the course of my career, I have completed over $1 billion in transactions as a real estate agent in San Francisco and I have noticed that there are many traits and qualities that are essential to becoming a successful real estate agent. Listed below are some pointers you can follow when pursuing a real estate career.

Getting a license is a good starting point

man with for sale signTo obtain a license, you will have to complete various courses, many of which can be done online. That’s what I ended up doing when I got my California real estate license many years ago. There are many certificate programs available which will range from specialized training, to an overview of how the industry works. In the US, each state has different licensing requirements for you to become a realtor. 

One state, for example, has a licensing program which consists of three different courses: First, real estate principles such as time management, listing, and closing the sale. Second, real estate practice which focuses on the art of selling, and finally the legal aspects of real estate such as contract clauses and disclosure guidelines. The licensing courses are usually taught at around college level and include textbook assignments as well as practical exams before a final examination.

Furthermore, it is highly recommended to get your real estate license from a reputable online real estate school. These courses will give you a better platform to become a real estate agent, or an official realtor who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To become a member, you must first join one of over 1,400 real estate associations.

This rigorous testing process requires a lot of dedication and hard work, but it is necessary for you to progress quicker in the field and stand-out from the competition who may be entering the industry in a different way. 

Having the right drive, enthusiasm, and work ethic

shaking handsThe fact is that the job centers on helping other people, whether it is explaining the home-buying process, staging a home for a showing, or introducing a new family to the community. If there is no desire to help people, the demanding nature of the business can lead to burnout. 

There are many different elements to being a real estate agent, such as meeting prospective buyers, negotiating offers, displaying homes, and much more. Therefore, flexibility and adaptability is a necessary trait to have, whilst maintaining the drive to do business with the same enthusiasm for each client. The right attitude is an element which you can control and will make a significant difference to the relationships that you develop with your clients. 

Developing good communication and listening skills

signing contractClear communication is an essential skill as a real estate agent. You will have to work face-to-face with a variety of personalities, so being able to listen properly and displaying patience and integrity is very important. There is no doubt that you will receive a lot of useful information from your clients, so taking in this information whilst making it clear that you are doing so can help to establish a rapport with them.

You can also work on positive body language and non-verbal cues such as smiling and nodding as a way to make your clients feel comfortable in your presence. Developing good communication and listening skills is important to radiate trust and confidence. This will ensure that your clients understand that you are fulfilling their needs and on their side.

In terms of how you can seek to improve your communication skills, there are several resources to explore,  some of which are specifically aimed at the real estate market, and others which can give you basic communication tips. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie catalogs some fundamental techniques to make yourself more approachable and influential in your field. Another one that is more relevant to the world of real estate is “The Book on Negotiating Real Estate: Expert Strategies for Getting the Best Deals When Buying”. This excellent guide is co-written by three authors who have all previously worked in real estate, and gives specific advice about each stage of the negotiation process, from the planning and making an initial offer, to the final settlement. 

Displaying honesty, transparency, and emotional intelligence

pexels-thirdman-8470836Most real estate agents will have to take tests relating to a code of ethics, and failing to abide by this code can result in losing your license. You will have to show diligence and honesty in everything you do, as real estate is an industry in which trust is earned.

In order to stand out from the crowd, displaying emotional intelligence is also key. It is a factor which can turn a good real estate agent into a market leader. The ability to read and interpret what a client wants from the start enables you to come up with solutions quickly so that a buyer wants to buy from you rather than you having to sell to them. Being transparent with your clients will avoid any misunderstandings which can be incredibly harmful to your business.

Building an extensive network  

It’s a given that you need to have a network strategy to build contacts and generate leads. An excellent way to start is by contacting people you already know, such as family, friends, former classmates, and other associates. Marketing yourself properly can give you an edge over the competition as your network and reputation grows. This could involve having a well-maintained website with high-quality photos and compelling content. 

Furthermore, in the current climate, social media is your dearest friend in terms of building a network. For example, targeted advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn can boost your engagement and will contribute towards getting you noticed by both those who are directly involved in the industry and those exploring new opportunities.

If you appear as someone who is trustworthy and thorough on various platforms, with consistent messaging, then this will increase your chances of starting relationships with clients on the right foot. So, if you contact as many people as you know, with smart marketing choices, you should be able to build a solid network.

Mistakes you can avoid

pexels-rodnae-productions-8293694It is likely that you will encounter issues as a real estate agent like in any other job, but there are some cardinal sins which you can avoid to limit the possibility of major problems. You should always know the status of your client, in terms of being able to contact them, and also their financial situation. If the deal circumstances change and you can’t let your client know immediately, then this can cause problems further down the line. It can also help to remember little details which your client may value highly, and remember their situation so that they feel valued.

Another mistake that many real estate agents make is being too involved when showing buyers around a property. If you are too invasive in your approach, then this can leave a client feeling restricted and less able to get a good impression of the property. Also, it is worth noting that some things are better left unsaid, and this means you don’t have to mention every single detail, but instead allow the client to make their own judgement whilst being enthusiastic about the property.

You should also not raise the expectation of someone selling their property in terms of a price point. It is easy to build up someone’s hopes to establish a good relationship, but not setting a realistic price is always going to be troublesome. So knowing your client well and not making any promises which you cannot keep are important rules to follow.

Whilst real estate is not an easy industry to break into, working as an agent is a fulfilling job.  This may sound like a cliché, but the truth is that you get out what you put into it. By following as many of the tips listed above as you can, you will give yourself a great chance of succeeding in the industry.


ron-abta headshot

By Ron Abta, the Founder of Polaris Realty, and California real estate license holder.