The New Real Estate Agent’s Guide To Success

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To all the newly minted real estate agents that just passed their first licensing exam, congratulations! But now that you’ve taken the first big step of your new career and passed the exam—what’s next? 

Before you dive into your new real estate career and start building up your own business, there are a few things to take care of first. Practically speaking, there are 3 things you must do before you can start working with renters, buyers, or sellers: 

  1. Find a brokerage to sponsor you
  2. Set up your business website
  3. Find a place to store and keep track of your contact data 

These 3 things will allow you to start working as an agent, but they only cover the basics. There are other critical steps you should take if you want to become a successful real estate agent. 

Adopting healthy and smart habits the first few years of your career will set you up for long-term success. So before you start making cold calls and reaching out to brokerages, here are 13 essential steps for new real estate agents to take: 

  1. Treat your business like a business
  2. Create and invest in your own brand
  3. Focus on lead generation right away 
  4. Start growing your network ASAP
  5. Find other agents that can mentor you
  6. Level-up your relationship-building skills
  7. Be prepared to work hard and hustle
  8. Create a budget for your business
  9. Learn how to use real estate tech 
  10. Know your local market well
  11. Find the right brokerage for you 
  12. Understand how to read contracts 
  13. Be prepared to wear several hats 

It’s your business, so treat it like one

As a new real estate agent and independent contractor, you’re essentially running your own business. This means you need to treat your budding business with the seriousness it deserves. Make sure you invest time and money into planning for the short-term and long-term success of yourself and your business. 

One key part of this is outlining your business goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them. Create a business plan that includes your financial expectations, goals, and execution plan. And stick to it as much as you can. 

infographic, 7 components of a real estate business plan | AgentAdvice.com

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Sometimes expectations or circumstances change after you’ve made your business plan. That’s okay too, but make sure to update your plan to adjust your goals and expectations accordingly. 

This is especially important if you decide to work individually under a broker rather than on a real estate team. It can be hard to keep up the same level of motivation and truly hold yourself accountable if you’re branching out on your own. So make sure to hold yourself accountable to the decisions you make and expectations you set. 

Here are 5 helpful tips for how to keep your small business organized. 

Create and invest in your personal brand 

Your personal brand as a real estate agent has two separate components: your marketing/sales efforts and your own personality. The most successful agents do a great job of marketing themselves and their business. But they also use their authentic personality to stand out from the crowd. Work on investing in and promoting both aspects of your brand over the course of your career. 

In terms of sales and marketing branding, this means having a strong online presence. In today’s digital-first world, consumers usually do their own research online before deciding to make a purchase or work with an agent. The best real estate agents are able to capture the attention of their future clients before they ever speak with them through their online marketing efforts. 

Having a well-designed and easy to use website is pretty much a must-have at this point. But additional online resources can help you increase your chances of being ‘found’ online by potential customers. This can include having a blog and social media profiles that you update frequently, or investing in paid online advertising on Google or social media platforms. 

Once you’ve attracted customers to your business, it’s time for your unique personality to shine. Your number one goal should always be providing your clients with an excellent buying or selling experience. Creating a recognizable name for yourself and your business will help clients remember you better, which can lead to more referrals down the line. 

Focus on lead generation as early as possible

New leads and listings are both part of the path to real estate success. However, leads are sometimes a more essential piece of the success equation than listings—especially for new agents. 

For new agents that are still working on growing their networks, it will likely be easier to find new leads than finding a seller willing to work with you. Sourcing new leads is something new agents can get started doing right out of the gate. In contrast, it may take more time for you to land your first listing. 

There are two main ways you can score new leads: finding them yourself or working with a paid lead service. Try your hand at sourcing leads yourself by relying on your network and phone and email outreach. Often the leads you source yourself end up being higher quality that paid lead sources. Though they’re often harder won. 

On the other hand, paid lead sources can be a great way to reach out to a large volume of contacts in a short amount of time. This can be especially appealing for newer agents that want to focus on reaching out to as many potential clients as possible. 

If you decide to go the paid lead sourcing route, do your homework and read reviews to see which lead generation services provide real value. Here are 15 lead generation strategies you can explore. AgentAdvice.com has also created a list of the top 6 lead generation tools for real estate agents. 

infographic, 6 tips for realtors to find leads online | AgentAdvice.com

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Start growing your network ASAP 

As a brand new real estate agent, your network is incredibly important. It should be one of the first things you work on growing. 

Your network can help connect you with other successful real estate professionals who know the business well and can share advice and tips with you. It can also help you learn more about your local market, hear about referral opportunities, and find a mentor. 

Yet some newer agents make the mistake of thinking their network should only include other agents and realtors. In reality, your network should include other real estate industry professionals and affiliate businesses as well. This may include other agents and realtors, brokers, inspectors, general contractors, home repair technicians, etc.

As a new agent you may be wondering ‘how should I start growing my network?’. The good news is that there are multiple ways to start meeting more real estate industry professionals! 

Here are a few strategies to try first: 

  • Join online real estate industry communities on social media or other forums
  • Sign up for newsletters from your local Board of Realtors or the NAR to learn about industry events
  • Attend real estate industry  events, lecture series, panels, etc. to meet other professionals 
  • Get active in your local community so you can connect with potential clients

Whichever activities you decide to do first, make sure you balance the amount of time you spend growing your professional network and getting to know your future clientele. For more networking inspiration, AgentAdvice.com has pulled together a list of networking options for Realtors and agents.

Seek out mentors early on in your career

Hopefully this piece of advice won’t come as a shock, but you should start looking for a real estate mentor as soon as possible. It’s often best to do this while you are still getting your real estate license. It can sometimes be easier to find a mentor or get a recommendation if you attend classes in person and can rely on a teacher from Champions School of Real Estate or Kaplan. If you are earning it online at Real Estate Express, RealEstateU, or AceableAgent, this is critical for new agents at the beginning of their career. 

The beginning of your career presents a key window of opportunity to learn from some of the most successful agents before you’ve formed any habits of your own. It will allow you to absorb practical, procedural, and operational knowledge from your mentor. For example, you’ll learn how to check real estate listings, qualify new leads, conduct multi-touch outreach, come up with marketing ideas, and more. 

You’ll also learn tips and best practices surrounding your local market. One of the best things about having a mentor is that you bring them your questions and receive honest answers. There’s a lot to learn about the real estate industry at the beginning of your career. Having a mentor to turn to can help you avoid situations where you’re unable to answer tricky or tactical questions from clients. 

Relationship-building is a must-have skill 

Relationship-building is the other side of the networking coin. Growing your professional and client networks go hand-in-hand with learning how to build strong relationships. So in order to get the most out of your network, whether it’s 5 or 500 people, make sure you have solid relationship-building skills as well. 

Another thing for new agents to consider: prioritizing relationship-building can help generate more business. Having good relationships with your current clients for the purpose of making sure those deals go well is one thing. But the relationships you cultivate with clients can be your key to unlocking future business success—say hello to referrals. 

Making personal connections with your contacts can be one of the best ways to strengthen the network ties you have. For example, getting involved in the local community can give you more opportunities to meet and connect with people in your area. This could include things like attending town hall meetings or local sports events, or join an ultimate frisbee team. This will help you broaden your ‘sphere of influence’, a.k.a. the number of people who know about you and your business. 

Similarly, you can strengthen the network ties you’ve created within the real estate industry by being more involved in real estate community events, virtual events, conferences, panel discussions, etc. 

Expect and embrace the hustle 

Becoming a real estate agent or realtor can feel like a dream come true for people that are unhappy with their rigid 9-5 job. It offers flexibility, the chance to be your own boss, and the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. But one common myth surrounding the real estate industry is that you’ll get rich quickly. 

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this likely won’t happen. 

Most new agents don’t start making boatloads of money within their first few years. In fact, it can take a few months for many new agents to even see their first commission check. So as a new agent you’ll need to work hard for a while—really hard. 

Starting out with enough savings to see you through the first few months (even if you don’t make any income) is one of the best ways to prepare yourself. Creating a reasonable budget is another way you can help prepare yourself for the first few years of your career. 

Staying motivated, organized, and diligent will help see you through the first bumpy part of your real estate career. 

Create a budget and stick to it

Running a business without first creating a budget is like baking a souffle without looking at the recipe. Both are bound to end in disaster. You can think of a solid financial plan and budget as the recipe to your success. You still have to add in other ingredients (e.g. your motivation, personal brand, network, and hustle) and mix everything together. But following the recipe will give you a much greater chance of achieving your goals. 

Creating a smart, well-informed budget for your business can help you accomplish a few key things: 

  1. Make a realistic business plan 
  2. Set financial expectations 
  3. Measure and react to your performance 
  4. Understand where your money is going 

Your budget can also double as the main metric for evaluating your overall business performance. For example, did you spend more money than you initially allocated for online advertising? Did you surpass the income goals you set for yourself this year? 

As mentioned above, creating a budget will help you navigate the first years of your real estate career. When creating your first budget, make sure to map out your expenses and consider a couple different cash flow scenarios. 

There are resources with real estate budget templates available, like this one. But you can also create 100% customized budgets using Microsoft Word and Excel. And depending on the type of benefits your brokerage offers, you may have access to these tools for free!

Get good at using real estate tech 

Even though the real estate industry is a very people-centric business, real estate technology will soon become your best friend. If you’re not as tech-savvy as you’d like to be, cozy up to different types of real estate technology before launching your career. 

If you’re wondering ‘why all the fuss about real estate tech?’, it might be helpful to think about how much time and money these tools will save you. 

For example, real estate CRMs provide users with a centralized database for storing, organizing, and tracking contact information. They can also conduct automated outreach, follow-ups, and reminders. One of the biggest benefits of investing in a real estate CRM is the ability to keep all of your contact information organized so that no leads fall through the cracks. Learn more about how to find the best real estate CRM for your business on AgentAdvice.com.

Lead generation tools are also becoming a must-have for more and more agents. Along with these two key pieces of real estate tech, there are multiple non-real estate specific tools that can help make it easier to run your business. These include: 

  • Document creation & management software
  • eSignature software 
  • Website building and hosting software 
  • Email marketing software
  • Content creation software

Get well acquainted with the particulars of your market 

One mark of a successful real estate agent is their in-depth knowledge of the local and regional housing market. Keeping a pulse on the local market helps you stay informed about what properties are currently available so you can be a better resource for your clients. 

This is especially true if you’re working with home buyers looking for a real estate agent that can play a consultative role. Some key questions to ask yourself about your local market include: 

  • What does the rental and home buying population look like? 
  • Is it dominated by students, first time buyers, families, older couples, or military and veteran home buyers
  • What’s the population density and how does this impact the demand and competition for attractive properties? 
  • Is the area walkable and close to public transportation, or do most people drive places? (This can have an impact on how flexible renters and home buyers are about how close the property is to their work or school).  
  • What local regulations are in place that may impact the market?
  • What are the home buying prices for your area and for the rest of the state? 

Find the right brokerage for you  

All new real estate agents need to find a brokerage to sponsor them before they can begin working with clients. But don’t rush into choosing a real estate firm just because you need to find a licensed broker to work under. You should choose which broker and agency you’re going to attach yourself to wisely. 

Put in the time to research different firms in your area before selecting a brokerage. Pay specific attention to whether or not the firm is the best fit for you in terms of: 

  • commission split structure 
  • size of the firm (e.g. national vs. local brokerages)
  • cultural fit 
  • ratio of buyer vs. seller agents
  • additional fees 
  • perks offered by the firm (e.g. free website space or real estate technology) 

Finding the best brokerage can be difficult for all agents, no matter how experienced they are. But this can be especially hard for new agents that don’t have prior experience working at other real estate firms. That’s why AgentAdvice.com has put together a guide to help new agents figure out which type of brokerage is best for them. 

Brush up on your contract reading and analysis skills 

Real estate agents are responsible for walking their clients through all aspects of the buying and selling process. This includes reading over and understanding the terms outlined in purchase agreement contracts, lease agreements, and power of attorney contracts. 

If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry—you won’t need a law degree to understand the contracts! But you should spend time familiarizing yourself with the different types of contracts. And don’t forget to reach each individual contract before meeting with your clients. After all, your customers are trusting you to help them navigate what might be one of the biggest decisions facing them right now. 

You don’t have to perfectly understand every word of legalese included in individual contracts. But you should be able to walk your clients through each part of the contract confidently. One benefit of having a mentor early on in your real estate career is that you can go to them with any contract questions you have. 

Become a Jack or Jill of all trades

Independent real estate agents operate as sales teams of one. But you’ll also be the photographer, copywriter, marketer, customer service rep, accountant, and office manager of your business too. As your real estate career grows, you may find contractors or other real estate professionals who can take on one or more of these roles. 

But as a new real estate agent that needs to be frugal with their money, most of these jobs will fall on you. So at least for the first few years of your career you’ll need to wear many different hats. 

Focus on growing your skills in all these areas rather than exclusively focusing on the sales aspect of the job. This may mean taking an extra class or two on the side to polish your photography skills. Or it could mean purchasing books about how to become a more successful small business owner. 

Whatever your methods are, keep learning throughout your career. It will serve you well in the short and long-term and help you diversify your skillset.