My Best 13 Tips For Real Estate Agents
If I could go back in time ten years and speak with a younger version of my professional self, I’d have a few things I’d want to say. Here are some reflections on what I’ve learned the past 15 years working as a real estate agent, broker, and investor in Redding, California.
1. Pretend you have a real job.
Treat real estate as though it were a real job with a boss who expects you to be there every day. Show up in the morning ready to do business and watch how good things start happening. If you’re lazy with your schedule and sleep-in ’til 10, eventually you won’t just get to pretend to have a real job, you’ll actually have to go and get one.
2. Preview a lot of homes.
When you have gaps in your day, I can’t think of a better thing to do than preview homes. Keep a cart in your MLS system and collect all the properties that pique your curiosity, then when you have free time go and preview a bunch of them. Your enthusiasm will be contagious when you find a great home and start telling clients about it. Besides, it’s much easier to sell a product that you’ve seen and experienced firsthand versus one you’ve only seen pictures of.
3. Don’t work from a cubicle.
If there is space available at your brokerage, pay extra for a private office. It’s important to be able to speak freely when negotiating contracts and having sensitive conversations, and that’s hard to do when you’re out in the open. Your clients will also take you more seriously and treat you like a professional if they see that you have your own office.
4. Buy one house every year.
As an agent, you have access to the best deals on the market. Pay attention and you’ll come across one exceptionally discounted property every year that will be begging for you to buy it. Use the added leverage of the commission from the sale as a credit toward your closing costs or a way to artificially lower the price. Nobody else is funding a retirement plan for you, so start buying rental properties and use the income to fund your future life.
5. Be financially secure.
Never be the agent who needs to make the sale because your bills are late. People can sniff out a desperate agent and will not work with you if they don’t feel you are representing their best interests. If you have at least six months of reserves in the bank, you’ll have more clarity in guiding your clients and helping them make the best decision for themselves regardless of how it affects you. Don’t let your own financial struggles cloud your judgement and compromise what is best for your clients.
6. Know that hard work trumps talent.
What I have lacked in talent I’ve made up for in my willingness to work hard. Having a stoic determination to succeed sometimes means giving up nights and weekends to show houses or write offers while other agents are golfing or watching football. Raw talent will only get you so far in life. True success in real estate comes from transactional experience gained through thousands of hours of hard work.
7. Don’t brown-bag it
I used to work with a guy who was famous for bringing a sack lunch to work every day because he wanted to save money. The problem with his frugality was that while he was sitting alone in his office saving ten dollars, he was missing out on vital connections with others. Success in real estate is all about building relational equity with people. Whether you go dutch with your associates or treat prospective clients to a meal, one of the best ways to leverage your money is going out to eat every day.
8. Put on your business socks.
Even if you don’t have anything scheduled, dress every day as though you were meeting with an important client. Everyone makes judgments based on how you look, so don’t make people wonder if real estate is a part-time gig for you because of your casual attire. When you dress up and take time to look professional, you’ll bolster your own confidence and will inevitably attract more clients as a result.
9. Hire an assistant.
Even if you are only closing a couple deals a month, I think it makes sense to hire an assistant. Figure out what you do in your day that an hourly assistant could do just as well or possibly better. If you want to maximize your income, spend the majority of your time doing the most important things like showing homes, going on listing presentations, writing offers, prospecting, and building relationships. Once you remove the minutia from your schedule and get good at delegating, your income is sure to go up.
10. Don’t sign buyer-broker contracts.
I let my work ethic and relational equity lead the way and never make a buyer sign a contract forcing them to buy a house through me. Some brokers might think I’m crazy, but in my fourteen years in real estate I can’t say I’ve ever lost a commission by not having one of these formal agreements in place. People are generally loyal and want to see your efforts as their agent rewarded with a commission. Lay out your expectations early in the relationship but also let people know that if they aren’t happy with your service they are free to go at any time.
11. Learn to say “No.”
Many hungry Realtors will chase after any buyer who will hop in their car and look at homes. But if you’ve been in the business for any length of time, you’ll know how many unqualified time-wasters there are in the world. Don’t lose hours of your life to unqualified buyers. If your prospect is dodgy and refuses to call your lender or provide a pre-qual letter, fire them and move on. Respect yourself enough to only work with ‘A’ clients. If you keep getting stuck working with bad clients, start picking up the phone and get more proactive with lead generation. There are plenty of great clients out there, just keep looking.
12. Get comfortable in your skin.
I tend to be quiet, mild-mannered, and introspective, and these traits have often left me feeling vulnerable in the world of competitive sales. But when I stop worrying about who I’m not and lean into my natural strengths, I find that people enjoy their experience working with me more. I’ve discovered that I bring a sense of peace and quiet confidence to my clients in situations that could otherwise be highly-stressful. If you want sustained success in real estate, harness your whole personality and learn to be comfortable in your skin.
13. Surround yourself with successful people
Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Find the agents or brokers in your area who you most admire, then do whatever you can to be around them. These are often very busy people who are not necessarily looking for new friendships, so you’ll want to find meaningful ways to serve them and add to what they are doing. If you can show them how you can add to their bottom line or solve their problems, you will become invaluable to them.