So, you’ve taken the plunge and launched a new career as a real estate professional. What are the best habits to get into right from the start, if you want to build a career which fulfills your dreams and helps you reach your goals? These five suggestions will give you a starting point.
1. Make a PLAN
Real estate is unique in that you’ll usually be employed within an agency setting, but working quite autonomously, more in the manner of a small business owner, and if you don’t get yourself out of bed and do the work to find and nurture vendors and listings, your paycheque will not roll in automatically. Likewise, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
Business experts repeat the mantra: if you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In case you missed that point- without putting some energy into deciding what you want from your career, and mapping out the steps you need to take to get there, you’ll likely drift along at the mercy of the market (and your own motivation to get out of bed!)
You’ll have setbacks, and you’ll have wins. You’ll have times when you feel despair at your career choice, and other times when you’ll want to take your foot off the pedal and luxuriate in the spoils of your achievements. Real estate can be a real rollercoaster. The key to navigating such choppy waters is to be able to come back to your pre-determined goals and the plan you set down to achieve them. This is the only way to understand where you’ve been, how you’re doing, and what the future might look like. It’s also the perfect way to start your real estate career, and helps you have a sense of control over your activities and the outcomes of your effort.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
🏠 Decide on a planning timeframe; you might use the quieter summer period to set plans for the year, and you may have a set of plans for separate time periods, like monthly, annual and five-year plans.
🏠 The sky is the limit; don’t be afraid to dream big. Sure, you’re just at the beginning of your career, but do you want to do it forever? How much money do you need for retirement, do you want to work towards being mortgage-free, do you want to build a nest egg for the future or for children? Put some tangible figures around your goals; this kind of forward planning can be really helpful to work out the level of real estate sales and commissions you’re aiming for.
🏠 Smaller-term planning is important too; depending on your personality and comfort with technology you’ll have various ways to choose to get things done during the week, month or quarter. Your new colleagues may be helpful here; ask around about how others manage their activities to see what might suit you. Keep in mind these priorities: how to identify important versus urgent jobs, how to ensure you don’t miss opportunities and how to keep your vendors at the top of the priority list.
🏠 Choose how you’ll plan. Good old paper-and-pen might suit you, especially if you’re a visual person; you may even use poster-sized sheets or a whiteboard. Investigate computer planning options if that’s more your style. Planning programs have the advantage of being portable and at your fingertips when you need to check-in.
🏠 Keep good records. Make sure you have a way to easily track your real estate sales and other performance markers like enquiries, listings views and open home traffic numbers.
🏠 Check-in, review and measure your performance. Take an honest look at how you’re going. You can always amend plans if you bit off more than you could chew, or scale them up if you find you can do more.
2. Work the room (both physical and virtual)
Successful real estate professionals know one simple thing their lesser-performing counterparts don’t: real estate is about people. The market can boom and bust to its heart’s content but the real estate agents who make money are those who understand their work is about the relationships they make with people, and the networks they grow. One of the first things you should do as a new agent is get your head around exactly how you’ll put people and connections at the centre of your work.
Here are some ideas to think about:
🏠 Even if you’re not the gregarious, socialising type, it’s time to promote yourself. It’s estimated the average person knows about 600 people- and that’s a pretty big pool to start swimming in before you’ve even begun! Connect with your friends in the way that feels most comfortable to you; perhaps a group text or social media posts, phone calls or even an email blast or letter/ postcard drop. Networking will become a major part of your real estate success. After all, each of your 600 people also know 600 people, so there’s no end to the opportunities for real estate riches by leveraging your existing network.
🏠 What sort of contact database will you maintain? Imagine you have a super-busy first week at work; a couple of interviews with prospective vendors, a busy networking event, some agency walk-throughs, a flurry of interest about your new career on social media and some card-swapping moments at the supermarket or hairdresser. By the end of the week you have a collection of business cards, Post-It notes, Messenger chats, diary entries, jotted phone numbers and emails- all from people who have expressed some interest in buying or selling with you at some point. How are you going to capture this information elegantly so you can capitalise on each of these connections?
The more tech-savvy real estate agent will invest in a device and possibly even software that is capable of easily capturing and tracking this information; you may also have access to a system offered by your agency. The older school may prefer paper-based records. Whichever you choose, just be sure you’re comfortable with it from the start, and train yourself to do what you need to do to funnel those contacts into a central place. Down the track, as your contact list grows, you’ll want to investigate ways to make the best use of that list through email, text or postal marketing and use of social media.
🏠 Think about your personal brand. See more detail on the importance of your unique identity here
🏠 Increase your community involvement. You might join a new club, take up a hobby, or start volunteering. As well as the usual business networking avenues, these are all great ways to expand your network and easily promote your real estate hustle.
3. Develop your expertise
The day you receive your real estate qualification is only the start of your journey to a richly rewarding career. Not only could you progress further with your real estate industry-specific qualifications, but your experience can also be bolstered by self-directed learning in other areas too.
🏠 You’ll have access to screeds of real estate market analysis and information that can help grow your personal knowledge base around property types, council issues, property law and local property intelligence.
🏠 Books, seminars and online learning sources can help you school up on negotiation, buyer behaviour, relationship-building and managing all aspects of your real estate business.
🏠 Adopting an attitude of ‘never not learning’ will help you impress potential vendors, position yourself as an expert, give you opportunities to provide real estate market media commentary and prevent you from getting stuck in a real estate rut down the track.
4. Consider a mentor
You’re brand new to your real estate career, but you’ll find yourself surrounded by real estate professionals who’ve been in the game a while. Leveraging the input of a mentor can do several things to fast-track your real estate career, but it’s important you be a little selective. Take a really good look at your potential mentor’s track record of real estate sales, earnings, testimonials and client satisfaction, and talk to others about their proficiency and personality. If the real estate agent seems to display qualities you’d like to emulate, they’re the right choice for you.
🏠 Someone more experienced can help you negotiate plenty of ‘out of the book’ scenarios that can and do crop up, but which can be difficult to learn about in any way other than personal experience. In some cases your mentor’s advice could help you avoid these situations altogether, or at least give you a reliable way to navigate them.
🏠 A mentor can advise you on the ways and means that helped them climb the real estate ladder of success, and perhaps guide you away from any activities that were a waste of time.
🏠 Teaming up with a mentor may result in shared listings; a great tactic for newer agents to gain essential experience before striking out on their own. This benefits the more experienced agent too, as they can spread themselves out further or take things a little easier when they have a partner on the job. Sharing listings can also strengthen the trust relationship between you, and is often advantageous to the vendor by offering two different personalities, and double the chance of agent attention and availability.
5. The fortune is in the follow-up
Don’t wait for business to come to you. If you want to make serious money in real estate, fortune rewards the bold. From the outset, set up an effective follow-up system. It’s incredible how many professionals in all areas of business fail on this crucial point, and waste dozens, hundreds, even thousands of opportunities over time. People are time-poor, and potential vendors and contacts won’t generally be half as motivated or interested in building a relationship with you as you are with them. People will appreciate your efforts for the most part. Being respectful and unobtrusive will help you avoid being labelled ‘pushy’; ask politely if people have a moment to talk on the phone, and ask how they prefer to be contacted. If you can make life easier for others by following up on interactions, keeping in touch with potential contacts, and creating a system where you can maintain a presence in front of them (however minor!) you’ll start to see your efforts rewarded.