The air is crisp, leaves are falling, and the real estate market is still in full swing. Last month’s column covered the steps it takes to become a licensed real estate professional. This month I’ll focus on what it takes to become a successful Realtor®.
Most folks interested in real estate think looking at houses is fun; they think the schedule will be flexible or it’s easy money. To be frank, very few new agents make it to their third year. Getting started is difficult and staying afloat is a daunting endeavor.
As 1099 independent contractors, all advertising, education, equipment, fees, and other expenses are out of pocket. There’s no income without a sale. With buyers, that sometimes takes years of working with a client. With listings, there are upfront expenses for photography and advertising, and certain properties can take time to sell—or never sell. Often new agents are part-time while maintaining another job that covers living expenses and startup costs. When I got my license, I was training horses full-time which allowed me to move my schedule around to accommodate clients in both businesses.
When an agent is new, the most common tactic is to “farm” their sphere. The problem is that sphere knows the agent is new, and no matter how much they love or respect that person, prospective clients are unlikely to trust a major decision to someone with little experience. I encourage my agents to work with a seasoned agent who has a great reputation and sell that Realtor® to a potential client. This results in splitting any commission, but the new agent is gaining experience, stats, and hopefully referrals.
Lead generation (identifying and cultivating potential clients) often involves paying for leads through online platforms like Zillow or Redfin. This is a costly undertaking that takes quite a while to become profitable. The best way to get leads is by doing an exceptional job for a client and getting their referrals.
Referrals are most likely to come from clients who actually do sell or buy a home with your help. This is a chicken and egg scenario. Referral clients only come from happy past clients, and where do the initial clients come from? This is the main reason new agents never get off the ground.
No amount of marketing, professional photos, or classes can replace hard-learned lessons from experience. Every transaction is different, and every property has its own unique set of qualities. Much like horse training, this is a lifestyle as much as a profession. Do whatever is possible to participate in as many individual transactions as possible. Find a reputable mentor and offer any amount of grunt work to have access to that experiential learning. It’s priceless.
Specializing in a Field
Horse people have a natural inclination to want to specialize in equestrian properties. Horse ownership alone is not a qualification. Being versed in contract law, land use, and having a solid understanding of real estate transactions comes first. Experience in the nuances specific to acreage and agricultural properties is even more important. The amount of extra knowledge and effort needed to specialize in ag properties is considerable, the transactions are far more complicated, and the commissions are the same as a simple home on a lot in town.
Starting out as a part-time Realtor® to get off the ground is one thing, but dabbling in something as important as the purchase and sale of real estate is not in anyone’s best interest. The best and most competent Realtors® are immersed in the market and work daily. I work 7 days a week, holidays, birthdays, and haven’t ridden a horse in weeks because work comes first. This is the most important transaction in most client’s lives and it deserves my full attention. Please only enter this field if you intend to be full-time.
Tips to be a Successful Realtor
Always keep the client’s needs first. Listen. Our job is to help them make informed choices. Remember that this is their money, their decision. That can be hard when you have bills to pay. But there’s no commission that’s worth an unhappy client. The phone will ring at all hours of the day. Answer it. Return missed calls, and promptly answer emails and texts. Work hard. Then work a little harder.
Be a good communicator. Be kind. Most real estate transactions are happening under duress and all involve a level of stress.
Become knowledgeable and the business will come. Nothing replaces competency in real estate. Realtors® are licensed to do very specific work, but be willing to do the additional legwork to get the answers that clients need to make an informed decision.
Maintain good relationships with other Realtors®. Realtors® who are hardworking, have good communication skills, and are easy to work with make other professionals want to work with them.
Be a problem solver. Most transactions fall apart from a lack of effort or problems that could have been avoided. If there’s a willing seller and a willing buyer, there’s a way.
Get involved with the local Realtor® Association. The resources and connections can elevate a business.
I’m passionate about the profession and always happy to talk to people interested in becoming a Realtor®. I’m just a phone call away, and I promise to answer.
Allison Trimble has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Cal Poly, SLO. After her graduation in 1999, Allison started Coastal Equine and has been training and competing in cowhorse, reining and cutting events. She has had marked success in the show pen boasting many titles and championships.
Willfully Guided is an educational program based on Allison’s training process. For more information visit: www.willfullyguided.com
Allison is also a Realtor specializing in horse properties, hobby and commercial farms, and family housing. She combines her experience in the horse industry with her lifelong involvement in real estate to help clients find their perfect property. Learn more at www.coastalrealtywa.com