My first piece of advice would be to check your ego at the door and let reality settle in. So many agents find themselves fresh out of the classroom with a brand new license in their hand and not much of a clue what to do next. Most of them seem to think that the real estate business is much like the reality shows you see on television. Drive around in a luxury car with an expensive suit and designer shades on. Meet a client at a million dollar home, sign some paperwork, close the deal and collect a big check. The thought of that is amazing, but the reality is that as a new agent you will be very lucky to cover your expenses in the first year. You don’t see $25,000 commission checks and it is not likely you will find someone willing to list their million dollar home with you. You will most likely be scraping out whatever buyers and listings you can. Doesn’t really matter if it $35k or $235k, you will have to take what you can get. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has to start somewhere so there is nothing wrong with taking anything and everything. The reality is that after you sell a $200k house, your firm takes their cut and government takes theirs, you will be left with a few thousand net. That first deal doesn’t even cover the cost of real estate school, membership dues and whatever other startup costs you incurred. Now start factoring marketing costs into the equation and your first two deals are probably going to get you to even. This is the most common misconception with new agents getting into the business. They see what seems to be a leisurely lifestyle with nice cars, a big home and plenty of free time to play golf. What they don’t understand is the years that have gone into building that book of business. The real estate business is not even close to a 9-5 job that you leave at the office and pickup again the next morning. It is a 24/7 grind that will have you driving from one end of the county to the other, having the phone glued to your ear and never being more than arms length from your laptop. You need to be there when the phone rings whether it is 9am or 10pm. Whether it is a Tuesday or a Sunday. Your client’s depend on you to be there when they need you and often need answers asap. In this market you don’t have the option of making an appointment to show a house on Friday when it is Tuesday. Chances are that home will be under contract by then by someone who had an agent that was willing to go see the home asap. My schedule changes day to day and hour by hour depending on my client’s needs. I take everything I need with me when I go out of town because there is no such thing as a vacation without some work for a busy agent. If your goal is to be a successful agent, you have to be willing to put in the work to get there. I see a lot of new agents that come in and think it as easy as getting a website, printing business cards and waiting for the phone to ring. Those are the same agents that are typically getting out of the business less than a year later because they can’t make ends meet. This is not a business that you can fake it until you make it. It is commission only and only the strong survive. You need to know what you are doing, have a plan and stick to it. Even in the beginning when it seems like things aren’t happening as fast as you would like, stay the course! Most people give up too soon and never get to see the results of their work. When times are slow, market harder! When times are good and you have some business in the pipeline, market harder! 80% of your business will come from your sphere of influence so you better get good at telling people what you do for a living. It is tough sometimes to reach out to friends and family with marketing, but those are the people that should be the easiest. You already know them and hopefully they already trust you. Lean on them and ask them to refer you to their friends, family and coworkers. It is never too early to start marketing. If you are in school to become a real estate agent, let people know that you will be getting licensed soon. Let them know that you will be able to give them all of your time because you don’t have any other clients yet. If they push back that you are a new agent and they would like an experienced agent, let them know that you have a BIC that oversees everything to make sure you do everything correct. They will take comfort in that! If it is possible for you to keep working and slowly work your way into the business, I would suggest that. It is very hard to make any type of significant income in your first year in the business. Year two should start providing you with more business and more steady income. In your third year you should start seeing that steady income grow into a sustainable book of business that keeps you busy and steady commission checks coming in every month. This is why I always tell new agents to have a 3 year plan and make it realistic. Don’t come in thinking you are going to make $60k in year one. Be realistic and do the work! It is very easy to stray off course and not stick to the plan, but if you can stay disciplined, you will be successful. This is a business that can provide a six figure income with well less than full time hours if you are willing to put in the work now.
Jeremy J. Burns