When I first became a real estate agent in 2010, I waltzed into the office with a swagger that would make Beyoncé blush. My local market was booming. New luxury high-rises were popping up like weeds, and open houses looked more like trendy nightclubs with lines of eager buyers spilling out onto the sidewalk. How could I not become a successful real estate agent in that market?
Well, as you’ve probably already guessed, the reality of becoming a successful real estate agent was very different from what I thought it would be. It took a lot of hard work, more sleepless nights than I can count, and plenty of deal-killing mistakes, but I eventually found success. If you’re reading this, you can too. You just need the right guidance.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the simple six-step process I used to become a successful real estate agent. I cover finding your true motivation to fuel you, learning how to market your business, finding and generating leads in your niche, and the most important skill a Realtor can have: bouncing back from rejection and failure.
I also include battle-tested advice from 29-year real estate veteran, author, Close contributor, and real estate coach Sean Moudry and top-producing Florida Realtor, Close writer, and social media guru Jodie Cordell.
So turn off your notifications, grab a cup of coffee, and dig in to our six-step process to become a successful real estate agent in 2023:
1. Learn How to Bounce Back From Rejection & Failure—Fast
The cold, hard truth about real estate is that you’re going to get rejected. A lot. You’re also going to fail. A lot. FSBO prospects will hang up on you mid-sentence, homeowners will slam doors in your face, clients will ghost you, and deals will fall through at the last minute—no matter how hard you work. Your response to these common situations will determine your success in real estate more than any other skill I know. Trust me. I learned this the hard way.
All successful real estate agents have had to deal with rejection and failure. In fact, the more success you have, the more rejection and failure you’ll face along the way. Sean and I failed more times than most agents even try. So did Jodie. To become successful, we were forced to learn to bounce back quickly. Here’s why it’s so crucial:
Why Bouncing Back Is the Most Important Skill to Success in Real Estate
If you get upset when yet another FSBO lead hangs up on you, that negativity will leak into your next call, your next showing, or maybe even an important listing presentation. This will affect your performance.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, confidence is key to pretty much everything you want to accomplish as a Realtor. If you’re easily upset, you’re not going to be able to sell as effectively. That means you’ll struggle to reach your short-term goals, which will put your long-term goals even further out of reach. This is one of the main reasons why around 30% of the agents I started working with at my first brokerage quit the industry after just two years.
How to Quickly Bounce Back From Rejection & Failure
Here are three ways we learned to bounce back quickly from rejection and failure. Don’t get me wrong; these methods are not foolproof. If you’re human, getting hung up on will always sting a little. These tips will just help you move on faster.
1. Work From Your Office
Even if you have a stable support network of friends and family, the only people who will truly understand what you’re going through are other Realtors. So if you want to bounce back faster, stick with your tribe. I know, working from the office may not be fashionable these days, but the camaraderie you get from a roomful of agents will help you laugh off setbacks more easily.
2. Vent on Realtor Facebook Groups
If you really don’t want to go into the office, Facebook Groups like Lab Coat Agents or the one we run at The Close are another great place to vent about annoying clients or losing a deal. Sometimes a funny real estate meme really is the best medicine.
3. Get Regular Exercise & Sunlight
Studies show that getting at least 30 minutes of cardio per day and getting regular sunlight help improve your mood and make you feel more confident and resilient. Real estate is stressful and exercise and sunlight are proven to help reduce stress. Need I say more?
For more tips on overcoming failure in real estate, check out Sean’s deep-dive article below:
The Morning Routines of 12 Rock Star Agents (+ 8 Tips to Start Your Day Better)
2. Discover Your Mission, Vision & Values to Guide Your Career
Build a strong foundation and you’ll grow as a Realtor and as a person. Build a weak foundation and you might end up earning $8,800 a year until you decide to throw in the towel. I’m not exaggerating, either; National Association of Realtors (NAR) statistics for 2022 show that’s the average income for Realtors with less than two years of experience.
Why Creating Your MVV Is a Crucial Step for Success as a Realtor
Uber. Apple. Airbnb. All three of these multibillion-dollar companies started exactly where you are today. Their founders had dreams of creating successful businesses, but only a vague roadmap to reach them. To make that map clear enough to guide them to success, they took the time to discover their mission, visions, and values. There is no shortcut if you want to build a real estate career that lasts. Here’s why:
As a Realtor, your mission, vision, and values will help you make decisions faster, give you a sense of purpose, and best of all, help you actually feel good about the job you’re doing.
For example, let’s say you hire a graphic designer to create your logo. She shows you seven different options, each of them look amazing, but they are all very different. How do you choose one? You could just go with your gut, but wouldn’t it be better to choose the one that you know resonates with your core values, the community you want to serve, and where you see your real estate business in five years? Your MVV can help you do just that.
How to Start Working on Your Mission, Vision & Values Today
To start working on your MVV, set aside at least two hours where you can sit down to think and write without any distractions. Then either use the definitions below to write your MVV, or read Sean’s deep-dive article to learn more about the process.
This is the difference you want to make in your community or demographic. Why did you become a real estate agent? What did you want to accomplish? Who did you want to help? If you choose money as your motivation, think deeper. Cash alone won’t fuel you through 70-hour weeks.
Here is a simple formula you can use that will:
“My mission is to [solve the problem or change] so that [demographic, community, or industry] can [result].”
Where do you see your business in two years? What about in five years? Write it down and be as specific as possible.
What values will you bring to every transaction? Honesty? Integrity? Empathy?
Create an Inspiring Mission, Vision & Values Statement for Your Real Estate Business
3. Learn When to Invest Money vs When to Invest Time Into Your Business
Whether you like it or not, if you signed up to become a real estate agent, you also signed up to become a CEO, CFO, and marketing director. That means all the important decisions about your business are up to you, and you alone. Determining when to invest your time to learn a skill versus when to invest money to achieve a business goal will be some of the hardest decisions you’ll make as a Realtor.
When it comes to social media marketing, spending money almost always has a better return on investment than spending time. Learning how to design graphics, write copy, and figure out what and when to post on social media is hard. Marketing services like AgentCrate make it easy. AgentCrate has hundreds of real estate-specific templates and a marketing calendar that shows you exactly what and when to post. They also offer blogs, listing presentations, scripts, and much more. It’s like having a dedicated marketing team for less than what you probably spend on coffee every month.
4. Find a Niche in Your Market & Stick With It for at Least a Year
Dabbling in 20 different niches is not an option if you want to be successful. You need to specialize. The most successful real estate agents almost always work in very specific niches in the industry. Some work first-time buyers, others work luxury properties, and others specialize in neighborhoods.
As a brand-new agent, you will be limited in the niches you can work, but choosing one as early as possible will allow you to close deals faster. Don’t worry, you can and should change your niche as your skills grow. But choosing one as early as possible is crucial for success. You just need to commit to each niche for at least a year. Success can take time.
Here’s an example from my own career: I became a successful agent by focusing on only a handful of waterfront buildings in my neighborhood. Why? They were all within walking distance of my office, they were all highly desirable, and it only took me a few months to learn everything there was to know about them.
I knew all the doormen by name, and I knew which lines had awkward kitchens and which got the best light in the afternoon. Whenever a new client called and asked about them, I could talk about them like an expert—because I was an expert.
Why Finding the Right Niche Is a Crucial Step for Success as a Realtor
It’s much easier to learn everything there is to know about one neighborhood or one demographic than it is to learn your entire market. For example, how long would it take you to learn enough about triple net leases to explain them confidently to a commercial buyer who needs to close in a month due to their 1031 deadline? How long do you think the top commercial broker in your neighborhood spent learning about them? Five years? Ten?
How to Find Your Niche as a New Real Estate Agent
The first step to choosing a niche to work in is to identify a demographic, community, or industry you want to serve. Then figure out what their needs are and how you can help them.
If you took our advice in step two and wrote your mission statement, you should already know this. If not, here are three questions to ask yourself:
1. Do I already have the skills needed to work this niche?
If you’re a brand-new agent, your answer to this question will probably be no. This is why most new agents start with niches like first-time buyers and renters. The skills required are lower than most other niches.
2. If not, how can I acquire those skills? How long will it take?
Just because you don’t have the skills to start tomorrow doesn’t mean you should avoid a niche you want to work. Instead, figure out how you can get those skills and how long it will take you to learn them. Here are two easy ways to do just that:
Find a mentor
The best way to start this process is to find an industry expert to chat with. If you want to sell luxury homes, find a top-producing luxury agent and offer to buy them a coffee to pick their brain. If you get along and they don’t see you as competition, ask them if they’d be willing to mentor you.
Join a team
Finding a team that’s already successful in the niche you want to work is the fastest and easiest way to start learning. It also has an added benefit: As a junior agent, you can start working buyers in your niche right away. As a brand-new solo agent, finding luxury buyer leads will be next to impossible. But as a junior agent on a team, you might start working with luxury buyers on day one.
Warning: There is a catch to working as a junior agent. You’ll need to share your commission with your team leader. That means your splits will be much lower than solo agents. Sometimes as low as 25%. A concern for some people, but the fact that you can start working in your niche right away may more than make up for it. Always remember: Making 30% of something is better than making 50% of nothing!
3. Is my professional or personal background relevant to this niche?
If you’re short on skills and don’t want to join a team or find a mentor, you can leverage your past to find your niche. For example, if you worked in tech before becoming a Realtor, you can specialize in marketing smart homes or helping tech workers find properties.
Your personal connections can also work to your advantage. I’m not going to name names here, but many of the most successful luxury listing agents I know got their start through family. Your rich Aunt Tina could be your ticket to selling your first mansion and starting a career as a luxury agent.
4. How many other agents are already working in this niche? How successful are they?
As we mentioned in step two, money shouldn’t be your first criteria for choosing a niche. It’s just not enough to fuel you through the 70-hour weeks it might take to find true success. But since you have a mortgage to pay, the final step to choosing a niche that works for you is whether or not you can make money working it.
Here are two ways to find out if a niche has the potential to make you money:
Ask your managing broker
Schedule a meeting with your managing broker and ask them if they think the niche you want to work will be enough to sustain your business. Chances are they’ve seen others attempt what you’re contemplating.
Do your own research
If your managing broker doesn’t know or steers you to a niche you’re not interested in, do your own research.
- Size: Is the area or demographic you want to focus on large enough to sustain your business? What is the competition like? Is there room for a new agent?
- Trends: Is the demographic you want to work growing or declining in your city? Are millennials flocking in to snap up starter homes? Are families leaving to get larger homes in the suburbs?
- Turnover: If you answered yes to the first two questions, find out if there is enough turnover to consistently find buyers and sellers over the next few years. Is inventory growing or shrinking? You might be able to find this information in your MLS or you can use Realtors Property Resource, which is free with your National Association of Realtors membership.
8 Red-hot Real Estate Niches That Can Double Your GCI in 2024
5. Learn How to Generate & Nurture Leads in Your Niche Based on Your Sales Personality
Once you’ve learned how to bounce back from rejection and failure, discovered your mission, vision, and values, and found a niche, the next step is to learn how to generate and nurture leads in your niche based on your sales personality.
Leads are like water for Realtors. You can’t survive without them. Of course, generating leads is only half the battle. You need to be able to nurture them until they are ready to buy or sell a home.
While your lead generation strategies might vary depending on which niche you choose, we always recommend new agents try to match their lead generation strategies to their sales personality.
What Is a Sales Personality?
A sales personality is a term Sean uses in his 16 strategies real estate coaching system. It’s based on the Myers-Briggs personality assessment and is a powerful tool for choosing lead generation strategies that work with, instead of against, your unique personality.
Why Tailoring Your Lead Gen Strategies Based on Your Personality Translates to Success
Many new Realtors choose lead generation strategies based on what other successful agents are doing. This makes sense at first, but what happens if you’re an introvert and the most successful agents in your office are cold calling FSBOs? Should you just grit your teeth and sweat it out on the phone three hours a day? Well, if you want to be miserable and make less money, you’re welcome to try. But there is a better way.
How to Generate & Nurture Leads in Your Niche Based on Your Sales Personality
The first step is to find out what your sales personality is. Take our quiz below to get a free assessment and a customized list of lead generation strategies that will work for your personality.
What’s Your Real Estate Sales Personality? Take Our Quiz & Find Out
Of course, there are more ways to generate leads than we include in our assessment. To learn more about new and underrated lead generation strategies, check out our strategy guide below. Just remember to keep your personality and niche in mind before choosing a new strategy. This article is updated once per quarter, so make sure to bookmark and refer back to it if you need new ways to generate leads.
37 Underrated Real Estate Lead Generation Ideas for 2023
Pro tip: Use a Smart CRM with Automated Lead Nurturing
One of the most frustrating things about trying to become a successful agent is that the more cold leads you get, the more time you need to spend nurturing them. This can easily take up the majority of your day if you’re not careful. One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to use automated lead nurturing tools like Zurple.
Zurple generates exclusive leads for you and uses their intelligent nurturing system to send them emails and texts based on their behavior. When they’re ready to buy or sell, the system alerts you so you can step in and convert them.
6. Build Your Personal Brand & Learn How to Market It in Your Niche
The final step to becoming a successful real estate agent is to build your personal brand and learn how to market it to people in your niche. A strong personal brand will not only set you apart from the competition, it will help you communicate your mission, vision, and values to your niche in a way that resonates with them.
Why a Personal Brand Is Crucial for Success as a Realtor
When I first started my career in real estate in 2010, I interviewed at a brokerage called Nestseekers. I ended up turning them down, but the managing broker kept gushing about one of their agents who just auditioned for a TV show. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and was very happy at the brokerage I chose. But I should have paid more attention because the agent auditioning for a TV show was Ryan Serhant.
Today, Ryan Serhant has arguably the most powerful personal brand in real estate. He is literally a household name, and over the 13 years since I interviewed at his brokerage, has built a luxury real estate empire. He credits all of his success to building his personal brand early in his career.
Sell It Like Serhant Course: How to Build Your Personal Brand (In-depth Review)
How to Build Your Personal Brand & Learn How to Market It in Your Niche
If you made it this far, you probably already know the first step to building a personal brand. Use your mission, vision, and values and the niche you chose to guide you! Without knowing what your mission and core values are or who you want to serve, how will you ever decide on a personal brand to reach them?
If you just want some guidance on the basics, check out my strategy guides below. They cover every element of building a personal brand.
Marketing is a little easier, but you should still use your mission, vision, and values and your niche to guide your choices. To learn more about marketing, check out our strategy guides below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it hard to be a successful real estate agent?
It can be, but luck and timing can also play a massive role in your career. Many luxury agents I know became successful through family connections. Others happened to start their careers in red-hot markets with weak competition. But if you’re trying to build a sustainable career in real estate, luck will only get you so far. Persistence and hard work beat luck every day of the week, especially when markets are down.
Is a career in real estate worth it?
Is it worth it? Absolutely, it’s worth it. Real estate is one of the most fulfilling careers you can have. The highs and lows can be intense, but at the end of the day you can help people you care about find a safe and happy corner of the world to call home. What’s not to love? 💓
How Can I Make Switching to a Career in Real Estate Easier?
While switching careers is never easy, the key to making a smooth transition to real estate is all about preparation. To get a head start, check out Colibri’s deep-dive career switching guide below
Success in real estate is a simple process, but it’s not easy. It starts with learning how to bounce back quickly from the lows. Your response to rejection and failure will determine the trajectory of your entire career. Most agents who quit the industry can’t handle the pressure. Then you need to discover your mission, vision, and values, find your niche, learn how to generate leads, build a personal brand, and market it in a way that resonates with the people in that niche.