Whenever I sign a new coaching client or am speaking to one of The Close Pro members about getting started in the real estate industry, I usually start the conversation with the following idea: “The barrier to entry into the real estate business is very low, but the barrier to success is very high.”
It’s pretty easy for just about anyone to get started as a realtor, but to actually succeed requires a special combination of skills, talent, hard work, and, of course, some great advice. We gathered the best advice from some of the most successful, experienced realtors from around the country to help you get started on the right foot and build a thriving real estate business.
1. Be Obsessed With Your Client’s Experience
Eva Lin, Broker, Lin Realty Group, Pasadena, CA
As a realtor, you’ve made a commitment to put your client’s needs first, to be their fiduciary through what are likely the most important financial moments of their lives. As such, they (rightfully) expect you to provide them with the support, the counsel, and the direction they need at every turn.
Eva Lin, a nationally ranked Keller Williams broker and owner of a very successful boutique brokerage in Pasadena, told us:
“Don’t be a commodity or you will be displaced. Think of the corner bookshop that’s bustling in your town, even though prices are cheaper on Amazon. That corner bookshop is still around because they offer something Amazon can’t—a curated selection, a ‘feeling’ when you walk into the shop, maybe even complimentary, beautiful gift wrapping. Those real estate agents who thrive in the coming era of change will be those who intentionally create a deeply personal and valued experience for their clients.”
2. Remember, the Riches Are in the Niches
John Gluch, Realtor & Team Founder, Gluch Group Coronado Island Real Estate, Coronado, CA
If you’ve ever heard any live coaching I’ve done with colleague Sean Moudry here at The Close, you’ve probably heard us say, “The riches are in the niches.” What we mean when we say this is that agents are more likely to reach their goals by identifying particular needs in their market and attacking those specific opportunities, rather than trying to be the every-agent for every single buyer or seller in their community.
John Gluch, eXp Realty standout and 18-year SoCal real estate veteran, went even further, saying:
“The fastest way to succeed in real estate is to narrowly focus on a small geographic area (like a ZIP code) and become the go-to person in that market. Go visit every single listing in that area (even if they aren’t yours!), promote them on social media, hold open houses, even create a simple and hyper-local blog-style website (which search engines love!) highlighting those same listings.
“Most new agents are tempted to only prospect their friends and family or to try to sell all over town, but a hyper-focused approach will quickly lead to business in both your chosen area and with friends and family as they see your work ethic and success. None of your friends want to be the first client you ever work with, so go prove you’ve got what it takes in a niche and watch as your phone starts ringing.”
[Related article: 6 Red-hot Real Estate Niches That Can Double Your GCI in 2022 & Beyond]
3. Base Your Business on Relationships, Not on Technology
Link Moser, Realtor, Founder, Experience Homes Group, New Hampshire
As a real estate technologist and someone who’s always enjoyed the latest and greatest technological innovations, I love the direction our industry has gone in the last 20 years. It is easier now than it’s ever been to have more conversations, maintain more contact with more leads, and close more deals.
That being said, amid all this cool tech, it’s easy to forget that real estate isn’t a technology business—it’s a people business. Link Moser, one of the top producers in all of New Hampshire and leader of the Experience Homes Group, shared the following when we asked him about the role of technology in real estate:
“There is no doubt that nearly everyone starts their home search online. The popular advice I hear being given to new agents is that you have to be online to be found, and while that’s true, you have to remember that the real estate business is still very much a relationship business.
“Real estate agents are not in the lead generation business, we’re not even in the housing business—we’re in the people business.
“All the tech tools out there are just that–tools. They are tools to help us communicate and market ourselves, but at the end of the day, to really succeed in real estate, you need to truly have a passion for helping people—and building relationships that will last is the first step in doing so.”
4. When Measuring Success, Use a Long Ruler
Cyrus Vaghar, Realtor, McAuliffe | Vaghar Partnership, Boston, MA
Many new agents make the mistake of measuring their success in the wrong increments of time. This misstep makes sense, especially when you’re transitioning into real estate from another career. In most other jobs, you put in work, you get a result in a relatively short period of time.
But, in real estate, where the decision for our clients to become active buyers or sellers can take months and sometimes even years, we have to zoom out and consider our net results over the long run.
Cyrus Vaghar, a relative newbie with a successful Boston-area team, shared some advice he got from a mentor early on in his career on this topic, and it was so good, we thought we’d pass it along. Here’s what he told us:
“I was in the office one day and overheard a phone call between a successful, longtime agent and homeowner, where the agent essentially lost out on a commission but secured the deal for his client, the buyer.
“I asked him afterward if he was frustrated, and he told me, ‘I never let people who’ve disappointed me live rent-free in my mind.’ Simply put, his message was to move on. I quickly realized that the vast majority of longtime agents know what it’s like to be squeezed out of a deal, but they bounce back and do not let a few bad apples ruin the bunch. The agent could have gotten angry with the homeowner, but that may have resulted in his client losing out on the deal, a client he hoped to work with again in the future.
“You have to be willing to lose out on a few deals to win big on others.”
5. Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Becky Brown, Broker, Founder, KBT Realty Group, Wilmington, NC
I’m shocked at the number of agents I speak to every week who wait way too long to ask for help. I suppose it makes sense—it’s hard to be vulnerable and admit when you don’t know the answer, and when your colleagues and officemates are also your direct competitors, it’s easy to talk yourself into believing that nobody would help you even if you asked.
Friends–that simply isn’t the case.
Real estate is a communal business. Our performance as a whole raises the level of performance for each of us. Every time you provide an answer to a client’s question that you’re not sure of, you put that positive progress in jeopardy.
Becky Brown, a broker and top producer hailing from North Carolina, reinforced this, saying:
“Just because you have a license to practice doesn’t make you an expert. Drop the arrogance and ask for help. Never give an answer that you aren’t certain is correct. It’s always best to say you don’t know and that you will find the correct information than to give a wrong answer. Be better—your clients deserve it!”
6. Your Time Is Your Most Valuable Asset
Justin Havre, Realtor, Team Leader, Justin Havre & Associates, Calgary, AB, CA
Realtors have three pools of resources to draw from when they’re running their real estate business: their time, their talent, and their budget. You’ve always got the potential to grow your talent and increase your budget, but time is the great equalizer. We all get the same number of hours in the day, and as many of us know, it’s easy to miss opportunities because we’ve mismanaged our time.
Justin Havre, one of Calgary’s leading Realtors, gave us some insight into how effective time management can make or break a young agent’s productivity. Here’s what he had to say:
“I see new realtors overwhelm themselves and burn out because they don’t know how to adequately use their time. Find the right tools to allow you to effectively track where you’re spending your time, or at the very least, make a daily chart where you record what you do and when you do it. If you aren’t seeing the results you want, look at how you’re spending your time.”
7. Take a Vacation. No, Seriously.
Barry Owen, Broker, Engel & Volkers, Nashville, TN
A lot of people get into real estate thinking, “This is great! I’ll be my own boss, work when I want, take long vacations, enjoy the flexibility of setting my own schedule,” only to realize that the demands that a successful real estate career makes on your schedule are pretty intense.
It’s easy to forget to take a day off during the week, much less an entire vacation, but that time away to rest and recharge is incredibly important. Studies show that time away from work literally adds years to your life, and it certainly increases your productivity and satisfaction with what you do when you are on the clock.
Barry Owen, broker at Pareto Real Estate went further, saying: “Take care of yourself (Spirit – Mind – Body) because success comes from within. We cannot serve others very well if we are personally depleted.”
Bonus Video: The Best Advice I Ever Received as a New Agent
I know, it’s hard to believe that wise ‘ole bearded Chris was ever a new agent, but trust me, I was. And though I got a lot of good advice from some really smart people when I started out, there’s one thing that has really stuck with me through the years. In this video, I’ll share the best piece of advice I’ve ever received.
I want to hear from you! Are you a newer agent? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Are you an old pro? What wisdom do you have to share with the next generation of realtors? Tell everyone in the comments below.