Believe it or not, we’re living in the golden age of self-made millionaires. While the best time to plant a tree may have been 20 years ago, the best time to become a millionaire is today.
No, really! Forget the doom and gloom you read in the news. The number of millionaires in the world has increased by a staggering 155% since 2008.
That’s why we decided to put together the best real estate agent tips recommended by the hundreds of top-producing agents and coaches we’ve worked with over the years.
Here are the top real estate agent tips from Rolls Royce driving, private jet flying, all-around real estate ballers:
1. Leave No Lead Left Behind
One of the hardest ideas for new agents to grasp is that most of the leads you talk to won’t be ready to transact when you talk to them. Some might take months, or even years to finally buy or sell a home. Worse, there is a 100% chance that you will not be the only agent they talk to during that time.
While “speed to lead”—the mantra in the real estate industry that says you need to make contact with a new lead as soon as possible—is important, it’s the agents who work their leads over the long run that win. Every. Single. Time.
That’s why one of the many pearls of wisdom that real estate coach and Close contributor Beverly Ruffner often drops to her clients is to leave no lead left behind. If you want to be a successful agent, you need to develop strategies for lead nurturing in your customer relationship manager (CRM) that will put you in the right place at the right time to close leads over the long haul. According to Beverly, the best part of this strategy is that you only need to be a little better at this than other agents. Most never even bother to follow up with “cold” leads.
Or do you want to be one of those agents who make excuses for why they can’t convert? If so, you should read Beverly’s article 5 Excuses Agents Make When They Can’t Convert Leads (& Why They’re Wrong). Warning: If you’re looking for excuses, this one might sting a little.
2. Invest in a Good CRM Early in Your Career
They say that an artist is only as good as her tools, and in today’s world of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, that’s an understatement. Agents who adopt and master new technology have a massive advantage over agents who don’t. Period. Yes, you can still make money cold calling and door knocking, but while you’re out doing that, smart agents who invested early in a good CRM will be sending 300 text messages from their phones with one click.
Many agents try to string together a bunch of apps to save a few bucks, but they almost always end up ditching this approach and just buying a CRM that does what they need it to. Juggling four or five apps that may or may not work well together is just not worth the hassle. It also probably won’t save you any money.
That’s why LionDesk is our pick for the best CRM for new agents. It’s easy to use, offers advanced tools like AI chatbots when you’re ready to upgrade, and best of all, is very affordable. Plans start at just $21. If you’re reading this from a big city, that’s like four cups of coffee.
Pro tip: There are a ton of CRMs out there and which one you choose is up to you. The trick is to choose one, and choose one early so you can master it! Check out our CRM buyer’s guide here to learn about more CRMs.
3. Create a Lead Generation Plan Based on Your Personality
One thing about real estate that most people don’t understand is that you don’t need to be a “people person” to become a top agent. Sure, it helps, but you might be surprised to learn many of the best agents in the country are introverts. After all, buyers want and need authenticity, skills, and empathy, not a new best friend.
The trick is to work with your strengths, not your weaknesses. In this industry, that means creating a lead generation strategy that works for your personality type. Real estate coach and Close contributor Sean Moudry built his entire coaching philosophy around this strategy, which he calls 16 Strategies.
Based on the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, Sean believes that tailoring your lead generation efforts based on your personality is the key to success. Are you an extrovert? Then cold calling should be your primary focus. More analytical? Pay-per-click (PPC) ads will yield the best results.
4. Work Where the Money Is
OK, there’s no nice way to say this so I’m just going to come out with it. Almost none of the millionaire agents we know worked in low-income areas. In fact, the vast majority both lived and worked in or near the most affluent cities in the country. So if you only follow one of the real estate agent tips we outlined here, let it be this one.
The logic here is pretty self-evident. Wealthy people move just as much (if not more) than lower-income people. Since the number of transactions one agent can feasibly close in a year is relatively fixed, selling $1,000,000 homes is going to get you a much higher gross commission income (GCI) than selling $100,000 homes.
Yes, there are notable exceptions, like Ben Caballero (ranked the No. 1 agent in the country by Real Trends for two years in a row), but exceptions to the rule do not prove the rule. If you go down the Real Trends 500 list, you’ll discover that the vast majority of highly successful agents work in wealthy areas.
How to Become a Luxury Real Estate Agent—10 Easy Ways to Break Into the Luxury Market
5. Smart Realtors Never, Ever DIY Their Bookkeeping or Taxes
Realtors who survive past year two learn one crucial lesson early on: smart Realtors never, ever DIY their bookkeeping or taxes. Here’s why: If you DIY Facebook ads and screw up, you might waste a few hundred bucks. If you DIY your bookkeeping or taxes, you are probably leaving money on the table at best. You could also be breaking the law. So unless you want to make less money or get audited, you have zero excuses for not getting professional help with your bookkeeping and taxes ASAP.
Luckily there is now an affordable way to get that professional help. FinancePal will track your sales and expenses, help you with your taxes, and manage all financial aspects of your business with their software and team of real estate industry experts. The question is not can you afford to hire them, the question is can you afford not to?
6. Take Branding & Marketing Seriously
One broker I know who sold his brokerage to NRT for north of $10,000,000 didn’t mince words when I asked him the secret to his success. Build a brand, and carve out a place for that brand in your local community.
Of course, building a great brand isn’t easy, and can end up costing you an arm and a leg. In most markets the competition has already learned this lesson, so standing out can be a challenge.
If you want to learn the rudiments of brand building for real estate, check out our guide to real estate branding here, then follow up with our guide to real estate company names, our guide to real estate logos, and finally our guide to real estate slogans.
7. Automate Anything That Can Be Automated, Hire for the Rest
One of the worst-kept secrets of real estate marketing in 2022 is that anything that can be automated will be automated. Think those friendly chats with your bank have a person behind them? Think again.
AI chatbots have become incredibly lifelike these days, and early adopters in real estate and beyond are making money by the truckful using them. So automate everything you can and hire professionals for the rest.
The only caveat about all of this game-changing real estate software is that it changes faster than many people can keep up. That’s why you need to put on your nerd cap and constantly stay ahead of the ever-evolving real estate technology landscape.
If you need help keeping up to date, subscribe to our newsletter for an easy-to-read digest sent three times a week.
8. Create a Personal Brand on Social Media
Ignoring social media in 2022 would be like ignoring the telephone in 1940. Love it or hate it, social media is where your leads are, and social media is where great brands are built these days. As Ryan Serhant says, “It’s the biggest gift salespeople have ever been given.”
Unfortunately, many new agents are not getting the message. Instead of using social media to build trust in their personal brand, they bombard their friends with hard-sell messages that literally no one likes or wants.
If you want to learn how to use social media effectively, check out our in-depth article 23 Real Estate Social Media Marketing Tips From Top Agents
Trust me, your friends will thank you.
9. Build Relationships, Not Just Leads
We weren’t kidding when we said that almost every successful agent we’ve met said that building relationships is far more important than going after leads. Those who didn’t mention this specifically just build relationships naturally. It’s second nature to them so they don’t even notice it.
For the rest of us, this is where the growth mindset comes in. You can, and should, work on developing your interpersonal skills to help build the relationships that will help you retire at 50.
There are two classic books here that have helped millions of successful entrepreneurs and business people develop interpersonal skills: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and “The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene” are classics of the genre for a good reason.
10. Always Keep Learning & Apply What You Learn to Your Career
In economics, there is a theory called the sunk cost fallacy that explains why so many people fail at real estate in under two years. It’s what happens when people insist on pushing forward with a system that just isn’t working. They put in a ton of time, money, energy or worse—all three—and just stubbornly keep at it even when they know it won’t work.
So don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a long time making it. Barbara Corcoran started out recording videos of vacant apartments and keeping a VCR and tape library in her office. She put a ton of money and time into it and it ended up failing. Big time.
Instead of doubling down, she licked her wounds and moved on, eventually perfecting a model for a brokerage she would later sell for $66,000,000. Of course, the hard part is knowing when you’ve passed the point of no return. This is no mean feat since almost everything from buying leads to advertising on Google takes time to get right.
If you’ve been struggling with something for months or even years with little to show for it, it’s time to start over. Luckily, there are a ton of very smart real estate coaches, websites, and courses you can take to find a new system that will offer a better return on investment (ROI).
Pro tip: We’re here to help you achieve your goals! Join our small virtual weekly coaching calls to get success strategies and a chance to get all your questions personally answered by the best real estate coaches. Learn more here.
11. Have a Great Website
Another thing that all great agents have in common is a great website. Unlike social media, this is a platform that you can have complete control over. When it comes to defining your brand and generating leads, controlling and owning the platform is essential.
A great website is also one of the few marketing tools an agent can have that will keep growing even as they switch from brokerage to brokerage. Since so many CRMs and advertising plans are unique to each brokerage, having a “home base” to build as you grow your career is one of the smartest things you can do to retire early.
Luckily, there are a ton of platforms out there that promise turnkey real estate websites with IDX, integrated CRMs, and other bells and whistles to get and close more leads.
Here’s a quick run-through of some of our favorites:
Placester offers sleek, good-looking IDX websites for free to National Association of Realtors (NAR) members, as well as more sophisticated sites with an integrated CRM, advanced lead capture, and more.
Real Geeks offers sophisticated IDX websites along with a powerful CRM. Lead capture, landing pages, and text messaging are available as well.
Incom is a budget-friendly option with a built-in makeshift CRM, integration with social media platforms to make lead generation easier, and real estate-specific landing pages that will convert your incoming lead traffic better than a generic website landing page.
12. Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Every Aspect of Your Business & Life
If there’s one thing we found in common with every super-successful real estate agent we’ve interviewed, it’s a growth mindset.
Still something of a buzzword in management training circles and often misunderstood as just being positive (though this does help!), growth mindset is actually the brainchild of former Harvard psychology professor Carol Dweck.
In the most basic terms, people who cultivate a growth mindset understand that the attributes that help them succeed, like intelligence, drive, or talent, are not fixed traits. Instead, a growth mindset teaches us that all of these personal attributes can be cultivated and grow as you learn and experience more in life.
If you want to learn more about the growth mindset and how it applies to real estate, check out our in-depth article on growth mindset here.
13. Realize That Most Successful Agents Buy Leads
One hard lesson that many real estate agents never learn is that a lead is a lead. In reality, there is no such thing as a “bad lead.” Whether or not you can eventually earn a commission from a lead is entirely dependent on you, not the lead. Hell, even tire kickers with terrible credit can sometimes refer you to great clients down the road.
As a real estate agent, your main role is not to sell houses. It’s to cultivate relationships with people who will eventually buy or sell a home, or connect you with someone who will. Remember, real estate is a numbers game. Imagine if you could communicate once a week with every single person in your city. What would you tell them?
The answer to that question is what separates the great agents from the merely good agents. Given the same access to such a large audience, they will be able to close 10x as many deals as a newer agent can. The trick is to get in front of them in the first place.
That’s why startup brokerages like Kendrick Realty in Orange County, California, spend a whopping $155,000 per month on paid leads. They know how to turn even “bad” leads into commission checks.
14. Get Serious About Saving
Since your goal here is to retire rather than simply getting ahead, you need to really, really double down on learning all you can about saving and making yourself a strict budget.
Taking advantage of compounding interest is one of the most powerful ways to generate wealth there is. So make a budget, stick with it, and sock away as much as you can. No one got rich or retired by spending their money frivolously.
While saving your money wisely could fill a book, planning a weekly and monthly budget is something all agents should be doing. Mint is an easy and free app that lets you create a budget, set savings and spending goals, and track your progress to stay accountable.
A traditional or Roth IRA, or a Solo 401(k), is another tried and tested way to maximize savings and ensure decent returns down the road. Here’s a quick primer on the different kinds of IRAs available to real estate agents.
Of course, since you want to retire early, smart investing is probably a faster route to building the capital you’ll need to retire.
15. Get Serious About Investing
If you had bought $1,000 of Netflix stock in 2009, it would be worth more than $60,000 today. If you bought just $100 of Bitcoin 10 years ago, it would be worth more than $125,000 today. Next to saving, smart investing is the key to creating true wealth. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel is an excellent introduction to the basics of investing.
Of course, investing in real estate is also an extremely common thing almost all wealthy people participate in. That said, if your goal is early retirement, you might be better off renting, in some circumstances, and then buying once you’re ready to settle down someplace more affordable.
This is why one of the best real estate agent tips to retire early is to invest, invest, invest, and then invest some more. Of course, we’re not advising agents to dump a year’s commissions into the cryptocurrency flavor of the week. But by studying the market and taking calculated risks, you will see great returns that can help you retire early.
Bonus Tip: Understand That Success Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone
Almost every successful real estate agent we’ve met takes calculated risks. The keyword here is calculated. Sometimes wild risks can pay off in spades, but more often than not, people end up getting burned.
Treat learning your craft as if you were in basic training for the military, training to face life and death situations in a war. When it comes to retiring early with a healthy bank account, your life will be pretty much nothing but learning and grinding.
Over to You
Have a great tip for new real estate agents who want to retire at 50? Let us know in the comments.