13 Things I Wish I Knew As A New Real Estate Agent
When I was 19 years old, I decided to serve a mission for my church. Part of this mission, that was for 2 years, included getting called to some random place that I surely would know nothing about and had never been to. I remember the day I got my call, Monterrey Mexico Spanish Speaking. That last part seemed like a fun idea at the time, it would quickly become my biggest challenge in life. Imagine trying to teach random strangers about a topic I barely knew, oh and I have to do it in a language that I didn’t speak. Needless to say, I wasn’t really effective those first few months.
This is the dirty little secret in real estate. When you finally complete your 120 hours and pass the real estate exam, you know NOTHING about actually selling real estate. You are essentially in a foreign land speaking a foreign language and there are real people counting on you to help them. Thankfully for me, this was familiar territory. Yet I fumbled my way through those first 6 months as an agent not knowing the difference between what I did as an agent and what the loan officers did to get the loan.
Because of the craziness that is the first 6 months as a new agent, I can see why so many join a team or start out working for a builder or a brokerage. But, if you choose to go at it alone, as I did, here are my 13 things I wish I would have known when I started!
1. Lead Generation is your job - Nothing else
I recently added a new member to my real estate team and as I started to map out his first week, I realized that there is quite a lot to do when you are first starting out. I gave him a list of about 15 things he needed to do including trainings, watching my social media course, getting all his paperwork set, previewing homes, memorizing scripts, and of course lead generation. He came back to me a few days later and he assumed he had done a great job. He had completed almost everything on the list, except the lead generation. He was “building up to it.”
I gave him his new list of things to do that day, there was one thing on it… Lead generation! It is not the thing you do if you get to it, it is not to be skipped, or passed over for ANYTHING including showing homes. It is your job, the one way you find clients and get better every day at creating a business.
2. You don’t have the professional language yet, overdue everything else
When I sit down with somebody it doesn’t take them long to figure out that I know what I am talking about. I’ve been in the business 14 years though and I’ve sold over 2000 houses, so this makes sense. When I was starting out though, I had no clue what to say! I was descent at winging it but half the time I looked like the kid in front of the class in elementary school trying to give a summary of the book I didn’t read.
Because of this lack of experience, I knew I had to overdue everything else and I did. I always dressed in a suit or at least a shirt and tie. I shined my shoes, showed up on time and always made my car was clean if I was going to put someone in it. You need to act the part as much as possible so that all your clients don’t feel like they are working with a rookie even if they are.
3. Always share what is in it for the client, don’t talk about yourself
This is such a huge mistake that a lot of realtors make even when they have been in the business for 10 or 15 years. I’ll help you early on, nobody cares about you! What can you do for them? That is all they are thinking about. So next time you want to tell them why you are the best, ask them instead about what is important to them in a realtor and make sure to follow up on those things.
4. Find 10 great people that are “Raving Fans” that is a guaranteed 10 deals a year if you treat them right.
This one here is a little secret that I share with the agents I train. This business is really quite simple, focus on 10 people that you are already close with and be their expert. Make sure they know that they are part of your “elite” client base and make them feel special. Share referrals to their business and make sure to give them shout outs on social media. For every true ‘raving fan’ you have in your database you will sell a home a year. This was true for me when I had 35 and it’s true today when I have over 250.
5. Stop buying leads, you can’t afford them
This one seems obvious to me, but it is not. Look, I did this myself and it was a huge mistake. I spent so much money that even though I sold 98 houses my second year as an agent I was dead broke at the end of the year. I’m not exaggerating. I spent money on every shiny object the industry could throw my way. Get a coach, get your skills dialed in. Learn what to say to other people and say it as many times per day as you can! That’s how you make real money as a real estate agent.
6. #1 skill to learn, how to be productive with your time
More than anything else I get asked how I have so much time to do all the things I go and do. Last year alone I spent 110 days outside my state on vacation. I visited 21 countries and I almost never missed an important event in the lives of my family and friends. How did I do this? I have mastered using my time efficiently.
This wasn’t always the case with me but in 2009 I hired a guy named Dave Crenshaw that came to my office and gave me a 2-day training that I will never forget. I instantly felt like I had an extra 3 hours per day and in that time, it made all the difference. Too many agents do things that aren’t productive just so they can go home and tell their spouse they went to work that day. I am trying not to go to work! If I can get something done in 4 hours, the last thing I want to do is go to the office and spend 10 hours. Learn to focus on all the activities that bring in cash and deals and learn to delegate everything else.
7. Find a ride or die loan officer
This is a stupid way to put it, but it gets the point across. You have to find a loan officer that is all in on you and your business. I would spend months and interview dozens if needed but you should have a loan officer that is dedicated 100% to you and your business. My loan officer is giving me at least 2-3 leads per month and we are closing at least a dozen of his clients, otherwise he either isn’t a good loan officer, or he isn’t giving you his leads. Either way, you need to find someone else.
8. Social media is your number one marketing tool... And it’s free!!! Learn how to master it
I’m legitimately jealous of agents starting out in 2019. You have so many more tools than we had even 5 or 10 years ago, and they can mean everything to creating a giant real estate client base. You should at a minimum be using the following 3 things to both look for leads and show to all your friends and family that you are the expert:
A. Facebook- There are a few key ways to use this but #1 is Facebook live. Be the market expert, answer their questions, share your best deals, etc. For next level you should be using Facebook ads. I teach this in depth in my course “The Social Realtor” but here is a free webinar if you want to learn more Click Here
B. Instagram- I literally get a majority of my leads from here now. It is your reality T.V. show that 1000’s of people will watch every day if you take the time to create an attractive profile. This is where you can ask for business and share your daily successes and daily routines to show everyone around you that you are the best.
C. YouTube- People work with people that they know and trust. This is your chance to gain trust in the 2 ways that you need to... 1. Trust that you know what you are doing 2. Trust that you will have their best interests in mind. Use it!
9. Read an hour per day, things pertaining to real estate and sales and marketing
My career really took off when I fell in love with reading great books. I’ll never forget the first couple I read; “A Shark Never Sleeps”, “Good to Great”, and “Think and Grow Rich”. I had never been much of a reader, but it built up my mindset so strong over the next several years. I got to the point where I was reading 100 books per year. This was pre-Audible days too, so I was actually reading this many books. I look back now and I’m so grateful I didn’t have Netflix and YouTube to distract me.
I was reading about the founder of Lululemon recently and he talked about one of his first jobs was to just sit and watch for something all day long on an oil field. Because this literally meant he did nothing all day he started to read all day long. He started with the top 100 classics list and after finishing off that, he started reading business and self-help books. This was the catalyst for him to start and build his current empire. Find the time!
10. Steal Like an Artist
The most successful people I know don’t reinvent the wheel. They find something that is already working, and they improve it and make it better. Look around your office if you are a new agent and see what is actually working. A lot of people will tell you they are having success but what are they really doing to find leads and convert them to closed transactions?
The best thing I ever did in my career was go for a couple of years to a seminar of about 100 agents that Mike Ferry used to put together called the Top Producers. You had to sell over 75 homes per year to qualify and Mike would bring us all in from all over the country, so the other agents were very open to sharing. Now a days you don’t need to fly to San Francisco or Miami to pick the brains of the best agents, you can find them in online communities like the one I just started on Facebook called The Social Realtor
11. People are attracted to energy
Everything around us is made of matter or energy and therefore every room we walk into we either bring in an energy that increased the mood or decreases it. When the real estate market tanked in 2008 and 2009, I made it a point to be the most positive guy in the office. Everywhere around me agents were depressed and telling sob stories and I just refused to buy into it. I can’t tell you how many times I showed up and took a FSBO listing and the seller told me they picked me because I was the first one that seemed optimistic of the 40 phone calls they received from agents. Stay positive!
12. Buy at least one house every year - Overshare so your clients know you believe in your product
You would think this one would be more obvious but it’s not. A lot of young and newer agents especially aren’t buying houses. How can you go out and talk about investing in real estate when you yourself aren’t doing it? Here’s a simple way to do it, learn to live on 75% of the money you earn. 25% goes directly into an investment account before it every hit your bank.
Every year I buy at least 1 more investment property and then I tell all my friends and clients about it. They get excited and “want to do what you are doing.” And just like that I sell 6-7 investment properties and replace the down payment I just took from my investment account. I started doing this in 2011 and I now own 12 investment homes that I put at least 20% down on each one. This is where I will build my fortune over time.
13. 10,000 hours to become an expert… You can do that in 5 years… Be patient
You are brand new! Know that you can have success right away, but it won’t be easy. Cut that 10,000 hours window down as much as you can by getting in the office one hour earlier and leaving one hour later. This is what super successful people do. There is a time to be balanced and a time to be strategically unbalanced and when you are new in real estate, that is a really good time to be strategically unbalanced towards your career. This business actually does get easier year after year as long as you work it hard and keep after it. Give yourself permission to take vacations and breaks but you are brand new, you can’t be going out of town every 5-6 weeks. You can’t work 5 days a week, take 2 completely off, and complain that your career isn’t taking off.