No one ever said a career in real estate was easy. But the rewards can be great if you are up for the challenge. Do you have what it takes to stick with it and achieve long-term success? Follow these eight basic steps to help lay the groundwork for a long and successful career.
Are you in this for the long haul? You probably know a number of real estate professionals with long and successful careers. These agents are in an enviable position to achieve their financial goals and maintain a thriving business. But many more agents stop doing real estate full-time after just a short time. In fact, 87% opt not to renew their licenses within five years.* So how do the veteran pros make it work? It all comes down to building a solid foundation and directing your energy in the right places from the start. If you’d like to achieve a long-term career in real estate, here are eight steps that can help set you up for success.
1. Manage your own expectations
Real estate careers offer a relatively low barrier to entry and the perception of easy money. But it takes time, hard work, quite a bit of planning and the right mindset to make significant money. The pros may make it look easy, but building a thriving real estate business means selling yourself and your abilities every day, constantly creating new opportunities and staying ahead of the curve. Successful realtors are tough, fair, knowledgeable, personable, professional and have a thick skin.
2. Have a realistic financial plan
Do the math to set your goals. Figure out how much you need for bills, insurance and living expenses. Also include calculations for the cost of doing business. Real estate agents are independent contractors and typically pay for their own licensing, office expenses, required continuing education, marketing, business cards and E&O insurance. Be sure to have a plan to set aside portions of your income for taxes and savings to cover the slow times or vacation. Calculate what your commission would be for a target home. Based on these figures, you should end up with a realistic goal to make ends meet, and know how much you need to sell each month.
3. Set boundaries
When you start to really get in the groove and get a taste for success, it’s easy to eat, drink and sleep real estate 24/7. But know your limits. Long-term success is defeated by burnout. Make sure you try to protect time for yourself by way of a weekly yoga class, and time for friends and family. Balance will fend off burnout and is a more sustainable career path.
4. Build your confidence
A successful agent is less likely to quit. The most important trait of a successful salesperson is confidence. But confidence is harder when you are a new agent. The best way to build confidence is practice. A couple tricks of the trade for practice:
a. Role-play with a colleague or friend. Work with a “script” of what you’d like to say in certain situations, such as meeting a prospective customer, and hear yourself say the words again and again.
b. Station yourself at open houses every weekend. This can be helpful to the listing agent and great exposure for you. Practice talking to people about their real estate needs and try asking them questions differently each time.
5. Get a mentor and/or a coach
A role model is worth her weight in gold. Having someone to ask questions, share ideas and learn from their experiences is incredibly valuable. If you don’t know someone who can fill that role, you can hire a coach. Become a knowledge sponge when you are around these people and soak up as much as you can. Also, read or listen to as many trade publications and industry blogs as you can get your hands on. Increasing your knowledge will increase your value to your clients.
6. Routines and checklists
It seems to be a simple thing, but a working real estate professional creates her own structure. Successful people tend to start their day with a specific routine. Some swear by positive affirmations or meditation. Some start by creating a to-do list for the day. Other start every day by looking at the hot sheets in their area to see what’s newly listed, sold, expired, etc., which is what you should be doing anyway. Find the routine that works for you and keeps you productive and motivated.
7. Be the captain of your own lead gen
Don’t just wait for referrals from family and friends. Contact newly expired listings and listings For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) and turn them into clients. Find out what might motivate them. Ask people if you can do a free home valuation or market analysis. This is good practice, too. Cold calling isn’t easy. You will hear far more “no’s” than “yes’s.” But if prospects always said yes, you wouldn’t be a salesperson; you’d instead be an order taker.
8. Never stop believing
Maintaining a long and fruitful career in real estate takes resilience. Even after bad experiences, and everyone has them, you need to find your own personal source for positive energy. Some successful agents use visual reminders of what motivates them. Or perhaps a mentor, coach or friend is just the touchstone you need to restore your faith in yourself.
The key takeaway here is you can do this. Be realistic, be smart and work hard and you have every reason to enjoy a successful career for years to come.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2016
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