Starting out your real estate career can be a daunting task, and the holiday season tends to be a slower time of year for most real estate markets nationwide. This can also be the PERFECT time to start your business. Why you say? First off you can't time starting something that maybe the rest of your professional life, you just need to start. Specifically seasoned agents are often on vacation after a busy fall. My facebook is filled with killer agents on vacation in Mexico or across the globe. Second the holidays are a PERFECT time to reconnect at holiday gatherings or reach out via mail/web to give seasons greetings and "hey I am also starting in real estate preparing for a big 2018. Every situation has a downside and an upside depending on how you spin it.
Now lets talk about your career move. Maybe you have come from a steady 9-5 jobs with a weekly pay check and nice cushy benefits or perhaps another sales job with an already established pipeline of warm clients. You now have made the choice to go into business for yourself and your potential broker as well. This job is not easy, but it is not rocket science. You provide an important service for a basic human need that is a MUST in life, you need a good home to be healthy, wealthy and wise. I have been in real estate for 10+ years and 8 of it as a residential agent in New York City. In the pits of the 2009 recession I decided to go into the business full time. It was a tough time, but I wouldn't have it any other way as like in any business you have to make money on the way up and the way down. You are here to serve the public and market no matter what the current state is. Let's start with choosing a broker.
Save yourself some heart ache and make a wise choice when choosing your sponsoring broker. I do believe at the end of the day the broker makes less of a difference than your personal efforts and work. Don't be fooled with grand the grand sales pitch of a seasoned real estate office manager, the more successful agents they have the more money they make with relatively little downside if you tap out in 2-3 months and go back to office life. With that said, your broker can save you time on your learning curve. Do your homework, have a plan, and choose well. Here are a couple pointers you can think about when picking your firm.
PICKING YOUR BROKER
The broker works for you, you don't work for them. Under US labor law you are classified as a 1099 worker which is essentially a free lancer. No benefits, no health insurance, and relatively little enforcement of your hours/dress/ect. Don't be fooled into thinking they are your boss or that they will be feeding you million dollar sales listings when you walk in the door. They are here to AID and SUPPORT your business. I think it is is a valuable perspective to have when shopping around town. Know your value, know you will be an asset to the company, and make sure the environment will suite you. You should ask the following questions when they interview you.
- Is the physical office space a good work environment? Light, computers, staff, ect.
- Does it have a street level retail presence for walk in customers?
- Does your broker have local brand presence aside the store front?
- How are the online reviews? How is their online presence?
- Is there new agent training and on going continued education?
- What type of real estate do they specialize in? Commercial, Residential, Land, Vacation ect
- What type of advertising budget do they give agents? Be very specific.
- What is the commission structures? This varies widely
- Do they have good listing system?
- Do they have good relationships with local lenders, attorneys, and contractors?
- Do they have business feeder programs? Ie. relocation, in coming referrals from other areas, ect
Now that you have chose a brokerage, its time to hit the ground running. The first thing you should do once you are officially signed up with Main Street Realty or The XYZ Group it is time to hit the pavement and get deals coming down the pipeline. This business has longer sales timelines than other businesses, this is important to remember. You can rent an apartment to a client today and get paid in a few days or you can make an offer today and it will take 6 months to close with checks in hand. We will break down specific actions and things you will need to kick start you moving into 2018.
GET BUSINESS JOURNAL and BACK IT UP ONLINE
Having one place where you record all your notes, names, contacts, and ideas in the physical world is very important. Yes you should 100% have all this information online as well such as your calendars to send meeting invites or excel spreadsheets for clients and properties. Why is having a physical journal important? The act of writing something down in your note book will help imprint this information to your brain. My 2nd grade teacher made us have a pen in our every second of every class, this helped us signal to our self "hey you're learning here remember this". I feel this works the same way with a journal, you give each detail one more moment of concentration and it becomes easier to think and recall all aspects of your business.
MAKE YOUR SPECIFIC BUSINESS PLAN WITH TIMELINES
Having a plan of action is essential and framing the foundation of your business is critical to being successful. I best equate it to sports. If you are a 6ft tall and you make it to the NBA, you are very likely to play point guard or shooting guard because you won't be able to play center against a 7ft tall opponent. As you begin your business, you must define and frame your business to work to your best attributes. Understand what is your strengths are and play to them. In the context of the real estate business, maybe you are very familiar with one part of town? Maybe you previously come from a large employer, reach out to your old contacts. Maybe your friends are starting to have children, help them during this likely busy time. Take a moment and think of your path to least resistance at first. This path is usually something you are already prepared for, it should not be confused with going for the lowest fruit or easiest deals. Once you have decided what your core competency is, identify who or what it is you are going to service and ad value to the transaction. Once you have this idea in your mind, you can tailor all your marketing around generating leads or clients in your wheelhouse. For example, if you are mentioning "first time home buyers" in your advertising and lexicon it is VERY likely you will get more "first time home buyers" over "estate sales". You will get leads from time to time that you CANNOT SERVICE PROPERLY. Do your self and customer a favor, find someone in your office who will do a better job because that is their specialty. They will do a better job, spend less time, it will improve your reputation with peers/community and you can get a referral :) Don't be worried about being, too specific for now. Once you have mastered a specific skill, you can move on to the next and become an expert in different area of real estate. TIMELINES ARE IMPORTANT. Now that you are going to focus on 2 family houses in the Inglewood section or new development down town, you need to have a cycle to your plan. This means setting aside specific times to take certain action. Sundays you view open houses with or with our clients from 11am - 4pm, Mondays from 9am - 11am you cold call prospects, Tuesdays 2-4pm you prospect on the streets ect the list can go on and on. Break this down into Daily, Weekly, Monthly, 3, 6, and 12 month breakdowns. When you break large goals into smaller action timelines will make it easier complete. Lastly, DON'T WORK 24/7, you will get burned out and not like the job. Make your work hours and make your recreation hours. To wrap up this section, find your strength, find your wheelhouse, make the specific times to execute this plan. Simple right? lol
PREPARE YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS
Now you have a game plan and specific times of your week to work, you need pieces of media to share with others that clearly communicate the benefits of the service you provide. This media or content can be business cards, mailers, facebook posts, blogs, social media, market reports, gifts, online profiles, online reviews. I work in Brooklyn where we have a large amount of rental properties where the majority of people rent. If you want to get exclusive rental listings, you need to write content that specifically communicates with the end user you want to reach ie the Landlord. "Apartment Rental Services" will likely speak to a landlord over "Are you sick of renting" which could be targeted at renters who are looking to buy their first home. Have your face on some of your materials. Real estate is a local business, and if people from the neighborhood see your face they could just stop you on the street for advice. One of my pillars to my business plan is education, that's why I am writing this blog. I believe that educating the consumer will lead them to using my services. I believe that educating new agents can lead to sales referrals if they need help. I believe market reports, education, creating content and supporting local business is the best avenue to generate business in 2017/2018. Most information is publicly available to anyone with an internet connection, you add value to a deal by understanding this information in the context of how it benefits your clients.
FIND YOUR STARTING POINT
You have to start somewhere to go anywhere. I love this quote and its true. I think this is a very simple thing that can be hard to pin down due to the anxiety of starting anything. Remember it can change, but you need it for now. It could be gone tomorrow, or it can be where you make your bread and butter. The way I did this is I picked one rental building and said "this is where I am going to do my first deal". This was a rental building called Silver Towers in Midtown West NYC. I learned all the layouts, the price points, the incentives, area, and met all the leasing people needed to do a deal. Picking this one building and making ads highlighting the benefits of this property ensured you would field leads IN YOUR WHEELHOUSE. I did the research, responded with confidence and customers were confident to work with me. I ended up renting the penthouse after taking the clients to see 4 rental apartments that Saturday afternoon. Once you have mastered that one product to service, find the next target. Usually I pick something that is in the area or similar price point as this is an easy transition to offer more to a potential client.
GET LOCAL & GET ONLINE
Real Estate is and always be somewhat of a local business. We are essentially paid to be experts in housing in a specific area understanding local laws, pricing, and current market trends. I specifically focus in my area of Greenwood Brooklyn as I live here. Local shops and people are crucial to your business. Here are a few easy tips to get you noticed quickly in your area. Go to your local coffee shop, laundry mat, deli, grocery store, diner, ect, and put your card up on the community small board. Give positive reviews online to your favorite local dives all over town. These are two simple free and easy ways to get noticed while not saying "HEY BUY FROM ME NOW" . Shop local and they will shop local with you.
FIND THE GATEKEEPERS
Take the get local and get online to the people. Find the people in your community who interact face to face with the public. This means yoga teachers, bartenders, baristas, deli owners, gym owners, waitresses, doctors, dentists and mail carriers. These people are community connectors so you need to let them know you're in business. Attend their establishments and refer them people from your network. Your businesses have a symbiotic relationship that will be long standing if you are both successful in your ventures. In the day and age of hyper specialization, seek out an influencer. This can be a local area blog, fitness teacher or a local social media celebrity who perhaps have a medium but dedicated following with a mutually beneficial overlap of clients. You might have to pay for a promotion on the blog or a social media post, but it is a relatively cheap way to get in front of a local audience.
SCHEDULE - EXECUTE - REPEAT
Now you have a direction, go out and do it! Start by picking a specific time each day, week, month to execute your action item list. Make those calls at 10am, network at happy hour on every other Thursday, and stick to it! You could get lucky and make real progress the first few tries, but likely it will take quite a few rejections to get a listing or client. The key to success is in the consistency in the process which create the opportunities to generate business. Use a physical calendar to imprint the meeting in your mind and then make a repeatable calendar in google to keep you on schedule each week. Find another newbie at the office to be your accountability buddy and set a time once a week to check up on each other. You will grow faster together and perhaps become a powerhouse team in the future!
I hope you found theses simple tips helpful to kick start your real estate career. Being a business owner requires you to take hold of your financial future. If you get bogged down with anxiety or stress, you will have a hard time making an living. Using a process that works for you, doing the homework, and surrounding yourself with the right people will help you get over the initial learning curve into the green $$. Subscribe to my podcast and enjoy!