Real estate agents have an awesome—and potentially awesomely rewarding—job at hand. They get the distinct privilege of helping people find the properties of their dreams, which often means playing a part in some of the happiest moments of their lives. But the truth is that the real estate industry is cutthroat, with around 20 percent of real estate agents earning the vast majority of the commissions (something like 80 percent). This means that green agents who enter the field without a deep understanding of the industry are likely to get squashed by the agents who are already well-established in the community if they don’t do everything they can to avoid it.
Learning How to Identify Mistakes
So how do newbies get a fair shot? You can read every article online and nail your real estate courses, but if you don’t keep your finger on the pulse of the industry, you’ll barely be able to get your foot in the door. Make sure that you’re listening to the members of your market and regularly scouring online reviews to see where other agents are coming up short. For any professional to be successful in this era, they must be focused on edging out the competition by making up where others lack.
Here are some known mistakes to avoid to help you launch your real estate career like you’re already a pro with years of experience.
1. Not Understanding the Market – Know one thing before you go into your first sale: most homeowners are looking at you as if you’re a real estate expert, and you are! But also understand that homeowners have a lot to lose or gain when they list their home for sale, and they absolutely will seek second opinions and double-check your facts. Always make sure that you’re up on the latest facts and figures in your specific market and kno that a market can vary wildly from one area—including a neighborhood, school district and even street—to the next.
2. Improperly Pricing a House – To piggyback off of the above: You have an incredibly delicate job as a selling agent to come up with a sale price that’s easy to promote but that’s also appealing to the homeowner. Set asking prices not based on hunches, gut feelings or the desires of the homeowner, but on cold, hard facts. Look at the comparables and spend time making calculations. Present your potential asking price like you would present a home to a buyer—sell it.
3. Not Allocating Enough to Marketing – The goal for any savvy agent is, of course, to maximize commission, and marketing efforts can quickly eat into that. But spending a little bit of money to market open houses and get the word out about your property is well worth the investment. But before you shell out for the marketing materials, make sure that you get to know your target market and how they prefer to buy. Real estate is a unique industry in that it still heavily relies on face-to-face marketing, with 71 percent of all real estate seller transactions coming from either face-to-face contact or trusted sources. Thus, it helps if you put a fair chunk of your marketing money into networking efforts and open houses.
4. Not Going Digital – According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 51 percent of buyers found the home they purchased on the Internet. Obviously, you won’t get very far in any industry these days if you’re not easy to find online. The very first thing new agents should do is create an online presence by building a website, social media pages and paid ad campaigns. Many agents also have success by advertising on Zillow, Redfin, Trulia and other real estate sites.
5. Going Entirely Digital – With the above stat in mind, it’s clear that successful modern agents cannot afford to go totally old school on the marketing. But it might surprise you to learn that the same study from the NAR found that the third most-cited place buyers found the home they purchased was through real estate signage, specifically real estate yard signs and open house signs. This means that the most successful agents are the ones who are combining digital and printed advertising materials into a single multichannel marketing strategy.
6. Not Listening to Sellers’ Pain Points – New agents should follow this rule while getting their foot in the proverbial real estate door: Do more listening than talking. This is generally a good rule in any advisement-heavy, consumer-facing role, but especially in real estate where the profit potential is high and emotions can run haywire. If you are entering a selling agreement where the homeowner has previously worked with other agents without success, make sure that you understand why your client decided to switch agents at some point during the process. Be sure you do not make the same mistakes.
7. Not Being Honest with Sellers – Last but not least, make sure that you aren’t the type of real estate agent who says what your clients want to hear simply for the sake of being a temporary hero. This will only return to haunt you when your premonitions don’t come true, which means angry clients, zero referrals and bad reviews. A good rule of thumb is to be as conservative as possible when making suggestions about profit, the sales timeline and other facets that might get your seller’s hopes up.
Making Adjustments as You Go
Don’t let the statistics scare you. If you’re committed to forging a long-term career in real estate, you already have what you need to succeed. The best agents are the ones who possess tenacity and the drive to be better every day. They’re also the ones who have the distinct ability to identify their shortcomings and rapidly make changes to improve. As long as you have all of these key qualities, you can be sure you’ll have a rewarding career in real estate.
Leslie Pierce is the VP of Marketing at Half Price Banners with a demonstrated history of working in the wholesale industry. She is skilled in Luxury Goods, Sales, Retail, Store Management, Real Estate, and Sales Operations. She is a graduate of Rockhurst University and, in her spare time, enjoys yoga and coaching youth sports.