10 Things to Do Before a Starting Career in Real Estate
So you’re thinking about becoming a real estate agent? It’s an exciting career that can introduce you to many exciting people and if you work smart can provide a comfortable income. However, there are a few things for you to consider and actions to perform before you begin your new pursuit.
I’ve put together 10 things to do before launching your real estate career.
1. Be Honest with Yourself.
This is probably the most important item on the list. Essentially, ask yourself (and answer) “what is my motivation?”.
If you’re driven by the lure of easy money, STOP NOW. It’s NOT easy and it takes a lot of hard work. The money will come only if you work smart and put forth the effort.
If you are not afraid of hard work, enjoy meeting new people and providing a service to others then keep on reading! This may be for you. Real Estate is part marketing, part sales, part entrepreneurship, and a large part customer service. So think through each of these and make sure you are willing to do all of them, ESPECIALLY the customer service part.
Are you good with change? This is a fast-paced business and tools of the trade are changing rapidly. One minute we are using laptops and the next we are showing homes on tablets. MLS systems are changing quickly as well so we all have to be able to adapt easily to new software and websites. Also, laws are changing and we must stay up to date and understand how they impact us and our clients.
2. Interview Current Real Estate Professionals.
This follows number 1 very closely. I recommend that you interview several real estate agents to understand the pros and cons of the job. Don’t just interview the top agents and/or your real estate agent friends. I suggest you interview agents at different points in their career – established agents and ones starting out.
Here are some questions to consider asking them:
What are their daily and weekly routines?
What do they love and hate about their jobs?
What advice would they give to new agents?
What do they consider to be the most important quality in a good agent?
What are the common pitfalls to avoid when getting started?
How important is the role of technology for the real estate agent?
Once you have all of your questions answered, reflect back on the responses and write a list of the common factors that were mentioned across the interviewees. Come to your own conclusion, and if need be revisited number one on the list to make sure this career is for you.
3. Know how to Budget and Do it.
Working on a commission can be very rough for people who are accustomed to getting regular paychecks. You must be diligent with your budgeting and savings in order to avoid adding financial stress on top of the already stressful task of starting a new career. Personal Budgeting is key to longevity as a commissioned salesperson.
4. Consider a Second Source of Income.
This can actually serve a couple of purposes.
First, it can relieve financial stress from working on commission and not deplete your savings account (and actually maybe add to it).
Second, your other job can provide a great source of potential clients and expand your sphere of influence. Just be careful with promoting yourself and new career too much. Some employers may frown at this.
5. Start Building your Database of Contacts.
It’s never too early to start compiling a list of people that you will reach out to and let them know that you’re a new real estate agent.
Make sure to include as much of the following as possible:
Home and Mobile Telephone Numbers
List of Family Members
Employer and Occupation
6. Treat this as a Business (because it is!).
While you are getting your real estate license and interviewing agents and firms, you should keep track of your mileage and other expenses. Talk to your tax preparer about allowable expenses and begin to track them accordingly.
Write a Business Plan. There are numerous books and resources on the Internet to help with this effort. Planning is very important and sticking to your plan will help you to stay on track to earn a profit. Note: You will likely have to modify your first few plans as you get the hang of your expenses and client conversion ratios so don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to tweak your plan.
7. Learn from the Best.
There are plenty of books and Internet tools available from top agents that are meant to inspire and teach. My personal favorite is the Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller (of Keller Williams). I read this book when I was first getting started and will still pick it up when I need a little kickstart.
8. Research the best Broker Firm for You.
This is one of the final and vital pieces to have in place before you begin your new career.
You should look for a firm that has excellent online tools and offers classes and/or mentorships to new agents.
It should be a good fit with your personality. There are office politics EVERYWHERE so make sure you are comfortable in your new environment.
Remember during your conversations/interviews that you are interviewing them as well. This is not a job interview so try not to be nervous. As a real estate agent, you are in business for yourself and you need to find a great partner. The right broker firm will be the partner that will help you achieve your goals.
9. Get to Know your Neighborhood and Surrounding Area.
It’s never too early to start looking around, visiting open houses and checking out the prices in your market. Here are some things to consider:
Know the inventory of homes in your chosen market.
Start compiling a list of parks and activities in the area.
Get involved with town meetings and possibly serve on a committee. This is where you will hear information first and also be able to expand your contact database.
You are not only selling homes but also neighborhoods so go ahead and begin pulling together marketing material. The Chamber of Commerce might be able to provide some useful resources.
10. Get Licensed.
Every state has it’s own set of requirements to become a licensed real estate agent. Please check out the map I’ve put together and click on your state to see your state educational requirements. Math tends to be a sticking point for some agents during the exam so I’ve written several Real Estate Math posts to help aspiring real estate agents.
This list is meant to guide you with your decision but ultimately the decision is yours. I hope this helps you and I always welcome comments, suggestions and questions.