Have you been considering a new profession? Does the idea of selling commercial or residential properties interest you? While there are certainly opportunities to make a substantial income as a real estate agent, it’s not quite as simple as obtaining your license and launching your career. So before joining the more than two million licensed agents in the United States, consider first the following ideas on how to get started in real estate.
Budget for Startup Costs
You can’t simply wake up one day and start selling real estate. Before you launch your career, you’ll have to obtain some training and education, which varies from state to state. It’s likely that you’ll spend at least $2,000 on real estate courses, exams, licensing, and association memberships. You will also need a few professional outfits to wear while you’re working in an office environment or when you’re with clients. As well, you’ll need a reliable, clean car to drive clients in as you tour properties.
Carefully Pick a Broker
Once licensed, your fastest way to gain exposure to a large client base is to work for a real estate broker. Most communities have at least a number of recognized brokers and locally-managed real estate companies. Narrow down your search by conducting an online search of local brokers and find out which ones are recruiting new agents. Often this information is on a broker’s website. Research your options from a consumer perspective, such as checking online review sites. As well, review their website quality, social media presence, and the brokerage’s office. You want to represent a broker that you can be proud of!
It can be worthwhile to also ask fellow realtors in your area who they recommend. You can gain additional insights on your options from the National Association of Realtors. Next, you’ll want to schedule interviews with the brokers you’re interested in. Have a list of relevant questions, and don’t forget to ask if they have any mentoring programs or resources to help new agents succeed. You will also want to discuss how commissions, referrals, and leads are handled.
Don’t Expect Consistent Paychecks at First
If you need the security of a regular paycheck, real estate may not be the right decision for you. Because agents work on commission, income can be sporadic and very unpredictable, particularly during the first few years. There may even be months before your first sale; however, if you are focused on success and working hard, you can be very well compensated.
Invest Your Time
Many individuals become realtors because they’re attracted to the flexible schedule. While it’s true that you do have some ability to set your own schedule, it’s likely you’ll be working long hours and on weekends. It’s just an industry reality that most open houses take place on weekends. However, managing properties and assisting buyers and managers will typically take place during the week. You will also discover that as a realtor, you’ll be managing large volumes of paperwork. Most realtors do this from a home office after hours. In other words, plan on being busy!
Real Estate Is a Business and Not Just a Job
While new real estate agents can get plenty of valuable guidance and support from a broker, it’s not a traditional job. You will still have to manage many of the benefits that companies provide their employees, such as health insurance, retirement savings, and life insurance. Because you will be a contractor and not a full-time employee of the broker, you will also have to manage your taxes and expenses, such as those for mileage and office supplies. Many realtors invest in software to help them stay on track with accounting so they can better focus on their day-to-day tasks.
New realtors often find it much more difficult than they had planned to find new clients and make sales. With so many realtors vying to make sales, you will need a clear marketing plan of action to get noticed and to start generating business.
It may seem a little unusual at first to market yourself. Yet, a strong personal brand can be a tremendous advantage in the real estate industry. At first, you may want to take advantage of your brokerage’s marketing tools. Many offer website templates as well as solutions such as Xpressdocs’ Marketing Platform to create print collateral like flyers, brochures, and postcards that can be mailed to prospective clients.
Over time, you may develop your own strategies for marketing your real estate services. For some, a well-developed website with a regularly updated blog is a big generator of leads. Others prefer the targeted marketing capabilities of direct mail. And there are plenty of realtors who develop creative ways to market themselves through community events, partnerships with other local businesses, trade shows, and even unconventional guerrilla marketing efforts. Consider where your strengths lie and build your marketing plan around those. If you like to write, launch a quarterly newsletter with your personal insights about the market. Are you a master networker? Join a couple of networking and community groups and become friendly with those who are also looking to expand their opportunities.
Regardless of your marketing mix, you will want to ensure that you have well-designed print collateral and business cards, signage for properties you’re listing, and an online presence. Many realtors have also turned to social media because it’s both cost-effective and easy to use. You can provide updates on properties on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also network with potential buyers and sellers on these important marketing channels. A solution for managing your social media presence can help you stay current with your communications, as well as gain valuable insights to determine what is working and what isn’t when it comes to your messaging and content.
Manage Your Reputation
Every realtor’s business hinges on his or her reputation. Agents who have proven successes and are known for their professionalism and capabilities generate referrals and plenty of repeat business. Those who don’t get the job done or who are less than professional ultimately wind up getting bad reviews on public sites, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau. Don’t risk it! If you want a successful career in real estate, make sure that you strive to achieve the greatest results for each and every customer while also providing personalized, professional service. This is a recipe for launching and sustaining a lucrative career in real estate that can last a lifetime.