So, you want to be a real estate agent? Markets around the country are performing so strongly that we’re seeing a wave of new agents who are just starting out their real estate careers. The Charleston real estate market is no exception, and our office sees new agent faces monthly. You’ll find entire classes and webinars dedicated to these topics for good reason:
- Social media marketing
- Keeping in touch with your Sphere of Influence (sometimes called SOI)
- Listing presentations
- Creating a positive mindset
- Ninja Selling
These subjects are crucial for starting a successful real estate career. However, the best advice I can give to new agents is to NOT be a salesman.
Don’t Be a Salesman
Nobody likes a salesman, saleswoman, or salesperson. No matter what you call this stereotype, we all recognize the features: pushy, untrustworthy, selfish, too talkative, shady, and someone who cares about meeting his sales quota more than his clients’ well being. I knew when I started my real estate career over 13 years ago that I never wanted to become a “salesman.”
It takes many Realtors years to learn (and some agents never seem to learn) that real estate is about more than helping people buy and sell homes. When I work with my clients, I feel more like I’m their trusted advisor. Similar to a CPA or other financial advisor, I help my buyers make one of the biggest investments of their lives. Not only does this property need to appreciate and provide good resale value in the future, but it also needs to accommodate their families’ everyday needs. A home is where a newlywed couple builds a life together, where a family raises children, and where the closest family and friends gather.
As a new real estate agent, if you chase commissions and worry about the money, you’re not doing your job. This career is about the big picture. I remember what it was like when I started out. I had just gotten married, and it was very hard starting my own business in a commission paid setup. I get it. It can be tempting for new agents to think only about getting paid when they’ve been living off credit cards for their first ten months while their business is still getting off the ground.
Patience is so important in this career because sometimes it takes years for a buyer to find and close on the right home. I think the longest I’ve ever worked with a single buyer from start to finish on a transaction was five or six years. They simply weren’t ready to purchase yet, and I wasn’t going to rush them into making a decision. I continued to show them homes and answer questions because I was their Realtor. Today, I still see them every year at the annual holiday party I put on for my past clients. They’re really terrific people, and I connected with them in a personal way during the time we spent together seeing homes.
I think part of the reason that real estate has such a high turnover with its agents is that people forget to listen to their clients’ needs and to put their clients ahead of their own gains. There have been many times in the past 13 years that I’ve lost business or money due to focusing on my clients’ needs. For example, I’ve had several listings where I represented the seller but also found a buyer to purchase the home. I don’t like working as a dual agent (when a Realtor works for both the buyer and seller in a transaction) because it’s a conflict of interest. In these past cases, I’ve referred the buyer to another good agent in my office because I wanted to remain loyal to my seller. That way, I could continue to work with my seller, and I also knew that the buyer would have his own representation during the transaction.
Real estate is a very competitive career, and it’s easy for agents to cut corners or to overpromise and under deliver. However, at the end of a closing, your client knows whether they want to work with you again (and whether they’ll recommend their friends and family to work with you, too). After months or years of meeting with you, clients can always tell whether your care and concern is genuine, whether you’ve put their long term needs before your short term gains, how good of a listener you are, how competent you are at your job, and how consistently you’ve helped them. If you put your clients first, you’ll be putting your best foot forward in starting your new real estate career.