You’ve passed your exam, signed on with a brokerage and received your license. Now, where is the instruction manual on how to be a real estate professional? There isn’t one! It’s Day 1 in your new career and you have no idea what to do, what to expect and how to get started. Here is what we have learned that you need to know:
Your first year will be very hard. If you make it through the first year and do 10 transactions, you have a chance to gain enough momentum to build a career in real estate. In the first 100 days, you need to gain traction. The clock is ticking, and the first 100 days are counting down. Get yourself one firm transaction and at least two more buyers you have already started working with in that first 100 days. There needs to be urgency in everything you do.
1. You are now a brand.
You are being watched – when you are out with friends, when you are eating in a restaurant, when you are shopping at a retailer or are receiving a service. Everywhere you go, people will start to know who are. They will watch you and listen to what you say and how you say it, even if you aren’t talking to them. Think about that.
2. You are a professional.
You want to be a very successful professional. Dress for the job. Arrive on time. Clean your car. Be organized. Be well groomed and presentable all the time, even in your leisure time. Behave.
3. You are a salesperson.
The public perception is that we sell houses, but truly we are selling ourselves. Our knowledge, our expertise, our competence. You don’t have those yet, so you have to work very hard to get them quickly. Until then, sell yourself as enthusiastic, hardworking, ethical and available, with support from a great brokerage and colleagues when you need assistance.
4. You are now a business.
Project your expenses for the year and your net if you do five sales in the first year, at the average residential selling price in your board area. Do a budget. Don’t spend money you have not made. Set up files, keep receipts. Remit taxes at source, HST and personal income tax. It is not your money and never will be. You do not want to be hounded by the CRA.
5. You are your own administrator.
Create an excellent calendar and keep a log. Write down everything you are doing in your business. Track where your time is going and what is bringing you success. Where are your leads coming from? What isn’t working for you?
6. You are your own PR department.
Write down the names and contact information of everyone you know and create a database. Grow your sphere of influence. Let everyone you meet know you are in real estate and ask them if they have a trusted real estate advisor, or if they would they consider working with you. Email or snail mail some information of value to your database at least once every quarter.
7. Project that you need to talk to 100 people about real estate before you get one firm transaction.
This doesn’t include friends and family, who may or may not want to do business with you. If you want to do 10 transactions this year, you need to talk to 1,000 people about what you do. If you don’t believe this, start counting.
8. Do 100 open houses this year.
Yes, 100. That is your magic number. It could be one or two or four a weekend. It could be some weeknights or non-traditional times. Try various times and see what works for you. If you don’t like open houses, go door-knocking. You need to talk to people face to face about real estate.
Don’t just do 100 open houses, do 100 great open houses. Quantity isn’t enough. Learn which agents have properties where you can host an open house and introduce yourself. Develop an open house plan for yourself, a system, to make sure you are well informed about the house, the neighbourhood amenities, recent neighbourhood sales and new listings. Preview the property. Spend two hours of prep time for each hour of every open house. Show the listing agent you are organized and committed. Arrive at least 15 minutes before you open – be there before the buyers! Treat each open house like a job interview. You are looking to find a buyer or a seller who will “hire” you.
9. Do floor time, duty.
Yes, it is boring to sit in the office waiting for someone to call, but many agents don’t show up so there is real opportunity here. It might not amount to a lot, but it gives you a chance to talk to more people about real estate. Study pricing or neighbourhoods while you are waiting for the phone to ring, not YouTube videos of cat capers. But don’t only do duty and don’t do it on weekend afternoons when you should be doing open houses.
10. Go to your weekly sales meeting and agent tour, if your brokerage offers it.
See as many houses as you can. Study the pricing, listen to what other agents are saying about the listing, research how the agent might have come up with the list price. Watch how much it sells for. You need to see a lot of houses before you can become good at pricing. Research neighbourhoods. Every week, study a new neighbourhood. Drive around, walk around. Learn amenities, schools, parks and places of worship. Study typical home styles. Study pricing history of that neighbourhood for the last 12 months. Next week, do the same for another neighbourhood. Next week, do it again, until you know the whole city this way.
And show up. The first few weeks can be very discouraging. Keep on with the basics. After awhile of doing the core things over and over again, something will take hold. You will find your niche, your best way of engaging with clients, and you can build on that. But it won’t happen if you don’t show up. You are a million times more likely to pick up a duty call if you are at the office than if you are sitting at home or hanging out around town.
(Next column: After the first 100 days.)