How to survive your first 2 years in real estate (or get your existing career back on track)

How to survive your first 2 years in real estate (or get your existing career back on track)
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

Getting established in real estate can be tough. The majority of new salespeople leave the industry within 2 years of starting. Many of them earning next to no income during that time.

Owners are doing more and more research online before selecting an agent, which often leads them towards the most active salespeople in the area. I.e. The ones who have the highest profile. As a result, busy agents get busier. Meanwhile, the rest have to fight over what's left, with many salespeople struggling to make a decent living.

The 80/20 rule has applied in real estate for as long as I can remember: 20% of the salespeople make 80% of the commissions.

If you feel like you are on the wrong side of that equation (part of the 80% fighting over the other 20% of the commissions), then don't lose hope because you can break through to the other side.

Everyone knows at least one real estate agent. But few people know one they really like and trust. You can be that person.

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To get established in real estate you have 2 key jobs:

  1. Build a database. Make sure everyone that knows you from school or previous jobs and community involvement know that you are now in real estate. Add more people to this group each week.
  2. Show everyone that you are proficient at selling houses. Repeatedly demonstrate that you understand the market and are an expert in your local area.

The key prerequisite to achieving those two goals is building a list of people with whom you can regularly communicate by email and phone.

Send them info about the current market, recent sales, interesting stats and content that helps them make better real estate decisions.

Tip: Send one regular email to everyone in your database. Don't complicate it!

Regularly email your database

Nothing beats keeping in touch with your database. It positions you as the local area expert and every time you send out useful info to your clients it's like putting deposits in the bank of goodwill - helping them without expecting anything in return. If you do that for enough people, your business is sure to grow.

Email marketing is also a highly-leveraged activity, too. Meaning it takes you the same time to email 5,000 people as it does to email 500. The key thing is to be consistent. Email your database with an Agent Monday article (plus new listings or recent sales) at least once per fortnight.

How often should I email my database?
If you email more often, you will get unsubscribes. But this is counter-balanced by the benefit you’ll receive by keeping in touch more often with clients who are open to receiving your message.

Q: "What if I don't know anyone?"

If you don't know enough people in your area then you need to focus on joining and getting involved with local community groups.

Check out this guide, too:

Agent Advice: How to grow your email newsletter list
Sending your company’s latest listings out once a week with no other content is simply not going to cut it. Most of the people on your database are probably not looking for a home right now, so you need to add more info to make sure there is something for everyone.

Join a local club

Focus on whatever you are interested in. Football, bridge, stamp collecting, chess, property investing. Whatever floats your boat.

When you work in real estate, every club is worth joining, since every person in your community could be a potential client. Look for geographically focused clubs (like sports teams) so you are meeting people in the right location.

Keep in mind, you don't even need to sponsor it and you definitely don't need to run around handing out business cards. Just turn up and be nice, people will figure out that you work in real estate and people love being loyal to service providers in their 'tribe'.

Better yet, start your own networking group

Many agents have built a successful real estate business by joining a BNI group. The problem is, most of these groups already have a real estate professional.

So why not just make your own group?

Pick a mortgage broker, property manager, insurance broker, accountant, builder, plumber and anyone else you like working with. Suggest a fortnightly meet-up, like a Friday morning coffee where you can swap stories, get to know each other and support each other in your quest for world domination.

Don't chase quick money...

As hard as it is, don't chase appointments, chase connections.

Humans crave genuine connection. But I have never met anyone who wants to be 'prospected'.

When you are chatting with people about the market, show interest in their situation. Ask about their desires and dreams for the future.

Don't focus on "I want a listing today". Focus on how you can help that person. What do they need right now?

If you want to grow your business, you need to play the long game. Your goal is to build clients for life.

Demonstrate your real estate knowledge

Drop little nuggets of information into your casual conversations to establish your real estate proficiency. For example, when someone you know asks:

"How's the market?"

Instead of replying with, "It's really busy! Flat out!" (standard response).

Reply with something like: "The median time to sell is around 21 days right now. That's historically low. We haven't seen it that low in 10 years. But it has levelled off at that point and if it starts to increase, that could be an early sign the market is starting to turn. By the way, are you getting my email newsletter? It's full of hyper-local real estate info..." (proficient response).

Add specific stats or recent sales into as many of your casual conversations as possible.

In Summary...

Focus on building your database, consistently keeping in touch and demonstrating expert knowledge.

Be patient and the appointments will come. Consistency is key.

Everyone knows at least one real estate agent. But few people know one they really like and trust. You can be that person.

I got started in real estate aged 22 and built a business in the midst of a historically tight market during the global financial crisis. You can read my story here:

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