When I was all of 16 years old and working at the front desk of a local Orlando veterinary office, I met the person who helped me get my first real estate job. It was fate; you would have thought I’d met a celebrity with the amount of flattery I displayed, as I had recognized her from a publication called Homes & Land from the second she walked in the door.
You see, even then, I was passionate about the real estate business. My favorite show was Flip This House, and I saw the potential opportunity real estate could offer for me to help others. In my mind, it was easy. Once I turn 18, I thought, I’ll get my real estate license; I’ll make a lot of money helping people buy or sell, while simultaneously starring in my own show on a network like HGTV.
Well, when I turned 18, things went a little differently than I expected. Right after I got my license, the recession of 2008 started. Deals were falling through left and right. Offices were closing, and many agents were leaving the business, not getting into it. What made it worse for me was that no one was really willing to help me, because they were all too busy trying to make livings for themselves. While my broker at the time was supportive, my smaller office didn’t offer the basic training most brokerages have now, and teams weren’t really a thing in the 2000s.
I didn’t let that stop me. With a false sense of confidence, I dialed for dollars and went on listing appointments using scripting that would make most veteran agents cringe.
Almost 14 years later, I’ve accomplished a lot in the real estate industry. Not only did I end up working with networks like HGTV and with hundreds of amazing clients, but I also now have the privilege of coaching others. Below are six things I wish I’d known when I started. I floundered at the beginning of my career so you don’t have to.
1. Don’t be afraid to be direct.
I never considered myself a “salesy” salesperson. My genuine goal was always to help people discover their own needs when buying or selling with me. However, there were many times at the beginning when I lost out on opportunities because I was just too afraid to ask for the business. I didn’t want people to stereotype me as a commission-hungry salesperson. However, I learned that as long as you polish your delivery, people will respect you even more for asking for what you want. If you’re that tenacious to ask for their business, you’ll probably be as tenacious in helping them achieve their goals.
2. Don’t practice on your clients.
Scripts were created for a reason. And yes, I admit, some are way better than others. But here’s a tip: Read all the scripts that are out there, and then create your own. The agents I coach often come to me saying the scripts they find online come across as awkward or disingenuous. That’s because they are reading them like they’re lines for a play in grade school, and they don’t fit their personality. Practice your own scripts with colleagues, and craft something that works for you. Not to mention it’s never good to practice on a qualified lead if you can avoid it.
3. Learn to listen.
People tell us exactly what they want if you just listen. Listening is the hardest thing for people to do, especially in today’s modern society that is always distracted by one thing or another. I also find that many new agents become understandably nervous and focus so much on what to say next that they fail to hear what their clients actually say. Hear your clients; process what they are saying, and then respond.
4. Be an assistant first.
Starting off my career in management really helped me see real estate differently. It allowed me to understand the business side and learn the most common errors agents made so I didn’t make them when it became my turn. Starting from this vantage point allows you to engage in the business without financial risk.
5. It’s a lead-generation business.
When I first started, the multiple listing service was pretty much the standard to search for properties; however, there were still agents around from the “Wild West” days who told the stories of having to drive to offices to pick up keys before lockboxes or the previously distributed MLS books. It made me grateful for the computer and the only social media platform I had then, which was Facebook. I was convinced that as my office gave me leads, I’d market myself so well that my business would explode. This made me a great marketer, but a bad lead generator. When I finally discovered FSBOs and expired listings was when my personal production really took off. Nowadays, you can lead generate with a text, but my point is that if you’re afraid to look for business, this will be a tough industry for you to succeed in.
6. Always be learning.
It wasn’t until I got a real estate coach for myself that I realized how much of my own potential I wasn’t seeing. I’m not an easy person to coach, mind you — I hate having people analyze or judge me. But luckily, he saw the person I wanted to be and believed in me enough to get me there. In order to be the best for your clients, you have to be the best version of yourself. Read, travel, study or hire a mentor. Arming yourself with education will propel you further more quickly than you could have imagined.