Becoming a real estate agent or broker has long been a popular career choice for people of all ages and stages. Especially as the real estate market booms, professionals are seeing that selling and renting homes can provide a healthy income — either as a primary source or secondary skill.
If you're a new agent, you're not alone. The National Association of Realtors has close to 1.5 million members, and 20% of all real estate agents and brokers have had their licenses for a year or less. The median age of all Realtors in the United States is 55.
Tips for Getting Started in Real Estate
Whether you go into real estate as a first career or a later-life pivot, the following advice holds true.
- Know your facts. Today's consumers are savvy about home values and trends. Staying one step ahead of their knowledge and establishing yourself as an expert means you must stay consistently abreast of the neighborhood you serve. Resources like PropStream can give you both a high-level and granular look at home values and the past, present and future of communities.
- Invest in your brand. Establish how you are unique and different from other real estate professionals. Do you specialize in a certain market? Are you known for your community involvement? Define your "superpowers" and make sure they come through in your communications. Set a goal of making your face and company known throughout your area.
- Value your network. People do business with others who they know, like and trust. When you first get your license, shout the news from the treetops (or the laptop). Use your alumni network and LinkedIn, Facebook and other social connections and start building a solid e-mail list. Although live events are scarce these days, look for opportunities in your own community to get your name and face known through virtual gatherings and memberships in community organizations.
- Use social media to build awareness and loyalty. Become familiar with the wide range of platforms and select those you are most comfortable with and that are used by the target audience you want to reach.
- Take full advantage of the resources your company offers. Most real estate brokerage companies today provide training, technology tools, subscriptions and other ways for you to increase your knowledge and your reach. Stay abreast of what's available to you.
- Collaborate with seasoned brokers and agents. Although real estate can be a highly competitive profession, many experienced brokers and agents are happy to team up with newly minted agents to "show them the ropes." Volunteer to cover open houses or shadow other brokers. If you establish yourself as a helpful colleague, you can build a solid mentor-protegee relationship that ultimately benefits everyone.
- Be patient and stay positive and fearless. Whenever you start something new, frustrations and insecurities arise. Closing your first deal may take as long as a year, so be sure you have enough savings or a side gig to tide you over. Even on those days when you feel as if you'll never succeed, build up your self-confidence and forge ahead. Use downtime to research trends and engage in marketing efforts.
Real Estate Wisdom From a Seasoned Pro
Sharon Held, an associate broker at Compass in Manhattan, started selling real estate in 1994 and has built a multi-million-dollar real estate business. When asked what she would tell new brokers, she summed her secrets up into three simple principles: "Nurture your sphere of influence, do not be afraid of technology, and never get complacent."
That's advice any new real estate agent or broker should take to heart.