Tips for Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents are required to work for and under the umbrella of a designated broker. The term “agent” refers to the strictly defined relationship between real estate agents and the buyers and sellers with whom he or she conducts business. An agent is an individual who is authorized and consents to represent the interests of another person. As an agent, you act to assist people through the process of buying, selling and renting land, homes and other properties.
In addition to meeting licensing requirements and having a comprehensive understanding of pertinent real estate laws, real estate agents have a long list of responsibilities.
Real estate agents typically do the following:
· Advise clients on mortgages, market conditions and pricing
· Advise sellers on how they can make their homes more attractive to buyers
· Compare properties to determine fair and competitive market prices
· Generate lists of appropriate properties for buyers based on their price range and needs
· Guide buyers and sellers through the transaction process
· Manage lists of contacts
· Mediate negotiations between buyers and sellers
· Prepare and submit all required paperwork, including various contracts
· Present all purchase offers to sellers for consideration
· Promote properties through advertising, listing services (such as MLS) and open houses
· Show properties to prospective buyers
· Solicit potential clients to buy, sell and rent properties
· Stay current with real estate laws and trends
· Work nights and/or weekends to accommodate clients’ needs
Starting out in Real Estate can be tough. Below are a few tips to get you started and to make sure that you have a successful career.
Have a Backup Income Source
You should have enough money saved up to make it for at least six months without a commission or keep your day job for a while.
Becoming a real estate agent part time may not have been your plan, but you need to have the ability to pay your bills while you get started. Unless you have some family members or friends ready to buy a home, you can go for many months without an income. The majority of agents who fail do so in their first or second year in the business.
Understand the Sphere of Influence
One way to build contacts and generate leads is through a real estate sphere of influence (SOI) business model. This networking strategy focuses on generating real estate leads through the people you already know, including your family, friends, classmates, business associates, sports team members, and even vendors (like your doctor and hair stylist). Your sphere of influence also includes your connections on social media.
New agents normally close their first two deals from their sphere of influence and from open houses. Plan on sending out a “new agent” announcement through the mail, phone, email, text, or social media posts when you begin your career, as well as periodic updates and shout-outs to keep your SOI thinking about you and your real estate services.
Maintain a Professional Image
Your image is your brand and it will affect how many people will feel comfortable trusting you with a large financial transaction like buying or selling a home.
· Physical Appearance – clothing, hair, accessories, makeup, should be appropriate for your local market. You are going to represent your client and your appearance should reflect that. Business attire should be worn in pictures and in face to face interactions. Avoid perfume/cologne and revealing or unprofessional clothing.
· Face-to-face meetings – Treat face to face meetings like you would treat a job interview. Make good eye contact and use positive body language. Strive to be attentive, engaging and courteous.
· Marketing and advertising materials – Think about what attracts you to an advertisement or flyer. Use quality photos and accurate, compelling text. Use complete sentences that should be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes.
· Phone calls – Be articulate, engaging and courteous in every call.
· Web presence – Have a carefully planned Web site, engaging social media. Posts should be free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
· Written communications – Letters, emails and texts should be concise and well-written and free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
Even personal accounts online should have a professional face. Avoid posting anything negative and have a mix of posts about your life and about your business. People work with people that they like and can connect to. Posting about yourself and your family will make you more likable and approachable as long as you use some discretion about what you post.
Keeping track of your clients and prospects is essential. This can be done with a simple spreadsheet program like excel or an email database program such as Outlook, or you can invest in database software designed specifically for real estate professionals. Your agency may have something available for you to use or you can opt to use your own. Commercial products offer a number of useful features, including automated contact synchronization to your smart phone. No matter how you keep track of your contacts, keep the list current – updating, adding and deleting contacts as appropriate. Some popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software options include: Contactually and TopProducer.
Real Estate Agents Create Value
To stand out among a sea of real estate agents you should focus on creating value for your clients.
Inform rather than sell
People don’t want to be sold on a home. They want pure honest information. Give the client options and let them choose the solution that works best for them. Give the client pros and cons of each option.
Be concise and to the point. Marketing materials should have a simple message and a couple images to support the information.
Don’t copy other agents when writing communications or making marketing materials. Everything that you share should fit your personality. You won’t be a fit for everyone, but that is nothing to worry about. There are enough clients and business for everyone.
Be that person they trust. What can you offer your clients that they cannot get from someone else or the Internet?
Be available to answer their questions. If you don’t know an answer, don’t make something up. It’s ok to say that you don’t know. Just make sure that you find the answer and follow up.
Real Estate Agents know Neighborhoods Intimately
Top real estate agents are walking, talking encyclopedias of the neighborhoods that they work. They know what’s on the market, what sold recently, and the overall status of the neighborhood. Anyone can look online and see a map. To be the top agent in the area, real estate agents need to know information that isn’t easily available online.
Explain everything to your clients
Successful real estate agents show their work. When they meet with the client for the first time they explain the process, the potential roadblocks, and a few scenarios that could occur. They let the client know that they are negotiating, they keep in regular communication, and they adjust their strategy as needed.
Have a Mentor
A mentor can be the broker-owner, a manager, or a seasoned agent who is ready for the next step in their career. The mentor shares in the profit by receiving a percentage of the new agent’s sales, which creates more buy-in, more retention, and more loyalty as the cycle goes on and on. Look for this in a mentorship program.
· It has to be practical and hands-on. The mentor has to spend significant time with the new agent
· Teach the ins and outs of the most commonly used contracts.
· Coaching on how to acquire and retain clients on both the listing and selling side
· Teaching negotiation techniques
· Physically drive new agents to their first few listing and buying appointments.
Agencies can either provide you with the designs or provide all of your marketing materials for a fee. If you are working for an agency that takes few fees it may be up to you to provide all of your marketing. Real estate agent marketing software can help you manage your marketing efforts. These packages typically include templates for business cards, door hangars, postcards, property flyers, brochures, email campaigns and animated home tours to help you efficiently reach out to existing and potential clients.
Agent Web Site
If your agency doesn’t already provide it, consider setting up your own domain name and website. If you have never done this before, there are a lot of easy tools to building a basic website. Think of it as your digital business card. It’s another way for potential clients to find you or learn more about you.
A Web site provides you with a “landing page” to direct your existing and potential clients to, while creating a professional, searchable Web presence. It is possible to promote individual property listings on your site as well to keep your sellers happy. You can also take advantage of social media by linking to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and any other social media platforms.
Activity Drives Results
Materials are only effective if you can get them in the hands of potential clients. The more calls you make, the more networking events you go to, the more follow up you do, the better your sales results will be. Track your activities and you will clearly see that it boils down to how much you are actually doing that generates sales. Meetings and brainstorming sessions are great, but activities directly related to generating new business will drive sales.
A number of apps for iPhone and Android-based devices are available to help you stay connected while you are outside the office. The House Hunter app, for example, allows agents to track and compare an unlimited number of homes, using a proprietary scoring method to identify houses that best match your clients’ requirements. Open Home Pro allows you to run an open house on your iPad, follow up with leads, create listing pages and export collected data to Excel or other software.
Many real estate agents mark February’s Presidents Day weekend as the unofficial start of the housing season, which runs through September. Then there is a steady decline in activity until the next year. But there’s one month during housing season that consistently performs better in sales than all the others. Housing sales in June are typically 29% above average.
Host open houses
Open houses are the best thing when you don’t have business. You don’t have to spend any money to host them, and in addition to reeling in leads, they can help you familiarize yourself with a neighborhood and its residents.
1. Pick the Right House in the Right Area – Hosting an open house in a rural area, for instance, often isn’t a good strategy because attendance will likely be poor. Making it easy for buyers and property owners to attend open houses is essential, and selecting the right location is a big part of this.
2. Market Your Open House Thoroughly to Generate Interest – If you want to get a lot out of an open house, people need to know about it. In order for an open house to be a success, you should be actively marketing it weeks in advance. A single open-house sign simply isn’t enough to get people’s attention. Sufficient offline and online marketing must be utilized in order to generate serious interest.
3. Prep for Lead Capture to Make Getting Real Estate Clients Easy – On the day of an open house, preparation is important. Yes, the house should be made clean and inviting, but it’s even more important to ensure that you’re able to capture buyers’ information in addition to listing leads. Keeping a sign-in sheet near the door is one way to capture attendees’ information, but it’s not the only thing you can do. Many agents also hold giveaways that require participants to provide contact details. Others offer to provide property updates via a segmented email list. It’s fine to get creative with how you try to capture your open-house attendees’ information, just make an active effort to do it.
4. Don’t Forget to Follow Up with Attendees – Your work isn’t finished once the open house is over; you still need to follow up with attendees. In the days following an open house, reach out to the people who provided contact information. If someone had specific questions about the house or your business, make your follow-up attempts purposeful by providing answers. Potential buyers will only remain interested in a home for so long, and potential clients are even less forgiving. If you aren’t able to follow up with them reliably, they’ll likely move on and find an agent who can.
Maintain Relationships with Past Clients
Maintain connections with past clients and referral sources. Buying lunch (typically $50 per meeting) four times a week for contacts delivers about a 10 percent return on investment, much higher than the 2 percent return on investment from blanketing neighborhoods with postcards. Sends market updates, just-listed cards, just-sold cards, and birthday and holiday cards to past clients. Sending former clients listing and open house notifications can also pay dividends.
To sum it all up
Working as a real estate agent has its challenges and it’s rewards: you don’t get paid unless you sell, you can work long hours and still have no paycheck, and you have to adapt to changing market conditions. However, it can be a rewarding career, both financially and professionally. Calling on your sphere of influence, projecting a professional image and utilizing today’s real estate tools and technology can help you develop a successful career in real estate.