Although I have been licensed to sell real estate in Washington State for well over six years and am also an Associate Broker, I’ve only just become certified to teach clock hour courses to agents throughout the state. Recently, I spoke with the educational coordinator for WAR, Washington’s Realtor® oversight body in an effort to establish where I may best contribute to the cause. Brief reply – write a course for new agents, agents who have never experienced a down market and help them weather the storm.
I’ve been writing in this blog for months now that our region’s market has been amongst the best, if not the best in the nation. This isn’t to say we are immune from market forces. We’re not. Seattle, where I practice, has more listed inventory than we’ve seen in quite a while, and market times are certainly lengthening. Though there are buyers, they have more from which to choose and time to make those choices (despite the fact I represented the prevailing buyers in a multiple offer situation only a couple of weeks ago).
So, what do these current market conditions mean for the new agent? As the attrition rate is statistically so great, only a small percentile of actively licensed agents have actually experienced a down market. It’s been the better part of a decade or more for some of my colleagues since they last witnessed such a thing. We have several new agents in our office, each of whom is receiving the best support possible in the form of mentoring, on-going education and peer support. And, they’re performing!
What’s the first commitment you must make to yourself as an agent? Embrace your new career choice and treat your work as if you are running your own business….because you are. Personally, I do not think there is any more necessary or greater a leap of understanding than to fully comprehend this important fact. Too many people have entered this industry recently with stars and dollar signs in their eyes, yet lacking the fundamental business acumen necessary to conduct day-to-day activities. Sure, some new agents fire off deal after deal in their first few months certain the momentum will continue. What happens? Boom, the deals dry up and panic sets in. Nope, it’s about the fundamentals to be sure. So, what are they?
Work your circle – Every new agent brings sphere of influence contacts into the game, whether it’s your mother, college soritity and fraternity buddies, whomever. Start with them. Presumably, they already like you and are willing to put their faith in your abilities. When met with that “new agent” resistance, counter it with enthusiasm. Hey, you’re fresh out of real estate school, the rules and regulations in your memory remain crisp and, above all else, you are incredibly enthusiastic and eager to get the job done in the best possible way with utmost service. Plus, you have time on your side. Right? Furthermore, any questions you can’t answer will be by those seasoned pros who have your back.
Be real and know that once you’ve burned through this loving, supportive cadre of family and friends and have felt the blush of success on your cheeks, the real work begins, building your database. This requires effort on your part. You need to network, meet people; let them know what you’re about. Though open houses statistically do not sell houses, it is a good place to meet prospective buyers and sellers. Talk to agents in your office and see whose listings you can hold open. Focus on those price ranges where you are most likely to encounter first time home buyers. Sure, the five hundred thousand dollar house, with all the bells and whistles, is bound to attract higher-end clients but, know this, they probably have significantly more experience buying and selling real estate than you do. Don’t run the risk of having your client be a greater expert in your field than you are.
Show up for work. Too many new agents view their new found independence as the perfect opportunity to set up a home office. Wrong! You couldn’t make a worse decision. Keeping a schedule which includes working out of your business office insures you won’t be distracted by kids, dogs, “Halo 3” or anything else certain to take precedence over staying current with the hot sheet. Furthermore, agents like to talk, share knowledge and generally be social. It’s who we are. The professional office environment makes a positive impression on clients. It demonstrates to them you are serious about and invested in what you do.
See a super agent in your office? Put on a smile, square your shoulders, introduce yourself and simply say, “I understand you’re one of the top performers in our business. As I intend to model my own business after only the most successful practices and principles of leading agents, may I buy you lunch and pick your brain on what works best for you?” Give it a try and remain authentic in your intention.
There are so many other tips large and small to help you get off to the right start and as I compose this post, I’m beginning to see the formation of my own curriculum. Without giving up the farm lest someone else write it for me, these I’ve mentioned offer a good foundation. Each market has its own stars, laws, business ethics, etc. Bottom line, it’s like being in grade school and developing those healthy homework habits which insure your academic success. Same rules apply here. Develop the right disciplines and you will not be one of the eighty percent of new agents who never renew their license at the first renewal period. You’ll be a success!