Starting from the Bottom: A Guide for New Agents

First off, congratulations on becoming a newly licensed real estate agent! You've entered an exciting market with the possibility of a huge financial return — if you know how to work smart.

But if you're anything like I was when I first started out in real estate, you're probably feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure how to really find your footing. 

In this guide, I'm going to give you some pointers I've learned along the way that can help you establish yourself in no time, even in the most competitive markets! But first, let's talk about why you may be struggling.

Why do so many agents not make it?

Did you know that 87% of new real estate agents quit within their first five years in business? Simply obtaining a real estate license unfortunately doesn’t guarantee success. Real estate isn't for everyone, and people often get into business not realizing how cutthroat it can be. 

The reason so many quit is that they fail to invest time and effort into truly learning the profession. They become agents with visions of grandeur and fail to seek out out the proper guidance to move forward.

But don’t worry. I'm going to let you in on a few secrets to help you establish yourself and ultimately achieve real estate success. Let's get started! 

What is the key to real estate success?

A direct correlation exists between a real estate agent’s earnings and experience. A National Association of Realtors® survey shows that new real estate agents earn about $30,000 a year less than agents with 15 years of experience. 

Your first year working as a real estate agent can be rough. You're starting out with no experience to lean on and may have trouble getting leads to take a chance on hiring you. 

Your number one goal as a new agent should be to create and build a healthy client base. Nurture those relationships to get referrals for business growth. Remember, real estate is a people to people industry.

Here are a few tips you can use to grow your client base and start seeing real results.

1. Pair up with an experienced real estate agent.

Most real estate agents fall between the ages of 30 and 65. New agents can learn a lot from more experienced agents. Finding a mentor that specializes in a niche you're interested in can help you get your foot in the door.

A seasoned mentor in your brokerage can help you get acquainted with your local market. Or, you may prefer to join an in-house team of already established agents. In this dynamic, the group distributes total earnings among members as they team up to market and sell properties. 

To do this, you need to find the right brokerage that offers opportunities for mentorship and/or team dynamics.

But even if your brokerage doesn't specifically offer these experiences, you can still real out to more experienced agents to guide you. 

2. Offer to do the grunt work.

Most seasoned agents find themselves too busy to perform basic agent functions — for instance, contacting prospects, showing homes, holding open houses, cold-calling, organizing data, running social media channels or blogs, etc.

That’s where a new agent can step in to help. Offer to help experienced agents with these tasks in exchange for a small fee or even just help prospecting or establishing yourself. If you work open houses, you can use them as opportunities to prospect for buyer leads, which are often easier to land as a new agent than seller listings. 

Helping veteran agents with all aspects of real estate marketing and sales can also help you learn about the profession. Just like a law clerk fresh out of law school performs research and clerical duties at a law firm to learn the ropes, you can learn and gain experience by doing the grunt work.

3. Be proactive in the community.

A powerful way to establish yourself in any real estate market is to become proactive in your community. Set up booths at community events, join clubs, and make contacts with local government officials. These people likely have a lot of clout and contacts in your area and can refer you to everyone they know. 

Try “hands-on volunteerism” within your groups — the nitty-gritty community involvement where you interact with lots of people who may become clients or refer clients to you. This could mean joining clean-up crews, arriving early to help with set up, or helping to plan events ahead of time. 

Community involvement helps establish your name and brand with people who can help you grow your business.

Networking is the core of marketing for any sales professional. Remember, real estate is a people business. When you're prospecting at any community event, don't resort to sleazy sales tactics. Form relationships first, then subtly promote your real estate business by offering helpful real estate advice at appropriate times.

4. Look for opportunities to volunteer. 

Besides just joining community groups, look for volunteer opportunities. Here are some good venues to get involved and do some good in your community: 

  • Nonprofits - Several websites provide volunteer opportunities databases sorted by zip code:
    • VolunteerMatch provides a list of nonprofit organizations looking for volunteers, organized by keywords and zip codes.
    • All for Good contains a large database of community service opportunities.
    • Hands-On-Network, a national nonprofit, connects volunteers with many nonprofit organizations across America. Also, they provide expert advice about the most important needs of each organization.
  • Civic Clubs – Consider joining civic clubs that regularly help their local communities. Here are a few groups that have branches all over the country:
    • Lions Club International, the biggest one with over 1.35 million members worldwide. You can find a club in your area on their website.
    • Kiwanis International provide volunteers helping children and families in your community. Ideal for agents specializing in an ethnic market.
    • Rotary International not only provides help locally but also membership gives you many networking opportunities. They encourage strong friendships and business relationships.
    • U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce perfect for younger agents in the 20’s and 30’s provides community serves and also conducts training courses to improve your business skills such as leadership.

Volunteer opportunities also exist in local school districts, community theater groups, and sports organizations. For example, a Realtor could volunteer at an annual golf event in her target community where hundreds of people attend.  

Many of these organizations take part in local and state fairs and other events, setting up booths where volunteers interact with locals for networking opportunities.  

5. Go door to door.

This last recommendation may scare those of you who are shy or timid around strangers. Yet, door-knocking still remains an effective marketing strategy for real estate agents.

Door-knocking often gets a bad rap, but it allows you to build relationships in your community. Door-knocking doesn't mean you have to go door to door handing out pamphlets and giving sales pitches. For instance, you can simply go door to door in a neighborhood where you'll be holding an open house and invite people to attend. Tell them you'll be giving out treats or holding a raffle. Don't stand there and rattle off your credentials — let them come to you.

Face-to-face networking can help you gain a person’s trust and business. Door-knocking lets potential clients “experience” you.

Door-knocking shows people you're an energetic, active, and persistent professional. No one wants to hire a lazy agent. 

Here are some benefits to door-knocking: 

  • Free: It’s free, and there's no limit to how often you do it.
  • Control: You are in charge. You control how many doors you want to knock on. You choose which doors to knock on — meaning you can pass over any major fixer uppers you'll have a more difficult time selling. You pick the streets and neighborhoods.
  • Fast Relationship Building: Knocking on doors forces occupants to interact with you. Give a good reason for your visit — besides just gaining business — to connect and build relationships.

The biggest reason agents refuse to knock on doors is the fear of rejection. New agents often ask, "What if someone is rude to me?" "What if they say no?'" "What if they insult me?" All of these “what ifs” generate the fear.

Fear is simply a defense mechanism. If you have a good reason for knocking on doors, people may still say “no,” but they're more likely to be polite. If the worst thing you hear is a polite "no," you have nothing to be afraid of.  

When you door-knock, make sure you dress professionally with respect to the neighborhood. When you're targeting luxury homes, wear a suit or pantsuit. Otherwise, business casual will work in most settings.

The most important part of door knocking involves having a good script. Be yourself and act naturally. Practice your script before you knock on doors.  

Our MyBooks member site provides scripts for a variety of interactions and objections. 

Most importantly, remember to smile, keep your body relaxed, and be yourself. Being genuine goes a long way.

6. Give them something of value.

The fastest way to kickstart your success as a new agent is to make yourself look like a real estate expert.

There are lots of ways you can do that — you can host a seminar, give away helpful pamphlets, or publish a real estate book.

Becoming a published author immediately puts you heads above every other agent in your market. But the book-writing process can take a lot of time and cost a whole lot of money. We give you a much easier — and much less expensive — option. 

As a MyBooks member, you have access to 14 different real estate books covering a variety of niches. Your name and photo appear on the cover of each book, so your prospects get a great first impression of you before they've even met you.

Not sure how to explain your authorship as a new agent? Simply say you've done a lot of research to give yourself the best possible footing to help your clients sell their homes. Leads will be impressed at your work ethic and eagerness to succeed and might just take a chance on you. 

Don't like this explanation? Check out my blog on authorship options for more ideas about how to promote your book, and get a free sample of our most popular book below! 

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avatar_joeJoe Nickelson is a real estate professional dedicated to helping home buyers and sellers achieve their dreams of owning property, and helping real estate agents stop using the sometimes-vicious tactics that weigh on their consciences. He believes that the Smart Agents books will, quite literally, change people’s lives for the better. Check out his full bio here

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