By Brooke Tanner, real estate agent and Real Estate Express Alumna
I had been in the corporate world for 20 years working in workforce management and deep down I wanted and needed a change. Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a real estate agent, the freedom of being my own boss and making my own decisions was what I needed. I decided to get serious and met with several local real estate brokers to discuss their companies’ mission and vision and why I should work for them. I asked questions about the exam and courses I should take to obtain my license.
After gathering details and making the correct decisions for myself and family, I bit the bullet and put in my notice at my corporate job. After all, this was my passion, this is what I was born to do right? I enrolled in an online course with Real Estate Express and committed to studying and passed the test on my first try! I was ecstatic and ready to hit the ground running; how hard could it be? Well, here are 5 things that I wish I would have known before I started!
#1: Tell everyone you know that you are in real estate
I thought that just because I shared on various social media platforms that I was changing my profession that people would remember when the time came for their next real estate transaction, they don’t. Friends and acquaintances would come into my office and ask what I was doing there. You must work that sphere of influence, get out and talk with people, make phone calls, send mailings letting them know you are in the business. It may take you out your comfort zone, but in the long run it is worthwhile. There will be times when people you know will use a competitor instead of you. Don’t sweat it, remain calm and offer yourself as a resource in a professional and courteous way and that will be remembered in the future!
#2: Build relationships with lenders in your area
Whether you’re working with buyers or sellers, you need to build relationships with lenders in your area. These relationships are valuable as they provide insight on changes in financing rules and give guidance on the proper type of loan terms to recommend to your seller. It’s important to find one that blends well with your work ethic and personality style along with the personality style of your client. Once you have a few you like to work with set expectations ahead of time for when you refer clients their way. Ask for credit approvals instead of pre-approvals. This is much more in depth as the lender takes a deeper dive into the client’s financials so the deal is less likely to fall through during the underwriting stage. Spend that extra time as it may reduce the amount of days to get to the closing table. If you’re a good fit for the lender as well, they may send referrals your way!
#3: Avoid the lookers and time wasters
When you’re new in real estate and begin receiving calls you will be so eager to get out there, show properties and utilize the knowledge learned. Hold your horses, don’t just run and meet anyone at any time that requests it for a few reasons. You will find that there are people that just want to “look” because they have always wanted to see that home, or they think it’s cute. Is this person even qualified to purchase a home and if so, what terms do they qualify for? Do they have a home to sell first before they can even make an offer on a new home? Is this home even in the area that they are looking to live or meet the needs of their family? These are things that you need to button up first, if you don’t they will take you from home to home, weekend after weekend and waste more time you are giving them for free. First, ask them to meet at your office for a consultation to get a feel for their personality and complete a needs analysis. If they’re serious they will gladly meet and appreciate your professionalism. Trust me, have them put some skin in the game with you, it’s worth it.
#4: Set your schedule ahead of time
Look at the week ahead of time and plan out your days. Whether you have phone time to call your sphere of influence, marketing time or volunteer at your child’s school, block off the time. Any open slots you have left during your working day is available for your clients. If someone calls and wants an appointment during your blocked off time, propose additional time slots you have open that may work for them. This shows them that you are organized, you commit to existing appointments you have made and that you are a true professional. Any other professional has appointments blocked off or days and hours they don’t work, and it shouldn’t be unexpected if real estate agents do also. Real estate agents are professional business owners and need to portray themselves as one.
#5: Don’t be afraid to end a client relationship
When I first started in real estate, I had a client that took up so much of my time looking at houses that didn’t match what they initially told me they were looking for. They would put in low ball offers and they would always get rejected. I expressed my concerns regarding this with my client and they told me “if you don’t want to write the offer for me, I will find someone that will.” Why didn’t I say that would be fine and politely end our relationship? I felt that the customer is always right, and I needed to do what they asked in order to make that commission. Now looking back, I had other clients I could have been working for, I could have been with my family and friends. Don’t waste your human resources, you are valuable and shouldn’t be taken advantage of. You will get more clients that you click with and it will make your new career much more fulfilling.
About the Author: Brooke Tanner is a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Schmidt in West Michigan with over 20 years of customer service experience. She strives to be the best resource and trusted advisor for all buyers and sellers by staying on top of industry changes and trends.