If I could go back to my first year in 1996, and tell myself what I had learned, it would be different. You’ve chosen real estate as a career. Finding a good broker can make or break your career, and it is all up to you.
My first broker was a big box broker, 3 weeks of 9AM-5PM training by All Star broker agents was mandatory. They expected us to set up business and spend after hours selling. I was a single mom with no money, and a 7 year old. There was no backup plan, and no one to help out. I did 8 open houses every month, took referrals, and did floor time, worked with anyone who had a pulse. Then I got my first check. $0000.00. What???
I marched into the broker’s office and asked why. “Oh, you had some corporate fees pending.”
No one mentioned undisclosed fees, much less put it in writing. I was in a panic, there were bills to pay. The 2nd check was $0000.00. This time I walked out saying, “My desk is clear. Thank you, goodbye.” My license was transferred within hours to another brokerage.
The moral of that story is that you need a brokerage who has your back, and puts everything on the table. Surprise is usually a bad word in real estate. You should interview with several brokers, evaluate what they can do for you. You’ll want clarity on fees, training, support, leads, systems, and reputation in your area. Unless you are living with your parents, you’ll want several months of financial reserves. Unlike HGTV, we show more than 3 homes, and it takes longer than half an hour to get to a closing. Having reserves lets you sleep at night.
There will be times when you’ll lie in bed staring at the ceiling, “How am I going to make this work? Can I even do this? It’s too hard!” That’s usually after we have a rough meeting with a seller, or a buyer ghosts you after showing them 25 properties. You’ll be elated on the good days when you make a sale, panicked when there isn’t much in your pipeline. The most important thing to learn is that your self-esteem, and your self-talk cannot be linked to your production. Fall out in real estate is incredibly high the first two years. That is because brokers sell us on sunny days and blue skies. The reality is: cloudy day, rain, blue sky, torrential rain, mud slides, another blue sky, and repeat. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Learn that you are a solopreneur, you run a business.
After 22 years in real estate the most important thing that I’ve learned is that the world is always changing, growing or contracting. We can never stop learning or rest on illusional laurels. If you aren’t in the middle of change, you are already behind. The older I get, the more I realize how little I know. Real estate is humbling in that as much as we have successes, we have failures. You can wake up at 6AM with not much on your schedule, and by 10AM be slammed for the rest of the week. Or, a transaction you thought was going smoothly goes off the rails. Since there is no such thing as control, go for influence.
The 2nd most important thing is that it isn’t about you, it’s all about them. We are in a service business providing legal counsel on contracts, financial advice on pricing and lending, lifestyle opinions about the house and location. If you think you are nervous, imagine how the client feels putting their income for the next 30 years on the dotted line. Listen to them, be there for them. Buyers and sellers will tell you what they want, but they don’t know what is available to them because it isn’t their job. It’s your job, educate them. You don’t need to know all the answers, learn who to ask, where to find them. The client experience and your relationship with them is what is really important. Be memorable, stay in touch, have fun with your clients. If you love them, they will love you back.
The third thing to learn is about money. It isn’t about how much you make, it’s how much you keep. If you can add and subtract, you can keep track of earnings, expenses, debt and taxes. Control it, or it will control you. Being hypnotized by the next shiny object will distract you from what you do, and spiral you into debt. Try all the free resources before spending money you don’t have yet to see what works. This is your business, you write your story. You’ve chosen a career that can have limitless rewards. Your business is portable, you’ll make new friends, you choose your direction, and you’ll grow with your business. Make it a party.