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How to Succeed as a First Year Real Estate Agent


How to Succeed as a First Year Real Estate Agent

Did you realize that 87% of new real estate agents quit within the first five years. The odds are stacked against the new agent, unless they ask a valuable question before they begin. How can I succeed as a first year real estate agent?”

To succeed as a first-year real estate agent, complete pre-licensing online, join a training-based company, expand your network, create an online presence, and try new marketing tactics. It’s also good to set goals, plan a daily work schedule, offer to host open houses, and spend time at the office.

But if you make your entrance into the industry knowing that success takes hard work and strategy, you’ll be a part of the 13% who thrive in year one.

Joining a real estate company that is extremely focused on training, especially one that has programs designed for new agents can give you a leg up on others looking to enter the business.

Surviving your first year in real estate is no easy feat if you’re expecting listings to fall into your lap. It’s even harder to be your own boss and figure out how to make it on your own. To be sure that you succeed in your first year in real estate, here are 14 tips for new real estate agents.

Complete Pre-Licensing Courses Online

A pre-licensing course is the first step toward becoming a new real estate agent. These courses serve as your introduction to the industry—you’ll learn about everything from types of home loans and typical mortgage rates to property ownership types and new agent requirements. 

While you can’t get around your state’s minimum hour requirements for pre-licensing, you can fast-track licensure by opting for an online pre-licensing course instead.

Most states will accept online pre-licensing courses.

The key benefit of these courses is that you can do them at your own pace—though some states put a cap on how many hours of training you can do per day. Rather than choosing a nightly in-person course spread over several months, you can finish all of your hours within a few short weeks online. Squeeze in a few hours at night once the kids have gone to bed, on your lunch break at your day job, or dedicate your weekends to training.

In addition to getting your license faster, many online course providers offer other tools to ensure you pass your real estate exam on the first attempt. Real Estate Express, The CE Shop, and MBition provide practice tests, flashcards, and self-paced lessons to truly prepare you for success. These tools enable you to begin your real estate career sooner than anticipated.

Join a Training-Based Company (Like Keller Williams)

Affiliating with a broker, getting your business cards, and putting on your official agent name tag are exciting experiences as a new agent. Most brokerages will provide agents with some training, whether that’s introducing the company’s online tools or getting set-up on the MLS. While these training sessions can be informative, they tend to be heavily focused on the company and not ensuring success as a first-year agent.

You also may be limited in what you gain from these classes. You’ll only walk away with what the mentor or broker decides to share, and some companies may prevent you from taking new clients or accepting listings until you complete the course. This puts your career at a standstill until you finish the course, which delays your success!

That’s why new agents should choose a company that prioritizes industry skills like lead generation and marketing. Keller Williams is an excellent company to affiliate with to get your real estate career off on the right foot. The company pushes new agents through a course called “Ignite,” which will teach you the fundamentals like:

  • Expanding your database daily
  • Reaching out to your database frequently
  • Previewing homes
  • Getting leads
  • Knowing what to say to get leads and listings

Take a look at the video below explaining what the Keller Williams Ignite program is and how it benefits new real estate agents like you!

Expand Your Network Beyond Family & Friends

The real estate industry is all about networking—you need to build relationships with people, garner their trust, and persuade them to consider your services when it’s time to buy or sell. One of the most common obstacles for new real estate agents is limiting their sphere of influence to just their friends and family. 

While this is a great starting point, the upper conversion rate in real estate is 5%. That means you’ll need at least 20 leads to walk away with a listing or a buyer. So you need to dedicate your time to expanding your network outward.

To generate more leads, expand your SOI, and improve your conversation rate:

  • Don’t be a secret agent—tell everyone you know that you’re in real estate.
  • Whenever possible, hand out your business card, even if you’re just dropping off your car at the shop (and they need a call-back number).
  • Go to social gatherings and mention real estate.
  • Be able to speak about the market to anyone that asks—don’t just say “the market is good,” say, “mortgage rates are low, and houses in town are selling in 30 days or less.”
  • Ask people you know, “Who’s the next person you can think of that’s interested in buying or selling?” (Note: This question is irrelevant if you don’t ask for the person’s number)
  • Create lead capture forms on Facebook or on your official agent website to build your email list—use these email addresses to run campaigns.
  • Announce on social media that you’re in real estate now.

The first few months in real estate are about getting your name out there and helping people link your name to real estate. So when they eventually decide to put their name on the market, you should be the first person they consider.

Give Yourself 6+ Months to See Success

The best part about a 9-to-5 job is that you’ll get your first steady paycheck in two weeks. But since real estate agents are independent contractors, you won’t see a commission check until you’re representing a buyer or seller in a closed deal. So as you spend your first few months in the industry building your reputation in the areas you serve, income might be slow.

A lack of immediate success is a significant reason new agents leave the field.

Patience is a virtue in your first year as an agent. You’ll have to deal with—and persevere through—things like:

  • Hot leads turning cold
  • Offers falling through (on both the buyer and seller end)
  • Prospecting sessions without a single lead to show for
  • Buyers who go AWOL
  • Open houses with very few visitors
  • Other agents stealing your clients
  • Buyers who refuse to sign agreements

The point of that list isn’t to scare you, but rather to show you that all of those things are a staple of the real estate industry—whether you’re a new agent or ten years in the biz. It’s important to see each failure or disappointment as motivation to succeed rather than proof that you’re not cut out for the real estate industry.

Give yourself at least six months to see your first deal, but know that a brand new agent can capture listings on day one if you’re dedicated enough.

Create Accounts on Social Media & Real Estate Sites

In the old days, people interested in buying a home had to physically walk into a brokerage office and flip through a binder of local homes for sale. Clients would come to you, and just sitting in the office would practically guarantee you a lead or a client. 

But now, everything is digitized. Clients can find the home of their dreams on Zillow and, now it’s your job to go to your clients. That means you need to center some of your efforts onto building an online presence that wows your leads. Real estate agents should have agent or professional accounts on Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Yet, you have to do more than just create an account on these sites. After all, there are thousands of other local agents competing for the same leads as you. So include the following on your profiles:

  • A short biography (what are your goals as an agent, and what sets you apart?)
  • A photo of yourself (put a face to the name)
  • All of your contact information (phone number, email address, website URL, etc.)
  • “Real estate” somewhere in your page name
  • Information about the areas and communities you serve

Even more important than having a profile is using it to generate leads. You should be using your online platform to share photos, videos, and text posts about real estate. Show yourself to be an expert in the industry by sharing new homeowner tips, sharing articles about recent mortgage or home trends, and sharing photos and videos of your listings.

Try New Marketing Tactics (EDDM, Socials, & More)

There are two common mistakes of new real estate agents in marketing: Doing a little bit of all types of marketing and choosing one marketing method and putting all of your efforts into making it work. While it’s true that any marketing method can work, the only way to ensure that it does work is by giving it your full effort and figuring out what works for you.

There’s no single marketing tactic that’ll ensure leads or clients. But here are some tips for figuring out which methods to try:

  • Do you talk a good game on the phone? Cold-call in the local area or reach out to for sale by owner (FSBO) listings from Zillow (Note: Check the Do Not Call Registry first).
  • Do you thrive in face-to-face interactions? Go door-to-door in a neighborhood of your choosing or attend social gatherings and talk real estate.
  • Do you want to focus on a certain area or neighborhood? Start-up an EDDM route and send out monthly mailings to your farm (postcards, flyers, and more).
  • Do you consider yourself an influencer? Stick to social media advertising or begin an SEO blog on your agent website.

Though it is a good idea to strengthen your weaknesses (like cold-calling if you’re anxious during phone calls), it might be better to just stick to what you’re good at. If you notice that you’ve gone door-knocking and left with eight hot leads and one client, stick with it.

Set First-Year Real Estate Agent Goals

Real estate can be a great source of income, especially if you’re successful. But many new agents don’t have a goal. They go in hoping to sell homes and cash commission checks, but don’t have any idea how many clients they need to take-home their ideal income. 

Take the time to think about the salary you want in year one. In the chart below, we’ll walk you through how to figure out how many leads and closings you’ll need a year to succeed.

StepNumber (Sample)
Define What You Want to Earn Annually$80,000
Find the Average Home Price in Your Area$400,000
Calculate the Commission Per Sale After Fees (ex: 1.5%)$6,000
Divide Your Ideal Income By the Average Commission Per Sale13.3 Listings
Consider a 5% Conversion Rate on Leads (Divide Listings You Must Sell By 5%)  266 Leads

Keep in mind that real estate isn’t as simple as the chart above outlines. Home values are never precisely the average, your conversion rate can be well-above or well-below 5%, and your commission split will vary based on what you negotiate with your broker. Use your calculations as a starting point to keep track of your progress as the year continues.

Learn About the Area (Parks, Schools, & Community)

You want to walk away with an excellent commission check—and, of course, you want your clients to find the home of their dreams. But as a real estate agent, you also adopt the role of an expert in the local community. As such, you need to know more about a listing than how many bedrooms it has or how deep the inground pool is.

When a potential buyer comes in during an open house and asks the following questions, will you have the right answer?

  • Are there any local parks, preserves, or trails?
  • How is the school district?
  • Are there malls or shopping centers nearby?
  • How far is the closest train station or bus terminal?
  • What is there to do with kids around here?

Nobody is expecting you to be an expert in every neighborhood on day one. But if you’re hosting an open house or bringing buyers on showings, you should have an accurate answer to each of these questions. This knowledge also helps to show clients that you know the area well, find them the right home, and be educated.

That’s going to require a little bit of research. 

To learn about the goings-on in an area, check out the community Facebook page to learn about local events and festivals, use Google Maps to find nearby attractions and locations, and even scout out its Wikipedia page. You can also find most of this information on the MLS listing if you know where to look.

Build a Network (Inspectors, Lenders, & Contractors)

As a real estate agent, your job is to find your buyers their dream home or help your sellers to get their home off the market. But you’d be naive to think that you’re the only professional involved in closing a deal. Your buyer or seller will likely need to have a few repairs made to close the deal or make it market-ready. And you’ll need a lender in most cases.

While you can always find a contractor or specialist at the last minute, it comes in handy to build a network and a relationship with each pro you recommend. Not only can you speak to their quality of work, but they’re more likely to work you into their schedule if they know you.

Try to find local contractors to add to your network like:

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Lawn care professionals
  • Roofers
  • Construction 
  • Pest control & exterminators
  • Inspectors
  • Appraisers
  • Mortgage lenders
  • Cleaners
  • Fencing specialists
  • HVAC
  • Septic & sewer pros
  • Painters

It’s okay if you don’t have a go-to network for each of these specializations. You’ll probably slowly build your list as you continue to work with buyers and sellers and make a name for yourself in real estate. Just know that having these professionals on speed-dial will ensure a quick fix for repairs and reduce your risk of losing a client.

Spend Time at the Office & Meet Fellow Agents

The greatest benefit of being a real estate agent is that you can do most of your work from home. You can do lead generation from your living room, print contracts and documents from your home printer, and make phone calls while in your pajamas. 

In essence, the only time you need to leave home is to meet clients, host open houses, view properties, or bring your buyers on tours. Despite being wildly convenient, the issue is that avoiding the office like the plague deprives you of interactions with other agents.

As a new real estate agent, your first year will be about learning the fundamentals and figuring out how the industry works. By going to the office and talking to the more skilled agents, you can learn about how they generate leads, listen in as they call hot leads, and find out how they block their time to ensure success. 

Many agents have a lot of knowledge and are willing to share a few first-year real estate agent tips if you just ask!

What you do with these budding relationships is even more critical for success in your first year. 

Always offer your weekends to other agents looking for somebody to host their open houses, volunteer for desk duty to capture leads via the phone, and consider going 50/50 on listings with another agent to get some experience under your belt.

Sign Up for Classes, Conferences, & Seminars

Pre-licensing courses and your real estate company’s new agent training will be pivotal for getting your career started the right way. But the real estate industry is always changing, you might discover a niche you want to exploit, and you might just like to learn more. 

Fortunately, most local Realtor associations and your brokerage will offer classes and seminars for furthering your education. Not all will be relevant to you, so consider choosing courses about:

  • Building your social media presence and online marketing tactics 
  • The forms you’ll need to fill out on all sides of the transaction
  • How to build your website to attract more clients
  • The best ways to use the MLS to find what you’re in search of
  • Concepts and laws regarding Fair Housing & Assistance Animals
  • Expanding your sphere of influence (SOI)

There’s nothing that says attending more of these courses will guarantee more clients or more significant revenue as a new agent. But you’ll leave each training session with a few tidbits of information you can use in your new career. And most courses are online or even self-paced, so you can do them in your free time rather than take time away from lead generation.

Learn How to Communicate With Clients Effectively

You can have 1,000 leads on your plate if you work the phones or marketing tactics efficiently. Yet, these leads mean absolutely nothing if you flub communication and lose the lead. So you want to make sure that you’re communicating effectively. If you’re used to a regular 9-to-5 job, it might take some time to get used to real estate’s salesperson persona.

To make communication with clients more comfortable, consider these tips:

  • Listen more than you speak and take notes on what your client says.
  • Practice active listening and repeat back to your clients what they just said.
  • Never put excess pressure on your clients to buy or sell on the spot.
  • Do your research before communicating.
  • Start with some small talk, but get to the point quickly.
  • Avoid mentioning that you’re a first-year agent unless asked.
  • Reach out to clients how they prefer (phone, text, email, etc.).
  • Don’t wait for leads and clients to call you.
  • Avoid over-communicating (it’s not hard to come off stalkerish).

You want to make a deal, and your leads want to either buy or sell (or both!). But remember that most clients will vet a handful of real estate agents before they decide who to trust with the most critical investment in their life—a house. 

So remember that nobody is required to work with you, especially if an agreement has never been signed. It’s disappointing to spend hours on a listing presentation or cart buyers around in your car, but don’t assume you’re entitled to a listing or client because you’re a good person. 

Dedicate Hours a Day to Lead Generation

Clients are either buyers or sellers that you’ll earn a commission check from, but there’s something that all clients have in common: They were once leads. After a few years in the biz, most of your leads will come from referrals. So your past satisfied clients will recommend you to their friends and family, and you won’t have to work for leads as much, they come to you.

But as a first-year agent, you’ll need to spend the majority of your time getting leads.

The most skilled real estate agents in the industry recommend time-blocking to create a daily work schedule. And you’ll notice one thing that most of the pros have in common: They leave their lead generation for first thing in the morning. You should be spending a few hours a day on lead generation—cold-calling, door-knocking, social media, blog posts, and FSBOs on Zillow.

Remember that quality and quantity are both important when it comes to lead generation. Calling two random phone numbers will likely leave you empty-handed just as knocking on 40 doors in a newly-built development will be a waste of energy. So commit to the following:

  • Adding ten new people to your sphere each day
  • Reaching out to ten leads a day
  • Sending out ten mailers a day

It also helps to keep track of how successful you are at each of the above each day to hold yourself accountable. Theoretically speaking, the more leads you capture, the more clients you’ll earn as a result.

Join the National Association of Realtors (NAR)

Most franchise real estate companies will require you to join the National Association of Realtors (NAR). But if your brokerage simply gives you the option, it’s always best to bite the bullet and pay the $150 annual fee. This membership comes with many benefits, some of which will benefit you, particularly as a brand new agent!

In addition to online course offerings to expand your knowledge base, NAR also comes with:

  • Access to the RPR app (sort of like the MLS, but more comprehensive)
  • Marketing tips (get your business started right)
  • Discounts and savings (like office furniture and car rentals)
  • DocuSign & ZipForm access (send and receive documents on the go)

Additionally, having the official Realtor pin and title of “Realtor” comes with a great deal of respect, something essential as a first-year agent.

Conclusion

How to Succeed as a First Year Real Estate Agent

While it’s true that the typical first-year real estate agent stories are disappointing, the fact that you’re looking for advice to skyrocket your career is a great sign. As a new agent, the most important thing you can do is genuinely dedicate yourself to the job and dive in head-first. Take your failures as lessons learned, learn as much as you can about your local market or the industry as a whole, and keep your goals in sight. 

Soon enough, your success in your first-year will continue into your second year.

Robert Earl

Robert Earl started in Real Estate in 2001. During his career he has helped hundreds start a career in real estate, helping them understand the licensing process and assisting them in getting their business up and running. Robert is a Coach, Mentor and also an Air Force Veteran.

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