You’ve spent the past several months learning all that there is to know about residential real estate, including a lot of new terms, laws, and calculations. Now, you’ve passed your test and signed with a brokerage. The hard part’s over, right? Well, not exactly. Now, it’s up to you to create your own small business and chart your path into becoming one of the top real estate agents in your market.
All real estate brokerages are different. At the start of your journey into becoming one of the top real estate agents, you may be working with an experienced mentor or you may be flying by the seat of your pants. Either way, it’s important to create a strategy to help you navigate the first months of your real estate career -- preferably one that will set you up for success long term.
We’ve put together a guide to help you get started on your path to becoming one of the top real estate agents, including real, actionable tips for planning ahead and putting into practice the skills and strategies that will help you establish yourself as the go-to real estate professional in your market. In addition, we’ve provided some ideas to help you grow your business and create a long-term lead generation plan that will provide warm, consistent leads throughout your real estate career.
The First Step Into Becoming One of The Top Real Estate Agents
Your first days at a real estate brokerage can be intimidating. You may be asking yourself:
- What am I supposed to do now?
- How am I supposed to get clients?
- What do I do with those clients once I get them?
There are a variety of books, videos, and coaching programs, all giving contradictory advice. Should you cold call, door knock, or go all-in on digital platforms? Should you try to become an influencer or focus on geographic farming?
Take a deep breath. We’ve got a plan to help you take the first step, then the one after that. Soon, you’ll find yourself creating your own plan -- one that’s perfectly tailored to your schedule, your personality, and your professional goals.
Where do you want to go? Goal Setting
Your initial step to becoming one of the top real estate agents should be to determine what you’re hoping to achieve short term and long term. Do you want your new real estate career to support you? Your family? Do you have some money to invest in your business or do you need to bootstrap your launch and start producing quickly?
Determine how much money you need to earn this year in order to pay your bills and live comfortably. Calculate the number of transactions you need to close in order to earn that amount. Remember, you’ll need to plan for things like income taxes and health insurance that might have been paid at a previous, salaried job.
Beyond your financial goals, there are the professional goals. Do you want to be a broker someday? Do you want to specialize in a particular market niche? You may need to begin training and gear your business toward long-term strategies and relationships that will help you facilitate those objectives.
What do you need to do? Daily Practices
Life is made up of the little habits that we do day after day. Businesses are, too. Start today to put into practice the daily habits that will help you get closer to your long-term goals. These should include:
- Habits of mind, like meditation or daily affirmations
- Habits of body, like a daily workout and healthy eating
- Habits of communication, like cold-calling or CRM updates
- Habits of organization, like calendar management or productivity platforms
- Habits of education, like webinars, reading, and home previews
The more you can build consistency into your daily routines, the more you will find that they pay dividends. You’ll save time, money, and frustration when you have a plan and implement it. Over time, you’ll begin to see your positive habits lead to positive results.
How do you find new clients? Marketing Platforms
There are almost as many marketing strategies as there are new real estate agents, and everyone thinks his or her way is the right one. The only correct marketing strategy is the one that you’ll work day after day.
If you are looking to take advantage of online marketing platforms, you’ll want to put together the following:
- An attractive and functional website as the home base for your online marketing
- A platform where you can create original content like blogs, podcasts, or videos
- An email platform, either through your brokerage’s CRM or through a platform like Mailchimp
- One or two social media platforms where you share high-quality, value-added content consistently
It may take you some time on your path to becoming one of the top real estate agents, to put all of these together, but a cohesive content strategy can pay dividends by marketing your expertise online 24/7/365.
How do you serve those clients? Transaction Management
So much of your first month or two in real estate is devoted to finding a client. Once you find one, what do you do with them? Transaction management platforms like Skyslope or Dotloop can help you organize information, create a library of forms, and complete, share, and track all of the documents you need to make a transaction run smoothly.
Spend some time up front learning your transaction management software or create a workflow of your own with a productivity tool like Trello or Meistertask. That way, when you are juggling several clients and a variety of transactions, you’ll be able to do it seamlessly and efficiently.
How to Incorporate Rentals in Your Growth Strategy
Much of what you studied for your licensure exam had to do with the buying and selling of homes. However, if you’re looking for a way to jumpstart your journey into becoming one of the top real estate agents, a surefire way to do so is through representing renters and rental properties. While you may not know much about rentals, you can quickly create a streamlined workflow designed to help you fill rental properties with reliable, qualified tenants.
Here’s why it’s worth it to build your business on a foundation of rental representation.
1. Rentals provide more consistent cash flow.
Buying or selling a condo or single family home can take months or even years. Buyers may look at dozens of properties before narrowing down their home search. Sellers may need to find a new home to buy before selling their current one. The mortgage process alone is a time-consuming element that can create problems -- and undermine the sale -- all the way up to the day of closing.
By contrast, many renters only look at a few options before making their decision, and rental properties in desirable neighborhoods may have multiple qualified applicants. Instead of waiting months for a commission check, you can receive a steady flow of rental commissions month after month. That can provide a valuable financial cushion between sale commission checks.
2. Rentals provide valuable market knowledge.
Which buildings in your area are the most pet-friendly? Which have the best amenities? What percentage of a building is owner-occupied and how much is owned by investors? Working with rentals allows you to operate a higher-volume real estate business, meaning you know more than other agents in your area.
Learn about the best neighborhoods, property managers, and hidden enclaves when you’re working with rental clients. That’s knowledge that you can then put to work for your buyer clients, offering great advice and finding the hidden gems no one else has seen.
3. Rentals provide valuable transaction experience.
If you are working primarily with buyers and sellers, you may only do a few transactions in your first year. By working with renters, you have the opportunity to work with far more clients on both sides of the transaction.
That means you get better at reading and completing contracts. You gain valuable experience as a negotiator. You’ll become even more familiar with fair housing law in your area and learn how to effectively market a property. Most of all, you get to know other agents, support staff, and leadership at your current brokerage, developing relationships that can pay dividends throughout your career.
4. Rentals provide more consistent business.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the average length of home ownership in the US is 13 years. That means that the buyer you help today won’t need you to help them sell for more than a decade -- even if they remember to call on you.
By contrast, most rental contracts last for only one or two years, meaning that the renter you help today will be calling on you next year. The landlord you help today will be calling on you even sooner -- especially if he or she has multiple properties to be filled throughout the calendar year. That means you can grow your business -- and your CRM -- faster than you ever thought possible.
5. Rentals help fill your sales funnel.
When you work with a renter, they become a potential first-time homebuyer. That means that you can reach out to them about their next rental or help educate them for an eventual purchase. That first-time homebuyer then becomes part of your sphere of influence, so you can reach out to them again in order to stay top of mind for their next real estate transaction.
You may think that landlords pursuing a buy and hold strategy won’t need sales assistance, but many are always looking for ways to optimize their investment portfolio. Come to them with properties that fit their strategy. Help them with a 1031 exchange to capitalize on the equity they’ve earned. Help them transition their single family portfolio into a series of multi-family investments. The possibilities for serving your investor clients are endless -- and you can become their trusted advisor.
6. Rentals provide a profitable niche.
You’ve probably heard the saying “the riches are in the niches.” Niche marketing is a smart strategy for growing your business. While many new real estate agents want to serve everyone in their market in a variety of transaction types, developing expertise in a particular area can do even more to promote you to new clients. Narrowing your focus can pay big dividends as you grow your real estate business.
Make a name for yourself in rentals and become the go-to agent for your market. Work out referral agreements with other agents at your brokerage and in your market who don’t have the time or bandwidth to work with rental transactions. By developing your expertise in this way, you no longer have to be all things to all people. You’ll be the right choice for a select group of renters, investors, and absentee property owners. Develop a strong online presence and become the rental agent of choice for newcomers to your market who are looking for an apartment or an investment opportunity.
7. Rentals help you ride out market shifts.
The real estate market can have its ups and downs. Interest rates, changing market conditions, and the economy at large can all have an impact on buyers and sellers. By contrast, rental properties operate on a narrow time frame and when the lease term ends, it’s time to find a new renter. Renters will always need a place to live, and well-maintained properties in good areas will always be in demand.
In addition, by staying active in the rental market and communicating with local investors, you’ll be better able to weather market fluctuations. During downturns in the market, investors are often more active, so you’ll have the opportunity to put those relationships to work building and optimizing their portfolios. In addition, developing your skills as a property manager or partnering with a property management specialist can allow you even more stability in your monthly income.
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do to establish and grow your business to the level of top real estate agents is to work at it each day. By planning ahead and pursuing a strategy that optimizes your talents and builds-in a diverse array of services and financial stability, you’ll set yourself up for success both now and in the future.