The National Association of Realtors reports that 5.64 million existing homes sold in 2020. With so many sales, there were millions in real estate profits on the table. Nationwide, there are around 106,000 real estate brokerage firms, so the business is highly competitive. Being a successful real estate agent is dependent on several factors, and in many instances, the process starts before you event get your license.

This guide will provide an in-depth look at all of the nuances on becoming a successful real estate agent. Whether you are just getting started with obtaining your license, or have several years of experience, this guide will help you start in the right direction, or explore avenues that can get your business back on track.

Research Local Real Estate Market

Research Your Local Real Estate Market

If you want a successful career in real estate, then the first thing you have to do is familiarize yourself with your local market. The leading agents know the area, such as the factors that shape the region’s economy, marketplace data, and more intel that can benefit their clients. You must become a local expert.

Familiarize yourself with the following:

  • Local financing data
  • Demographics of the area such as population
  • Economics (leading employers in the area and growth potential)
  • Schools
  • Political information
  • Environmental data
  • Localized weather patterns and the possible impacts of wind, rain, flooding, hurricanes, tornados, and more.
  • Most sought after features in recently sold properties and those listed
  • All listing and sales data include the area’s property prices, appreciation, and the average volume of sold homes.
  • Competitor’s performance
  • Your company’s information, market share, and more.

When researching your local real estate market, you can turn to the multiple listing service (MLS). You can also utilize professional real estate organizations for information.

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Real Estate Earnings

Determining Your Earning Potential as a Realtor

If you have decided to pursue a real estate career, you will want to determine your potential earnings. A career in real estate can be highly lucrative, and many agents make six figures without a college degree. However, initially, things might start slow.

Just about every real estate agent is commission-based. You earn most (or all) of your income based on the transactions you close. If a person sells their house with the help of a real estate agent, then the seller agrees to pay around a 5 to 6 percent commission on the sales price to the brokerage. The commission is split between both the selling agent and the buying agent. Usually, each side will earn a 3 percent commission.

 Remember, the commission that you earn will also be split with the brokerage where you work, which is why choosing the right brokerage is so important (more on this later).  Also, there are other expenses faced by an agent, such as marketing like real estate brochures, signs, professional association fees, and more advertising expenses. You might walk away with a 1 percent commission profit after everything is paid.

The National Association of Realtors reports that most agents complete 12 transactions per year. If the average selling price of a home is $250,000 for those 12 transactions, your Gross Commission Income (GCI) would be $90,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most real estate agents earn $51,220 per year. Most real estate agents work 40 hours per week or more to earn a living, but some work only part time. One of the most important questions to ask yourself is: how much time do I want to dedicate to getting started in real estate?

If you have a minimum of 6 months of living expenses saved, an extra pool of savings for emergencies, plus an initial budget dedicated to marketing for real estate, you are in the optimal position to commit to real estate full-time. However, if you have a job that provides benefits and a family to provide for, it may be more prudent to make real estate your evening/weekend gig as you get going.

Once you determine your short- and long-term earning potential, how do you choose your brokerage?

Choose Your Brokerage Carefully

The most important decision a real estate agent can make regardless of tenure is which brokerage you should align with. Not all brokerages are created equal and weighing the costs and benefits of the brokerages in your state can have significant effects on your bottom line.

Do not rush the decision of choosing a brokerage. You will want to take the time to interview with several brokerages to find the perfect fit.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing your brokerage:

Commission Split

Commission Split

Commission splits can vary widely with various brokerages, from a flat per-transaction fee to a percentage split (e.g. 80-20, 70-30, etc.). The first question to research is what do you get out of a particular brokerage?

Brokerages that take more than 20% usually offer a variety of marketing, coaching, and support. Perks can range from business cards and a dedicated landing page to a full-service CRM with lead capture capabilities and a Transaction Coordinator. Note that actual leads are (rarely) a part of the equation, and regardless of the benefits provided by a brokerage, lead generation will probably be your responsibility.

In some cases, commissions are negotiable, but this is typically not true if you are a new real estate agent. Only a star performer can negotiate their commission, so it gives you something to work towards.

Brokerage’s Internet Presence

Nowadays, the internet is king. You want the brokerage firm you work with to have a strong internet presence with a presentable website. Ideally, any successful broker should have a solid social media presence, a user-friendly professional website, and numerous positive online reviews.

Take the time to research and explore the broker’s website. How are the agents presented on the site? Are all agents presented positively? Can you link your website to the broker’s site? Remember, this is your business, and you want to link to your site to advance your reputation as an agent with your internet marketing. You always want to build your brand first and foremost and use the brokerage as a steppingstone and partner.

Fees

Find out about desk fees, transaction fees, printing costs, insurance, and more. You will want to add up all the fees to know precisely how much you owe the brokerage every month, and there are no surprises.

When you sit down to discuss things with the real estate broker, be sure to ask about fees and do not shy away from the conversation. Take the time to make a note of all the fees charged by each brokerage. They often vary significantly between firms.

Brokerage Firm Size

If you are looking for exposure, then a hefty brokerage might be the perfect fit. However, big offices are usually buzzing and busy, but a smaller firm feels homier. A large brokerage often provides training classes that are incredibly beneficial for new agents. National brands often have more significant leads that they can pass on to new agents. Would-be clients also gravitate towards the more recognized names in the industry.

Sure, there are perks to a large agency, but there are also drawbacks, including a lot of competition. The people working at the office might not be interested in building friendships but instead, focus only on the potential leads.

Another consideration is that a big agency is pretty much molded-in stone and does not embrace new ideas. You are just one of the cogs in the wheel. They are simply not interested in accommodating anyone that does not fit into their idea of the ‘perfect’ agent.

Boutique brokerages usually specialize in the local market. They are typically picky when they bring on a new agent because you are indeed joining a team. With so few agents, everyone must be successful in the office. You will have a greater chance of working with the broker and experienced agents so that you can learn a lot. Smaller agencies are also more flexible, which might fit in with your life plan better.

The Office

Real Estate Office

Is the office-friendly?  Are you proud of your surroundings?  Remember, you will often meet with potential clients in your office to show properties or complete paperwork, so you want the surroundings to be acceptable.

Does the office provide you with adequate workspace? Do you have access to the phone system, parking, copier, fax, and computers? Are you allowed to use the office to meet clients after hours? These are all questions to consider when picking a real estate office to work at.

Another thing to think about is the location of the office. Is it within an easy commute from your home? You might need to drive to the office to meet clients, and you do not want to spend a lot of time getting there.

Training Opportunities

Is the brokerage going to provide you with training opportunities?  New agents require training to succeed, and even seasoned agents can benefit from regular refresher classes. Real estate is constantly changing, so you must stay on your toes to stay competitive.

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Real Estate Team

Will You Be a Solo Agent or on a Team?

As we mentioned in the previous section, choosing the right brokerage is vital. However, once you choose a brokerage, you still have to decide if you want to start as a solo agent or join an established team.

The key distinction between a brokerage and a real estate team is the latter is a group that is still under a brokerage but has their own branding commission splits. Teams are great for getting started and/or for agents who would rather focus on showing homes and providing an amazing client experience and allow a support team to handle a large portion of the paperwork.

If you fit the model of an agent who wants to build their own brand, has plenty of capital to invest in all of the marketing expenses, and enough savings to handle the initial growth period, then being a solo agent is a great way to start.

However, if you want to ease your way into the real estate industry and thrive in a team environment, joining a team is a great way to go. And, just like the process of choosing a brokerage, there are some key features to look for when searching for a real estate team.

An Established Pipeline for Leads

A real estate team is only as strong as the leads it generates. Poor lead generation will make it difficult to keep agents happy, since most team agents are giving up a significant percentage of their commission (50% or more depending on their agreement) in exchange for qualified leads.

Whether they generate leads via Zillow Premiere Agent, Google Ads (more on this later), Organic Traffic (SEO), or referrals, the leads should be high-quality and there should be enough of them to keep you busy with showings and writing offers.

How can you tell if a team offers great leads? Unlike a typical job, changing teams or brokerages is a fairly quick and simple process. If a team has numerous agents that have stayed with the group for over a year, chances are it’s for a good reason.

Great Support Systems

A lot of work goes into completing a real estate transaction, and for solo agents, this usually requires many hours of drafting documents, getting signatures, coordinating between the mortgage lender and title companies, etc.

The best real estate teams have a great support staff, which will usually consist of a Transaction Coordinator, Marketing Manager, and an Inside Sales Agent. Combined, these team members remove about 80% of the workload associated with a transaction, which allows you to do what you do best.

If a prospective real estate team does not have a support staff, or if their support is limited, you would be better off elsewhere.

Excellent Branding and Marketing

Do they provide professional headshots and marketing materials? When you close a transaction, do they post on social media? Do they supply a bio page on their website? Is their brand well-known in your community? All of these factors play a role in how well you can succeed with a real estate team.

For those real estate agents who want to find success on their own, the following section will help you establish yourself as an expert and generate leads.

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Create a Marketing Plan

Create a Marketing Plan

A successful real estate agent has a concrete marketing plan that reaches people and captures their attention. The plan helps foster your brand to know and trust your business, ultimately giving you a competitive edge.

Creating a marketing plan promotes your business and skills so you can create real estate leads, which is one of the most important and often misunderstood elements to being a successful agent. Typically, leads occur as a result of word-of-mouth and real estate referrals. With that said, to reach the next level of success, tactics like real estate farming, prospecting, and marketing are essential.

Below are a few key factors that you will want to work into your marketing plan. Your real estate value proposition is the unique statement that puts you in front of your competition.

Website with Landing Pages for Google/Bing Ads

Real Estate Landing Page

Investing in a website is investing in yourself. The website should be easy to navigate and mobile-friendly. It should have keywords worked into the landing page structure to appeal to the search engine algorithms such as Google and Bing, so your site ranks first on any localized search. People are notoriously lazy, and few will navigate past the first page of a search, so you want your real estate site to appear first. 

Focusing your real estate website on value will help clients throughout the entire buying and selling process. The site should contain updated listings, an FAQ section, community research, and your contact information. An online presence is significant because most clients expect their REALTOR to have a site to visit to gather the answers to their questions.

Email Marketing

The use of email marketing lets you collect leads, foster ongoing and new relationships and seal deals. Segment your email subscriber base, so you provide targeted content that provides value. Focus on the subject line- remember that you need your readers to open those emails!

With email marketing, you will want to use newsletters that interest the reader while encouraging them to make contact. You want your recipients to contact you to buy or list and sell their properties or refer your services to their friends, business associates, and families.

Video Marketing

Video Marketing for Real Estate

Using videos is a great marketing tool that can display your listed properties and provide information about the various neighborhoods in your target market. Videos are an excellent way for would-be clients to put a face to your brand, which helps increase sales.

You can also branch out with interview videos; social media live stream videos, q and a’s, advice for homebuyers/sellers, special offers, local business reviews, community information, the brand promotes, and about us few video marketing ideas for real estate agents.

Social Media Marketing

A study revealed that 44 percent of agents stated they had obtained a new client in 2020 due to their use of social media. Social media has risen as the king for referrals and takes first place even over email marketing.

Realtors are using social media to share their listings and interact personally with their clients. They can quickly answer questions in real-time and indeed formulate a strong brand identity.

Real Estate Market Update Postcard Template

Real Estate Postcard Marketing

Nowadays, the focus is on digital marketing, but real estate is a very personable profession. You meet with clients face-to-face, hold open houses, and have office sit-downs with buyers and sellers. Because the profession requires personal contact, the use of REALTOR postcards remains an essential tool.

Using real estate postcard templates, you can quickly tailor each one for various listings and open houses. People like to pick up postcards. Even expired postcards that are handed off to friends can provide valuable leads.

There are a variety of ways to leverage postcards for real estate to obtain leads effectively. When you do list a home, send Just Listed postcards to everyone in the area. Once the home is sold, send out a couple batches of Just Sold postcards. This will help you establish authority as an expert in their area, and when neighbors want to sell their home, they will turn to the expert.

Network Marketing

Networking remains a cost-effective way to market your realtor skills and gain valuable leads. Join with other real estate investing groups to not only continue your education and learning opportunities but also to make connections.

Utilize local real estate network marketing such as the Chamber of Commerce to promote your credibility and form local networks. You can also explore investment and networking clubs where you can meet other professionals. If you have extra time, volunteering in charity programs is also a great way to network.

Prospecting

Real estate prospecting is the act of using a combination of outreach and outbound communication to bring in clients. You take a proactive approach, pick up the phone, send out the emails, and initiate contact with anyone who could turn into a prospective client.

Prospecting should become a part of your daily marketing tasks. Most prospecting involves phone calls, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the Do Not Call Registry (DNCR), a combination of state and national databases with consumer phone numbers of consumers who do not wish to be contacted by a business they do not already do business with. Penalties and fines are steep (up to $11,000 per violation), so be sure always to check numbers before phone prospecting.

Door-Knocking

The act of door-knocking might seem old-school, but it is a great way to gain leads. You can pick a neighborhood where you have listings and invite the neighbors to your open houses. Hand out business cards and postcards.

Expireds

As a realtor, you should not overlook expired listings as a prospecting channel. Many sellers are highly motivated even if they did not sell their home with their previous realtor. You will have the opportunity to take the reins when you take on an expired listing so you can breathe new life into it.

Expired listings are also an excellent marketing opportunity, For example, you can send expired postcards to home owners in your area whose listing contracts recently ended.

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Professional Marketing Materials

Use Professional Marketing Materials

When you build your marketing plan, you will want to invest in high-quality materials such as brochures for real estate, postcards, business cards, digital marketing graphics, real estate mailers, and more. Everything should look professional and promote your brand. You should feature a professional headshot, current listings, and more on all materials. Do not overlook your online sites, too, such as websites, social media profiles, and more.

Real estate open house signs are also a fantastic way to capture attention during a drive-by. You want people to do a double-take, stop their vehicle, and come in to have a look around.

Establish Your Value Proposition

In the United States, there are over two million real estate agents so having a unique real estate agent value proposition (UVP) is an untenable asset. It makes you stand out from the rest. You can make your statement about yourself, so you can convince would-be buyers and sellers to work with you.

With your UVP, you will want to state your mission transparently. Present your value, target your audience, let them know what you have to offer, and outline why you are the best choice. This should all be achieved in under 30 seconds. Your UPV is your pitch that you must quickly provide to convince sellers and buyers to work with you.

Use Checklists for Buyer and Seller Clients

When you are starting as a realtor, you need to remember a lot of small steps. It takes time and practice to get things into a groove. Having a checklist for buyers and sellers can make each transaction more accessible and help you stay on top of things. Remember, you want to provide each one of your clients with an excellent experience, so you do not want to miss anything or overlook something crucial. A checklist might seem old-fashioned, but it is not. You can create a checklist on your phone, computer, tablet, or paper. Make sure everything is checked for success.

Choose a Great CRM

Customer relationship management software (CRM) is a must-have for any serious real estate agent. The software helps you manage your clients, perform follow-ups, keep appointments, plus attract and retain clients. The entire purpose of CRM is to streamline transactions so you can effortlessly close deals.

Summary

Effective real estate marketing is crucial for every real estate agent, whether you are new to the profession or an established realtor. When you combine the right type of marketing with an unparalleled client experience, the result will be a highly lucrative and successful career as a real estate agent.

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