1.) Have a business or marketing plan. If you went into business for yourself and approached a bank for a business loan, your loan officer would want to see two things: your income statement and your business plan. Well, when you go into real estate sales, you’re going into business for yourself. But many salespeople have no clear goals or timeline for achieving their goals. Consistently, real estate professionals who have a written business plan are more successful than people who don’t. If you don’t know where to start, you can copy a sample real estate business plan from Palo Alto Software Inc.’s Business Plan Pro. The company also offers Marketing Plan Pro.
2.) Use available resources. Just because you’re new to the industry doesn’t mean you have to recreate the wheel. Take advantage of all the resources that are around you—from your brokerage, your colleagues, and professional organizations. Find top performers in your market or other markets and ask them to mentor you. Read each issue of REALTOR® Magazine, which is packed with tips from successful practitioners or trainers on how you can become more successful.
3.) Maximize your productivity. If you look at top-producing real estate professionals who are selling 600-plus units a year, you’ll notice that they have two things in common—assistants and systems. These practitioners are multiplying their efforts and increasing their output through people and technology. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Member Profiles consistently show that real estate practitioners who use personal assistants have a significantly higher sales volume than those who do not. You may erroneously think that you can’t afford a personal assistant. But think again. If you can significantly increase your income by increasing your efficiency and the number of transactions you can close in a year, you can’t afford not to get a personal assistant.
Learn more by checking out our tool kit on hiring a personal assistant.
4.) Earn REALTOR® designations. Many practitioners feel that they aren’t making enough money to allocate funds for education. This is backwards thinking. You take classes to acquire the skills to increase your sales and earn more. The skills you learn and the referral relationships you develop with other students you meet will dramatically affect your bottom line and your potential for success.
5.) Purchase equipment as a business entity. Many real estate professionals purchase their laptops, digital cameras, or PDAs as consumers. This is a big mistake. If the technology breaks or you need help with the device, you will be sent to consumer purgatory, also known customer support. This purgatory is completely avoidable and unnecessary. The next time you purchase equipment, buy it as a business entity. You can do this by stating that you are a business when you purchase the equipment in-store, choosing the business-ordering option online, or using the vendor’s business-ordering phone number. When you need help, you can call a support line that is reserved for business accounts. That means that you only spend about five minutes on the phone with one person, and the needed part or parts are sent overnight. In some cases, you can even get a technician dispatched to your home or office to fix the problem.
6.) Target your marketing to your prospects' concerns. If you don’t already own a copy, you need to run out and immediately get the latest NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. This survey gives you insights into what really matters to the typical buyer and seller. The almost universal mantra used by salespeople trying to get a listing is, “I am honest, hardworking, and have sold millions of dollars in real estate.” According to the survey, the average homebuyer or seller doesn’t care about your accomplishments. What they do care about is finding the right house, negotiating skills, and obtaining help with the paperwork. Your marketing should target their concerns. Obtain a copy by calling the NAR at 1-800-874-6500 or order it online.
7.) Have an income buffer or passive income. What often kills new real estate practitioners is the concept of lag time. When you sell a house, you typically don’t get paid when the contract is accepted. The average contract is written for 45 days. In a perfect world, you would get your commission check 45 days from the date it was accepted. In the real world, you don’t always get paid on time. What could go wrong? Maybe someone forgets to order the title, water certification, village inspection, pay-off letter, survey, termite inspection, or income verification. If you are in a hot market, the title company could be backed up for two weeks or longer. The closing date could be pushed back days or even weeks. A successful real estate practitioner needs a line of credit and a financial cushion of three to six months of personal expenses to survive. You also need passive income—income coming in from investment property or stocks—so you don’t have to be desperate to close a deal. When that check finally arrives, don’t forget to put some money aside for your nest egg.
Usually, it is the simple stuff that derails a potentially successful real estate career, eclipses your joy in helping clients and customers in buying or selling a home, and causes practitioners to burn out prematurely. You are where you are today because of decisions you have made or did not make. Before you embark on a real estate career—or before you try to move your career to a new level of production—take a hard look at yourself and see if you need to develop the essential habits that will ensure success. Once you make the decision to invest in developing the necessary habits, your path to real estate sales success is wide open.
If you’re serious about a career in real estate, you need a Web site. That’s beyond debate.
The Internet may be the most cost-effective way to promote yourself, your company, and your listings. Many consumers now search the Web first for available properties before they engage with a real estate professional. According to the 2017 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 81 percent of all buyers looked online for properties for sale as the first step taken during the home buying process, while 21 percent of all buyers first contacted a real estate agent.
When starting out, don't make the mistake of assuming that having a page on your firm's site is sufficient and that an individual Web site is unnecessary. A permanent, personalized home on the Web is important not only for differentiating yourself among everyone in your brokerage and other real estate professionals in your market, but also for purposes of personal marketing; a Web address gives you something to print on marketing materials that looks personalized and professional. The Web site URL and e-mail address should be featured in all your advertising, promotion, and correspondence. Both should be prominently featured on your business card and letterhead.
Another rookie faux pas is to assume that having a Facebook page or Twitter account is enough of a "Web site" for conducting serious business. While social media accounts are great supplements to any personal online marketing campaign—no matter the budget—they still don't replace the need for a Web site. Further, having only social media pages could alienate you from those potential customers who don't regularly engage on the sites. Even if you're only creating an about.me page, make sure that you have some kind of Web presence beyond social media or the umbrella site that your brokerage provides.
Luckily, owning a Web site is not exactly a financial burden.
First, though, you need to set up an account with an Internet service provider (ISP). As part of the basic service to subscribers, most ISPs will host a Web site for free or charge a modest fee if it’s a commercial Web site. Expect to pay a monthly hosting fee, which, for a small Web site, can be as low as a few dollars per month.
To find potential site hosts, use keyword searches on a search engine of your choice, such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. Search engines, in fact, are useful sources of information on all aspects of building a Web site, from identifying online tools to help you build your own site to the finding specialists who can build the site for you.
Make sure you visit a number of real estate Web sites to determine what you like and what you don't like. The exercise will help you to identify the features and content you should include, ways to organize your site content, and the “look” you want. Often at the bottom of a Web site, you’ll find the name of the products used or company that developed the site. Also, remember that your website is in constant flux, and the form it takes today may be a very different one than it takes on tomorrow, next week, or next year. Updating and customizing your site to fit your professional needs will come naturally as your real estate practice evolves and grows.
Most good real estate Web sites include the following features:
Listing is obtaining a written contract from sellers to market and sell their home. Your first few listings may be non-competitive (family or friends), but soon you’ll have to interview with unknown prospects and compete for their listing business with other sales associates. In order to cinch the listing, you'll need to impress sellers with your marketing skills and your ability to get the job done.
Many experts recommend that you gather information from the sellers prior to a listing appointment. Call the sellers prior to your appointment, and ask them a number of questions that will help you tailor your listing presentation to address their particular needs and concerns. This technique will help you set yourself apart from practitioners who offer a generic presentation. For more on what to ask, check out these 9 Prequalifying Questions in our Listing Tool kit.
Based on the information you collect from your prequalifying conversation, assemble a pre listing packet that is tailored to the needs of the sellers.
The focus of the prelisting packet should be to establish your credibility—not to sell. Your prelisting packet should include:
Regardless of whether or not you compete for a listing, you should have a strong listing packet to provide to all potential sellers. At a minimum, your listing packet should include:
You also may want to add information about your company, your Web site, and other services that may be available through your company. Talk to other sales associates in your office or your broker about other materials you can add to your listing packet.
Practice is the best way to build confidence in your listing presentation. But besides practice, these tips will help you make a good first impression:
Sometimes a home just sells itself. But most of the time, you’ll find that you must put a lot of hard work and effort into marketing and selling a home. At the heart of a successful home sale is a well-thought-out marketing plan.
Following are some tips to develop an effective marketing plan for your listing.
There are three primary marketing venues for you to promote your new listing. They are:
Get purchase contract negotiations off on the right foot by presenting your clients’ offer effectively.
For more, check out Tips for Presenting a Counteroffer. Always try to present the buyers’ purchase offer in person to the sellers. If that’s not possible (with out-of-town sellers, for example), then try to arrange a conference call when all of the decision-makers can participate.
Crafting and presenting counteroffers is another test of your negotiating skills. Try these techniques to work toward a win-win situation: