What does it take to be successful selling real estate? Start out with having realistic expectations knowing that, like any business, success isn’t handed to you on a silver platter.
“Too many people get into real estate thinking it is an easy job,” said
Bruce Kammer, broker/owner with Coldwell Banker, Picayune, said, “It is not an easy job. But it is very rewarding for those who want to work hard. A lot of people come into the business thinking it means quick money without a lot of effort. My biggest suggestion is work hard. If you come into the business, realize this is a full-time job. Be willing to talk to potential buyers and sellers, and you can be successful.”
Kammer said some newcomers don’t realize that real estate is a “contact sport.” You have to constantly be contacting people, prospecting or farming to try to find business.
“You need to be a real people person because you are always out meeting the buying and selling public,” Kammer said. “You have to be able to start conversations, but at the same time you have to be a good listener to what people are really saying they want or need.”
Real estate agents and brokers also need to have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. Clients want to know everything possible about the location where they are considering purchasing a home. Information about schools, hospitals, shopping centers, how long it takes to commute to work, traffic problems and entertainment are all important to someone relocating in the area.
Ellen Short, broker/owner, TRI Realtors, Tupelo, has been a broker for 10 years and a real estate agent for more than 30 years. She sees tenacity and the ability to see and accept changes as they come about as vital elements to being successful selling real estate.
Good communication skills are a must, Short said. A willingness to work with others is important. And the ability to manage money is another trait to cultivate. Short also recommends having an interest and involvement in the community you are serving, and appreciation for the people you work with and even for your competition.
Once you’re into it…
Nothing beats experience, either.
“I think people often don’t understand the business until they get into it,” Short said. “Selling real estate is like learning a foreign language. You learn it, but until you use it, you really don’t know what it means.”
Keeping a positive attitude is critical, says Corie Haynes, principal broker at Century 21 Billy Haynes Realty, LLC, in Southaven.
“At times it becomes frustrating when you have a little bit of a dry spell, and may wonder if you should think of doing something other than real estate,” Haynes said. “Keep that go-getter attitude. Know if you have two or three deals fall through, there is always something around the corner.”
There is a large turnover in the real estate business. Haynes said you have to be quite successful to stick with it for long haul.
“It is tough for brand new agents without contacts or a builder,” Haynes said. “It is very hard for them the first few years. Real estate is a very self-motivated business. A broker can give a new agent all the ideas and help in the world. But it is up to that individual agent to have the discipline and self-motivation to go out and generate business. You can’t sit in an office and wait for the phone to ring. That is not how the real estate business works.”
One of the perks of the job is it provides flexibility that can be especially important when raising young children. Hours can be worked around the family’s schedule.
“You can make it to school field trips, and pick the kids up from school,” Haynes said. “But the tradeoff is you have to be available on nights and weekends. It is definitely a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour business. Sometimes the phone starts ringing at 7 a.m. in the morning and won’t stop ringing until 10 p.m.”
The power of persuasion isn’t necessarily what is needed here. Haynes said she has never tried to talk someone into buying a house. The clients’ needs and wants are uppermost.
“I would never try to convince someone to buy a house they didn’t want,” Haynes said.
What about difficult customers who take up lots of time and then purchase something for sale by owner? And that house is far different from what they told you they were looking for?
“Try to roll with the punches,” Haynes advises.
Only the beginning
People can become a real estate agent by taking 60 hours of classroom instruction. To go into business, they must place their license under a broker supervising their activities.
“You can’t possibly know what is going on with just 60 hours of real estate education,” said Dr. Charles P. Cartee, president of Cartee Properties Inc., Gulfport, and a retired professor from Southern Miss. “Since the initial education is minimal, I would suggest one of the most important things for a sales person is after you get your sales license, place that license with a broker who is very knowledgeable and who will mentor you. In effect they become responsible for your activities. Select your broker very carefully. Choose someone who will take time to mentor you and be there as a resource when questions come up.”
Once you get licensed and have experience under your belt, he recommends pursuing additional professional designations. The National Association of Realtors and other groups have a number of professional designations for residential, property management, commercial property, etc.
“There are a whole slew of professional designations that require coursework and projects,” Cartee said. “In my opinion, that kind of separates a person from the pack. It shows they like the business so much they want to learn more about it in the area they specialize in. The other thing is I have no preference for putting your license under an independent broker or national chain. But I will say this for the franchise organizations. They normally do have very good training programs for their people. I think they probably excel in that area.”
The additional education is important because, for example, there is a world of difference between selling houses and commercial real estate. Cartee said while home buyers are buying for the amenities provided by the home and property, commercial investors are buying an income stream. Being able to identify the income and expenses on that commercial property is critical.
Patience pays off
It usually takes a couple of years for a new agent to really get immersed in the business.
“Usually there are enough storms in two years to see if you have the staying power,” said Andy Stetelman, broker/owner of London & Stetelman Commercial Realtors, Hattiesburg. “If you make it through the hump of the honeymoon period, you typically can make it for as long as you would like. A lot of people don’t have the patience. It takes the patience of Job to make it in real estate, residential or commercial. Nothing happens overnight in a real estate transaction. A lot happens before and after the contract on a piece of property. You have to understand going in that it could be weeks or months before you have a transaction go to close. You have to go with that mindset to understand it. Some might get lucky, and have something close right off the bat. But it is better to prepare for the worst.”
Stetelman believes in specialization. He advises getting into some aspect of real estate, whether residential or commercial, stick to that niche and don’t try to do everything.
“There are so many specialties you can get into: office, retail, industrial, warehouse and appraisal,” he said. “Pick and choose what you would like to do, and do it the best. Be the expert in that field. And it doesn’t matter what part of real estate you are in, honesty, integrity and ethics are probably the most vital aspects of being successful. If you have those qualities and traits, it will foster your referral network.
“Networking is always important. Do as much as you can to brand yourself. Let the world know what you do. Be involved in a lot of activities whether civic groups or any other activities ranging from volunteer work to religion. You need to be involved and people will know what you do.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at firstname.lastname@example.org.