Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Real Estate Career

mistakes new real estate agents make

Are you a new real estate agent or thinking about becoming one? Then you need to be aware of these common mistakes new real estate agents make.

Education New Agents Realtor Success Tips

Misael Lizarraga
Senior Content Coordinator

Are you a new real estate agent? If so, congratulations on your choice. Real estate is one of the most rewarding careers you can choose, and potentially one of the most lucrative ones.

However, as you can imagine, reaching your goals in real estate is not as easy as getting your real estate license, and joining a brokerage. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, patience, and the willingness to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Since you're not working for a wage (usually), and you're essentially a business owner, you need to approach real estate as an entrepreneur. Of course, being an entrepreneur is a lot more difficult than being an employee.

That's why we decided to put together a list of some of the most common mistakes new real estate agents make. That way you'll be able to see if you're in your way to making them and correct course if necessary.

new real estate agent rushing in

1. Rushing In

You’ve probably heard a million times by now that you need to treat your real estate career as an actual business.

And you know what? This cliché exists for a reason: it is absolutely true. As a real estate professional, it’s your personal responsibility to attract your own clients, do your own marketing, and keep your current clients.

Sure, your broker may occasionally send leads your way. But your own success is NOT the responsibility of your broker. Regardless of the promises (and hype) your real estate company, broker, or co-workers may make, your real estate success is your own responsibility.

When you first start your real estate career, you will have no leads, no listings, and no personal brand recognition. And it will probably take a while before you close your first deal.

Don't be discouraged. This is normal.

So before you start your real estate career, you need to anticipate the amount of time it will take before you start seeing some cashflow your way. Make sure you have a cash cushion to carry you over for at least 6-9 months.

And while you may be tempted to have a second job while your real estate career starts to get some traction (and that's exactly what many real estate agents have done) it would be far better if you’re able to work in real estate full time from day one.

There's never a shortage of tasks you need to do to make your personal brand stand out, you need to reach out to tons of people in your circle of influence, and you need to demonstrate to your potential clients that you take this job very seriously and you’re doing everything you can to sell their home.

2. Expecting Immediate Success

While there are many cases of rookie real estate agents that started to close deals from day one, and achieved success almost overnight, those cases are the exception that proves the rule. Typically, those rookie agents were already well connected, had plenty of experience related to real estate, or were simply in the right place at the right time.

In the vast majority of cases, it takes months to close your first deal, even if you’re doing everything right, and it may take up to two years before you start making what you would call “good money” in real estate.

Of course, this is not meant to discourage you or keep you from having a healthy amount of ambition. This is a reminder that you need to plan realistically for the most common case scenario and make all the preparations that you need to increase your chances of success.

not preparing for business expenses

4. Not Preparing For Business Expenses

Following suit with the last point, it’s easy to underestimate how much you need to spend in marketing when first starting your real estate business. As with any new business, you need to spend money before you make money.

You need to plan for business expenses such as:

  • Office supplies
  • Desk fees
  • An MLS subscription
  • Car maintenance and gas to go to showings
  • Marketing tools
  • A website
  • An advertising budget

5. Unfocused Marketing

It can be extremely easy to start dumping a ton of money into tv ads, flyers, Google Ads, Facebook ads, and other forms of advertising right out of the gate.

However, this is also one of the easiest ways to burn through all of your funds.

Before you start ANY marketing efforts, you need to understand your niche. Start by using the typical questions a good journalist would ask: “W” questions.

  • What is my real estate niche?
  • Where do the members of my niche go to get real estate advice?
  • When are they most likely to look for a real estate agent?
  • Which forms of media are they most likely to consume?
  • Why would they choose my services over my competitors?
  • How can I start providing value to them from day one?

In addition, you need to remember that it takes a while for your personal brand to be identified, and your marketing efforts should not be a one-off effort. You need to establish a consistent marketing budget, and always set aside funds to make sure you stay relevant in your prospects’ minds.

6. Not Having An Engaging Website That Provides Value To Leads And Prospects

Don’t just settle for an agent website that serves as a digital business card or yet another property search website. You need to get an engaging website built to capture, attract and nurture your leads. And it should also provide value beyond just offering a free property search function.

Things of value you provide on your website include:

learn to say no

7. Not Learning To Say “No”

Saying “yes” to everybody is the perfect recipe for burnout, stress, and misery. And that is especially the case in real estate. 

You need to learn to say no to clients that refuse to price their property properly from the beginning. You have to learn to say no to micromanaging clients that you know right out of the gate will be a problem.  

And especially, you need to learn to say no to attempts to lower your commission rate.

It’s no exaggeration to say that your ability to confidently say no will be absolutely essential in building the kind of business you love and look forward to doing every single day.

8. Not Communicating With Clients

The biggest complaint clients have about their real estate agents is their lack of communication. But it’s not just about a lack of communication, but also a lack of communication on their own terms. 

Schedule time to communicate with your clients each week. Set aside a day, and reach out to them. Ask them what their preferred form of communication is (text, email, phone call), and let them know what you have done for them that week.

With a little bit of effort, this could be an area where you shine and outperform the vast majority of agents out there.

9. Not Hiring An Assistant Soon Enough

Hiring the right assistant shouldn’t be considered an expense. It’s an investment. Instead of focusing exclusively on how much it would cost you, focus on what an assistant will bring to the table.

Imagine how much better you would perform if you could dedicate an extra 4-5 hours a week to prospecting, marketing, and following up on clients. How many more sales would translate into each year?

And how much would your stress levels decrease if you could have someone else handle some of the most tedious aspects of your job? 

saving money from paycheck

10. Not Putting Away A Portion Of Every Paycheck

Just like with any kind of business, there will always be ups and downs in your real estate market. Sometimes you will have a ton of work, and other times you will be struggling. So in order to ensure that you can get through the difficult times, make sure you put a portion of each commission away and don’t touch it.

Or better yet, put it away on a savings account, a retirement account, or invest it into an index fund.

11. Not Learning Something New Each Day

The real estate market is more dynamic and changing than ever. Just take a look at how many adjustments we all had to do to get through 2020. And if you think things will finally settle down and go back to normal, you could be making a huge mistake.

That’s why you need to be in a constant state of learning. You need to be on top of the newest real estate tech, new market niches, and the ever-changing needs of your current clients.

Become a lifelong student of real estate. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.

12. Not Knowing Your Unique Value Proposition

New real estate agents have a tough climb ahead of them. They are coming into a notoriously competitive industry, and they don’t have any record of success nor good word of mouth to validate them.

So how can new agents carve their own niche, and convince clients to choose them over other more experienced agents? 

A good way to do so is by understanding your unique value proposition. 

A unique value proposition is often defined as a phrase that briefly explains to your potential clients why your services are unique. It provides a reason why they should do business with you instead of your competitors.

In order to come up with your own unique value proposition, you need to ask yourself: 

  • How can my skill set uniquely benefit people in my chosen niche?
  • Who are my competitors? What are their weaknesses?
  • How is my market underserved?
  • What services can I offer that no one else can? 
  • What aspects of my niche are underserved?

Conclusion

Real estate is a challenging, yet rewarding career path. But as with any new business, you need to be aware of some of the most common pitfalls, so you can more easily identify them and avoid making unnecessary mistakes. That way you'll be more prepared, and increase the chances of your success.

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