As a new agent, what advice can you give me about where I should start and why? Foreclosures? Buyer agent? Etc.?

Asked by Lisa Plate, Tampa, FL Fri Aug 23, 2013

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Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Fri Aug 23, 2013
Although it would be easy to fling a response that is antedotially correct, it would not serve you well. The choices you present are invalid because they have no context, only reaction.
The context of your question, and the one I am responding to is, "As a new agent, where should I start that is most likey to lead to success?" After all, your purpose is to be in the business more that two years.
The beginning point for me would be an analysis of what you have to work with.
1. What vertical markets are available to you?
2. What associations or business venues allow you access?
3. Do you have business, associate, affiliate contacts?
4. How are you wired?
5. What are you willling to do to ensure your financial future is secure? As easy at this question appears to be, it IS the achilles heel of 95% of newbies and the cause of failure to thrive of 80% of the professionals who linger around.
6. What were you thinking when you thought real estate was such a great idea? What was the basis for this decision? Was any analysis involved? Do you have an idea regarding what your business should look like?
The nature of your question suggests you are starting like 95% of all newbies. You have decided to become a business owner without doing your homework. It's simialr to a shop owner declaring they are open for business, but have nothing in stock. A responsible business owner would have identified what they are going to sell, what price they can acquire the product, what the citizen is willing to pay, how they will reach the citizen, what the cost of doing businesss is, the break even point and the projected margins involved. Only in real estate do business owners announce "I'm open for business" and have done no homework.
Let's assume this does NOT apply to you. You actually can state, "My real estate business is focused on helping homeonwers who own single family homes, located in Westchase who are considering selling in the next 90 days get the highest price possible by providing exceptional service, proprietary strategies and comprehensive, agile networking." Now you have something to work with.
Drive through West Chase, stop in the coffee shop, pick up the local paper and identify who is doing busines in that area. Access the MLS (clck on any agents websie here) and see who the listing agents are AND their brokerages.
Now, pick up the phone and arange a meet up with a few of these agents. You will need to buy the coffee and cheese danish. Only share with these agents you desire to get into the business and you really would like to know what their biggest challenges are in growing their business. Greatest costs?
Greatest concerns? Then 'Do you receive compensation for recruiting new agents?" If yes, interview is over, If no conpensation received, "What does your brokerage provide that helps in your success?"
Now you have some back ground.
It's time to get serious. Set up an appointment with those brokerages you idenified as doing business in your preferred market. Be aware, you actually have only one question you want answered that is of any importance to you. EVERYTHING ELSE IS FLUFF and shiny things. The question you must ask is:
"What is the annual, average transactions per agent in this OFFICE?"
The national average is 9. You want to be in an office where the average is 15, 22, 30 transactions per year. This number is the validataon that the training, stystems, infrastructure, compensation, and support systems work. You want to be in the highest producing offfice you can identfy.
Such offices are highly productive because they don't take on dead wood. Many brokerages will enroll ANYONE. For them it about the numbers. Most of them say, "If you pay their fee, you're ok by me!"
The office you join will offer you mentorship or placement within a team. There you will learn what you need to know to thrive.With the team leader or mentor or broker, you should have a disussion regarding those things with which you have to work, your business objective, how you are wired, and with such information, directed how to optmise your efforts to get the best results.
You do not earn a dime warning the seat in a classroom. 95% of newbie agent will 'buy' the training message which has been the 'bread and butter' message for decades. For decades 95% of newbies return to their old job in two years or less.
The choice you make now will determine if you are among the 95% who will not see their second year of if you wll be of the 5% who learned and earned and come to the realization, "it's not rocket science!" Just follow the instructoins, complete the task FULLY, be a professional, know that failure is temporary, quiting if defeat... and the gates to the universe will open.

Best of success,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
2 votes
John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Fri Aug 23, 2013
I agree with Dorene, find a mentor who can show you the ropes while you figure everything out. Your mentor will be able to answer your questions better than any of us here on Trulia, since your mentor knows the market you'll be working in and - hopefully - will take the time to learn your strengths and weaknesses before throwing you into the fire.
Your mentor will suggest where you should start, I'll suggest what you should stay away from:
- first time buyers: most (but certainly not all) can be indecisive and might waste a whole lot of your time looking around and never pull the trigger. You need to get a lot of transactions under your belt fast, so you need to work with people who want to get things done (Mack's investor suggestion is a good idea). No matter what anyone tells you, experience in real estate is not measured in years, it's measured by the type, number, complexity and difficulty of transactions you've done. Any moron can do a simple "all cash, close in 15 day transaction with no contingencies." You will develop faster and gain deeper experience by taking on the transactions from hell (what doesn't kill you makes you stronger).
- Foreclosures and short sales: these transactions take specialized training and usually have longer escrow periods. You're trying to get your feet wet in an already very complicated field of endeavor, stay within your current limits and take on tougher assignments when you're ready for them: crawl, walk, and then run. Your clients will appreciate it.
Good luck!
1 vote
Amanda Chris…, Agent, Fort Wayne, IN
Thu Dec 12, 2013
I would also recommend finding a mentor or coach. Being a successful Realtor is tough and it's something you don't want to do alone.

Best of luck to you!
0 votes
Chris O'Conn…, Agent, Clearwater, FL
Thu Dec 12, 2013
I strongly suggest you start as a buyer’s agent. The learning curve for this profession is steep and you'll increase your chances of long-term success by focusing on 1/2 of the equation (buyers) for the first year or two.

You'll need to find a successful and ethical Realtor that actually has leads to give you. And be cautious about the deal you strike with that agent. If they want more than 35 - 40% of your commission they're asking too much (and they know it!). Negotiate that fee down or move on to another agent. You'll go broke giving 50% of your commission to someone who just hands you cold leads.

And many will try to sell you on a 50/50 split up to a certain point and then your cut increases. Don't fall for it. They know that the chances of you making more than the 50% level is slim to none. Especially while you're green and inexperienced. They’ll show you charts about how much money you’ll make if you just do “X” number of transactions per month or year. But they won’t tell you that hardly any Realtors ever do that many transactions.

I'd recommend a 65/35 split (or a max of 60/40) with you keeping 100% of your own personal deals. In other words if your brother wants to buy a house then this is called a self-generated lead. You should not have to share that commission. I guarantee you this will be a point of contention but don't get weak. Stick to your guns. In the first few years you'll have many deals that are self-generated. It makes no sense to give someone else 35% or more of your commission on self-generated transactions.

On the other hand if the other agent is REALLY taking you under their wing and teaching you things you may want to sign a buyer agent agreement where they earn a split on ALL of your transactions even if the transactions are self-generated. But I’d insist on a better split on self-generated such as 75/25. There has to be some benefit to you for generating business on your own as opposed to via the other agents marketing dollar.

And then there is the issue of self-generated LISTINGS. Will you take listings or refer them to the agent for which you work? More than likely you’ll refer them to the other agent. I’d suggest on self-generated listings you negotiate a 35/65 split (as opposed to a 65/35 split).

So basically the person who generates the lead and gives it to the other person gets 35% for the referral fee. The person who receives the lead generated by the other person gets 65%. This is a two-way street. If you give the other agent a listing you deserve the same split that that agent receives when they give you a buyer.

I wish you luck. Real estate is fun as hell. Work hard and you’ll do well.
0 votes
Susie Nelson…, Agent, Tampa, FL
Mon Aug 26, 2013
The one thing that I would add to the info below is this- get your 45 hour course under your belt now by taking GRI 1! It will add to your foundation, and it will be very difficult to fit in 2 years from now.

Becoming a buyer's agent is a great way to minimize some of the financial risk of getting started. The most important part of this arrangement is finding someone who will mentor you, and someone who shares your values.

Good luck! It's a great business.
0 votes
Jenn Cook, Agent, Tampa, FL
Sun Aug 25, 2013
Hi Lisa,

If you're in the Tampa area and looking for a broker that provides leads to the buyer's agents, give me a call. I'm one of the owners of Bahia Realty Group and we are looking for new agents. You can reach me at 813-810-7454 or via email Thanks and hope to speak to you soon!

Jenn Cook
0 votes
Judi Monday,…, Agent, Green Valley, AZ
Sun Aug 25, 2013
Consider starting as a license assistant/buyers agent for a successful agent in your area. There is no better way to learn this business than from someone who has a proven track record in it. It will be a win/win for both of you.
0 votes
Chris Nealy, Agent, Virginia Beach, VA
Sat Aug 24, 2013
I would interview several companies and find a good fit. For a new agent you will need a lot of training so make sure whereever you go you will get the training you need. Make sure you take advantage of the training offered by your local mls and realtors assoc. Next I would ask if I could shadow a pro in the office. Learn from them what works and what doesn't. Talk with your broker about partnering up for your first couple of transactions until you get the ball rolling. Market yourself, let everyone you know know that you are now a realtor adn ready to help them find their dream home. Knock on doors in neighborhoods and introduce yourself. Offer busy agents an open house to pick up leads .Good Luck
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Fri Aug 23, 2013
- Thank you Dorene! I appreciate the reply. I have been in property management for the last two years and I was promoted within the first year. I am very personable and I catch on quickly. I am very eager to start in the real estate business and I am looking forward to all the opportunities it has to offer!

Let me suggest you begin by working with investors. Farm rental properties.

Beginners typically do the open-house thing looking to meet first-time homebuyers, but I think that this is the market segment that needs the most experienced help! Investors, on the other hand, need people do to their legwork - they need people to bring them deals. And you can team up with experienced agents on your first few listings.

All the best,
0 votes
Karen Peyton, Agent, Chandler, AZ
Fri Aug 23, 2013
Excellent question Lisa. For the short answer I like Dorene's.

Mentoring under a successful agent is always a good idea. But you must choose carefully! It's important you find someone who shares a similar philosophy as to the "way" you want to do business. In my early years I bounced "pillar to post" unhappy with office culture, and mentors who in my opinion were successful for all the wrong reasons! Above all integrity!

Also good, are holding "Open Houses," so you can start a "pipeline" of what will hopefully become future clients. Open Houses are great for perfecting customer interaction skills. Regardless of the "know it all" arrogance of any visitor, you can take solace in the fact - they don't know more about the house you're sitting open than you do! It won't take long to know - what to say, to whom, and when (build rapport). Oh, and "barkers" are just fearful buyers who feel if they find anything good about the house, you'll whip out the purchase contract and lock the doors until they sign. **NEVER, NEVER do an Open House alone!**

Although you may decide to make Buyers your beginning, it's important to take advantage of your broker's offering of continuing education. Something may discussed that will resonate within you, making your path and direction clear!

Have fun and good luck!
0 votes
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Fri Aug 23, 2013
Dear Lisa,
Most agents just starting out will work with a "mentor" to learn the ropes perfect their skills in Real Estate. There is a lot to learn in this business. If you can work with an established Agent, you might be able to hold his/her Open Houses and get the opportunity to meet and greet potential buyers. In my opinion, this is the best way to get started.
0 votes
Thank you Dorene! I appreciate the reply. I have been in property management for the last two years and I was promoted within the first year. I am very personable and I catch on quickly. I am very eager to start in the real estate business and I am looking forward to all the opportunities it has to offer!
Flag Fri Aug 23, 2013
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