How to Succeed in Your First Year as a Real Estate Agent

by | Dec 26, 2019 | Is Real Estate For Me? | 0 comments

Your first year as a licensed real estate agent will be the most difficult to navigate. The licensing process will seem easy compared to launching your own business! There is a lot to know as you build your client database, develop a reputation through word-of-mouth and actually jump into selling and listing homes. The first 12 months are the most difficult for new agents because you’ll be learning all of this and potentially making very little money at first. 

Current agents look back on their first 12 months in the business and share what their first years were actually like, what challenges they faced, what they learned in training and what advice they would offer new agents just starting out. 

Jason Mickelson

Licensed in 2017

Mike Crabb

Licensed in 2015

Megan Mitchum

Licensed in 2005

Renee Dunkel

Licensed in 2016

Ethan Hokel

Licensed in 2015

Jessica Gilligan

Licensed in 2016

What were your first 3-6 months as a new agent like?

The first few months as an agent can be confusing and intimidating. How are you supposed to go about getting leads for buyers and sellers? These agents share how they got started in the first 3-6 months as an agent and what helped set them up for success:

“My first three to six months as an agent were interesting. I remember coming to the office and not really knowing what I was going to be doing that day but sort of being forced to figure it out. I personally learn through hands-on experience so I would try and talk to other experienced agents in the office. When I got my first listing I prepped really hard for it and just went and did it. I knew I would get those questions answered and get back to that client if I didn’t know the answers.”

– Megan Mitchum

“When you have no actual agenda, no actual schedule, it makes it tough just to figure out where to even start. Once I figured out what to focus on and what to do on a day-to-day basis, it became a lot easier to function.”

– Ethan Hokel

“I kept feeling like I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t have a ton of clients. So I came to the office about four days a week and I just listened to what other agents were talking about, how they engaged with their clients, how they engaged with other agents, what questions they were asking. I went to every single class available to me because what else was I supposed to do? If I’m not out showing homes, I should probably be at the office with the continued learning I was looking for.”

– Renee Dunkel

What training was most helpful?

The brokerage you commit to should offer you training on the systems they use, how to develop relationships with clients and what kind of scenarios you may encounter with your first clients. These are essential tools of the trade that will help you get started with your first clients. These agents share what training was most helpful for them:

“The training that was most helpful to me was meeting with a group of other new agents. We talked about things that were happening. What’s happening in my world may be different than what’s happening in their world, but I may learn from something they’re going through.”

– Renee Dunkel

“Another training that I found very helpful was the Buffini system. Buffini is a course you can take that teaches you how to work by referral. That’s the route I wanted to go, more than cold calling and tactics like that. It’s just one way you can be successful in real estate- asking for business and asking for referrals from people in your sphere. That system was very helpful for me to learn how to communicate and ask for business from the people I know.”

– Ethan Hokel

“The most helpful training honestly was just being present in an environment where real estate is happening. If I wasn’t doing it, at least I was hearing other people talk about it.”

– Mike Crabb

What was the most challenging part of being a new agent?

As any experienced agent will tell you, real estate isn’t easy! There are some misconceptions about how simple it is to show houses and earn commissions. These agents share what they had to learn about creating their own budgets, developing relationships and staying on top of the day-to-day work:

 

“I think the most challenging thing for me was probably learning how to budget. You may make $0 in a month and you may make a whole lot of money in a month and I think learning how to set up a spending plan for yourself is really important. And saving money back for taxes.” 

– Megan Mitchum

“I think it’s working with other agents outside of the brokerage that is a big challenge. There are a variety of people in this business and not all of them treat you the same and not all of them play by what you think are fair rules. So negotiation standards, how to communicate and making sure everyone is happy are big ones [to learn].”

– Jason Mickelson

“I think the most challenging part as a new agent is finding balance. I felt like at times I couldn’t turn my brain off from real estate.  I felt like I was getting kind of burnt out and never got a break.”

– Jessica Gilligan

“Getting in front of enough business to sustain yourself in the first year is the biggest thing. There is no paycheck if you don’t sell a house. So being able to support yourself through what is usually a thin first year is vital.

– Mike Crabb

What was different about the industry than you imagined?

Many agents will be candid about what surprised them about the real estate industry. You may jump in expecting a light schedule, no boss over your shoulder and the freedom to come and go as you please. Some of this is true! However, as these agents will share, there is a lot about the industry that may surprise you. Find out what they had to say:

 

“What was different about the industry than what I thought it was going to be was definitely the time. A lot of people say they get into real estate because they want to make their own schedule. You need to make the time to meet with your clients or go show properties.” 

– Ethan Hokel

“You know when you’re a real estate agent, you assume that you’re just going to be showing beautiful homes all day long. Not every home is beautiful and clean and amazing. I think learning to navigate how to pinpoint potential issues in those homes, both old and new, was something beyond my expectations.”

– Megan Mitchum

“Real estate is different than I imagined. I always thought about what happens from when you meet the client to getting them an offer. I’ve learned the work is actually once the offer is accepted to closing day and even beyond that. There can be a lot of hiccups that the REALTOR® is responsible for getting figured out.

– Jessica Gilligan

What advice would you offer to new agents about the first 12 months?

The first year of real estate is all about establishing yourself and learning from experienced agents. These agents discuss the methods that helped them succeed in the first year from mentorship to continued learning to relationship building.

“I think my best advice for new agents in the first 12 months is to spend as much time in the office as possible. I feel like we have a lot of situations and scenarios come up that we talk about and bounce ideas off of each other.”

– Megan Mitchum

“The advice I would offer to new agents in the first 12 months would just be to keep at it and find a good mentor. Find someone you can meet with on a regular basis, who can guide you and coach you and keep you motivated.”

– Ethan Hokel

“You have to track two things: One, where are you going to keep track of your customers? Because if you don’t track the people you meet early on, then you’ll never get them back. Two, track your income. You may have a bad two weeks, but when you have a bad two weeks you can look and see you’re so far ahead of where you were that will keep you mentally on track.”

– Jason Mickelson

“Focus on continuing to learn through case studies and continue to get good systems in place because once you are busy, you’ll be so glad you have those systems in place.” 

– Jessica Gilligan

Stay engaged with all the clients you have, whether it’s one or two or five. Stay totally engaged with those people because they’re going to be your biggest advocates. It’s not just your past clients. Your friends and family are the people who are going to be helping you in your business.”

– Renee Dunkel

Your first year as a real estate agent will be challenging. You’ll face uncertainty as you learn the ins and outs of real estate, you may struggle to make money and you’ll learn how to build relationships with clients and agents alike. Strong training, a good mentor, guidance from experienced agents and continued learning are the best tools of the trade to help you succeed in your first year as a real estate agent.

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