It takes persistence and patience to survive your real estate startup years
Becoming a real estate agent requires you to follow a clear path. You must be at least 18 years old, take an in-person or online real estate course, and pass your state’s licensing exam.
However, succeeding in the real estate business requires many skills, strategies, and tasks,
especially in today’s competitive market. Whether you’re a newly licensed agent or want to reboot your real estate career, here are eight ways to survive, and potentially even thrive, as a startup.
Many of the benefits of being an agent, such as working when you want and earning
high commissions, don’t happen immediately. You’ll need to be realistic about your
finances and be flexible to accommodate prospective clients who can only work with you
on the evenings and weekends.
Like most founders, you need cash in the bank, and may even need a second source of income to support yourself and pay your startup expenses. At a minimum, you likely need six months’ worth of living expenses saved before launching a real estate business.
If you have a longer cash runway, you increase your chances of making it through challenging market cycles.
Being a real estate agent isn’t a job — it’s a small business. Create a business plan to
document your estimated startup expenses and create realistic short- and long-term
goals for sales and marketing.
Some investments you typically must make include:
● Joining the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to use its tools, data,
and credentials, which your brokerage may require
● Subscribing to the multiple listing service (MLS) to list and search properties on
● Paying fees to your real estate brokerage
● Purchasing advertising to promote yourself, such as digital marketing, a billboard,
or ads in local or national home publications
● Having a reliable vehicle to tour homes with clients
If you don’t have enough personal funds or don’t want to use them to launch your real
estate startup, consider getting a personal loan or a no-paperwork business loan to help
bridge your finances until you close your first deal.
An essential aspect of becoming a successful real estate agent is partnering with
people and companies that can help you. For example, working for a broker that offers
training, mentoring, and marketing services can mean the difference between success
and failure for a new agent.
You should also build relationships with other industry pros — such as bankers, mortgage brokers, property inspectors, contractors, insurance agents, title companies, and real estate
attorneys — who can help get your deals to the closing table and give you referrals.
The more people you know in real estate, the more sales you can make. Make it a goal to
regularly attend networking events, such as those hosted by your local real estate
association or chamber of commerce, to increase your visibility as a pro in the industry.
You might meet new people and get referrals by volunteering, attending religious
meetings, or working at community events. Those introductions and friendships allow
you to make genuine connections with people who may need to sell or buy real estate
now or in the future.
Building a personal brand is critical in a competitive real estate market. Even if you
don’t love social media, it’s an excellent way to promote your real estate services,
listings, sales, and industry accomplishments.
Spending time connecting with and sharing your career with friends and previous clients is an inexpensive business investment that can pay off.
The more you know about the state, city, town, and neighborhood where you live and
work, the more credible and helpful you’ll be to potential clients. Becoming an expert on
local schools, parks, restaurants, real estate-related service providers, and government
officials is an excellent way to serve your customers and enhance your reputation.
It can take weeks to work through contract contingencies, get to the closing table, and receive your sales commission, even if you’re fortunate enough to get a signed purchase agreement during your first month or quarter in real estate.
The self-employed must pay estimated income taxes each quarter, so don’t forget to
set aside a portion of each commission for the IRS. Also, invest some of your income into your business by promoting yourself, joining networking groups, upgrading your technology, and getting additional education.
No one is an instant expert in their career, so don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated if it
takes longer than expected to launch your real estate startup. Every agent experiences
rejection from sellers who don’t list with you or buyers who aren’t loyal. Stay motivated
to keep learning, asking questions, and growing from any mistakes you make.
Many salespeople get discouraged and leave the industry before giving themselves
enough time to be successful. You’ll need persistence and patience to survive your real
estate startup years. If you work hard for leads, provide excellent customer service,
leverage technology, and ask for referrals, you can create a profitable and fulfilling real
Laura Adams is the author and host of the Money Girl podcast.
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