What makes a successful real estate agent?
We are in a moment of history when our world is being bombarded with loads of information yet our fast-paced culture and its slick advertising seduce us into believing that simplistic solutions work—“The time is right”, “Live richly”, “Get out there”. Even our politicians and leaders speak in short sound bites to get our attention—“War on Terror”, “Rock and Roll” or “You’re either with us or against us”. “The Secret and the Law of Attraction” is another one of those simplistic answers to success and happiness. It is certainly part of the solution, but not the whole truth, for there are many steps to attract good in one’s life and random “bad” things do actually happen.
For instance, what do you do when your best client chooses someone else because you were not available when they called? Or your ambitious colleague steals your lead? Or all the money you have in savings must go to an unforeseen emergency? Pretending all is fine and being positive is not enough to solve all our day to day challenges. Discipline helps as does having a strong will and desire to succeed, but again these are concepts—just words. Thinking that complex systems can be summarized in a week long seminar or by a life coach, who has never experienced being a real estate agent in today’s world, is unrealistic and naive. With my book, Getting the Property SOUL’D, I wanted to make a somewhat complex system more understandable while giving people credible expectations–whether you are a real estate agent, real estate seller or real estate buyer.
I believe most of us learn an occupation by opportunity rather than by a defined plan. The National Association of Realtors statistics show that 85-90% real estate licensees fail. In my thirty plus years in real estate, I have seen hundreds of new bright energetic real estate agents leave the business after a year or two never having “made it”. Then there are the countless others who make it initially, but can not sustain over the long haul. So what is it about this sales profession that makes it so lucrative for some and disastrous for most?
Most everyone grasps the practical knowledge of real estate—how to write a contract, market a listing and follow up with a potential buyer—but those skills alone will not make a successful real estate transaction. The majority of clients choose and stay loyal with their agents—not because of their knowledge—but rather who they are as people. This also applies within the real estate community. In addition, other real estate agents want to do business with people who they like and trust. The close emotional bond forged between people is hard to describe in a seminar or in a “how to” book.
Real Estate has emotional ups and downs
For instance, what are the qualities a person must have to attract new clients, keep them committed to working only with you, and get them to sign on the dotted line? How do you develop a solid credible reputation among your peers? How do you cope with a disappointed real estate seller who does not get his price, a real estate buyer who can not afford what they really want, or a week laden with so much work that you must make a choice to work with this person and not that one? In essence, how does one deal with the roller coaster of emotions real estate brings and negotiate hundreds of tiny details in the process?
Real Estate Agent Salary
No matter what subject I teach—goal setting, prospecting, real estate negotiation—I find that people learn best when given real personalized stories. With all those eager and hopeful faces looking up at me, I felt some obligation—as well as some sadness—to break the naivety in thinking real estate sales is the simple answer to their career search. First of all there is no typical salary for a real estate agent. One also needs to know what to expect before spending too much time and money investing in something which might not work—or better yet–give people a road map to show them how to make real estate work for them.
Sure, loads of books have been written about how to make cold calls or how to be a shark and hang tight in the negotiation process, but what is a day—a week—in the life of a real estate agent really like? By approaching this subject from an autobiographical standpoint I put the reader right in the middle of people who have or will be investing most of their life savings to have the American dream of owning a home. I develop these real life experiences like a suspenseful mystery novel to engage the readers in an intimate way so that they can experience these situations first hand and at the same time learn through my successes—and failures.
To think one is going to get this type of learning while in the office is rare. Most real estate managers are overloaded with work, and besides, they probably have never sold a thing in their life. Their expertise is “managing people” which requires a completely different mind-set than a person who is 100% commission based and essentially an entrepreneur. The top real estate producers, who would be great mentors, are too busy making their own deals and are seldom in the office. The agents who are available and may be willing to share their knowledge, are usually not the best role models. As a result, only the most determined newbies survive—usually by trial and error. This is unfortunate because many other talented people could have been successful if only they had been given the right tools.
Understanding the Real Estate Market
You can personally witness the day-to-day life of a budding successful real estate agent in my new book, Getting the Property SOUL’D. With complete candor I show all the mistakes, missteps and triumphs that can happen in real estate-whether you are a wanna be professional or a real estate buyer or seller who want to understand the intricacies of a real estate transaction.
Come with me as I take a journey of self transformation and personal power as I leave my medical research job in New York behind and choose the more exciting and challenging job as a real estate sales agent. First traveling cross country to the sunny Hollywood-land of Laguna Beach and learning the basics of the trade and then onto the cultural melting pot of a cosmopolitan city to becoming one of San Francisco’s most successful Realtors, eventually burning out and leaving the business, and then re-inventing myself once again as I make my quest to find the balance of sales success and happiness.