How to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent

How to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent

Back when the photo above was taken, in 1979, I was just starting out as a realtor. Since then I've learned a lot about the real estate world. And while 'the times they are a-changin' the main laws of business—and I mean any client-oriented business, not just real estate—remain the same.

The realtor game isn’t easy. Long hours and hard work is the norm in the industry. I’ve never met a successful realtor who worked 40 hours a week. They all work 60-80 hours.

It's a thankless job sometimes, but it can be very fulfilling as well. That's why I've decided to share guidelines to help you through the difficult times.

1. When something comes up, do it right away.

It’s so easy to get distracted. Tasks that you can’t anticipate pop up all the time. When something unforeseen shows up on your schedule it’s best to get it over with so you don’t get bogged down by it.

2. Know your marketplace.

See as many houses as possible. It’s important to get out there and find out what the neighbourhood is like. You should know how many schools are in the area, where the nearest transit stop is, and when garbage day is.

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3. Work to be at the same level at all times.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of it all. Sometimes you get tired and don’t want to work. But you need to push through that.

I see a lot of people who do really well in the first three months and then decide to relax. Instead, try and pace yourself. Don’t take on too much and never do just the bare minimum.

4. Always over-perform for your clients: go the extra mile.

Don’t wait for your clients to ask you for something. Instead, anticipate their needs. You want to create a situation where they look to you on an ongoing basis. So they may call you when they want to paint their house in five years, or when they want to sell in 10 years.

Making play-doh dumplings at a Mandarin class!
Making play-doh dumplings at a Mandarin class with Panda Mandarin Language School

5. Plan ahead 6 months, 12 months and 5 years and spoil yourself.

It’s important to give yourself something to look forward to. As I said, being a realtor is a very intense job. I think the only way you can keep up that pace is if you always have something to look forward to. 

I usually plan at least one trip to Mexico every year. Other times I head to Europe for a few weeks. But it’s all in the name of rewarding yourself for your hard work. There’s always something that I’ve booked and paid for that I’m going to enjoy months down the line.

6. Always be on the lookout for the next opportunity.

Finding new opportunities or niches can open doors and bolster your business.

I realized years ago I had to look to widening my customer base to people who speak different languages. Learning about foreign buyers and dealing with them opened entirely new markets and kept our business moving strong.

Richard and Sherille in London during The Torontoism international trip in December 2016.
Richard and Sherille in London during The Torontoism international trip in December 2016.

7. Never take yourself too seriously.

Things will go wrong. Clients will decide to go with other realtors but that happens to everybody. Stuff happens. There will be disappointments and you just need to move on. Don’t let it get you down.

8. Focus on what you do well and outsource the rest.

Some people are good at public speaking while others are terrified by it. That’s normal. The trick is to figure out what you’re good at and concentrate on that. Wherever your shortcomings are, try and find people to fill those roles. So if you’re bad on the phone, find someone who’s good at it.

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9. Involve yourself in your community.

There are opportunities all over the web for realtors, but it’s important not to forget that there’s a community around you.

Go online and outside.

Getting involved in that community will help people remember you. So when they’re looking to buy or sell, you’ll be the first person they think of and the first person they call. If there are things you can do in the community get out there and do them.

You should also remember that the community doesn’t just mean the neighbours. Realtors are part of a community, and networking is a valuable tool.

There are a lot of realtors who don’t want to interact with other realtors. If you can send business to a peer, the odds are better that one day they’ll return the favour.

Torontoism in New York with the Nikki Field Team
Torontoism in New York with the Nikki Field Team

10. Think long term.

Don’t just look at recent trends. A five-year plan is useful for anyone. A lot of realtors, when it comes to real estate, they think very short term. But picturing where you’ll be in five years can also help you figure out how you want to get there. Or how you can help clients get there.

11. If the market slows and the pie gets smaller, get a bigger piece. Don’t let a downturn affect you.

When there’s a downturn a lot of people become paralyzed. But there is always business to be had. It just means working a little harder during the lean times. People will always be buying and selling.

12. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

I once had a client who had trouble organizing his office. As a joke, I got him a paper shredder and it's something the client still jokes about. The point is, you can always go the extra mile.

There are times you can do things in the community that people won’t even know about. In the past, it wasn't unheard of for me to help my clients move, though you should be mindful of going overboard. But if there’s anything you can do that your clients will enjoy, don’t overthink it. Just do it.

Title Photo by Charles Pachter

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