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5 lessons I wish I’d known as a new real estate agent

If you are new to real estate, your head is probably spinning from all the information thrown your way. I bet you figured it wouldn’t be easy, but did you anticipate how baffling it would be? There is a big gap between real estate school and being a real estate agent in the real world.

Let me share with you the five most important lessons I learned in my first year as an agent.

1. Cold calling builds grit

Let’s face it! Cold calling is not fun! In fact, as agents both new and seasoned, it is one of the most underutilized tools we use because we don’t like it.

But, if you approach cold calls more as a relationship-building opportunity and less about getting an appointment, it can change your perspective and the outcome of the call.

Find a reason for the call beyond asking them about real estate.

For example, pass along information about a community event to break the ice. Then, once they have lowered their guard, ask them if you can assist them with any real estate needs.

In the end, every door you knock upon and every phone you ring will propel your confidence and knowledge in the industry.

2. Don’t waste your marketing budget paying for online leads

Are you aware that research shows only 8 percent of all real estate sales nationally are the result of an online lead? What about the fact that conversion rates for online leads average between 1 percent and 3 percent?

Finally, did you know that 80 percent of all real estate transactions arise from our sphere of influence and that our sphere converts at a rate close to 70 percent?

According to Frank Chimento, in his Open Letter to Brokerage Owners Nationwide, these statistics are backed up by the National Association of Realtors, The Wav Group, Swanepoel and others.

Instead, of lining the pockets of the big guys, you’re better off joining local clubs and organizations to build relationships. You are going to get a lot more bang for your buck in a bowling league than you will by handing over those hard-earned dollars for paid leads.

3.  Continue to pump new leads into your pipeline

Once you are working with a few clients, handling everything can be overwhelming.

As a new agent, the first thing to slip off your radar is usually prospecting. No matter where you are in your real estate career, what you do now will pay off six months from now, so never stop pumping new leads into that pipeline.

Otherwise, once your current clients become past clients, you are back to square one.

4.  Don’t drown in the sea of never-ending technology choices

You only need one database that can be readily accessible from anywhere anytime and access to your MLS and office documents. Outside of that its overkill.

The problem is the holy grail of real estate software isn’t available yet, and greedy marketers will sell you the moon and deliver sand.

Before I got into real estate, I had a marketing friend tell me that if you want to sell something online, pitch it to a Realtor because they’ll buy anything.

Now that I am in real estate, I get more pitches than I do prospects. Don’t fall into that money pit. Remember, all you really need is to be able to access contact data whenever you need it.

5. The personal touch is still king

In real estate, the old way is still the best way. Write personal notes whenever you can to reach out to new prospects and former clients.

They are much more likely to remember a handwritten note that starts with “Thank You,” “Congratulations,” or “I was thinking of you” than they will a generic postcard.

This helps solidify your role as their trusted adviser and neighborhood expert, so they remember you when they, or anyone they know, needs a real estate agent.

Of course, there are many other lessons I learned, and I continue to face new challenges and learn new lessons almost daily. Because of that, it is one of the few professions where you can grow exponentially both in the business and as a person.

Missy Yost is a Realtor with Weichert Realtors Coastal Properties in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Follow The Yost Group on Facebook or Twitter

Email Missy Yost

US Existing-Home Sales Fall to a One-Year Low After Harvey

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes declined to a one-year low in August as affordability continued to hamper demand and Hurricane Harvey caused a slump in Houston-area purchases, a National Association of Realtors report showed Wednesday.

Key Takeaways

While decreased purchase activity in Houston helped push down the sales count nationwide, and may continue to do so in coming months, residential real estate is struggling to improve because of declining affordability, NAR said in the report. 

Realtors, Teachers Jump in Fight for $1.8 Trillion Tax Break …

The National Association of Realtors and the American Federation of Teachers have joined a coalition to preserve a federal tax deduction for the state and local taxes that individuals pay, according to a Thursday release announcing the group.

That coalition, Americans Against Double Taxation, also includes groups of state and local officials and is the latest organization to mobilize in what could be a fierce battle to preserve loopholes, deductions and other benefits if they’re targeted in tax overhaul legislation this year. The Realtors’ group, which is also fighting to keep the mortgage-interest deduction, is one of Washington’s top spenders on lobbying.

“Repealing the deduction for state and local taxes is very bad news,” Evan Liddiard, director of tax policy for NAR, said in a call with reporters.

Strategic plans, handy deterrents best ways for Realtors — often working on their own — to be safe on the job

The real estate business tends to be a solitary profession, enough so that agents can find themselves in potentially vulnerable settings. Associates meet one-on-one with clients, in some cases for the first time, at vacant houses. The get-togethers can be after dark, in secluded parts of town or way out in the country.

In the case of agents, they fall into demographic groups generally more susceptible to attack. Currently 63 percent of all Realtors are women, according to the National Association of Realtors. Average age is 53, although as independent contractors, agents can be full- or part-time from their 20s to 70s or higher.

The NAR observes Realtor Safety Month each September. “This is an excellent opportunity for all Realtors to reflect on the importance of staying safe on the job, while embracing a commitment to follow good safety practices throughout the year,” according to an article in Realtor magazine. “Sadly, incidents involving the personal safety of real estate professionals continue to occur every day,” the story says.

Among the steps the association takes to get out the word about safety are free webinars entitled “Do This Now” and “Stay Safe by Building Better Business Relationships.” No-charge Internet workshops also take place in April, and another 20 safety-related classes are archived online.

Yearly, the association produces a “member safety report.” The 2017 document surveys members on “professional or work-related situations that prompted fear, their use of self-defense weapons and safety apps and proactive safety procedures in their brokerage.” According to the NAR, the report’s mission is to gauge the extent of safety risks Realtors might face, help brokerages benchmark their efforts and determine areas of improvement.

According to last year’s report, less than half of NAR members said their office has standard procedures for agent safety, and another 28 percent responded, “I don’t know.”

The NAR says, “If your office hasn’t instituted safety procedures, start now. The time to prepare is before someone becomes a victim.”

Meanwhile, the association offers social media safety tips on a weekly basis through a “shareable visual graphic” on its official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. And a new grant program assists state and local Realtor association in launching safety plans for members and encourage awareness. Go to www.NAR.realtor/Safety.

At least one personal safety company is promoting its wares during real estate safety month.

Pepper spray manufacturer SABRE Security Equipment Corp. highlighted how real estate agents can stay safe, including:

  • Have an exit excuse – If a situation doesn’t feel right, always have a way to get out.
  • Create a check-in plan – Alert family and co-workers when heading to open houses or meeting with clients, and set up a code word for when you need help.
  • Maintain your privacy – Never use your home address or number on business cards or paperwork and keep your social media client-free.
  • Know your way – Practice your route so you’re confident and can’t be taken advantage of on the road.
  • Protect yourself — The smartest thing to do is take your personal safety into your own hands.

The St. Louis-based company touts its self defense products for real estate agents. “From driving in cars with strangers to waiting alone at open houses, Realtors deal with a unique set of personal safety problems while on the job,” the business says.

“In addition to having the right tools, we also try to give our clients the right knowledge to stay safe,” says David Nance, company chief executive. “We believe you should always be proactive,” he notes, adding that the venture offers a number of “highly effective and equally discreet self-defense options they can easily be put to use in any situation.”

Visit www.sabrered.com/real-estate-agent-safety-tips.

Jensen, Patricia Bailey

Pat “Dancing Queen” Jensen, 72, passed away on Thursday, September 21, 2017, at her home in Charlottesville, Va. Holding her hand as she crossed over was her husband and soulmate, Doug. Pat was born on February 11, 1945, to Alise and Sam Bailey. She grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. She graduated from Rockhill Academy in 1963. After high school, Pat attended The College of William and Mary and graduated in 1967. Pat married Doug Jensen on September 3, 1972. They recently celebrated 45 years of marriage and 55 years together. Pat was an active member in the real estate community on a local, state, and national level. During her stellar career, Pat was the only realtor in the greater Charlottesville area to have won all four annual real estate awards: Rookie of the Year, Ethics in Action, Realtor of the Year, and Salesperson of the Year. She served as President of the Virginia Area Realtors as well as the Director for the National Association of Realtors. Pat was a member of the Charlottesville Albemarle Area Realtors’ Honor Society since the society’s inception. Pat was preceded in death by her parents, Alise and Sam Bailey, and her brother, Mike Bailey. Pat’s love for her family was limitless and unconditional. She is survived by her husband and soul mate of 55 years, Doug Jensen; and her children, Kris Jensen and his wife, Maureen, and their son, Nick; Eric Jensen, his daughter, Madelyn, and her son, Myles; Brian Jensen, and his wife, Jamie, and their daughter, Harper and soon-to-be son, Sara Jensen, and her daughter, Rowan. A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church, 735 Park St. Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday, September 29, 2017, at 2:30 pm. Burial will follow at Monticello Memory Gardens. A reception will be held back at First Baptist Church following the burial. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made in Pat’s name to the Women’s Council of Realtors, the Blue Ridge Chapter or the Martha Jefferson Foundation (cancer care).