If you’re like me then when you started a career in real estate you didn’t have much money – that’s why you’re making the career change! While it can seem like you need thousands of dollars out the gate to even get started, I found these 10 cost effective strategies to get my real estate business up and running – and the revenue flowing.
All businesses have some start-up costs however I personally think real estate has relatively low start-up costs compared to most other industries. This business also allows you to make money quickly. Once you've learned how to start a real estate career, you can implement these 10 cost effective strategies I used which helped me close 22 transactions in my first year as an agent and start a successful business.
This guest post is written by Danelle Stroble. Danelle joined First Team in September of 2012 and closed her first transaction January 1st of 2013. She works out of the First Team Corona Office helping buyers and sellers all over Southern California achieve their real estate goals.
1. Come to the office every day
Surround yourself with hardworking people, not to socialize but to succeed. There is always plenty to do especially when you’re just starting out in real estate. Learn the MLS, learn the forms, put together buyer folders, etc. You need to be a sponge and soak up anything and everything that you can. You also need to run all aspects of your business from marketing, to production to accounting. You need to account for all the money that goes in and out from day one and you need to put money aside for taxes just like any other business would.
Yes, I said business. You should treat your real estate career like a personal business. I know there is so much to learn when you are first starting out from getting clients to what forms to use once you find them that thinking of it as a business does not seem practical. You’re thinking, but I’m just one person, doesn’t a business have more employees? Well trust me, this is a business. You’re the employer and the employee. You have to be a strict boss and make sure that you come in to work all the time so that you will succeed.
2. Door knock and drop
In the beginning, even while in the new agent Power Curve real estate training, I knocked on doors and introduced myself to anyone I could. It doesn’t cost anything to have a conversation with someone. I would leave an introduction letter and a card if they didn’t answer. I also dropped market updates frequently with information I gathered on my local market from the MLS. You are only allowed to use sold listing information but that is fine, people are still very interested in this information. These market updates can be free if your office allows you to print black and white copies at no charge.
Another inexpensive trick is to buy a ream of colored paper for about $7.00 and print the market update on those using just the black ink. For example, pink paper around Valentines, orange around Halloween. Add some black and white clip art and some information about you and get busy passing those out! Here are a few more quick tips: Never pass things out by throwing them on the floor, put them either on the door handle or stick them on the side of the door. And always try knocking first so you can start a conversation with the home owner.
3. Host open houses
Open houses are a great way to get buyers (and sellers). I did them during the Power Curve local real estate classes and as often as I could on my own. I called out of area agents until I found someone who would let me host. If I couldn’t find one out of area, I would call local ones. I would prepare an invitation and door knock/drop them a couple of days before the open house. While I did the open house, I just acted like I had been doing this for years. Always be confident even though you are super nervous – smile and make eye contact.
And remember, don’t be pushy. Just let them know you work great with buyers and you would love to help them if they don’t already have an agent. I recommend buying open house signs immediately, even while you are still in training. You want to have them before you host your first one. This is the one thing you will need to spend money on but trust me you want your name to be on the streets and not the person you borrowed the signs from. I would buy about 15 to get started. I shopped around and got mine for about $200 along with some flags. Tip: You don’t have to buy the very expensive kind because sadly some will get stolen or damaged.
4. Use Client Services
One of the things that helped me get business is a service First Team offers called client services. You can opt into this program which gives internet leads to available agents in the area. Yes you need to pay a referral free for these leads but it is a great way to get clients when you’re starting from 0. Think of it as practice clients that you are getting paid to help. The entire goal is to get a sale or a listing then build off of that.
In real estate that’s how it works, once you close one, your business will just grow and grow. I had a client who wanted to buy a $90,000 condo as a referral from client services that I ended up buying 4 houses for then that branched off into 4 other deals. That one lead from client services turned into EIGHT closed deals for me. The trick is to get that first deal and then just market yourself like crazy to keep the momentum going.
5. Use your sphere of influence
The easiest thing you can do is talk to people you already know so really use this to your advantage. Being a stay at home for 15 years I had a nice size group of friends from things like my kid’s sports teams, school and church. I am on Facebook and so are all of them so I let them all know that I was going to become a realtor. They followed me through the entire journey – when I passed my real estate license exam, they all knew it.
I then sent out notecards to all of them letting them know I was ready to work and would love any referrals. I still try to send them all newsletters or updates as I have time. I use Facebook a lot to show my success buy I don’t bombard my friends with posts about real estate. I want my friends to know I am still me so I post things about my kids, husband or dog, etc., then once or twice a week I will slip in something related to Real Estate or my own success in the market. Social media is free and a great way to build and foster personal relationships which result in sales and referrals in real estate.
Now my friends call me with questions, or leads. My friends who were hesitant to use me in the beginning because I was new now call me to help them or refer me to their friends and family because they have seen my successes and feel comfortable using me now. Never be too shy to ask a friend for a referral. Keep business cards with you all the time so you can pass them out whenever you see them.
6. Customer Service
This should have been number one. If you don’t genuinely care for your clients then you should not be in this business, you won’t be successful. People know when they are just a paycheck. I have become friends with SO many of my clients. I make them feel important. In fact, they are often shocked to learn that I have other clients at the same time because I make them feel as though they are my only ones.
I answer my phone. I return emails. I go the extra step and hand select listings to send them even though they get them automatically. They see that I am personally searching for them and giving them ideas. When you treat each and every costumer with care then they will grow your business for you with referrals and future purchases or sales. You already pay your phone and internet bill, so make use of what you have!
7. Work the Updesk
Updesk is a service First Team provides for agents to get leads from ads placed in the newspaper. You can sign up to be an Updesk agent and receive those buyer calls on a listing from your office.
This service is free; all it costs is your time and availability to answer buyer calls. Don’t give up, I closed at least 4 deals from the Updesk last year. You want to capture the buyer so be nice, informative and patient. Don’t pressure them but try to make an impression so they will want to give you their information.
8. Follow Up
If I get a client who tells me they are not really ready for about 6 months, I make it a point to check in with them every few weeks. A simple email or text is all it takes. I will also send a note card once every couple of months. I let them know that I’m thinking about them and am excited to help when they are ready. I don’t bombard them with phone calls weekly because I personally think it is a turn off, but most people don’t mind text or emails.
When I follow up I also let my clients know I’m here to answer any and all questions they might have. Sometimes I say, “Hi just checking in with you to see how you are doing and letting you know I am here to answer any questions you might have regarding Real Estate,” or I might send them a listing that I think they will like and say something like, “I saw this new listing and I immediately thought of you. Let me know what you think about it.” It’s simple but trust me, clients really appreciate being thought of.
9. Take any class that will help you learn & motivate youIt is crucial to stay motivated and continue learning in order to keep your momentum and business going. For example I spent the money to take Brian Buffini’s Peak Producers class. This one cost a few hundred dollars but was the best investment I could ever make. Here are three other ways (all free) that I stayed motivated and learned more:
- Get a motivation or accountability partner. While it is nice to make friends in the office you really should find someone who wants to work and be successful to pair up with. Tell this person to keep you on track, and you do the same for them. I also seek out more successful agents and pick their brains. I want to be the most successful agent I can be and in order to that I need to have more successful agents to learn from.
- Take advantage of classes offered by your office manager. I really recommend taking any classes or attending meetings offered by your manager or leader to learn about the ways to generate leads. I attended so many of these because they focused on different strategies and I wanted to make sure I knew about them all so I could decide what I wanted to focus on. I also attended the ones that helped perfect listing and buyer presentations.
- Utilize First Team’s Agent website. Here you have access to tons of free training videos and resources and it’s worth your time to watch and learn. If you are getting ready to go on a buyer presentation and want to make sure you know what to say, then watch videos of fellow First Team agents doing buyer presentations. I did this numerous times and took different ideas from different agents.
10. Work Hard
I know this seems obvious but it’s not. I work every day. When I was new, I was always looking for more to do if I had down time. Should I call on homes around my sale? Should I be making market updates? What can I do to get business now? Picture the letter “Y” and hold your arms up to make this letter (like in the song Y.M.C.A.).
WHY do you need to be successful? Are you the sole bread winner for your family? Do you have kids with college tuitions? Are you about to lose your house or car? Or are you just very competitive and want to be the best in the business. However big your WHY is, that’s how big your letter “Y” should be. If your “Y”is big enough you will find a way to get work. Don’t wait for things to come to you, go out and find them yourself.
At the end of the day you don’t need a lot of money to start a real estate business, you just need determination. I don’t care if I have to knock on 100 doors in the rain or cold call 200 people, someone will answer and someone will want to buy or sell. Failure is not an option. So come to work every day and be productive because when you make things happen, success will build upon success. One sale will turn into 2. One happy client will tell a coworker who’s looking to buy about you. One listing will prompt the neighbor driving by to call you to list their house. You just have to stick with it and don’t give up. Answer your phone, smile and get things done – it’s easy to do without breaking the bank!
If you're a new agent and would like to learn more about how to start a successful real estate business, contact the career specialists at First Team at (877) 845-1997. We helped Danelle start on the path to success and we can do the same for you.