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Is a Career in Real Estate Right for You? Pros and Cons A career in Real Estate can be extremely rewarding in many ways, but it can also be like a rollercoaster at times. We will look at the skills that are needed to excel in the Real Estate industry and also the pros and cons of the industry. What Skills are Required to Work in Real Estate? The Real Estate industry is full of different types of people from all social backgrounds and at varying levels. However, anyone who is successful or on the verge of being successful with have most, if not all of the following skills: People Skills It is a bit of a cliché, but people buy from people. Being able to build your network and instantly build a rapport with people is a skill that will propel you to the top of the industry. Selling Mentality Also known as being 'commercially aware', having a selling mentality is one of the most important skills. However, it's not a 'spray and pray' approach that it is needed. You need to be a great listener, find out what makes a potential buyer tick and tailoring your services to their needs. This separates the wheat from the chaff. Ask Questions Asking questions is the base for finding vital information that can be the difference between making a sale or not. This is an area that rookies can get wrong and can lead to dropouts at the final hour when making a sale. Master the art of asking the right questions, and you will go far. Managing Expectations Under-promise and over-deliver is a mantra that many salespeople live by. Managing a potential buyers expectations will ensure that there are no surprises and also show that you can be trusted and are not promising the world just to get a sale. Detail Orientated Taking care of the smaller details is the difference between the top billers and the rest as they have the ability to save deals that are close to death. Small details can improve closing ratios and ensure you are highly organised. Money Motivated Real Estate is absolutely about helping people with what is more than likely the most important investment of their lifetime. However, you need to be motivated by money, otherwise you will not make any. Setting goals and being able to hit targets is pivotal in the Real Estate industry. What are the Pros and Cons of Real Estate? So now we know the skills that are needed to work in Real Estate, what are the Pros and Cons that need to be considered when venturing into the industry: Being Your Own Boss Pros: You are an independent contractor meaning you do not answer to anyone and can make your own decisions. Work when you want and how you want. Cons: Working in Real Estate is hard work. A lot of newbies do not realise how much time and effort it takes to be successful in this industry and how much learning and honing of your skills is required. Potential to Earn a Fantastic Income Pros: You are the master of your own destiny. There is no cap on commission and you can earn as much as much as you are willing to work for. Cons: As mentioned, working in Real Estate can be a bit of a rollercoaster and there can be highly profitable months, but this can also be couples with the low months where the market is slow and it’s difficult to get a sale. Flexible Working Pros: You do not have to work a 9-5 and no day is the same in the Real Estate industry. You will be on the phone, you will be meeting new people and learning new skills. Cons: Flexible working can be nice, but you also need to be flexible for clients and potential buyers. People often want to view properties after work or can only meet or speak at certain times and you need to make sure you are available as much as you can. Helping People with their Biggest Investment Pros: There is a genuine satisfaction that comes with helping people find their perfect home at a great price. Cons: It is a massive responsibility in advising potential buyers through the process and making sure the experience is a smooth one. It can be a very stressful process for people and you need to be highly confident in your skills and ensure they leave with a positive feeling about you. Taking these points into consideration will help you decide if the Real Estate industry is for you. If you want to get a great start in the Real Estate industry, please get in touch here . Image Source: Flickr  
What should I know before starting a career in real estate? It's getting close to the end of 2016 and with US mortgage rates at their lowest in some time, things are looking better than ever for the housing market. A large amount of cities are seeing declining Days on Market even into the winter, while growth forecasts predict continuing 5-6% price increases for the next year at least – as long as mortgage rates hold steady. So why not turn to a career in real estate? Because it's not as easy as you may think to be a successful agent, despite the robust housing market and array of tools that are at agents fingertips nowadays. Read on if you think you have what it takes, and want to find out more. It's not the easiest career, but it can be one of the most rewarding.   What is a Realtor exactly? In the US a Realtor is someone who is licensed to assist buyers, sellers, landlords and renters in any real estate transaction. In return for their assistance, they are normally paid a commission as a percentage of the price of the property purchased, sold or lease – though rates vary dramatically from state to state and at different brokerages.   Do I need to be licensed? In short, yes. Although some transactions where people work only for one builder do not require licensing. Licensing is done at the state level, and again varies on the requirements. Some states do have reciprocal agreements however, that make it easy to sell real estate in multiple states.   How many real estate agents are there in the US? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are currently 339,400 real estate agents and 82,600 real estate brokers across the United States, or a total of 422,000 people currently licensed to sell real estate.   What’s the difference between a Realtor and an Agent? All real estate agents are licensed, but do not necessarily belong to the National Association of Realtors - which charges dues to agents for exclusive access to tools and technologies and access to discounted personal insurance and health/dental services. They also syndicate Realtors listings automatically to websites like Realtor.com, hold agents to a higher level of ethics and standards, and offer specific training and certification programs. The NAR also advocates politically for Realtors at a national level, and lobbies for home owners and agents' interests.   How many Realtors are there in the US? The National Association of Realtors reported that as of October 1 2016 it had 1,180,561 members, which is significantly more than the figure above of 422,000. So why is that? The number predicted by the Bureau of Labor is merely a projection based on assumptions, where as the NAR figure is a real membership count of people who are engaged as salespeople, brokers, appraisers, property managers etc. Basically, it's not just Realtor salespeople – it's everyone!   What does the average real estate agent make? According to the BOLS, the average median pay for a broker/agent is about $43,000 per year. Remember however, that a LOT of Realtors just work part-time to supplement their income. This means that in reality if you are a full-time agent with some experience then you should be making a lot more than this. At my brokerage that I ran, if you weren't billing at least $5K per month then you were considered a part-time agent.   Anything else I should know before I consider getting my license? The top two reasons I saw agents fail in their first year were that they hadn't saved up enough money to get them through the first 3-6 months with NO INCOME, and also that they weren't prepared to work 7 days a week, every week. This is a job that is 100% commission based so you get out of it what you put into it. Marketing yourself and your services is not cheap, and if you can't advise your clients to walk away from a deal that's bad for them because you NEED the commission, then you don't need to be an agent. Technology is changing fast, and home buyers and renters don't need Realtors as much as they used to. If you can adapt with the industry however, adopt new technologies and strategies and also build a reputation for yourself as an honest, hard-working agent then you should be fine.   How long does it take to become a real estate agent? This really varies by state and also whether or not you have a 4-year degree. I had a friend with a degree manage to get licensed in under 2 weeks, which is the fastest I have ever seen and he's a very smart, intense guy. Most states will require between 60-150 hours of approved classes, but most of these can be taken via correspondence course or even online which cuts down significantly on the actual time it takes. For more info on this, contact a local real estate school or state licensing authority.   How much does it cost to become a real estate agent? There are 2 parts to this, actually getting licensed and joining the NAR and local board of Realtors. These will be based again on state requirements, and whether or not your broker actually requires you to join the board or not. For instance, as a property manage in some states you do not need to be a board member. But you'll still have costs like E&O insurance, marketing expenses, brokerage fees, the cost of lock-boxes and signs etc. You really need to find out what it is you want to do, where you want to work and who for to answer this question.   What are the consequences if I fail the real estate exam? Not a problem. I failed first time, then passed again 2 days later. Some states limit the amount of times you can take the test, but most allow you to re-take it within a certain amount of time.   What happens if I practice real estate without a state license? This is a big no-no. Don't even try it. You could face huge fines, sanctions and even jail time.   What else do I need to become a real estate agent? As a Realtor you will need to find a sponsoring broker (that's what we specialize in here at BrokerFire.com). You can either do that before you take your test, or after. For new agents, I recommend you find your broker first so you can find out what your actual out of pocket expenses will be. Also, in states like Texas, finding a broker first will actually speed up your licensing time. Why Do I need a broker? What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a broker? Brokers are also licensed by the state, but generally have more experience, more responsibility and also are actually the ones who sponsor other Realtors so they can practice real estate. The licensing requirements are stricter to get a Broker's license, and you normally need at least 1-3 years experience as an active agent to even apply for a license.   What questions should I ask a sponsoring broker? These are the main things you should ask a sponsoring broker about: What commission split do you offer? Do you offer training and support? Do you offer access to a CRM or other real estate software? Do I have to pay my own E&O insurance? What are your monthly office fees? Are there also transaction or franchise fees? Do you provide signs, lock-boxes or marketing materials? Do you offer leads to agents? Do I get an office space or desk? Do you offer phone time? Getting answers to those ten questions will allow you to make a pretty detailed pro/con list for each broker your interview.   For tax purposes, am I considered an employee or an independent contractor? There are a few brokerages that actually pay agents a salary, Redfin springs to mind, but most require you to be a 1099 contractor. Personally, seeing as this is a sales business, I would never agree to be on a salary. I'll make more money and SAVE more money on my taxes if I'm on a 1099.   And that's it. Being a Realtor can seem glamorous and fun (which it is if you're successful), but it can be a hard journey getting to that stage. I hope we've shed a little light on what it takes to get to stage 1, and if you follow our blog or social media channels we'll share some more articles in the future about how you can go from being a new agent to a top producer.   And remember, if you're thinking about becoming an agent and want to talk to potential brokers, please feel free to use our FREE job search tool on BrokerFire.com!  
Wait, did I say 2017? Yep, it's right around the corner and you'd better get ready if you want to keep competing in the rapidly changing online landscape of real estate. So if you're looking for some ridiculously effective marketing concepts to super-charge your real estate business - you've found them. Read on to see how you can put these to work for you starting today. This list is mainly focused on showing you how to use, abuse and generally create free business from your existing customer base and network, but I'm ALSO going to show you how to rapidly grow that network using some simple tools for social media. One complaint I hear a lot from newer agents is “But I don't have any past clients to market to!”. No, you don't. But you do have a network of friends, family, neighbors, past co-workers and a hundred other contacts that you have accumulated over the years. And I'm going to show you some very simple ways that you can grow and curate that list to create a constant source of referrals, along with a few other tips to inexpensively create leads day after day. 1. Create and Grow Your Email List A lot of agents really don't understand the importance of this one. I'm not talking about junk email and spam, I'm talking about people who REALLY want to hear from you. A really good list of 50 people you know, is way better than spamming 1000 people who have never heard of you. Also, your message will probably get through the clutter, as it will be going to people who have already communicated with you, some may even have your email in their email contacts. This means that unlike with social media platforms, you're not having your message diluted – it's only YOU that they see. Not 300 other agents, and that's important. You can also take this list once you have it, and easily use it to target your network elsewhere like Facebook, LinkedIn etc. All you do is upload your spreadsheet to those networks and the software does the rest for you. And did you know that most marketers consistently rank email as the #1 tactic for creating awareness, acquisition, retention and conversion? About 70% of people say they actually read emails from companies that they like – which leads on average to a 4300% Return on Investment for businesses. That's crazy. Have you ever seen a return like that on a postcard farming campaign? Probably not. So why is this important to you? It's simple. According to the NAR, and most Realtors we talk to, approximately 75% of all real estate sales in the US comes from referrals or word-of-mouth. So while you're shelling out $3000 per month on Zillow leads, other agents are simply working their networks, staying in touch with people, and making twice as much in half the time. YES leads are important, especially for new agents, but nowhere near as important as building a referral-based business. So how do you get started?   Gather all your contacts into a spreadsheet or CRM with as much info as you can. This should include almost everyone you know, and definitely any past clients. Decide on a followup system, be it a monthly newsletter service, social media advertising (yes you can target by email address!) or simply a time every month when you shoot out a friendly email, text or phone call. It doesn't matter what format you choose, as long as you make contact with them at least once a month. Top of mind awareness is everything in the referral game, and it can be FREE.   2. Website Lead Capture Forms Have a website? Great! If not, you probably want to skip to step 3. Getting a trafficked website is fantastic, but not if it's not turning into business. Back in the early days of the Internet, traffic was everything and people used to boast about how many hits a day their site generated. Then it was all about unique visitors, then bounce rates, and 100 other metrics until people finally realized, I really just want customers. And that's where landing pages and lead capture forms come in. If someone landed on ANY page of your website, is there a place they can enter their info, and if so, is there a reason to do that? More and more people are communicating electronically which means they're probably not just going to pick up the phone and say “Hi, this is John. I've got $500K in cash and I need a house.” This is a population that now flirts by apps like Tinder instead of talking. You need to make sure you're in on the conversation, and using easy-to-complete lead capture forms is all about that. Promise a free market report, offer info about exclusive pre-market listings, tell them you'll send them a recipe for the world's best cheesecake. It doesn't matter. But you need to know your customers, and know what it will take for you to get their name, email and phone number. For those of you who are a little tesch-savvy. I recommend a service like JotForm. With just a tiny bit of know-how you can easily use their drag and drop interface to create forms that you can simply copy/paste into any page of any website. Otherwise, talk to your web designer! And remember, once you have that client's info, add it to your database. Here's a really good example below.   3. Build a Referral Program We already talked about how important referrals are, but they won't just magically happen by themselves. With some reports saying that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other media message, you need to learn how to consistently create referrals. Clients and contacts need a little nudge every now and again. Which is probably why only 11% of salespeople actually ask for referrals, because they don't build a system or program designed to do just that, so they don't get any referrals. It's a catch 22. Beyond simply asking for referrals from everyone you know, taking simple steps like adding a referral request to your email signature can actually work wonders. I also know some agents who as part of their listing pitch tell sellers that their ultimate goal (outside of selling their house) is to have them so happy with the work they did as their agent, that at closing they're going to give them 2 referrals. And at every closing, they pull out a referral sheet and ask their clients to fill it in. It's a strong move, but it does work. What I'm saying is, if you don't ask, you won't receive. Let everyone know you love referrals, put a referral page on your website with a great lead capture form. Bake referral-flavored cookies and send them to your clients. Ask for referrals as part of your monthly database touch. Just do it – and watch the business roll in.   4. Get More Reviews When I ran my own brokerage, this is pretty much all my agents heard from me every time they closed a client. “That's great. Did they leave a review?” Reviews are very closely tied to referrals, as a lot of people will check sites like Yelp to verify that what their friend says about you is true. And interestingly, online reviews are trusted almost as much as word-of-mouth referrals. When you're an agent, YOU are the brand, so make sure that any info about you online is squeaky clean. In most markets (excluding big cities) having just 5-10 good Yelp or Google Places reviews can put you at the top of the pile and deliver immediate traffic and clients. Guess what a GREAT way to remind people about you, and to ask for referrals is? Yep, you can see where this is leading. Hit up your database with a quick email, ask for a review, and watch the referrals follow. Make sure you claim all your pages online first (I recommend WhiteSpark or BrightLocal for this – don't even consider Yext. I loathe them.) then start asking for clients to review you on the most important sites. I would start with Zillow, Google Places and Yelp as they have the best real estate related rankings. But just to double check, google your name and a phrase like Realtor or real estate and see what pops up. That's where you want your reviews.   5. Get More Email Opens So we're sending all these emails to our database, but how do we know they're actually getting our messages? All of this is for nothing if they're not even opening your emails. One part of this is obviously not buying email lists and making sure you only keep important people in your database, but also crafting your emails and subject lines in a way that get the desired response. Subject lines are probably the most important. They're the first thing everyone sees, and you only have a couple of seconds to convince them to pay attention. Keep them short, keep them chatty, and also leave them thinking. Before: Spruce up your home with these landscaping, design and repair tips-and-advice After: Interested in landscaping, interior design and home repair? I love including the question mark, because the only way to answer is delete the email or open it for reading. People really don't like leaving anything unanswered. Now, the most powerful method is to include their first name in the email subject line, and many free email programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer this flexibility. It's something you should definitely look into if your database exceeds the 100 member mark.   7. Instagram With over 400 million active users, Instagram is proving to be an amazing marketing tool in any savvy Realtor's arsenal. At one of the real estate companies I own, we use it to generate hundreds of leads a month. And it's pretty easy once you get going. What you have to understand is that people are looking for PROPERTIES, not agents. So don't use it to promote yourself, use it to promote your listings. So, let's say you have a listing at 123 Main Street (I know) and it's in a neighborhood called Coolsville, which is a suburb of Springfied, and it's priced very well. You have some AMAZING pictures of it, which you make into a cool collage using Fotor.com (which is free). And your ad would read something like:   AMAZING OFF-MARKET SPECIAL. Classic 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ranch home in Coolsville for just $365K!! Completely updated throughout with handscraped wood flooring, new quartz counters, fresh paint, new roof, new a/c and ready for the new owner. Come see me this Saturday from 1pm-4pm at my pre-market open house! Call Sandy Realtor with Savvy Real Estate at 555.555.5555 for a sneak peak! #springfield #openhouse #coolsville #springfieldrealestate #realestate   It's short, it's concise, it promises people something they can't get elsewhere and it includes your contact info. Notice also the hashtags I used – those are all pretty high traffic tags that people actually search by. I know, because I researched them on Instagram – it's pretty easy to see post volume when you search by hashtag!   So, using the right hashtags can definitely get you in front of people and grow your audience, but I'm going to show you a much quicker way. And it only costs $30 per month. It's called Influx Social (google it). It's a very clever piece of software that helps you grow followers by following other people based on their location, hashtags and places they check in etc. I'm not going to dwell too long on it as it's very easy to use, and they have great how-tos on their site, but let's just say I took two Instagram accounts from 700ish followers to over 10,000 in under 4 months. That's crazy. Finally, consistency is KEY!! Post every day, at least. Post a picture when you're out showing, or previewing, or just prospecting a neighborhood. People like content, and they want to see a Realtor who is constantly on the go. Make some posts personal and fun, and some all business. And then watch your phone start to ring. I've included some good examples below. Wrapping up! So are you excited? Are you actually going to employ some of the techniques for the coming year? We're already into the 4th quarter of 2016, so you need to get thinking about how you're going to supercharge your business for the next year. We know there is a TON of information out there, and a lot of marketing options, but I hope you'll consider these (almost) free ones above. I have helped hundreds of agents make a success of themselves using these exact methods. So give them a try, and stay tuned for more free marketing tips and ideas! Or if you want to find out how BrokerFire.com makes it super easy to find  real estate jobs , please check out the rest of the website.