Every realtor wants to become a successful realtor. Whether you’re just beginning your real estate career or you’ve been struggling for years, you know that being a real estate agent is not an easy life. You have to put in all that work up front to earn your real estate license. You have to work for table scraps while you learn the ropes. And you face an uphill battle against entrenched competition.

So why do it? Some Realtors love the idea of helping other people find their next home. Others do for the promise of wealth. Still others are looking for a way to earn a little extra income. Each person, in his or her own way, is trying to become a successful Realtor. To reach that goal, you need two things:

  1. You need the dedication and commitment to be good at your job.
  2. You have to have a plan, including a way to market your services.

Getting Started

Choosing to start a career as a real estate agent is relatively inexpensive — compared to starting out in other careers. Some of the things you need to become a successful Realtor include:

  • Real estate license. You can’t work without a real estate license, although the requirements vary depending on your state: California  or North Carolina.  Typically, you’re required to participate in training classes and then take an exam. Upon passing, you pay a fee to receive your license. Continuing education and training may be required.
  • Realtor Board. It’s required that you join your local Realtor Board. There’s an annual fee, so make sure to have additional reserves for such expenses.
  • Between finding real estate listings online and being able to communicate quickly with your clients, you need to have access to a laptop or tablet.
  • The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a comprehensive online tool that enables you to find properties to buy and sell. It’s a great tool for Realtors, but the MLS charges a quarterly fee. You may have to pay the fee, although in some cases, if you join a real estate agency, the firm pays this expense.
  • As a Realtor, you’ll do a lot of driving, going to meetings and driving clients around. Your car doesn’t have to be fancy, but it has to be clean and dependable.
  • Smart phone. Your phone’s no longer just a means to call clients. A smart phone allows you to access the MLS and receive emails away from your desk. There are helpful apps for Realtors that make you look smart to clients. To become a successful Realtor, you need a smart phone.
  • Signs advertise your successes and attract a crowd to your open houses and other events. When you land a client, signs help market yourself. Just make sure to check with your local Department of Real Estate for a list of everything you need to include on your sign.
  • Business Cards. Cards still play a role in marketing yourself. Make sure you include the same type of information on your business card as you would on signage. To become a successful Realtor, don’t be shy about handing them out.

Considerations for Starting Out

Most Realtors don’t make big commissions in their first year. Getting accustomed to the real estate industry and building a client base takes time. It’s not the kind of occupation to try out for a few months and then give up if it’s not working. Real estate professionals recommend that new Realtors have six months to a year of living expenses while getting your career off the ground.

As a new Realtor, you’ll likely work under the umbrella of a real estate agency, working closely with an established broker. Real estate brokers have been in the business for many years. They oversee real estate agents and review contracts. They carry insurance that protects you and your clients. Basically, the broker is the responsible party in a transaction. In exchange for this service, the broker receives a percentage of your commission and may charge additional fees.

Working for Yourself

When you become a successful Realtor, you essentially work for yourself. Whether you open your own firm or continue to work through a real estate agency, you’re still responsible for your job performance and your income. Working for yourself doesn’t mean you work fewer hours; in fact, you may end up working more.

Since being a real estate agent isn’t a job that pays an hourly rate, you have to hustle for every paycheck. You only get paid when you help a buyer close on a new home, whether you represent the buyer or the seller. The character traits you need to become a successful Realtor include:

  • Good organization skills. Keep every client engaged, informed and on track.
  • You have to find your own leads and make your own income.
  • Real estate sales follow cycles, and few Realtors are successful right out of the gate.
  • You need a thirst for industry knowledge and a drive to always get the best deal for your clients.
  • Set goals that are both achievable and strategic, and then keep raising them.
  • Enjoying all kinds of people helps you connect; let your people skills shine!

These traits help you become a successful Realtor. Deliver more than people expect, and your clients will not only remember you, but they’ll refer you to their friends and family. Strive to be more than just competent.

Market Yourself

Whether if you’re working for a broker at a real estate agency or launching your own company, you have to market yourself and your services. You have to find a niche for yourself and gain a reputation of excellent service. Before word-of-mouth can start driving your business, you have to let the public at large — or the sliver of the public you want to serve — know that you exist.

When you market yourself as a Realtor, you have to use all your strengths and all of the traits listed above. Every Realtor’s situation is different, but each one wants to become a successful Realtor. To achieve your goals and live your dreams, follow these additional tips:

  • Develop solid relationships with reputable professionals in your local area whom you can trust, such as:
    • Independent mortgage lenders and banks
    • Home inspectors
    • Appraisers
    • Real estate attorneys, if applicable
    • Credit repair firms
    • Handymen and landscapers
  • Learn the right questions to ask your clients to better serve them, including:
    • Their price range
    • The type and size of the dwelling they want
    • The neighborhood characteristics
    • Location, location, location
    • Nearby amenities
    • Desired school districts
    • Special needs (pets, handicapped family member, etc.)
    • Fixer-upper or move-in ready
  • Communicate honestly and frequently with everyone
  • Remain dedicated to each sale
  • Spot signs of trouble before they become deal-breakers

You Can Become a Successful Realtor

Being a Realtor isn’t for everyone. You must contend with changing marketplaces, the ups and downs of the economy, neighborhood demographic shifts and indecisive house hunters. Homebuyers want to know that you’re dedicated, organized and goal-oriented. They want to know that you’ll persevere in selling their home or helping them find the perfect next home.

Once you build a reputation and get regular referrals rolling your way, you can become a successful Realtor earning six figures a year. You’ll enjoy the flexibility in your schedule to parent or do other things you love. But be ready to work hard.

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