This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
Crushing it in real estate can bring professional and financial rewards beyond what many imagine, but the journey there is often a mystery. By joining the right brokerage, choosing effective technology, creating an effective online brand and other strategies, we’ll show you practical steps you can take to get there.
Going from zero to hero as an unknown agent takes smart marketing and name recognition. Zillow can give you exclusivity on your listings and place your contact information on the listings of non-Premier Agents in your area. Start collecting commissions and getting your brand known on the largest real estate marketplace on the internet.
Here are the seven steps on how to be a successful real estate agent:
1. Research & Identify Quality Brokerages
The decision on what brokerage to join should be made with great consideration. While commission splits are important, your first brokerage needs to be more than just a fancy name on your resume. Pay special attention to the training and mentorship it offers.
There are three types of brokerages or real estate companies to choose from: franchise brokerages, boutique brokerages, and virtual brokerages. They each have pros and cons, so get a handle on what they can offer you as a new agent to determine which company is right for you. You can read our article for more details about how to choose which real estate company to work for.
Virtual brokerages are operated completely online. This means you don’t have to pay desk fees to work in a physical office, although you still have a team and managing broker. In addition, virtual brokerages like Real offer higher commission splits and access to some of the best tech tools in the industry, which makes them a great choice for many new agents. Learn more about how Real helps you become a successful real estate agent on their website.
2. Strategically Select a Profitable Farm Area
A farm area is the geographic area you have selected to practice as a real estate agent, and choosing it wisely can make or break your early career. Some states offer more opportunity than others, so a successful real estate agent makes sure to research the demographics and behaviors of buyers and sellers so they can create a razor-focused and highly targeted marketing strategy.
Determining an effective farm area to begin your career is an important step in how to be successful in real estate. For a more in-depth analysis examining the particulars of this process, see our article on how to dominate a farm area.
3. Develop a Business Plan
Developing a solid business plan will be one of your most treasured tools as you navigate how to become a successful real estate agent. By laying out goals, budgets, and examining your market with continued re-evaluation, you are laying the groundwork for your future steps. For more details and to download a free template, see our expansive piece on how to write a real estate business plan.
Pro tip: When setting your budget, be sure to account for additional expenses like continuing education courses required by your state’s licensing requirements. It is also a good idea to set aside a portion of revenue each month that can be used to invest in upgraded tools for your business or to allow you to attend valuable conferences or conventions.
4. Make Use of Technology & Automation Tools
At minimum, real estate technology includes websites, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and marketing software. While the right technology pays for itself many times over, an error in judgment could get you locked into contracts that sap resources for months. For brand and marketing effectiveness, you’ll need a lead generation tool, real estate website, CRM, and accounting software.
Here are three of the most useful options to get you started:
Lead Generation: Zillow Premier Agent (2-30 Cents per Impression)
Zillow Premier Agent is an advertising platform that allows you to buy ads in your ZIP code that do two important things:
With careers built on the back of past client referrals, expanding your brand recognition and getting leads as a new agent will be the bread and butter of your future career. The price of Zillow Premier Agent is contingent on the ZIP code and market conditions of your farm area. The cost per impression of your ad can range from two cents to over 30 cents, depending on your area.
With over 160 million views per month, amp up your free agent profile, get reviews from clients, and begin advertising on the largest real estate marketplace on the internet. To read more about the Premier Agent program, see our article on how Zillow Premier Agent works.
Real Estate Website: Placester (Free)
Placester offers a lead generating real estate agent website absolutely free to National Association of Realtor (NAR) members. This allows you to:
Pro tip: The average real estate agent will change brokerages at some point throughout their career, so you want to be sure that when you are establishing your site, you choose a domain name and brand that does not incorporate any one brokerage, but instead capitalizes on you. For example, if your name is Jonathan Peters, be sure that your domain name is not “RE/MAXJon.com” or some other variation but rather “RealtorJon.com” or even simply your name “JonathanPeters.com.”
With your real estate website, you want to be sure to establish your own brand and your own reputation. When people wonder how to become a successful real estate agent, look at the models you see online or featured in real estate blogs. People like Ryan Serhant, Josh Flagg, and others all have their own name recognition apart from their brokerage, and you should develop your website with this in mind.
CRM: Freshsales (Free)
Freshsales offers a CRM packed with features, and you can use a version absolutely free to keep in contact with clients and nurture your leads. The free version of Freshsales includes features like:
When thinking about how to be a successful real estate agent, it’s all about communication. Having a reliable CRM that you can grow with is crucial to scaling your business. Freshsales offers multiple package upgrades starting at $15 per month for additional features like sales pipelines, workflow automations, and much more.
See our review of the best free real estate CRMs for more details.
5. Create a Consistent Online Brand
Creating a consistent online brand helps clients find you across platforms and establishes you as a professional. Clients now follow and interact with online realtors, look at their listings, and contact them through various social media outlets, so it is important that you remember this as you post photos, video, and content.
Some of the best tips for creating a successful real estate agent brand online are:
Have the Same Handle Across Platforms
Try to secure the same username and use the same headshot photo across platforms for consistency and to make it easy for people to find and recognize you. For example, if you are known as “LancasterJon” on your website, it helps clients find you elsewhere if you are also “LancasterJon” on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and others.
Post Appropriate & Interesting Content
Funny memes or inspiring real estate quotes are great ways to increase your visibility online. However, when posting to any social media website, show that you are both a professional and someone they would want to work with. Everything you do online represents your brand, so it is often best to stay away from controversial topics such as politics and focus on your hobbies or real estate information.
Interact With Followers
Interaction is the key to relationship building. Take the opportunity to respond when someone posts a comment, and leave your direct messages (DMs) open for private conversation or inquiries. In fact, our staff members have chosen an out-of-state real estate agent through Instagram. Social media interaction pays off.
6. Leverage Printed Materials
Printed materials give you direct access to every household in your farm area and help to boost name recognition and leads. From door hangers and postcards to monthly newsletters, there are an endless array of printed materials to get yourself in front of some of your most valuable future clients.
Here are the three most common print materials used today:
- Postcards: Real estate postcards are typically 5.8 inches by 4.1 inches, glossy, and printed on both sides to give information about your services and specific listings in the neighborhood.
- Door hangers: Door hangers are glossy papers that hang from a door handle and give information about the real estate agent and their services in the local area.
- Flyers: Real estate flyers are typically 8.5 inches by 11 inches, and can include newsletters as a type of flyer. Flyers can be distributed to advertise local properties or give your farm area market information.
Knowing how to craft real estate specific mailers to capture attention and compel action is an important part of keeping your name top of mind. ProspectsPLUS! gives agents templates they can use, and can save time through the direct mailing services and even help you put some of your marketing on autopilot. For example, their “Done for You” newsletter system generates content at your direction and discretion, and mails the newsletters out on a schedule that meets your needs for under $2 each.
Despite feeling a bit “old school,” real estate mailers have persisted in the business because they have a solid return on investment (ROI). Here are some tips to keep your mailers working for you:
- Be consistent: Have a regular presence so that people remember who you are. If not monthly, try to be present seasonally.
- Offer useful content: Existing homeowners want to learn more about their market and aspiring homeowners want insights. Try to speak to both.
- Catch their eye: Homeowners receive piles of mailing information, so you want to stand out from the crowd. This can mean having compelling images, colors, headlines, and other aspects that make your mailer stand out from the usual they receive.
- Include a call to action: Compel individuals who receive your mailing to contact you. Whether offering a seminar or a free home valuation, give them a reason to reach out and have multiple ways clearly available for them to contact you.
7. Work on Your Business, Not Just in It
Successful real estate agents carve out time every day for lead generation and plan out regular intervals to revisit their business plan or to study up on emerging best practices. Focusing all of your time on active clients will leave your coffers empty.
Here are the top tips to effectively use your calendar:
Block Time for Lead Generation
Every day, set aside one or two hours for activities such as cold calling, blogging, nurturing existing leads, and ad creation and management. Although it can seem intimidating at first, most successful real estate agents start with their own sphere and work outward. Here are some activities to consider, and these are only the beginning:
- Send emails to family about your new career
- Blog about your neighborhood and the local housing market
- Bring business cards to post at the coffee shop you frequent
- Talk to parents at your child’s school
- Post a card or flyer at your place of religion
- Nurture leads already existing in your CRM
- Use ad management on Zillow or other platforms
- Attend restaurant or gallery openings with your cards
- Schedule conferences to swap referrals
- Join referral networks
- Sign up for leads on FSBO, expired listings, and preforeclosures on REDX or other providers
- Try cold calling leads
- Join house flipping and real estate investor groups in your area
For more details on the top ways to generate leads, check out our in-depth guide.
Revisit Your Business Plan Regularly
Sustaining and growing your real estate business requires regular evaluation. Your business plan is a living document and should evolve as you grow, with elements altered as you find what works and what does not. When examining how to be successful in real estate, planning and agility are at the top of the list.
Areas to revisit and revise regularly include:
- Marketing fees versus ROI on specific marketing platforms
- Commissions versus cost of living and business expenses
- Lead generation standing and goals
- Client expenses
- Pipeline status
- Technology subscription expenses
Invest in Professional Development Courses
Even though each state has continuing education requirements, you may want to have an even deeper level of education. Professional development courses can give you valuable tips and tools about the real estate market and about how to find and serve clients.
What Does It Mean to be Successful in Real Estate?
There is not a specific number of listings or sales that will instantly define your success. However, you can evaluate your success as a real estate agent by the outcomes you get for your clients, the income you create, the number of hours you work, and how long it takes you to reach sales and income milestones. Your real estate agent income will depend on your location, strategies, and work ethic.
Although your income and strategies will vary, you can become a successful real estate agent no matter where you are located by constantly growing your network, mastering your lead generation tactics, and helping your clients achieve their goals. This will naturally provide you with consistent leads, a strong reputation, and a large income.
How to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you get into real estate?
Getting into real estate first requires taking prelicensing coursework and passing the real estate licensing exam. Be aware that real estate licensing coursework and requirements do vary from state to state, so be sure to check the real estate licensing commission in your state to see what the guiding policies are where you live.
How long does it take to become a real estate agent?
It takes an average of four to six months to become a real estate agent, accounting for the coursework, licensing exam, and finding a broker sponsor to register for licensure. Note that many online real estate schools are self-paced, which may allow you to finish your requirements faster than this traditional timeline.
Can you make good money as a real estate agent?
How much money you earn will largely be determined by your market turnover, the price of homes, and the number of transactions you participate in. Real estate agents are paid by commission, so you earn a percentage of every transaction of which you are a part.
When you’re learning how to be successful in real estate, you’ll need to prioritize your tasks and be open to evaluating and adjusting your course. Joining the right brokerage and adopting useful technology that streamlines your process are just some of the tips that can truly make all the difference in moving your career forward.
If you’d like to amp up your real estate knowledge through continuing education or haven’t yet taken the initial requirements to become an agent, be sure to check out Real Estate Express. As the premier online real estate educational provider, you have a range of affordable options that can get you started in the convenience of your own home.