How to Be a Successful Realtor

Some people think being a Realtor means ordering business cards, plunking a sign in someone’s front yard, and waiting for a buyer to make an offer—then picking up a commission check 30 days later. That, my friends, is not how this works.

Get Licensed

To be a real estate agent, you must be licensed by the state, which means you’ll need to take at least a few college courses like finance and ethics. Then you’ll need to pass the licensing exam.

Build Your Sphere of Influence

Your first order of business is to begin compiling a list of everyone you know; this is your sphere of influence. It includes family members, friends, your doctor, your lawyer, your pastor, coworkers, neighbors, and people who belong to the same groups you’re in (hobbies, PTA, etc.). Although these folks may not be in the market to buy or sell property today, you want them to think of you when they are ready or when they run into someone who needs your help.

Choose a Real Estate Brokerage and a Mentor

In addition to your real estate license, to practice real estate you must work under a broker’s license, which usually means finding an established real estate office. Ideally, you’ll be able to find an experienced Realtor who can serve as a mentor. Undoubtedly, being a mentee will mean doing a lot of legwork, but this gives you an opportunity to learn.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Work

Now it’s time to go to work. A wise man once said, “The way to be successful is to help other people be successful first.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re an attorney, a doctor, or a Realtor, your success will come when you help others.

So, the question becomes, how can you help all those people in your sphere of influence? Well, first they have to know how you can help them with their real estate needs. Turns out, 80 percent of surveyed home sellers said they would use the same Realtor again, but only 15-20 percent do. Why the disparity? People don’t remember who their Realtor was. The moral of the story is that you have to stay in touch if you want to be the person who comes to mind when people need help.

On a typical day as you drive around, you see hundreds of cars, but none of them stands out. However, the moment you start thinking about buying a new Tesla, you see Teslas everywhere. This is caused by the reticular activating system—the part of our brain that filters information based on what is most important to us at any given time. Your job is to be the Realtor that jumps to mind the moment someone begins thinking about buying or selling real estate.

Don’t Be Annoying

Top-of-mind awareness is a balancing act. It’s important to reach out to people on a reasonably regular basis, but not so often that they start avoiding you in the grocery store.

Consider the value you can bring to others. Every few months send a recipe, a newspaper clipping (or link) involving their kids, or maybe a bag of popping corn. Be generous and thoughtful.

The average homeowner stays in their house for seven years, so if you’ve been in touch recently, you’ll be the Realtor that comes to mind. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the business, but it does increase the likelihood.

Get Your Name Out There

You can also get your name out there with local advertising. Put your face on a magnetic sign on your car. Get your name on a banner by supporting kids’ sports teams, or get your name on a poster by sponsoring a charity event.

Attend community events. When Mendocino College has a game, be there. When the community comes together for the Chili Cook-off, be there. When there are events with booths, have one.

Keep Learning and Stick With It

Your education in the real estate business does not stop when you get your license. Passing the state exam has little to do with being a good Realtor. That will come from a lot of work in the field and continuing education classes.

Be consistent. Work hard. Communicate often. And stick with it. If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.

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