This morning I had the sincere pleasure of meeting with a TrueGotham reader who is considering a career in Manhattan real estate. She found me while reading a comment thread on an Asked Curbed question about becoming a broker. So what you say? The difference with this particular young woman is that she is a senior at Indiana University who is considering residential real estate as her primary career path right out of college. Just yesterday, I received an email from another TG reader who is in a similar boat. These emails have become quite common since TrueGotham was born and seem to indicate that the public perception of real estate agents is improving.
In an industry that is made up of a melange of 2nd and 3rd career seekers, it’s refreshing to see that new college graduates are considering the leap into our Manhattan marketplace. The young woman I had coffee with this morning would be a welcome addition to an industry that desperately needs some "new life." She is articulate, personable, intelligent, and energetic and is precisely the type of person that would serve to improve the reputation of the residential real estate industry.
During our informational meeting this morning, I realized that I would probably discourage 9 out of 10 people from entering this profession. Having said that, the 10% that I would encourage to give it a shot would have to understand and appreciate the following things:
- The industry is dynamic and in a period of great change that will continue to take place of the next several years. Although exciting, newbies need to understand that they need to bring something more to the table than simply being an information provider. Ask yourself this question: Why should someone who has all of the information at their fingertips pay me a commission to sell their home? Or help them find a home? Then answer it!
- Those considering the real estate profession shouldn’t expect a quick buck but should rather give themselves at least one year to determine if they want to continue down this path. Note…it often takes more than one year to make enough money to survive.
- Consider entering the industry as an assistant to a top producer or a member of a top producing team (one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t do this). This will decrease the learning curve exponentially and likely put money in your pocket much more quickly.
- LISTEN…to other agent’s phone conversations, marketing presentations, showings, and most importantly the client.
- Align your strengths with your mission and create a business plan that encompasses these strengths. For example, if you have an interest in public relations, marketing, finance, or architecture, use the interest to make yourself stand out from the pack.
- Don’t be afraid to bring fresh, new ideas to the table that have never been done before…this will often make you stand out from the rest of the pack.
- Try not to have too many expectations because the person or team for whom you work will in large part determine your direction in the industry. If you don’t like the direction, make a change by joining someone else or another team.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously but do appreciate the fact that people are often entrusting you with the largest transaction of their lives.
- Lastly, if you feel like you have to be something you’re not, forgot about it. If you’re not salesy, then don’t be salesy. If you’re laid back, be laid back. Be yourself (assuming you’re a decent person with integrity) and you will appeal to the masses and be rewarded for it. It’s also a built in way to weed out the small percentage of scumbag sellers and buyers who you won’t want to work with anyway.
If this all sounds copacetic to you, then perhaps you are ready to give real estate a try. For those who think it’s easy and lack respect for real estate agents, stay at your current job or choose a different career path. Remember, there is a reason that 20% (I think it’s more like 10% make 90%)of those in my industry make 80% of the money and it’s "generally" not because they are lazy, stupid or incompetent as many "real estate haters" like to suggest. Most of my successful colleagues enjoy what they do and relish in the fact that each day is different from the last.