The internet is full of tips for first-year real estate agents. But how many of them are truly useful? You should work hard, learn from the best, and expect some challenges. This article will give you some tips to help your business succeed in its first year.

Here are our top 12 first-year real estate agent tips.

Obvious (But Often Overlooked) First-Year Real Estate Agent Tips

These tips can really improve your game.

1. Prospect every workday.

If you want to be successful in real estate, you need to look for new leads every day. There are many ways to be successful in real estate, but they all involve regularly looking for new customers.

Furthermore, successful agents know to systematize their daily prospecting. If you want to be successful in prospecting, you need to have a specific plan of action that you follow each day.

Here’s an easy, but effective, daily prospecting plan:

  1. Start by calling the owners of all the expired listings. You want to be among the first agents to touch base when a listing expires.
  2. Contact new FSBOs (For Sale By Owner listings) and discuss with them what is involved in selling a home.
  3. Reach out to owners who are behind on their mortgage payments. Why? Because you might be able to help them. As a real estate expert, you can advise them to contact their lender to try to work out a payment plan or a refinance. This could help the homeowners stay in the home and would earn you raving fans for life. And if a deal can’t be worked out, you could help them avoid foreclosure by helping them sell.
  4. Complete all the scheduled contacts on your CRM (Client Relationship Manager).
  5. Contact renters and investors.
  6. Contact people in your sphere.

2. Know your market.

Sounds obvious, right? You might be surprised to find out how few real estate agents take time daily to research their market.

The first thing you should do at the beginning of each workday is to check for any updates or changes that may have occurred overnight. You are interested in finding out about new listings, new contracts, and closed deals. You need to have an understanding of what types of properties are available in certain price ranges, how long those properties have been on the market, if prices are increasing or decreasing, etc.

If you are asked by a prospect about the housing market, you should have specific statistics to answer the question, depending on if the person is interested in buying, selling, or renting a house.

You should also invest time in previewing new listings. If you can describe a home without looking at the listing, potential buyers will be impressed.

3. Have a financial plan.

New real estate agents are often told that it will take them 3-6 months to start earning a regular paycheck. Many new agents fail to heed this advice because they are confident that they will be able to make more money than the average person. But stop and really think about this. If you sell a home your very first month, a 30-60 day escrow period means you won’t get paid until at least 2-3 months into your career.

This is why it’s so critical for new agents to plan their spending. A full financial plan for your business should include your personal finances as well as your projected business expenses. This will help you to budget and plan for your business venture.

4. Be as responsive as possible, but set boundaries with your clients.

New real estate agents are often surprised that their schedules are not as flexible as they thought they would be. Your clients will want to be able to reach you at any time, through any method of communication. You must find a balance between being responsive to your clients and still having a life outside of real estate.

Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Set expectations up front with new clients. Explain that you’re often unable to reply immediately because of showings and appointments, but you’ll always reply within [#] hours (you decide how many hours you want to give yourself).
  • Reply as soon as you reasonably can, even if only to confirm receipt of the message and assure your clients that you’re working on their request.
  • Explain the overall buying or selling process to your clients upfront to minimize questions about when/if your clients should expect certain things to happen.
  • Create a Buyer FAQ page and a Seller FAQ page on your website. Make sure your clients know these resources exist and how to find them.
  • Consider having a back-up reply system. If you can’t answer your phone, perhaps the call can be forwarded to an office receptionist or a live call center. You can also set auto-responses for your texts and social media messages.

5. Build your sales and consulting skills.

While the courses you took to get your real estate license prepared you to pass the exam, they certainly don’t teach you how to run a real estate business. Real estate sales is, as you might have guessed, all about sales! To be successful in sales, you need to have strong sales and consulting skills.

There are many ways to get an education in sales, and books and podcasts are two excellent options. In addition to this blog, of course, there are many other great resources available.

Not-So-Obvious First-Year Real Estate Agent Tips

Now that we’ve covered the obvious but overlooked tips for first-year real estate agents, let’s move on to the less obvious tips.

6. Put your business plan in writing.

Many first-year real estate agents approach their career as a job instead of a business. To be successful in real estate, you have to think like a business owner. Business owners know how important it is to have a written business plan.

The objectives for your business and how you plan to achieve those objectives are detailed in a business plan. A typical real estate agent’s business plan would include sections discussing branding, financing, marketing, and operations. If you are new to the business plan concept or unsure about how to create your own business plan, the “How to Create the Ultimate Real Estate Agent Business Plan” _____ is a great resource.

7. Niche down.

Although you might think it’s a good idea to try to reach as many potential clients as possible, the downside of trying to attract all buyers and sellers in your real estate market is that you will also have to compete with every other agent in that market. As a new agent, this makes your life much harder.

Focus on a specific group of buyers or sellers instead of trying to appeal to everyone. You could focus on sellers who are downsizing for retirement. Or first-time homebuyers in the 90292 zip code. Families moving for a job with your area’s biggest employer.

If you focus on a specific niche, you will have a better chance of resonating with clients and landing their business. You’ll quickly become the most popular real estate agent for buyers or sellers in that area.

8. Establish your online presence.

People who are buying or selling things today expect to be able to find you by looking up your business on the internet. It is not enough to simply have a profile on your broker’s website. You must also have a professional website as well as a social media presence. An online presence is important to have because it provides credibility to potential clients.

Not having a website is a big mistake that new agents often make. I can understand why someone might think that websites are complicated or expensive. However, there are significant advantages to having your own website. You will not be successful in competing with other real estate agents if you do not have your own website.

Be sure to read our blogs, Can You Run Your Real Estate Business Without a Website, and Great Real Estate Domain Names to get you started.

Then there’s social media. At the minimum, it would be beneficial to have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Choose one or two platforms to focus on and don’t spread yourself too thin. You can learn how to generate leads through social media by visiting the how-to guide on building a lead-generating social media calendar.

9. Track everything.

You won’t be able to improve your performance if you don’t keep track of your actions. This is especially important when it comes to marketing.

Many agents spend a lot of money each month on leads, without realizing that these leads are not resulting in enough clients to make the expense worthwhile. They should spend their money on things that will generate more traffic, such as social media ads, blogging, or sponsoring local projects. You should track the ROI of your marketing in the marketing section of your business plan so you can invest more in the activities that are successful and stop doing the ones that are not.

This tracking principle can be used to improve various aspects of your business.

10. Ask for referrals.

The item you are looking for may be in the obvious category, but you may not have expected it to be there. And maybe it should be. I see agents contacting people in their sphere regularly to inquire if they are considering making a move within the next year. Seldom do they consider asking if that person is aware of anyone else wanting to change positions!

Make it a point to ask your prospects for referrals during every interaction.

Thanking your referrer publicly is a great way to show your appreciation. Make sure to send a thank-you bouquet to the referrer’s workplace as a gesture of appreciation. It will cause a stir and give your referrer a chance to tell his or her coworkers about you!

11. Consider a real estate-related back-up income stream.

It is essential to have a financial plan as a new agent, since it can take some time to receive the first paycheck. And even longer to pull in steady income. A common mistake agents make is having a part-time job that has nothing to do with Real Estate. This job could lead to destructive consequences. Doing things like waiting tables, driving Uber, or selling cosmetics immediately undermines your credibility as a real estate professional.

If you’re finding it difficult to make enough money from your commission checks, here are some things you can do to diversify your real estate-related income:

  • Expand your real estate service offerings to include things like property management, property tax appeals, or credit repair services for buyers. This increases your value to your clients, establishes your reputation as a real estate expert, and pays the bills while your sales business grows.
  • Monetize your real estate blog. There is money to be made in blogging. And since you should be blogging for real estate leads anyway, why not take the extra step to generate passive income from your blog?
  • Sell a real estate-related product for passive income. Think books, courses, and digital templates. Don’t expect immediate income since you’ll need time to create and market your product, but this can be a lucrative income stream for real estate professionals.

12. Know how to handle a recession.

Although recessions are a natural part of the economy, they can change the way business is done. You need to know how to handle a recession if you’re going to compete with established agents during one.

Whether it’s your first year or not, luckily there are plenty of books, podcasts and online resources to help keep your real estate business going during an economic recession.