Think quick: How many people do you know who are working as real estate agents, actively studying to become one, or talking about making the leap? With an estimated 2 million active real estate licensees in the United States, according to Realtor.org, you probably know at least one; more likely, a few.
It’s a popular profession because the money can be outstanding, you’re not chained to a desk all day, and—from the outside looking in, at least—it seems like “fun.” Hey, fun is all in how you define it, and the career is fun (and flexible) for the people who are successful at it. Then there’s the earnings potential, which really can be fantastic (assuming you’ve got the will and the skill to move property).
But in such a competitive environment, it’s not just the number of competing brokers that keep some from breaking through to full-blown career success. There are hazards to the business that many who make their living selling real estate just don’t know about—and it’s holding them back.
If your goal (or the goal of your father/mother/sister/friend/cousin in the business) is to build a satisfying and rewarding career in real estate sales, check out the following 6 pitfalls to avoid:
1. Putting Your Company’s Interests Ahead of Your Own
During a survey conducted by the National Associations of Realtors, a whopping 86% of consumers said they selected a real estate firm because of the individual agent. The fact is, few consumers can tell the difference between one real estate company and another. Their loyalty goes to the agent because that’s the person they built a relationship with during the buying process. Real estate agents who prioritize building strong client relationships, rather than acting as ambassadors for their corporate mothership, are far more successful. This fact is proven every time an agent jumps ship, taking their clients with them. Don’t fall into the trap of placing your company’s brand between you and your hard-earned client.
2. Seeking Permission to Choose Your Path
Life isn’t fair and neither is career development. The truth is, few real estate companies will listen to an agent’s ideas for building business. They prefer to manage the company themselves, leaving the agents to drive sales. You’ll never get ahead by letting someone else run your business. When choosing a real estate company to work for, do your homework and select one that empowers agents to get involved in the decision-making process of the company.
3. Mistaking a Group for Your Team
There’s a crucial difference between working in a group and being on a team. A group is a collection of people, for better or worse, struggling toward a loosely defined common goal. This is where most real estate professionals find themselves. Best of luck to them. A team is quite different. In fact, teamwork, according to Keller Williams, “is actually a high-level productivity concept that is only understood by like-minded achievers with a desire for everyone to win.” The idea is that by working together as a team, each member can achieve more success—with more listings, closings, earnings, respect and fulfillment factoring into the process.
4. Working for a Real Estate Company That Doesn’t Disclose Financials
When your efforts in the field directly shape the company’s bottom line, you have a right to see the books. It’s not just about trusting your employer, either. It’s about understanding your financial stake in the organization, so you can change your game up accordingly, and make useful suggestions for improvement. If your real estate company won’t open its books for you to see, find yourself another employer.
5. Believing That Anyone Cares About Your Career Development Like You Do
The truth is, the success of the real estate company you work for is largely unrelated to your individual success over the long-term. It’s a competitive field, after all, and they can always hire another group to grow their numbers. Worse yet, most real estate companies are structured in a way so that real estate agents are viewed as employees, not business owners. If your employer isn’t actively helping you to understand the professional and financial growth opportunities inherent to real estate sales, you need to find one who will. Look for a company that has developed a proven system that enables participating associates to build their income portfolio.
6. Buying Into the Notion That All Real Estate Companies Are the Same
It’s easy to think real estate companies are all alike when you’re busy working to build your business, manage relationships and polish your personal brand. But they’re not. Often it comes down to a question of corporate philosophy. Some will put the agent’s career first because they understand the value of the agent’s relationship with clients and how it directly affects profitability. Some will provide training—and invest in education programs—that are designed to arm the agent with the skills and tools needed to ensure long-term success. Some will provide meaningful value in exchange for the commissions paid by the agent. Some will treat their agents as stakeholders, providing them a say in how the business is run, as well as a share of the profits. Some will do none of these things; avoid them like the plague.
Selling real estate can be a great way to make a living. If you take the time to learn some of the hazards of the business—and how to avoid them—you’ll be putting yourself ahead of the pack and right on track for the kind of success you always envisioned.