Did you know – the most essential real estate success tools you can own are those you can’t buy?
Every time you turn around there’s someone eager to sell you real estate success tools. They might be full-color brochures, magnetic signs for your car, paid Internet ads, hot leads, or any number of techie toys.
And yes, each of those real estate success tools might contribute to your success.
But none of the tools you can buy will bring you success unless you first have these 7 essential real estate success tools:
Success tool #1: Self-discipline
From the outside looking in, a career in real estate looks like a walk in the park. You get to spend your days looking at houses, making new friends, and taking time off whenever you want to meet friends for lunch, spend a day on the beach, or attend a child’s sporting event.
Once you’re in the trenches, you realize that success doesn’t allow for all that free time. Instead, it requires commitment, and a considerable amount of self-discipline to stay on track. And self-discipline is one of the real estate success tools you can’t buy.
You’re now an independent business person. You have no employer to set your working hours, direct your activities, withhold your taxes, provide your insurance, bring in the customers and clients or hand you a paycheck just for showing up. It’s all up to you.
Self-discipline encompasses everything from getting up and getting busy each morning, to making phone calls and doing paperwork in the evening when you’d rather be playing or relaxing, to staying the course when things go wrong. It’s a required ingredient in every one of the following real estate success tools.
Real estate success tool #2: Getting an education
Going to real estate classes and passing the licensing exam is a good start. After that you’ll need three kinds of education:
- Specialized classes, such as the ones offered by NAR
- Self-study – including reading newsletters, Active Rain posts, and real estate magazines.
- Real world experience
Whether you plan to specialize in a specific niche market, need to become more proficient in using technology for real estate, or want to stay current with new real estate laws, taking classes will aid in your success. Some lead to designations from the National Association of REALTORS(R), which could be a marketing benefit. Of course you do pay for admission to some classes – but the knowledge you gain from them is all up to you.
Self-study encompasses reading all you can AND knowing your market inside out. Knowing your market is one of the best real estate success tools you can have.
Real world experience is what you can’t get from a book. It comes from the trial and error of working with clients, making mistakes, and learning how to overcome those mistakes.
Success tool #3: Maintaining regular working hours
Although you can schedule your time to be present for your children’s events, and you can schedule lunch with a friend or take time off for a dental appointment without having to get permission, those should be the exception, not the norm. You do need regular working hours.
It takes discipline to get up and get moving when there’s no one but yourself to answer to. So be a stern taskmaster. Don’t allow yourself to sleep an extra hour or two in the morning, and don’t put off getting to work just because you don’t happen to have a pressing appointment.
Success tool #4: Making and keeping a commitment to marketing
You have no doubt heard that marketing as a real estate success tool is not optional. It’s not. In fact, you need to keep at it continuously. Some top agents say one hour per day spent on marketing is the minimum.
It takes discipline to keep marketing yourself when you’re busy – and sometimes even when you’re not. It also takes discipline to keep marketing when you feel like you can’t afford it. But failure to do so can lead to months without income. So don’t go overboard and put yourself deeply into debt, but don’t stop marketing.
It’s a fact that most of us first pay attention to those activities that that have urgency because someone else is involved. For you that might be a meeting with a client, getting documents to a closer, attending an inspection, etc.
And yes – those activities do have to be done on time, but so does marketing. Just because there’s no one demanding that it be done is not an excuse to let it slide. You ignore it at your peril.
Remember that real estate marketing has three sides:
- Marketing your listings
- Nurturing past clients and those in your sphere of influence
- Prospecting or farming for new clients
All three are vital to your success, and all three can be approached in similar ways.
So while the following is about gaining new clients, keep in mind that you can apply most of the same methods to marketing your listings and hanging on to past clients and your sphere.
To market effectively for new clients, you must first decide on the outcome you want. Is it more listings in a certain area? Is it more listings of a certain type – such as homes in probate, vacation homes, or homes belonging to divorcing couples?
Perhaps you’d rather serve buyers – do you want first time buyers, move-up buyers, vacation home buyers, relocating buyers, downsizing buyers, or investors?
Next decide how you’ll reach them, both on line and off.
- Will you use postal mail to send prospecting letters, just listed cards, and just sold cards?
- Will you gather internet leads via a capture box on your website?
- If so, will you use email to prospect to those internet leads?
- Will you create a monthly or weekly newsletter?
- If so, will you deliver it by email or postal mail?
- Will you create a monthly or quarterly market report for the neighborhoods you want to serve?
- If so, will you deliver it directly to your readers, or will you post it on your website?
- Will you place newspaper or magazine ads?
- Will you use social media?
- If you use social media, which platforms will you use?
- Will you blog about your listings, your market, and your community?
- If you blog, will your blog include advice for buyers and/or sellers?
- Will you hold open houses, knock on doors, or network extensively?
Usually, it takes more than one form of marketing to keep your pipeline full, and each of the activities you choose must be done both consistently and on schedule. That means you should choose activities that you can and will continue indefinitely.
Some things, such as prospecting and following up with internet leads can be set on automatic. Other activities, such as blogging and using sharing social media, require a time commitment.
Success tool #5: Handling your finances
Until you become so well established that you have a steady stream of business all year long, you’ll be subject to peaks and valleys in your income. In fact, even top agents who get plenty of referral business can have a month or so with no income. That’s just how it works out sometimes.
Not being able to financially or emotionally handle these peaks and valleys are one of the reasons why so many people drop out of real estate. They either can’t take the stress or their financial situation dictates that they leave and find a job with a steady paycheck.
The way to weather those peaks and valleys is to create a budget and stick to it. Don’t spend every dollar as soon as it comes in. Keep putting money aside until you have enough money stashed to carry you through for a few months if you become ill or injured, or if transactions fall apart.
In addition to living expenses, save enough each month to pay your income taxes, dues, business insurance, health insurance, etc. Failure to do so can be your ruin.
I’ve known agents whose spouses worked, so they didn’t have to have their income from real estate for daily living expenses. Because they looked at their income as “play money,” they spent every dime of every commission check. They enjoyed buying things they and their families wanted but didn’t need. When it came time to pay Uncle Sam, pay their annual dues, or renew their licenses, the money wasn’t there, and their spouses weren’t happy.
Self-employed individuals like us also have to plan ahead for business expenses such as new equipment and software, and we have to budget both time and money for marketing.
Success tool #6: Working when you’re working
Who knew that there would be so many choices – and so many things that really need to be done?
Perhaps the fact that there ARE so many things to be done is what stops so many agents from doing them. They’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.
So – instead of getting busy, they gossip with their office mates, spend time discussing last night’s TV shows, or go on line to shop, play games, or while away their time on Facebook. They may go to the office, but they don’t “work when they’re working.”
I’ve been acquainted with many agents in that position, and they ALL complain about not having enough money coming in.
To avoid falling into that trap, make a plan, then make a list, and don’t let friends, vendors, or other agents distract you from “working when you’re working.”
Put the most important, most urgent items at the top and get to work on them any time you have a spare half hour. It wouldn’t hurt to make two lists – one with items you can do in 15 to 30 minutes. You may be shocked at how much you can accomplish taking “One small bite at a time.”
Real estate success tool #7: Taking time for yourself and your loved ones
Believe it or not, even this real estate success tool requires self-discipline. When you’re on a roll, working hard, it can be difficult to set it aside for even a short time. But you and your loved ones deserve better than that.
Along with setting your working hours, set your non-working hours, so you can give your full attention to the people who matter. If your family sits down to dinner together, turn off the phone while you’re at the table. If your children need help with homework, turn off the phone while you’re assisting them. If it’s date night with your spouse, turn off the phone. When it’s been a long hard day and you want to relax in a bubble bath – turn off the phone.
Don’t advertise that you’re available 24/7. Instead, set reasonable hours, such as 8 a.m. to 6 or 8 p.m., and other times by appointment. You may have to bend your rules if you’re involved in an intense negotiation, but make those times the exception, not the rule.
Going back to real estate success tool #1: Self Discipline.
Turn it on and don’t cut yourself any slack.
Success toggle and Tax man courtesy of Stuart Miles @FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Family Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net