New Agent Mistakes

When you think about it, picking the right career and company in any type of industry is not something you do every week. Perhaps that’s why many new licensees who go out looking for a Real Estate Company to affiliate with often aren’t totally prepared to pick the right combination of company and broker for their particular personality. In truth, the residential real estate industry has a poor track record of developing systems to help new licensees make more educated decisions about who they ought to join.
Mistake #1:
Not interviewing enough companies!
Make no mistake; picking your broker has a lot to do with your eventual success in the real estate industry. So talking to at least more than one broker seems to make obvious sense, and it does! A very high percentage of new real estate agents often go to work for a broker that was recommended to them or a good friend of theirs happens to mention that you can come to work “at our place.” Sometimes this is fine; sometimes it’s a disaster. The key is to talk with at least three (3) brokers in your area so you can gather enough data to feel comfortable comparing your notes. One of those three will likely be a good fit and you’ll know it when you complete the interview process.
Mistake # 2:
Not grasping that companies are not the Same!
As is true in almost any industry, most brokerage companies tend to fall into three distinct categories: 1) Young growing companies 2) Mature larger operations and 3) Older companies with owners looking to sell or retire. These companies can either be independent operations or belong with a franchise affiliation. Other than the fact that most real estate organizations belong to the local Board of Realtors, the differences in how those companies operate can be as varied as snowflakes. In addition, younger companies may be more aggressive and active risk takers where a more mature operation is more apt to stay with “what we’ve always done.” The key is to recognize what type of company you’re talking too. The questions we include in this package (The Interview 100) are designed to help uncover those issues that will be of concern for you. If you go in understanding there can be marked differences in how you, as an agent, are treated by the organization, you’ll be able to identify just what type company you’d fit in with.
Mistake #3:
Not starting with enough financial capacity!
If the company you’re talking too has an economic program based solely on commissions collected by you, you’ll need a financial cushion to get started. It is a very difficult task to get into real estate on a shoestring. Most agents today would offer that the average amount of time one can safely expect to have to go without expecting that first commission check should be somewhere around five to six months. Yes, it is possible to do that faster, and no doubt brokers can tell you stories about their fastest “rookie” agents doing it in three months, but the realities are that there is a lot to learn and invariably, the new challenges need 100% of your focus without the added concern about where money is coming from.
Mistake #4:
Who’s doing the interviewing?
Believe it or not, you are. Most potential agents think they are being interviewed, but the reality is that it is you who should be in the hiring position. Think of it this way, you’re about to hire this broker as your trainer and consultant for the next few years and pay them “X” amount every year for that privilege. Are they worth what they want you to pay them? That’s what’s at the heart of using this program. By asking all 100 questions attached to this interview packet, you’ll be doing the interviewing and it will be a snap to show the brokers you’re quite serious about this decision. Most importantly, the answers you get help to make a straight “apples to apples” comparison.
Mistake #5:
Asking to verify what’s being said!
You’ve heard the term, “the proof is in the pudding.” Whenever a broker makes a statement that can be backed up with data or something you can see, you need to ask for that. For example, they expound on their new agent training program, you ask to see a copy of the material. They say they have 48% market penetration, you ask to see the actual numbers. They say they have a mission statement, you ask where it is posted? In other words, almost everything a broker talks about can be visually witnessed, if indeed it exists. If they say they have a training calendar, you’d like to see it. In short, ask for the proof that something exists. One of the greatest follow-up tools you can use in this regard is to ask to see a copy of their roster. Then write down three agents’ names at random, and make a point of calling them that night to ask them some of the same questions you felt might need re-visiting and to gain an overall feel for the office. This will be a very enlightening conversation. You now find out if they not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. As we say, “the proof is in the pudding.”
Mistake # 6:
Realizing how critical Training and Accountability are!
If you are a new agent to real estate, the ability of the Broker to get you trained and then offer career accountability are critical indeed! Pre-licensing courses can vary tremendously in what they teach new agents to real estate. Many of those courses are, by their very nature, geared to help you with a licensing exam, so their value in the real world may not be that high. New agents have needs that create special training in at least no less than four core areas. Financing, contracts, and working with both buyers and sellers are the least that you should expect in any new agent course. Look at who teaches it and how the course is structured. Having the ability to work in the field is helpful while you’re training. If the company uses a “mentor” be very careful that the mentors are of the quality you’d want to learn from and that the system is highly structured. The most critical step for new agents is what happens after the training is over? Is there a type of “career start” program geared to get you on the right track with what you are supposed to do? This is the hidden weakness of many companies in that many have programs for new people, but it is in their lack of follow-up systems where leadership and accountability are missing just when they’re needed most!
Mistake # 7:
Where’s the Leadership?
Perhaps the most misunderstood ingredient in most agents’ successful careers is the impact having a strong management team and agents that think like partners in the organization. If you truly have leaders running the company, they will inspire a high level of learning and accountability into the company. Look at the most innovative and profitable companies in any city, USA, and you’ll find a learning based environment where everyone is constantly the “master” student. Strong leadership has a habit of creating a strong “culture”. When you ask experienced agents why they are with their company, their answers invariably tend to the “I like the people I’m working with” variety. It means, they like the atmosphere, the culture that the leaders in that office have created. Top agents gravitate to this type of atmosphere, and smart new agents sense that they want to be around these types of winners. Consequently, when you start asking around about different firms in an area, you’ll find that 20% of the best firms, tend to have some of the best people, the old “20/80” rule.
Mistake # 8:
Realizing who actually drives the Industry!
At the heart of all real transactions, there was an agent who developed a relationship with a customer, who turned into that agent’s client. Real estate is a very local, “what’s going on in your city” type business. A recent National Association of Realtors study indicated that buyers and sellers actually are more apt to choose an agent, not a company. There is a revolution now occurring in the industry, and many brokers are becoming wise to the fact that, indeed, they don’t actually control the customers, their associates’ do. So the goal of you, the potential associate, is to find a broker who believes that you are the central reason that the firm is or should be successful, not the company. Keep in mind, this is not the goal of many companies who might have you believe that they are the reason you have success. As you gather the answers to the questions in your interview packet, which type company you’re visiting with will become “loud and clear.” The choice will be easier to make, and you should be well prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities in one of the last great bastions of capitalism! Best of luck making the right choice!

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Sherry Rubinoff
Sales Representative,
Keller Williams Referred Realty Inc. Brokerage
*Each office is independently owned and operated.                                                           
*Not intended to solicit buyers or sellers currently under contract.
Written by Elizabeth McDermott