Lessons from first year in Real Estate

I became a North Carolina Real Estate Broker on July 20, 2017.

Earning that license was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took dedication, time management, and pure drive for those six (well, seven since we took a break for Fourth of July) weeks last summer. If you’re considering real estate school or currently in the middle of it, I share all the details in my post here.

It’s been a year (plus a month) since I earned my license and I’ve learned some things along the way. I’m a New Home Consultant with a national home builder, so these lessons have been learned in light of new home construction, but I believe they can be applied regardless, even if you’re not in our specific field.

#1: You can’t know everything, but that won’t stop customers (and other agents) from expecting that you do.

This was especially hard for me at the beginning when I truly didn’t know much. Through experience and asking questions I have learned a ton, but there’s still things I don’t know. There’s new questions that come up and I think it’s totally appropriate to admit you don’t know, but that you will find it out and report back. That last part is key. As long as you know who to ask or where you might be able to find the information, you’re golden. And then that’s one more thing you know for next time!

The alternate is to guess and that usually doesn’t end up well for anyone. Real estate is a big deal to people and the last thing you want to do is promise something that you can’t deliver or give information that isn’t true. Despite your best efforts this may still happen, so be prepared to humble yourself and make it right.

#2: Be a lifelong learner because there’s always something new.

Going right along with #1, there is always something new to learn. Which of course means you don’t know it all! Whether it’s new materials because we changed vendors, a new way to utilize social media, or a new best practice from a more experienced agent, there is always something new. If you’re not feeling stretched every so often, you’re not growing. That ain’t good.

I’m going to sound nerdy and that’s fine by me. I enjoy class and learning… if it’s something I’m interested in. I’m very interested in developing in my career and improving, so I enjoy trainings and classes! There are many trainings available through my company, Triangle Sales and Marketing Council, Home Builders Association, and other organizations — I try to soak in as much as I can!

#3: It’s legit hard work.

We all know most real estate work happens on nights and weekends. Since I work for a builder, I have set hours I need to be at the Model Home, but it’s true about weekends — that’s our busiest time of the week! On top of working with customers, there is a lot that needs to be completed, like preparing for a community review, updating information sheets, making sure the neighborhood looks good, and meeting with the Construction Superintendent.

I’ve seen many Agents struggle with work-life balance and actually taking time off. We work a lot from our phones and that’s with us all the time, so it can be challenging to put work down. Thankfully our managers do understand the need for true time off and encourage that, but sometimes getting the job done does mean staying late or working on a day off. We work hard, but we play hard.

#4: It’s actually a close-knit, supportive industry.

As with any industry, this doesn’t describe 100% of people, but it’s all about the types of people you surround yourself with. Shows and movies can make real estate seem intimidating, even cut throat. I’m not into that. What I’ve found is that people within the industry are supportive and encouraging. They want to win themselves, but they want to see others win as well!

There are many opportunities to network at different meetings and events. I believe it’s so much better when we work together and share what we can. There is plenty of real estate to go around for everyone, plus I’m in favor of that good karma. If you work and live from a place of abundance, that’s what you will find.

#5: There is space to hone strengths and grow.

There are many different areas I need to work in to do my job well. Marketing, event planning, hosting guests, organization, paperwork, data entry, etc. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s also incredible because that means many different types of strengths can be developed! I’m improving in the areas where I’m okay, but more so focusing on the areas where I’m good and want to become great.

Of course, everything has to get done at the end of the day whether it’s my strength or not. But there are people on the team with different strongpoints and we can help each other. It also provides a way to differentiate yourself from every other Real Estate Agent out there. We all generally do the same thing, but our strengths allow us to shine in different ways.

#6: There is no such thing as a perfect, forever home.

I don’t just say this because I want people to buy more houses. Needs and circumstances change which means the home fit will change too. And that’s okay! Maybe you just had a baby. Maybe your kids are all off to college. Maybe you just got married. Or divorced. Maybe you’re wanting to downsize. Maybe you got a new job in a different area. There are countless life events that will affect what you need from your home. Our home was perfect until we started living in it. You begin to notice things you would like to change, maybe about the location or the home itself.

As with anything in life, perfect is impossible to obtain — the focus is on the best fit. And sometimes the homebuyer has to go with what’s most important and be willing to compromise on other things that don’t make that list. I don’t believe in a forever home, but I sure enjoy helping people find a home that best suites this stage of life.

#7: People don’t want the salesy, perfect version of you.

They want the honest, authentic, friend version of you. People love to buy, but they don’t like being sold to. Who actually enjoys walking by those kiosks at the mall where they’re selling sunglasses or hair products? My guess is no one. Even if it’s something we’re interested in buying, we steer clear because we can sense a “salesperson” from a mile away.

That was probably my biggest fear getting into real estate. I am not a pushy salesperson. But here I am wanting to sell houses. Because of that, I was worried I couldn’t be successful. That is not true. People just want to connect, have their fears and needs heard, and find what they’re searching for. I can do that. As Jeff Shore puts it, it’s all about being “coffee-worthy.” That’s the kind of person I want to guide me through a purchasing decision and that’s the kind of Real Estate Agent I want to be. It felt so much better knowing I could be myself (with some sales resources in my tool belt from all those trainings).

#8: You are the only thing in your way.

You are the only thing you can control. You can’t control most factors like the economy, interest rates, or whether someone is ready to buy. You can only control you. You can control your attitude, your determination, your knowledge level, your actions. You may have influence in other areas like big picture marketing and promotions, but ultimately that likely won’t be 100% your call.

That can be a tough pill to swallow for us control freaks out there, but isn’t it freeing too? It’s not up to you to control anything outside of yourself. So focus your energy inward. How can you improve? How can you give a better presentation next time? How can you better problem solve and overcome that next objection? These are the types of questions that will actually produce different results because they’re things you can change. So get out of your own way — I need to remind myself of that many days.

When I graduated from NC State University four years ago, I had absolutely no idea this is where I would be today. Although at the time I was working in apartment leasing, real estate wasn’t even on my radar. It’s interesting to see how your past experiences guide you. My job back then is parallel to what I do now, but now it’s so much better!

Don’t be afraid to go where your next right step takes you! And be kind to everyone. You never know how your connections can impact your life and how you can impact theirs until you’re looking back. Be kind. Do the right thing. Go for it!

If you’re in the real estate industry, I’d love to hear what lessons you have learned! Leave them in the comments below. I look forward to reading your wisdom.


2 thoughts on “Lessons from first year in Real Estate

  1. Very well stated Rachel. It’s this mindset that will continue taking you to higher levels in both your career as well as personally!

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