Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to [email protected].
Question from Christopher in IA: Hi Brian, I just passed the state exam, and now have my real estate license. The brokerage I’m working with is a new and small office with only three other agents. The office environment is more competitive than it is cooperative. It’s not about teamwork. I’m not getting the support to find clients that I was expecting. I feel like I’m on my own although I’m just getting started. What can you recommend that I do to find my first clients?
Answer: Hi Christopher. Your first real estate client is a BIG deal. As a new real estate agent, your first client ignites your entire career and gives you the confidence to propel you forward. It is the motivator that tells you “YES, I CAN do this.”
There are many ways to begin finding your first clients. Some are tested and proven in traditional ways and others are more innovative based on changing technology and times. Probably the most proven and traditional method is consistently presenting yourself as a knowledgeable real estate professional in almost everything you do. Rather than hyping yourself as another agent looking for a seller or a buyer, focus on sharing with others the knowledge you offer that will be of value to help them. Of course, you want them to be aware that you are looking for clients but foremost you need to give them reasons why you are the right person to do business with. This is based on many topics such as local statistics and trends but as a new agent, you should look for unique opportunities that set you apart from agents that have been in the profession for a while. This might be cutting-edge technology or just a fresh set of eyes with a new perspective. However, this isn’t about some flashy gimmick that doesn’t actually have value. Foremost, it’s about you presenting yourself as a knowledgeable and professional real estate agent.
Once you get that basic step down, there are several more steps that you can take to find your first clients. These methods are not flashy or revolutionary. They are the fundamentals that, when put into practice, are proven actions you can do right now to get your first real estate client.
1. Networking of all types is how you get yourself identified as a real estate professional. Some people think they first need a digital presence even before they start networking. That could be true. It’s the chicken or the egg question. You need to start networking right away and you need a digital presence right away. The reason I suggest networking first is that it’s about speaking to people face-to-face. I think face-to-face still makes a more powerful first impression than any other form of communication. The most obvious places to network are real estate group meetings, conventions, conferences, seminars, and open houses. However, the place to begin is with family and friends. This can be a friendly atmosphere for you to practice and perfect your ‘elevator speech’ (a short speech letting people know what you do and offer). A less used but effective technique is becoming active with other community groups where you meet potential clients. Examples of community groups include the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, League of Women Voters, etc. But don’t forget about volunteer groups also. The point of joining community and volunteer groups is that these are real people in your local community that can use your services. Whenever you are networking, always broadly share your professional knowledge with them and let them know what services you offer.
2. Digital presence. The place to start is with a webpage and Facebook page. Your broker should already have a website where you can add your own page. The primary purpose of these is to create a sense of connection through content distribution. Content is about sharing your knowledge, especially about the local community and local real estate. Other digital platforms to consider are Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Social media is also an inexpensive and smart way to advertise to home buyers and home sellers. For advertising, you want to learn more about ‘geo-marketing’ that can pinpoint your ads to the local community.
3. Open houses. Christopher, this might not work for you currently because your office is very competitive. However, in more team-orientated offices, it is fairly common for experienced agents to allow less experienced agents to host open houses. The obvious benefit is meeting people that are actively looking to buy a home. Make sure you have a good signup process for everyone that comes to the open house so that you can follow up with them. There is another effective step that you can take. Offer to preview the open house for the neighbors. You can go door-to-door offering the neighbors an exclusive open house before the general public comes in. This gives you a chance to meet these people face-to-face. These people might not currently be interested in listing their homes, but you can offer to share knowledge about what is going on in the local real estate market.
After you cover the basics, there are many other things you can do to bring in your first clients and continue finding more leads.
4. For sale by owner and expired listings.
5. Get to know people who work for sellers. Think handymen, landscapers, painters, etc. who are the first to know when someone starts to “spruce” their house up to get ready to sell.
6. Door knocking. You could try cold calling, but again, face-to-face is a better choice. Get out there and start knocking on the doors in the neighborhoods that you specialize in. You will get to know potential clients, ask them if they would like monthly updates, and generally make friends with the homeowners.
Christopher, I have one last thought for you to ponder. Do you still think that you have decided on the best brokerage office to begin your career with? Often new agents decide on the brokerage based on how the commission is split. Maybe you should consider a different approach that involves paying a higher commission to the brokerage in exchange for the brokerage making an effort to generate and share leads.
Here is your chance to share with newbies what worked well when you were getting started as a real estate agent. Please comment with your thoughts.Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to [email protected].