After many months or years of studying to become a real estate agent, you've done it!
Congratulations on passing your exams and obtaining your real estate license. Thanks to all the work that obtaining a real estate license requires, licensees may get to the end of the process and realize that they don't know what to do next. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to ensure your efforts land you the partnerships and, ultimately, the sales that you are looking for.
So you've passed your real estate exam. You may be wondering, “I passed my real estate exam — now what?” After you get your real estate license, it's time to look for a broker to partner with.
A broker is an important player in the real estate agency. While they can sell houses (they are licensed real estate agents), brokers are a step above agents in the sense that they are eligible to hire other real estate agents. Brokers may choose to work alone, but in many states, their license permits them to employ real estate agents. Agents are typically not permitted to work on their own without being affiliated with a brokerage.
Large real estate brokerages connect you to potential buyers and sellers because of their name recognition. They have varied commission structures for agents, so it's important for newly licensed agents to select a brokerage to partner with carefully. Some brokerages offer training and educational opportunities, as well as corporate sales goals and mentoring.
When selecting a real estate brokerage to work with, consider a variety of factors:
- Commission structure: How much money will you make on each sale? Are you be required to split your commission with other members of your team? How much money does your brokerage earn from your sales?
- Training and education opportunities: If you've just passed your real estate licensing exam, you are new to the industry. Does the brokerage you're considering offer opportunities to attend lectures, seminars or conferences? Are you given money to offset the cost of traveling to these educational events?
- Corporate culture: What is the corporate culture of the real estate brokerage you're considering? Is it friendly and welcoming, low-key, or all business, all the time? Be sure you share the values of the brokerage and like the people in the office you report to. They are essentially your coworkers.
- Mentorship opportunities: Many brokerages assign a specific mentor from their pool of agents to assist new real estate agents. This person attends open houses with you, sits down for coffee to help you plan sales strategies, and in many cases, shares your commissions for a while. Although sharing commissions does not sound appealing, the growth and experience you gain from working with a mentor can be beneficial.
Beyond finding a brokerage, there are other steps you need to take when you get your real estate license. In some states, you are required to attend a one-day course that covers current sales contract regulations.
In some states, you are also required to participate in annual or regular continuing education courses to maintain your license. Typically, this coursework is not free, but your brokerage may reimburse you for some or all of the costs. If not, you can probably write off some of the fees when you file your tax return.
When you work as a real estate agent, you are operating a small business. Even though you work under a brokerage's corporate umbrella, you are still an independent contractor from the perspective of the U.S. government. In any case, the brokerage is unlikely to market you or the homes you are selling in the same way that you would, so it pays to focus on marketing yourself.
You need a website, business cards, flyers, mailers, an email address, and — ideally — a dedicated business phone number to ensure you are ready for work. It doesn't hurt to set up social media channels specific to your work, as well. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter pages can be wonderful avenues to share photos of the homes you are selling, information about the current real estate market, helpful tips for those trying to buy or sell a home and more.
Properly utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) when setting up your website and social media channels is essential in an increasingly competitive online marketplace. To ensure that you are found by homebuyers or sellers in your area, check out what your competitors are doing. Conduct keyword research and use SEO-rich keywords in your content. In addition, be sure your photos are of high quality and the website is optimized. Search engines penalize websites that have slow load times and poor photography.
One excellent tool at the disposal of newly licensed real estate agents is the Google My Business tool, which you use to claim your business on Google. It prompts you to input specific information, such as your operating hours, phone number, business address and website. You also identify the categories your business falls into. Google only displays three such listings when people search a given term like “real estate agents in Manhattan, NY,” so it pays to have your listing SEO-optimized for your physical location.
One of the best things you can do as a new agent is to network with other real estate agents in your area. These may be agents who work for the same brokerage as you, or they may be professionals you encounter through local chamber of commerce events. Most regions have associations for Realtors and real estate agents. It's in your best interest to join and attend as many events as possible.
Just as in any other industry, getting your name out there and having face time with the community is the best way to grow your business. By interacting with other agents and learning from their experiences, you can fast-track your way to real estate success. Also, if you are located in a town or city other agents don't usually cover, they might recommend you to a client, friend, or family member after they get to know you through a networking event.
Real estate as an industry is essentially about people helping other people to achieve their dreams of homeownership. Many agents are happy to help new members of the industry learn and gain the skills they need to succeed.