Many people stress out over passing the real estate agent test, but their focus might be on the wrong end of the problem. You'll pass the test if you study well and you're prepared, but you might still fail to make it in the business if you don't have a plan in place for when you're actually performing the job.
Some common-sense steps from finding a mentor to creating a web presence can help you avoid that and become a successful real estate agent.
Have a Backup Source of Income
You should have enough money saved to make it through at least six months without a commission. Otherwise, you might want to keep your day job for a while.
Becoming a part-time real estate agent might not have been your original plan, but you have to be able to pay your bills while you're getting started in the business. You can realistically expect to go many months without an income unless you have some family members or friends who are eager and ready to buy a home.
Find a Mentor
Find a successful agent or broker who's willing to mentor you, or simply offer to assist them in their deals. There's much to learn about the real estate process, and it's not all about selling.
You have to understand and be able to explain surveys, title insurance, liens, encumbrances, deeds, and much more. You'll feel much more capable if you've at least seen these documents in the course of a few real estate deals. You do not want to be asked basic buyer or seller questions that you can't answer.
Ask for past transaction folders and study the documents, or ask to assist an experienced agent in their next transaction.
Consider looking for a broker who offers a good training program if you're not comfortable working with a mentor or can't find anyone who's willing.
Make Use of Your Team
Make sure that agency you choose is topnotch with a great reputation. Your agency's credentials are your credentials as well, and this can be particularly valuable when you're first starting out.
Invariably, someone within that agency will be better at certain things than you are, whether it's marketing, technology, or simply paperwork efficiency. Ask for their help. Learn from them. Try to tap into their resources. This goes hand in hand with mentoring.
Build Your "Book of Business"
Some call this working your "sphere of influence." Becoming a real estate agent is just the first step in a long career of working with buyers, sellers, investors, appraisers, loan officers, mortgage brokers, inspectors, title companies, and others.
Don't overlook vendors. Their word of mouth and tips can go a long way. Host open houses, and volunteer to host some for your fellow agents as well. Open houses provide a great way to meet buyers and other agents.
Find a good contact management system into which you'll enter all these contacts and prospects as you meet them. You'll want to follow up with them over time, and you'll need an efficient way to locate their information.
Start Right With Technology
The internet is an integral part of any business, and you'll need it if you're going to market in the real estate world.
Some agents with many years in the business continue to succeed due to referrals and past business they've gathered over the years, but new agents need websites and social networking to get a foothold with today's buyers and sellers.
Budget for a good web presence and consider hiring an expert. It doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive, and having a professional-looking website can be invaluable.
In the meantime, contacting people and beginning your prospects list by the old methods will help you to get started while the slower online process builds. You can call, mail, and email every person you know, and you might land a deal sooner than expected. This will keep you in the game while you build your marketing efforts and business.
Plan Ahead for Challenges
The courses and test for licensing are less scary than most would-be real estate agents expect. The rude awakening comes later when they don't find that easy income in the first few months.
The real estate business can be fun, exciting, and a very satisfying career, but you have to survive that first year or two to make it all come together down the road. Have a plan, build a database of prospects, and work hard to find the keys to success as a real estate agent.