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If you’re looking to get into real estate, these steps will help you get started

You’ve been trying to consider what the next step in your career will be and you suspect that real estate might be a good option. After all, you love to walk through homes and thinking about how they can become beautiful spaces to live in. You love imagining the right upgrades that increase their value.

Even more importantly, you have the discipline to be your own boss, paired with a knack for negotiating deals and understanding contracts. You enjoy being with people and believe you’d love the challenge of helping them to buy or sell their property.

If real estate sounds like it could be a good fit, you may be wondering what you have to do to start down the road of a profitable career. The process doesn’t have to be complicated. To help, we’ve got a list of steps you should take.

Make sure the career fits your budget

Sure. There are high-end realtors that sell pricey homes at seven figures or higher. There are also times during the year when the housing market is hot and business is booming. But be aware that those times are generally the exception to an agent’s business, not the rule.

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics placed a real estate agent’s income at just below $50,300 per year. Keep in mind that this amount can vary if you can charge a higher commission because you’ve got additional certifications. It can also vary if you’re networked well enough so that you can sell higher-end properties.

Given today’s cost of living, $50,300 annually is not necessarily going to take you very far. However, if you believe it can work within your circumstances and you would find the work fulfilling, you may want to give it a try.

Identify a mentor

In real estate, as in other areas of life, it helps if someone more experienced than you are can show you the ropes when you’re getting started.

You may want to approach a larger real estate firm that is well networked in your community and has a variety of real estate agents.

This person can be almost anyone in the industry that you respect and trust. Perhaps it is someone who has been successfully selling houses in your area for years. You may be able to offer to volunteer or work as their assistant in order to learn from them.

Alternately, you may want to approach a larger real estate firm that is well networked in your community and has a variety of real estate agents working there. This will allow you to not only learn the daily job but to understand how a variety of personality types approach making a successful purchase or sale.

This approach also allows you access to a greater pool of potential mentors to connect with. At least one person there is likely to take you under their wing.

Get licensed and credentialled

You’re not going to be able to do anything in real estate without first obtaining your real estate license. The details of what this entails varies from state to state. Take the time to understand exactly what’s required for the area that you live in. There’s a cost involved, too, so be sure that you understand your state’s fee structure.

You’ll be glad you studied first, as its easier to study and pass it once than to try for it multiple times.

As you work to get credentialled, you’ll also find that you need to show mastery of a lot of information in order to pass the test. You may want to locate some study guides and take time to really prepare for the exam.

You’ll be glad you did, as it’s easier to study and pass it once rather than try for it multiple times because you weren’t ready.

Think about becoming a realtor, not just a real estate agent

Once you’ve got most of your credentialling behind you, there’s one last title that you might want to try. Consider becoming a realtor by joining the National Association of Realtors (NAR), one of the largest real estate trade associations in the country.

Membership here is meaningful. It tells your potential customers that you’re serious about your career and are willing to adhere to the NAR’s fairly strict code of ethics. It will also make you a better agent. That’s because it gives you access to ongoing educational opportunities and market research tools that will help you sell houses more efficiently.

This credential isn’t just meaningful to potential clients. If you’re looking to work for a larger agency, it can also make you more desirable to them. It could help you get hired more quickly or help you negotiate better terms for working with them.

Evaluate opportunities to work with real estate firms

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While many agents choose to work on their own, that’s not the only option. They can also choose to become part of a larger collective of agents, working together as part of a brokerage. This approach works well for many people and is sometimes a required step for new agents.

There are a few reasons why this is a good idea. In addition to the fact that you can learn from the other, more experienced agents in the brokerage, you’ll also have a supervising agent responsible for overseeing your contracts. If you make a mistake, their job is to catch it before it turns into a bigger issue.

As you might expect, this option has its drawbacks as well. For starters, there’s a cost to participating in a firm. Often, the brokerage will take the commissions you earn from a sale, and then pay you a negotiated percentage of them. There may be other fees as well, including desk fees or fees to use certain tools for the firm.

Identify networking opportunities and marketing practices

It is one thing to gaining your real estate license and setting up shop so that you can help clients buy and sell houses and other buildings. It is another thing to be able to attract customers. To do this, you’ll have to take steps to market yourself and your services.

Marketing yourself doesn’t just start and end with your website. Get to know all the tools.

You’ll almost certainly have to start the process by developing an online presence. Do this by designing your own page or, if you’re working with a firm, becoming integrated into an existing website. When you set up the page, remember that images count. You’ll also want to pay attention to keyword uses and other SEO practices.

Marketing yourself doesn’t just start and end with your website. Get to know all the tools that others use successfully and try them out yourself. See which ones work for you. Options include flyers, direct mail items, having a social media presence, and various other forms of advertising.

Use marketing tools

As an agent, you’ll not only have to market yourself, you’ll have to market your clients’ properties to potential buyers. Some of the tools you employ are going to be the same ones you used to market yourself. However, there will be other tools you can also use.

One example is house listing websites that buyers go to when they’re searching for properties. You’ll need to know what these sites are and how they work.

You’ll also want to understand other marketing basics, such as how to develop direct mail listings and how to hold an open house that works. Finally, as part of your marketing efforts, you’ll want to understand how to stage a house so that it is as appealing as possible.

Track your business

There will be potential fees for the software you use, fees for office equipment, fees for lockboxes, costs for marketing, costs for sale and open house signage, mileage tracking, and more.

As a final step before you help your first customer, you’ll want to begin to get organized. Be sure that you have all of the software you’ll need to run transactions and that you know how to use it.

You’ll also want to be sure that your accounting books are ready so you can track profits, expenses, and so on. This may not be as simple as it sounds and you may wind up having more expenses than you’ll expect.

There will be potential fees for the software you use, fees for office equipment, fees for lockboxes, costs for marketing, costs for sale and open house signage, mileage tracking, and more. If you have all of this organized from the beginning, it will be easier to manage.

Gain confidence with your first client

Following these steps won’t just maximize your chances for success. It will give you the confidence, skills, and backing you need to do well with your first client. As you meet them and start to work with them, remember that you’ve done everything necessary to do a great job. Relax and enjoy your career in real estate.

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