12 Qualities You Need to Be a Successful Real Estate Agent

Here’s a look at the most important traits you’ll need to become a successful real estate agent. (Updated for 2024)

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Wow, that post title sounds like a promo for a new reality TV show! And while you may not be vying against 11 other hopefuls for a rose or for a marriage to someone you've never seen, the real estate industry can be a tough competition. It takes a certain type of individual to be successful in real estate. If you’re still trying to decide whether real estate is the career for you, keep reading. Below, we’ll list the most important qualities you’ll need to make it as America’s next top real estate agent.

1. Steely Determination

If I asked one of your friends to give me three words to describe you, would one of those words be “determined”? If so, real estate might be for you.

As a real estate agent, you must be determined to succeed. Defeat can never be an option. Every deal is important. Every client must get what they want. But that doesn’t happen by accident. As the client’s representative, you’ve got to adopt a dogged, relentless, stubborn resolve to make sure that the client wins.

If that’s not in your nature, a successful career in real estate may not be in your future. However, if you’re driven to win, no matter how many obstacles are thrown in your way (and some of those obstacles will come from your clients), you’ll do well in real estate.

2. The Ability to Negotiate


A big part of your job will require negotiation skills. After a few years in real estate, you’ll probably be able to teach a class on negotiation skills at the local community college or university. That’s just how good you’ll need to be.

Negotiation is important in real estate because you’ll need to haggle over at least three things:

Once you become a real estate agent, teach yourself the art of negotiation. Start with setting your commission, because that’s the hardest one. If you can secure a good commission for yourself, you have the innate ability to negotiate on all other real estate matters.

3. Tech Savviness

The world is online now, and so is real estate: To be a successful agent, you need to know your way around a computer and the Internet. Being able to navigate websites isn’t just nice to know - it’s a must. Even if you don’t know much about the Internet or how to use a computer, you must be willing to learn. Otherwise, you’ll be eclipsed by by tech savvy competition.

4. A Winning Personality

Real Estate is a people-oriented career. You need a personality that can woo prospective clients and gain their confidence. While it will take time to become an experienced real estate agent, a friendly personality can score a lot of points right away. People will want to work with you simply because you have an amiable demeanor. Not every agent is pleasant to be around - this can be your superpower.

5. Integrity

To maintain trust with your clients and score the all-important referral, you’ll need to hold yourself to a high ethical standard. You may be working with someone’s life savings. For this reason alone, it’s important that you’re principled and committed to doing what’s right.

And if you’d like to become a REALTOR, you’ll be held to an even higher ethical standard.

(Not sure if you should become a REALTOR or not? Check out this post.)

6. The Ability to Network

Real estate is all about who you know and who knows you. Without connections, you’ll never be a successful real estate professional.

The ability to network isn’t optional - it’s a required skill. But you don’t have to be an extrovert in order to succeed at networking. Sometimes introverts make the best networkers because they’re often better listeners and are more focused on quality conversations.

If you need to brush up on your networking skills, here are few tips to keep in mind:

Arrive early to networking events. Being fashionably late may grant you some passing attention, but the most viable connections are forged by the early birds. Plus you never know who you might miss!

Be pleasant. People like to be around others who are smiling and friendly.

Be passionate. Let your passion for real estate show through.

Follow up. After making a connection, be quick to follow up on the connection. Within the next couple of days, call them back and ask them out to lunch or offer to meet them in their office.

You’ll live and die by your ability to network and maintain relationships with your former clients and fellow real estate professionals.

7. Attention to Details

While a warm heart will help you with networking, you’ll also need a sharp eye. As a real estate agent, you’ll spend a huge amount of time in the details. Whether you’re comparing housing prices, reviewing the fine print in contracts, or considering your client’s wish list, you’ve got to be comfortable with “the little stuff.” The little stuff is what makes the big picture possible.

8. The Ability to Solve Problems

Every client comes to you with a problem: they need help buying a house, or selling a house. Your job is to solve that problem.

While the problem may be the same, there are all kinds of different variations that you’ll need to tackle, such as the client’s budget or their “must sell by” timeline. You’ll need to feel comfortable with constantly solving problems - sometimes in ways that aren’t the most obvious or conventional.

9. Self Motivation

As a real estate agent, you’re your own boss. Even if you work under a broker, you’re not actually an employee - you’re likely to be an independent contractor and paid commission. This basically means that you operate your own small business. For this reason, you need to be self-motivated: no one is going to breathe down your neck and make you work. It's entirely up to you when you work, how you work, and how much you make.

10. Dedication to Professional Appearance

Coco Chanel once said, “Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the person.” As a real estate agent, not only are you selling real estate, but you’re also selling yourself - and I mean that in the nicest way possible. You must care about how you look because others will. They’ll buy your image before they buy your pitch, so dress accordingly.

11. Strong Communication Skills


Hopefully, you like the sound of your own voice because you’re going to hear it a lot.

As a real estate agent, you’ll spend a lot of your time speaking with people. Whether you’re fielding questions from clients, engaging with fellow agents, or building a network with other professionals, you’ll do a lot of talking. This is good news for those of us who like to talk, but even if you’re not a talker by nature, it doesn’t mean that you can’t hone your communication skills.

Because these skills can be taught, here are a few tips to build or improve your communication:

Be a good listener Half of communication is actually listening to the other person. Give the other person a chance to talk and take your cues from them.

Ask questions You’re in a conversation, not a monologue. Ask the other person questions for clarity and as a way to draw them out of their shell.

Make eye contact While you don’t want to keep a steady gaze while you’re speaking to someone (that’s kind of creepy!), you do want to look at that individual occasionally as you speak to them. Otherwise, it feels like you’re trying to hide something from them. Also, maintain eye contact when the other individual is speaking to you, or it will appear that you’re disinterested.

12. Boundless Enthusiasm

Real estate work often requires long hours - early mornings, late evenings, and hustle all the way through. As a real estate agent you might draw much of your daily energy from liquid caffeine, but trust me: There will be a time where the caffeine runs out and you’ll need something else to carry you through your day. That something else is called “sheer enthusiasm.”

In order to be successful at real estate, you’ve got to be enthusiastic about it. That enthusiasm will empower you to work longer hours and deal with difficult personalities.

What If You're Missing a Few of These Qualities?

First off, don't panic. While all 12 might be ideal, that may not be realistic, especially if you're new to the business.

Though it may seem like you either have these qualities or you don't, most can be developed or learned. Take the time to check in with yourself: Which qualities are your strengths? Which do you need to work on? Then, find ways to develop your skills in these areas, as they are important to your real estate career success.

Related Resources

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