Here’s a helpful guide to securing your first real estate client
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
You’ve recently passed the exam and received your license to sell real estate in Massachusetts. Congratulations! Now that you’ve signed up with a broker that you can trust, you’re eager to start working with clients, but you haven’t had much luck finding anyone. Even though your broker may have provided a few leads via incoming phone calls, none of those leads have panned out, and you're pretty much on square one. And you have bills to pay. You need your first client now, so how do you find them?
In this post, we’re going to help you set the groundwork to finding your very first real estate client. Keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight, but it shouldn’t take months either. After you start implementing the tips below, you should see an increase in the amount of viable leads that you receive.
Without further ado, here are a few tips on how to get your first real estate client:
I can hear the “ugh” now. Who wants to take the time to write out a business plan? Shouldn’t you use all available time to hit the pavement and sell, sell, sell?
Here’s why developing a business plan for your real estate business is the smartest thing you can do after receiving your license:
You need a plan of attack. Just going out there willy nilly without understanding the marketplace, your unique strengths and weaknesses, and your overall marketing budget will lead to disaster. If you truly want to be an effective real estate agent (and who doesn’t?), you need to create a list of business objectives and a realistic plan for how you’ll reach them.
Remember that a business plan isn’t about listing lofty platitudes. It’s a living document that helps you navigate your business. Without one, you may stumble upon some clients, but with one, you’ll have the map to finding more.
Set yourself up for success by developing your business plan of attack today. Check out this post on how to create a real estate business plan.
When you start your real estate business, you bring one of the most valuable treasures ever: A contact list that you’ve developed over your lifetime. Real estate is a people business, and you know people. Your friends, family, and former co-workers should be the first group of people to know that you’re in the real estate business now. After all, that’s what friends are for— support.
Start getting in touch with your social circle, including those who you haven’t spoken to in years (but still have their numbers in your contact list). Even if they’re not ready to list, they may know someone who is thinking of selling their home. You want to be their top of mind reference, and you can accomplish that through a quick five minute phone call.
If the idea of reaching out makes you nauseous, think of it this way: This exercise is preparing you to cold call strangers in the near future. At least when you cold call friends and family, it’s not as intimidating as cold calling people with whom you have no connection whatsoever. This gives you an opportunity to strengthen those cold calling muscles. And there’s always email.
This may surprise you, but many agents hate hosting open houses. Sellers might love them, but agents don't. Why? The common reason agents give is that open houses don’t often sell the house, even if they attract a lot of attention. And that’s true— it’s pretty rare to host an open house and attract a buyer off of the street with cash in hand.
But, if you shift your perspective, you’ll realize that open houses can be about more than selling that particular house; they can also be about selling the next house. Here’s what I mean:
Buyers aren’t the only ones who attend open houses— sellers do, too. Sellers come to scope out the competition and are often in the beginning stages of selling their home. In many cases, they’ve not even locked down a listing agent yet. This is your chance to woo them with your excellent marketing skills!
When you find a potential listing client through an open house, offer your services. Impress them with your knowledge about the neighborhood because they likely live close by, and discuss its recent market history including latest sells and most competitive listings. And this is the biggest thing: Follow up! Be sure that you get contact information and call these potential clients back within a couple of days.
Trust is everything in real estate. You must show your prospective client that they can trust you, and you’ll do that by becoming an expert in your field.
You don’t have to know everything there is to know about Massachusetts real estate to be an expert. You simply need to know a lot about a few things. This is why specializing can be a huge factor in your success in real estate. You need to demonstrate mastery over a specific topic that’s relevant to selling a home for your desired client type.
For example, you can use your downtime in the beginning to learn everything you can about a specific neighborhood that you wish to represent. Or, you can specialize in some other niche, such as home type (i.e. condo, luxury, vacation, etc.).
Be sure to study your regional MLS to learn about current listings, recent home sales, and median prices in your neighborhood of choice. You never want to be that agent who doesn’t know and has to get back to the client.
Since you’ll spend a lot of time studying the MLS, be sure to do this, too: Grab all of the expired listings and just go down the line, calling the seller to discuss the possibility of you taking over the listing (keeping in mind the Do Not Call List!).
Now, keep this in mind: The seller is likely to be frustrated that their home hasn’t sold within a specific amount of time. He or she is disillusioned with the selling process. And the seller may be unreceptive to your call at first because they have trust issues.
However, don’t let any of that deter you - just be prepared.
When speaking with these prospects, don’t take the slick, fast-talking marketer approach because they’ve been there and done that. Instead, go in with a few specific ways that you can help them sell their home. Emphasis on specific.
You won’t be the only real estate agent contacting them about their expired listing, so be informed.
Do some light research before making the call so that you can provide them with insight on why their home didn’t sell. Perhaps the listing price is too high for the area. Perhaps they need to make certain improvements to their home. Perhaps they just need better listing photos. Think of ways that you can match their needs with your unique strengths as a real estate agent.
Another group to reach out to are the sellers who’ve ventured out on their own, i.e. the for sale by owners (FSBOs).
FSBOs are tricky to deal with. Just like those with expired listings, FSBOs don’t really trust real estate agents. This makes FSBOs potentially difficult to work with. They also have a reputation for being stingy, thinking that it’s more affordable to sell on their own then it is to work with a listing agent.
But, if you’re inclined to work with this group of sellers, you can hit them with this fact:
FSBO homes sell for thousands less than those represented by agents. Much less. The average FSBO home sells for $190,000 vs the $249,000 that they could receive when represented by a listing agent. That’s almost $60,000 lost. (Source)
Because many agents won’t reach out to FSBOs, this gives you a golden opportunity. Be prepared with a list of reasons why they should consider listing with you instead of doing it on their own. Appeal to these sellers by addressing their top challenges:
Now that you’ve come to the end of the post, what steps should you take to score your first listing client?
Develop your real estate business plan with these tips.
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Use Facebook, but don't sleep on LinkedIn as another way to generate real estate leads. Learn more about Facebook marketing here.
Learn how to use LinkedIn for growing your real estate business here.