Dear agent

You are the most important entity in the real estate business. Hands down.

The commissions you earn flow outward to sustain a vast array of companies and people. 

Without you, the real estate ecosystem as we know it would not exist. 

You guide buyers and sellers through minefields. It will take centuries still for artificial intelligence to match the emotional intelligence you use to bring solace, confidence and clarity to people who need it.  

Those around you, myself included, don’t do enough to vocalize this truth and express gratitude for it. 

While most of what I write is for everyone in and around our business, this one is devoted to you, the great real estate agent.

Coming of age

We are living in your time, the age of the great agent. Despite industry fortune tellers who predict iBuying as your demise, your value in the transaction is cemented.   

Buying and selling a home is not just complex. It consumes the totality of what it is to be a human being: rationality and emotion, intuition and logic, joy and loss. The crockpot of psychic stew that simmers during a transaction requires a skilled hand throttling the heat. 

That’s you. 

Being an agent today requires smarts. Resourcefulness. A predisposition to adaptation. You need to master software, run a business, manage resources, prospect, maintain ties to past clients and ceaselessly convey your value against strong competition. Every decision is critical — the broker you use, the tech you license, how you brand, who mentors you.

Consumers today are smart. Homes are expensive. The part-time, low energy, uneducated, techless agent is a lump on the industry log with no clear role in the future.  

Your career is Mt. Everest. You start at the base with dreams of reaching the summit. Every step up requires calculation. The celebration of failure that is fashionable among tech entrepreneurs cushioned by millions in VC is not your reality. Every mistake matters. 

What follows is advice based on what I’ve learned observing and working with the best and brightest agents in the business. Consider this a foundation. These things may seem obvious, but too often they are dismissed or passed over. 

1. Pick your brokerage wisely.

The right broker:

  • Has values you share and can offer you examples of how they exercise those values every day in their business.
  • Has a vision for your growth and can show you how they’ve deployed that vision over the last 10 years and how it will influence the next 10.
  • Has original thoughts. They don’t drink industry kool-aid. They have clear, positive, executable ideas that best serve their agents.
  • Can clearly articulate who their customer is and provide you insight into that customer’s journey. If they can’t, they don’t understand you at all.

2. Join a team.

If you’re new, join a team. Do all the grunt work. Learn the ropes. If you’re experienced, build a team that will enable you to do what you do best. There’s no better construct in real estate today than a well-built team.

3. Be mentored.

Find a coach. Join a local entrepreneur group. Nurture your innate skills to master your career. I have three mentors. Without them, I’d be too narrow and useless to my partners, co-workers and clients.

4. Have a business plan.

Winging it isn’t a plan. The number one cause of agent failure is not having a plan. If you don’t have a plan, you’re an amateur. You will never be able to experience the freedom this career can offer.

5. Exercise restraint.

Smart agents rely on their values to guide their actions. They stay focused on their plan and resolute on their mission and their promise. They use this determination to resist personal urges that might derail and damage their reputation. The moment you forgo restraint, fall prey to temptations and lose sight of your role, you end up making parody rap videos that blow your world apart and exact collateral damage on your entire industry. 

6. Focus on your mastery.

Know what you are best at and stay in that lane. If you haven’t studied photography, filmmaking, marketing, design, staging or copywriting, don’t dabble in them when it comes to your clients’ needs or your own brand efforts. Masters outsource things that are outside of their skillset to those who specialize so they can focus on their own genius.

7. Ignore industry chatter.

Hyped-up tech and business and marketing strategies are background noise. This thing known collectively as “the industry” can suck you into a vortex of distraction if you let it. Instead, look to the right broker, mentor or team members for business guidance, tech advice or marketing help. They will guide you better than the entire “industry” combined. 

8. Choose vendors wisely.

When you license technology, you are essentially bringing on a partner. The most valuable vendor/partners in real estate are those who have deeply immersed themselves in your journey and your real problems. Before any product demo, ask the vendor to talk about what they know about your daily business problems and opportunities. Their response will tell you everything you need to know.

9. Attend conferences outside of real estate.

The allure of industry events is powerful and real. They provide us opportunities to connect with our peers and clients. And while each offers content and ideas, it’s all shared with everyone in your category. Events outside of real estate, however, can expose you to paths of differentiation that no one else is thinking about.

10. When they do them, you do you.

The amount of idea plagiarism in real estate is breathtaking. Generic, templated things are rampant. Most everyone looks and sounds the same, which makes it difficult for the public to tell the difference between you and people who aren’t as good as you. If you want to build a brand, stop doing what everyone else is doing. Stop using templates. Stop copying other people’s ideas. Start doing you. If your fiercest competitors have IDX search sites focused on buyers, create one focused on sellers. If they shoot market update videos in their cars, host a monthly class at your local coffee shop on building wealth with real estate. Everything you create should be unique and show (not just tell) what makes you special. 

Thank you

To you, the great agent — thank you for what you do for buyers and sellers. Thank you for making this a wonderful and rewarding business. Thank you for making what I do possible. 

Here’s to your success.