Key Principles to a Long and Successful Career in California Real Estate
Real estate is one of the most lucrative industries you can join with the lowest barriers to entry. Like anything in life, the more you practice as a real estate agent, the better you get. And in this industry, the better you get, the higher your commissions can be — the only ceiling to success is yourself.
Now, success won’t happen overnight, and putting in the work will help you reap the rewards. This blog will get your career started on the right foot and offers step-by-step instructions for building a lasting, successful real estate business.
Steps for Creating a Successful Career in Real Estate
To have a long and sustainable career in real estate, there are crucial steps you’ll need to take, as well as key areas of opportunity upon which you should focus.
The first step toward a successful career in real estate is getting the right education and earning your real estate license. To get your license, you need to take 135 hours of Pre-Licensing education and then pass the National and State licensing exam to become a California Salesperson. (If you’re in the market, we know of a great real estate education provider that boasts a 96% student satisfaction rating based on end-of-course surveys…. just saying!)
But the education train doesn’t stop there! You’ll need to take 45 hours of Continuing Education, both for your first license renewal and on a regular basis thereafter to maintain your real estate license.
After completing the required education to earn a real estate license, the next important step is to choose a brokerage. Real estate agents must hang their license under a Broker, so choosing the right brokerage will set a solid foundation for your success.
Choose the Right Brokerage
When choosing the right brokerage for you, consider your needs. Every agent is looking for something different from their brokerage, but here are some factors to consider:
- Commission splits
- Brokerage fees
- Training and support
- Available tech stacks
- Mentorship program availability
- Marketing support
It’s important to find a brokerage led by real producers. Throughout your hunt, ask yourself (and the brokerages you’re interested in) the following:
- Does the organization have a solid hold of the market, and is it easily recognized by residents in the community?
- Have the Brokers in charge found success in their careers?
- What is their mindset and approach to business?
Pro Tip: As you look to join a brokerage, remember that you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. If you’re nervous about the interview process, check out our free ebook that explains how to successfully answer brokerage interview questions.
Create a Budget
Though you’ll work under a Broker, you’ll likely earn most of your money through commissions, which is important to factor in as you start your real estate business. Commission payout structures vary based on the brokerage, as do any associated fees (such as monthly desk fees, transaction fees, etc.). New agents need to understand the basics of start-up costs and expenses to create a realistic budget and build long-term success.
Aim to create your budget after making a rough plan for how many transactions you plan to make, but remember to be flexible and give yourself grace. You may need to adjust your goals and expectations as you go, and that’s okay!
Most new real estate agents have visions of grandeur about making big money within their first month on the job. However, the reality is that entry-level agents have to build up their experience to earn huge commission checks, especially on a regular basis. That being said, the average real estate agent salary in California is $93,557.
While the average is high, newly licensed agents should remember that this salary most accurately reflects the income of agents who have been in the industry for three to five years. In other words, don’t give up! In fact, you should…
Find a Mentor
Starting as a new agent can be overwhelming! The best way to stay on course and receive useful feedback is by finding a mentor to guide you.
Industry expert Kurt Uhlir, Chief Marketing Officer at Showcase IDX, did just that. In an interview with The CE Shop, Uhlir offered the following advice:
"[To reach your goals], you need a mentor behind [you], whether [you find them in your] work or faith or, or personal life. And so for me, finding somebody that's at least two seasons ahead of where I'm at and has been successful in whatever I'm asking for mentorship in [has brought me success].”
A mentor can be helpful at any stage in your career, especially if they’ve been through it all before. Their knowledge and experience can help you lean into best practices while highlighting what you should avoid. Do your research on agents in your brokerage or in your market. Asking someone to be a mentee isn’t as hard as you might think; individuals who have found success often want to help others by sharing their expertise.
Just remember that a mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street. Be respectful of your mentor’s time, and look for ways to provide value to them. For more tips on being a good mentee, check out this article.
Pro Tip: Beyond finding a mentor, making professional connections can help you get ahead in the real estate industry. Consider joining the California Association of REALTORS® or The CE Shop's Facebook Group, which will allow you to interact with other professionals in your area.
Marketing and Promotion
Marketing your brand is key to becoming a successful real estate agent with a long career. There are different tactics you can use to amplify your business and tell your audience who you are and what you can do for them. In today’s real estate industry, it’s critical that agents use their personal brands to build their businesses.
Clients want to know who they’re working with and know you have their best interests at heart. Lean into the fact that real estate is a personable industry by sharing your authentic (and work appropriate) self online!
Create a strategy centered on a multi-channel approach that utilizes social media, email marketing, and your business website along with traditional mediums like newspaper ads, flyers, radio spots, and television ads.
To give you an idea of marketing channel effectiveness, the National Association of REALTORS® conducted research to determine where buyers found the home they purchased in 2021:
- Online: 51%
- Real estate professional: 28%
- Open house sign: 4%
- Family and friends: 6%
- Homebuilder: 6%
- FSBO: 3%
- Newspaper ad: 1%
As you can see, having an online presence is more important than ever before. If you don’t have your own website, we can help! Prioritize having an up-to-date website that features your listings through an IDX to remain competitive. Also, be sure that you’re using high-quality imagery and videos in your listings along with detailed descriptions of each room, the backyard (as applicable), and the neighborhood. If you can provide a virtual walkthrough of each home, that’s even better!
Realtor.com reports that listings with virtual tours receive 87% more views than home listings without tours, and 54% of buyers skip over listings of properties that don’t include virtual tours.
According to veteran agents, it can take a full year until a new agent closes their first deal. The best way to speed up your deal-making process is to host open houses. This doesn’t mean just putting up posters or for-sale signs. Agents who are successful feature their open houses through a multitude of channels — which is why establishing your various marketing campaigns is crucial.
We can’t say it enough: a multi-channel marketing approach is a great strategy for expanding your brand and business to a wider audience. Over time, you may find that one channel brings you more leads than another or you might want to focus on a specific audience. Never be afraid to re-analyze your marketing strategy based on your market, performance, and advice from your mentor.
The Right Mentality Can Create Career Longevity in Real Estate
A career in real estate offers exhilarating challenges, and great agents never stop tweaking their strategy to maximize their impact. The best way to combat the trials and tribulations in your career is to have a positive attitude and tough mentality.
Two traits that make up a tough mental state are grit and consistency.
In fact, there are research studies that prove having grit can lead to more accomplishments in life. Research shows that there is an association between grit and personal outcomes, such as life accomplishments and increased goal attainment.
But don’t just take our word for it. We’ve spoken with a variety of successful experts in the industry and the one piece of advice they have for those wanting a sustainable career is consistency.
Dan Haberkost, founder and owner of Front Range Land and Homes, shared what he thinks is the biggest factor in creating a long-lasting real estate career:
“It's just a matter of whatever you're doing [and] being consistent over the long term. I mean, that is so important. Too many people get excited and they spend a bunch on the investment side, you know, marketing and cold calling for a month or two. So in everything, you have to be consistent over the long term. And what happens is then you build a network and a reputation, and it gets easier…The first year or two is always the hardest part.”
And he’s right! Being consistent and flexible will help you create career longevity. With that in mind, our last tip to finding lasting success in the real estate industry is to prioritize your mental health. If you need tips to avoid burnout, read this article.
We look forward to seeing you thrive and helping you with free resources every step of the way!