(Published on - 12/3/2021 4:46:11 PM)
With Melissa Walker and Deparish Cole
A career in real estate isn’t just another job. It’s an opportunity to work on your own terms while you build a business that helps other people. Your success is in your hands. That’s both exhilarating and a little intimidating, especially when you’re just starting out.
If you’re new to the business, or are looking at making real estate your career in 2022, read on for some insights and advice from two of our experienced agents: Melissa Walker who has been with Realty Executives for three years, and Deparish Cole who is celebrating his first year as an agent with us.
1. Look for the Right Fit
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide which brokerage you want to partner with. “When you’re new you might think you have to work with the agency that you got your real estate license from, but it’s not true,” Cole says. Both he and Walker recommend looking at several brokerages to find the one that feels right for you.
“I did a lot of research, read reviews from agents online, and interviewed several brokerages when I was first getting started,” Walker says. She asked about everything from the lead-gathering process to professional development, agent expectations, compensation models, and more. “Some places I interviewed really didn’t want to reveal much to an ‘outsider,’” she says. That alone told her a lot about how the organization operated and whether she wanted to be a part of it.
What clicked for her was attending Realty Executives’ regional conference. “It was the polar opposite. People had a wealth of knowledge and they wanted to share it,” Walker recalls. For Walker, knowing she’d be pushed to succeed in a collaborative environment made Realty Executives the right fit.
2. Set a Realistic Schedule
The first year as a new agent is almost always tough. You’re building your client network, learning the ins and outs of contracts, and learning the ropes at your brokerage. On top of it, you’re hungry for success, so answering a late night call or email might feel like something you have to do.
“When I first started I thought I should be ready to go at all times,” Walker says. “I was exhausted every day.” Something she learned and has passed on to Cole is that setting a realistic schedule — which includes time to rest and relax — is important. After all, if you’re becoming an agent in part to have a schedule that lets you spend more time with your family, working 24/7 will not help you do that.
Cole adds another important piece of advice he’s learned during his first year as a real estate agent: it’s okay to say no. “Don’t be afraid. Not every client is right for you. It has to be a good relationship on both sides, and if it’s not a good fit that’s ok. You can refer them to someone else who is. The last thing you want is to dread working with someone or vice versa.”
3. Build a Professional Support Network
Just because you’re independent doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. Cole and Walker highly recommend finding a mentor in the business, or joining a team that understands agents are people, not numbers.
“Having Melissa here for me has been amazing. Every transaction is different, so having someone to answer questions is really appreciated,” Cole says.
A supportive network or a mentor can give you advice, like reminding new agents to budget well (especially in the early months when there may be a lag between your first sale and your first payday), and take breaks when you need them.
4. Never Stop Learning
As a new agent you’ll spend a lot of time learning, taking classes and workshops, and soaking up as much information as you can. But it shouldn’t stop once you’ve celebrated your first year.
“There’s always something more to learn,” Walker says. Realty Executives, in addition to informal peer-to-peer collaboration, offers a wealth of professional development opportunities to agents all year long no matter how new or experienced they are in the industry.
5. Find Your “Why”
The last piece of advice Walker and Cole have is to find your “Why.” The reason you’re in this career in the first place.
“It’s hard work. Especially that first year, it can be a grind,” Cole says. “I don’t have kids yet, but I’m doing this to build a good foundation for the family I will have someday. This is a career where I can do that and be successful without having to spend years in college. And, I can show people there’s more than one path to success.”
Walker, too, sees her job as much more than a way to earn a paycheck.
“My goal is to help 100,000 people of color to leave a million dollars in assets to their descendants or an organization that benefits people of color. So when I put it in that perspective, when I'm tired and I don't really want to get up, it's like, ‘Melissa, this is not about you. This is not about a sale. This is not about one transaction. This is about your bigger goal.’ And if I’m moving the needle toward that bigger goal, that's what matters.”
Melissa Walker and Deparish Cole are agents with Realty Executives Integrity Northshore
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