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get started in real estate

I get lots of questions on how to get started as a real estate agent.  What things do I need to buy?  How long will it take to earn my first commission?  Well the answers to those questions are different for everyone, but let’s go over the general process for getting started as a real estate agent.

Evaluate your financial health

Lots of people see the real estate industry at face value and think it’s a cushy job that they might like to give a shot.  I say that with an undertone of resentment if you didn’t catch that.  The reality is that real estate is a rough and unstable environment that comes with it’s fair share of challenges.  One of the biggest and scariest challenges to overcome when you get started as a real estate agent is the financial aspect of it all.  There are a two ways most people go about it; they either dip their toes in while still maintaining their full or part time job, or jump in head first into the shark tank.

I’m super jealous of the people who choose the later option; it’s a super glamorous idea to quit your full time job and begin the flexible work lifestyle cold turkey.  But in all honesty that shit is really scary!  I personally spent the first 15 months of my real estate career working 25+ hours per week to supplement my real estate income, (and so I could sleep at night) knowing I wasn’t going broke.

If you’re just getting started as a real estate agent, the first step is to evaluate your finances.  Ideally, you should have 3-6 months of living expenses in savings prior to going part or full time into real estate.  This will help take some pressure off of you in the beginning, when the commission checks are few and far between.

And one lesson I learned during my first 2 years in real estate… a desperate agent is a bad agent.  Before you get started as a real estate agent, be sure that your bank account allows you to be a comfortable real estate agent; and not a desperate one.

Sign up for the license exam course & study

Now that I’ve talked a few weaklings out of the real estate biz, (your welcome if you’re still reading this) it’s time we get our credentials in place.  You’ll need a license to practice real estate and each state has different tests; however, the same national test applies to everyone hoping to get started as a real estate agent in the U.S.

I still remember studying for my real estate license test like it was yesterday.  I was so excited to get started that I made sure I only had to take the test once.  (I still have a stinging memory of taking my Series 7 and Series 6 twice, EACH) during a past life.  That wasn’t going to happen again… I was going to pass with flying colors.

And I did.  And not too long after my first year anniversary in real estate a high school friend of mine sent me a message saying she was entering the real estate industry and wondered how best to study to pass the test.  You know what I told her?

I told her that to get started as a real estate agent and pass her license exam the first time that she needed to read her study materials.  Twice.  Seems like a simple thing but she wanted me to say, “oh I found these flash cards, or these cliff’s notes, or this magic pill”.

There’s no magic pill in real estate; not when you pass your license exam and certainly not when you enter the force and work on your first few sales.

Put in the time to read, understand, and retain the study materials that are included in the price of the license exam courses and you won’t spend any extra money or time buying supplemental study materials or retaking your exam.

Take your test

Another day I remember vividly… the day of my exam.  I remember it was cold and slushy.  And that I was dressed casually, had a big breakfast in my belly, and was so comfortable and relaxed it was silly.  You see… history has shown that I’m not a good test taker.  I get nervous, anxious, and second guess myself during tests and evaluations.

But this day was different.  This was my calling; I could feel something in my bones that told me I was prepared and I would pass this thing with ease.  Maybe that was because I had studied so much, or because I really wanted what was on the other end of that exam.

Either way, I scheduled my exam as soon as I possibly could and made sure my preparation allowed me to efficiently pass the first time and get to getting that money, honey!

Choose your brokerage

I have a bit of a unique situation in that I started in the real estate biz under a brokerage before I got licensed.  It was a small brokerage that housed just one builder and myself as his marketing department and builder sales rep.  You see, in Minnesota you can sell new construction homes (without representing clients) and still get paid commissions without being a licensed real estate agent.

This was of course a tentative plan and once I got licensed I very quickly transitioned to a large brokerage.  And not because I didn’t like new construction; in fact I attribute lots of my success as a young agent to the new construction sector, but I hopped over to Edina Realty because the brokerage offered me the training and support I needed as a new agent.

Your choice in brokerage is so very important and you kind of have to go with your gut on this one.  Lots of people will hop from brokerage to brokerage based strictly on commissions or this or that.  But when I get started as a real estate agent having come from a marketing background I was looking for different things.

I wanted to be associated with a brand that my target audience respected.  And one that I trusted.  That brokerage for me was Edina Realty.  You may have one choice in your area or you may have many.  But my best advice to you is to focus on three things when choosing who to go with: 1. brand awareness in your community, 2. the training & support available to you, 3. and whatever your gut is telling you.

Build your database

This is a hot topic for me and one that I spend lots of time on and get really excited about.  And it’s because it’s your meal ticket when you get started as a real estate agent.  You see, as a new agent you have very little credibility in the community and no sales to prove your worth to prospects who’ve never heard of you.  So how do you scrounge up those first sales?

Well I’ll tell you… you drill down on your database/sphere of influence.  And if you do that; if you can make sure everyone that you know, knows you’re in real estate, it can become the biggest, most profitable referral based business you’ve always dreamt of.

I talk about this ALOT in The Rookie Agent course, and for good reason.  I built my entire career on just my database.  I figured out who it was, how to reach them, what to say to them, and came up with a plan to keep in contact with them in a real, meaningful way.  And it took me to the six figure income of my dreams.

Set your goals

Arming yourself with a database already sets you apart from most of your peers so good for you kid if you’ve taken action to create your database.  But having a long term view on your business is another thing you need to do as you get started as a real estate agent.

But most people just write down a list of things they want at the end of the year or sales benchmarks to hit and that’s just not gonna cut it – sorry.  You’ve got to set your goals with a little more effort and strategy than that.  If you don’t… you’ll just be staring at a Lexus and  private jet on your sales board at year end with little progress towards those goals.

Proper goal setting takes some time to figure out the meaning behind your goals.  And you need to set up a plan of action for how you’ll get to the desired end result.

get started in real estate

Draft your marketing plan

Most agents do not have a marketing plan.  Mind you… most agents do absolutely conduct marketing efforts.  But most of them do so without a plan, and in a way that wastes money, time, and efforts.  Without a cohesive, well thought, researched plan, your marketing will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes.

The truth is that creating a marketing plan is super intimidating.  And it’s really hard to a.) know where to start b.) if what you’re adding to it is effective, and c.) if you’re spending enough or too much money.  I get it… but this market major is making things REAL easy for you.  Go here to literally write your entire marketing plan in one day and start to realize how close you are to your dreams (and beyond).

Write your listing presentation

You’re gonna need a listing presentation sooner than later.  And this topic is even more urgent if you’re getting started as a real estate agent without any listings or sight of appointments on the horizon.  Because the only way to get appointments is to ask for them.  And you won’t feel confident asking for appointments if you know you’ll be a hot mess at the listing appointment.

Your listing presentation should accomplish a few things:

  • it’s a chance for your prospects to get to know you as a person
  • it should educate and prime your prospects for the road ahead
  • it will prove your value
  • and it should make you feel like you can ask anyone for a listing

You can find more on this topic and a step by step lesson where you’ll write your entire listing presentation in The Rookie Agent course.

Take action

Listen, you can sit in your office chair planning, scheming, making lists, and getting excited about your goals all day long.  But if you’re planning to get started as a real estate agent that actually makes money… you’ll need to take action on the plans, strategies, and goals you’ve created.

Nothing is more important than action.  And You cannot let the aspiration for perfection get in the way of forward progress.  You will stumble.  You will be wrong.  You will look stupid.  News flash kid… that’ll never change.

Top agents never stop making mistakes and learning.  It’s just a part of this business that we have to learn lessons the hard way sometimes.  Just get out there, move forward every day, and remember to be kind to yourself in the beginning.

Jenna Martindale

Jenna Martindale

Jenna Martindale teaches online courses and workshops for new + experienced real estate agents who want to enhance their skills, grow their business, and live the life of their dreams.She believes it’s always the right time for coffee and that if there's a heaven it's a pool filled with golden retreivers.
Jenna Martindale