Common mistakes new real estate agents make

  • December 23, 2016
  • Stephanie Lai

Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from an experienced real estate agent? We reached out to award-winning real estate agent and 14-year sales veteran Elizabeth St. Cyr, a broker with Royal LePage Real Estate Services, Glen Abbey branch. She told us about the common mistakes rookie agents make, so you don’t have to commit them yourself.

1. Not spending marketing dollars appropriately
“They either spend too much or they spend not enough on marketing materials,” says St. Cyr. As a newbie agent, it’s tough to know what will work in getting new clients and what won’t. But St. Cyr says print marketing (newspaper listings, promotional calendars, etc.) is becoming less effective as the new generation of home buyers are digital natives and are more likely to do their research online. St. Cyr says to focus on digital marketing (including your professional website) for new clients, and to use print for an aging market.

2. Not researching the market
The key to a successful career in real estate is to pick a market with growth, development, demographic changes, and quick turnaround on sales, says St. Cyr. “You don’t want to farm yourself in an area that has no movement.”

3. Not having a website
Not having an online presence is a big mistake. “The number one thing you need is a good website,” she says. “People will research you before they reach out to you. So, you want a dynamic, mobile-friendly website.” And make sure you have a professional Facebook page, too.

4. Not planning for downtime
“When you first start out in real estate, it can take up to six months to have your first closing sale,” she says. Her advice: Have enough money to cover personal costs, board memberships, real estate corporate fees, and more. “You have to be able to cover the startup of your business and living expenses.” Many people don’t think about that. Ask a seasoned agent how much you’ll need for your specific market.

5. Limiting yourself to luxury homes
“The high-end market takes longer to sell,” she says. “The smaller homes that sell for $200,000 to $500,000, that’s your gravy. That will pay your bills. The bigger ones look good on your website, but they cost a lot more money to market and they are usually the most difficult clients. So, don’t limit yourself.”

6. Not networking effectively
Often new real estate agents don’t reach out to friends and family. And that’s a mistake says St. Cyr. Often they’re shy or don’t want to bother loved ones for help. “Your sphere of influence is your first data base,” she says. “People want to use someone they know, or someone they know through someone, before they would hire a complete stranger.” Give people you know your business cards. Potential clients need more than a name – they need to know how to reach you.

7. Not giving yourself enough time to make money
“Only 10 per cent of licensed agents end up working in the real estate business,” she says. “Everyone comes into the business thinking it’s easy money, but they learn very quickly it’s not an easy job.” The market is constantly changing, so give yourself a good two to three years to see results from your hard work.

8. Only working part-time
“Another mistake is getting into the real estate business on a part-time basis,” says St. Cyr. “It’s a costly job and it takes up too much of your time when you start a real estate career. It has to be a full-time career to make this a success.”

9. Not having a mentor
The right manager will help you set goals and create a business plan, she says. Interview the people at your real estate company before you commit to them, and make sure they are a great fit for you. Make sure they will support you and set you up with a mentor and manager who will guide you.

10. Aligning with a hands-off firm
You got your license, now what? “I always tell new agents to start with a company with a comprehensive training program,” she says. This will help you understand the business side of real estate and how you can set yourself up for success.