The 25 Habits of Highly Successful Real Estate Agents
Everyone has a different idea of success — including and especially real estate professionals.
Whether it’s earning more money, gaining more power in one form or another, or having fulfilling relationships, how success is defined varies from person to person … and agent to agent.
Research shows the single trait that predicts high levels of achievement is conscientiousness, a quality that’s undoubtedly a must-have for industry pros like you — which certainly makes sense.
If you can’t commit to being organized, consistently communicating with your leads and clients, and dedicating time every day to staying informed on the current trends in your market, it’s likely you won’t see much professional growth — that is, one version of success.
Curious about how revered and respected agents take control of their success by accomplishing the tasks above and embodying the “right” characteristics of a modern agent?
Then it’s time to learn 25 of the most important behaviors and best practices of today’s top-producing real estate agents.
1) Success, of any kind, truly begins in the mind.
It might sound a little absurd, but a major aspect of succeeding at anything is first believing that you can and will (we know: a bit corny, but still nonetheless true).
Top-producing real estate agents do not spend their time entertaining the possibility of failure. Brandon Jackson of Easy Street Realty subscribes to this mentality in his own business.
“Mindset is crucial to success,” said Jackson. “When you can think about the opportunity you have to help someone else, that puts you in a positive mindset.”
Sure, top producers have bad days like anyone, but instead of getting caught up in their missteps and wallowing when they don’t see the desired outcome of something, they instead consider the actions they need to take to do things differently next time.
2) Planning is the key to attaining your objectives.
Think for a moment about the most accomplished people you know. If they’ve achieved any kind of success, did it seem to happen by accident, or did they lay out a specific plan to get where they wanted to go?
Now, if you aren’t very close to these individuals, you might not know the answer to this question.
But know this, successful people didn’t get there by accident. In fact, it’s highly probable a large amount of that good fortune you’re seeing is the result of a high amount of trial and error, missteps, and tons of old-fashioned hard work.
Coldwell Banker’s Sean Carpenter cautions agents against approaching their business without a sense of purpose.
“It’s almost cliche, but without a road map, you end up where the wind blows you,” said Carpenter. “Plan for success — don’t wait for failure.”
BONUS: Check out our webinar to learn how Carpenter develops his real estate marketing plan each year.
3) Be goal-obsessed … and actually follow through.
How do you measure the success of your endeavors when you aren’t consistently setting and achieving goals? Hint: you’re not.
Those who are successful, whether in creative or business pursuits, are always setting small daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals to work toward as small pieces of their ultimate achievement dream. They understand without intention, they’d lose focus in their business.
Chicago-based REALTOR Shay Hata explains her business plan as a series of very sensible actons she can take to grow her business.
“My business plan is very practical steps in terms of concrete actions,” said Hata. “It divides up everyone’s tasks very strategically, for both short- and long-term goals for how we’re going to grow the business.”
4) Avoid burning out with an effective schedule.
The truly successful real estate agents working today understand that they must preserve their resources (and their energy) to continue working diligently at growing their business.
These agents and brokers make an effort to schedule time away from work for themselves. Anyone trying to make it to the other side of their dreams can understand how easy it is to fall into working 70+ hours per week, but it’s important to remember balance is the key to achievement.
5) Learn new problem-solving skills regularly.
It’s unfortunately inevitable, but when a situation involves change, people, and large sums of money, difficulties are going to arise.
The more competent real estate professionals are at handling the unexpected, the easier their jobs will be.
As Debbie Allen notes in her book “The Highly Paid Expert: Turn Your Passion, Skills, and Talents Into a Lucrative Career by Becoming the Go-to Authority in Your Industry,” there’s a five-pronged approach you can take to become more efficient in resolving issues and, in turn, more proactive:
- First and foremost, define the specific problem at-hand.
- Think up at least a couple of optimal solutions for the issue.
- Figure out which course of action is the most economical.
- Determine the logical steps to take to implement the solution.
- Learn from the problem and how to avoid it in the future.
It’s not always as simple as this, but if you use this framework to approach your real estate lead and client issues moving forward, you greatly diminish the likelihood of failure.
6) Prioritize your client communications.
The baseline skill that determines how much business an agent has is how well they can communicate with everyone involved in the process of buying or selling a home.
It’s a rare thing for an agent to know how to balance the art of seller negotiations with the possible anxieties of their buyer clients, and everyone else in between.
Melissa Zavala of Broadpoint Properties advises agents to put the customer first in their business interactions.
“Pay attention to your clients by deeply listening and to the market by closely observing,” said Zavala.
7) Embrace the latest and greatest tech trends.
Agents focused on success educate themselves on current trends and changes in tech. They actively use new platforms and apps to enhance their business operations and simplify their lives. They understand that technology is an ever-evolving entity, and crucial to their business success. They stay informed to better serve their prospects and clients.
8) Routinely enhance your digital presence.
Accomplished agents and brokers inherently know how much value an engaging, informative site provides their business.
These industry pros spend time creating and adding relevant content to it, as well as conduct essential tasks — like consistently tracking site visitors’ activity — to improve user engagement.
RE/MAX Heritage Real Estate’s Carrie Klein emphasized prioritizing the listings featured on your webpages.
“Curate your [real estate website],” said Klein. “Think of how you can offer the most engaging site for your leads and clients.”
9) Make “prepare for success” your daily mantra.
Having the foresight to anticipate events and challenges and prepare for them accordingly greatly supports real estate agents who are often managing jam-packed schedules.
It’s been said you must plan for the worst, but expect the best. In real estate, that means taking a step back from your business and analyzing every possible downside you could experience.
Whether that means learning how to troubleshoot your technology, creating and practicing scripts to use in communicating with stressed-out clients, or ensuring your leads’ information is organized and easily accessible, don’t leave easily handled tasks to chance.
10) Actively grow your real estate lead list(s).
What begins as two or three leads can easily grow into an email list that’s better organized by dynamic customer relationship management software, which can expand into a solid amount of referrals as well.
Julie Nelson of The Nelson Project at Keller Williams has specific advice on how to grow your lead list over time.
“Database your top 100 coworkers, neighbors, soccer club,” said Nelson. “Get it together fast, and start communicating with them in a systematic and compelling, value-add manner.”
11) Know when to say “no” … and when to say “yes.”
Tending to ridiculously difficult clients? Committing to social events that cut into premium downtime? As difficult as it can be to refuse, successful agents realize when they say yes to something they aren’t 100% passionate about, they’re really saying no to activities they do want to pursue
Real estate coach Jared James is straightforward in his explanation regarding the mindset agents must have today to thrive.
“What it takes to be successful in real estate: you gotta get in front of people, you gotta talk to them, you gotta stop being afraid of saying no.”
12) Tenacity is a way of life, not a temporary feeling.
Committing to the task of making it as a real estate agent is not something to be attempted on a whim.
Astonishingly, 87% of real estate agents leave the business in their first several years, thanks to a lack of preparation, or overconfidence in the amount of dedication required to succeed in the real estate industry.
It takes a special type of person, one who is almost abnormally prepared to contend with setbacks, a fluctuating market, and challenging clients, to persevere and succeed as a real estate agent.
Take the sibling duo of Zach and Cody Vichinsky of Bespoke Real Estate, who note the importance of being relentless.
“We enter each situation knowing there is a right way to get the job done and we don’t stop until we find the right way,” the agents explained in an interview over at Inman News.
13) Consistent routines are paramount.
Meditation, exercise, or writing out a plan to approach the day are the sorts of activities that set the driven and the average agent apart.
Whether that means choosing to tackle the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning, or opting to work late into the night instead, successful agents stick to whatever routine makes the most sense for them and their productivity habits.
14) Admit when you don’t know the answer.
Agents who view time and money as valuable commodities won’t pretend they’re an expert in an area they know little about. Instead, they’ll make use of their resources to answer their clients’ questions to the best of their ability, or ask someone who does know the answer.
For instance, many agencies across the country offer mentorship programs and trainings for new agents to learn and grow from during their first few years in the business.
15) Have empathy for your real estate clients’ worries.
Becoming a homeowner is the kind of life-changing decision that can inspire lots of nerves and anxiety. That means a slew of questions for an agent to answer and uncertainties to settle.
Real estate trainer Valerie Garcia explains you should communicate value to your buyers and sellers, noting you ought to “appeal to your clients emotionally.”
The more an agent is able to put themselves in the shoes of their clients, the more respect and trust will develop in their business relationship.
16) Consistently seek to grow your skills.
The truly successful among us are always striving to fill their heads with knowledge. And not just knowledge: full stop, but an understanding of topics and systems that further enhance their business, center around self-improvement, and allow them to give their real estate leads and clients the best experience possible.
Many new and experienced agents choose to participate in continuing education classes offered by their associations and agencies, as well as attend conferences and meetups to learn more.
17) Give back to your community when possible.
The most successful people have an understanding that it’s not all about them. Leo Pareja, who works for Keller Williams in DC, lives by that principle.
“I have always been driven to succeed, with the plan to give away as much as possible,” he said. “I am inspired by helping as many people as I can.”
18) Explore new time management strategies.
Ever accidentally let an hour (or more) slip by scrolling through your social media accounts?
Successful real estate agents don’t waste their energy on tasks that don’t serve their ultimate purpose during the work day. They’re experts at managing their most limited resource: time. They utilize time-blocking techniques to accomplish vital tasks each day.
19) Accept you won’t ever be the “perfect” agent.
Anytime someone is presented with a new opportunity, there’s a very real learning curve that exists. Since the typical agent is bound to be surrounded by those who are more experienced and savvy than they are, it can pay in more than one respect to get a dose of humility and seek guidance from a mentor.
20) Always remember that “inaction is a dead end.”
A person can hope and cross their fingers for something to work out all day long, but if that desire isn’t accompanied by serious, focused amounts of action, it sadly won’t get you closer to experiencing anything you actually want.
Those agents zeroed in on success understand that choosing not to take the necessary steps to achieve their goals does not produce results. So whether it’s thanks to taking baby steps toward reaching a desired outcome or just fierce determination, no accomplished agent has become that way by waiting for things to happen.
21) Value and leverage your social network.
A real estate professional who has spent any time in the business knows their efforts shouldn’t just be devoted to growing their list of leads, but to also spending time and energy engaging with their peers. For one, there’s always a more experienced agent to learn from, and for two, it never hurts to bounce marketing ideas, new technology, and work-life balance tips and tricks off of others.
22) Discover how to naturally motivate yourself.
While some people are naturally driven to accomplish their goals, others need a bit of hand-holding to get the ball rolling.
More often than not, those who are fortunate enough to see their business dreams become reality possess the requisite thick skin and drive needed to achieve them.
Leigh Brown of RE/MAX Executive shares the idea of being responsible for your own success in real estate.
“Ultimately, it rests on your shoulders what you make [your business] into,” said Brown.
23) Be people-centric and embrace new relationships.
It’s a quick road to resentment and bitterness, if an agent doesn’t value and like people (honestly, though: Would you really have gotten into real estate if this was the case? We didn’t think so.).
Since real estate is a business about people (the “relationship” business), you need to be authentic and real with those you come into contact with: leads, clients, referrers, other agents, etc. People can sense when someone isn’t being their true self right away.
24) Make your health and wellness major priorities.
Ask any elderly person and they’ll tell you that without their health, nothing would matter. This goes along with avoiding burnout, but successful people know without maintaining a strong baseline of health by getting enough sleep, exercising, and valuing nutrition, they won’t have the energy or inclination to tackle another day.
25) Be flexible in approaching life’s difficulties.
Whether it’s increasing the size of their contact list, or handling an unexpected flood in their basement, those who are successful don’t get tripped up by life’s inevitable inconveniences. Instead, they take a step back, consider several possible solutions to a problem, and proceed.
Learn even more habits of successful real estate agents in this Placester webinar.
Published on July 24, 2017
Written by Matt Barba
Matt Barba is the co-founder and CEO of Placester, a real estate technology company based in Boston. Placester makes it inexpensive and simple for real estate professionals, developers, and their partners to create real estate websites. Matt is a 8-year real estate industry veteran; initially an agent and more recently as a technologist and author of the most widely used real estate WordPress plugin Builder.