The Truth About How to Be Successful in Real Estate

Success in real estate over the long haul is all about ongoing education and prioritizing knowledge. 

When I was about 20 years old, my mentor W.E. “Bill” Mitchell told me: “Don’t focus on money. Focus on learning everything you can about your chosen field.”

And I think that advice is just as applicable to agents today as it was to me all those years ago… especially if you’re a new agent! But really it rings true for anyone in our industry.

Here’s the cold, hard truth: Real estate school does teach you how to be great in this business. So I’m going to expand on Bill’s advice a little with 10 real estate career tips that school didn’t teach you.

Just a heads up, this article is primarily for people considering entering the industry or new agents, but it has some important refreshers that are relevant to agents of all levels. If you have a bit more experience, feel free to skip down to the points below. 

How Much Does it Cost to Be a Real Estate Agent?

Becoming a real estate agent only costs around $1,000 (depending on your state) when you total together real estate school, licensing fees, exam costs, background checks, and any other state specific costs. But then there are other costs such as MLS fees, board memberships, NAR dues, and more which add up to close to another $1,000 every year. 

Real estate has a famous low bar for entry and that’s why it’s the most popular business in the U.S., along with the fact that if you’re good at it you can make a huge amount of money. 

But the real costs come in the form of your marketing, which can run the gamut from $5,000 to $20,000+ a year. Some even go much higher, but I know agents who run incredibly effective marketing without spending a dollar. Check out this free playbook on YouTube for real estate to see how it’s done. 

How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Real Estate Agent? 

It depends on where you live but most states require between 40-140 credited hours of pre-licensing training. 

Yeah, it’s a huge range, but here is the real truth that applies regardless of where you live…

If you want to remain a working, profitable real estate agent, your education NEVER stops. Even the most successful agents in the world recognize that they don’t know everything, and that’s why they have a coach and regularly attend events such as Roadmap or the Success Summit to refresh their knowledge and gain the latest real estate industry insights. 

With that said, let’s jump into a 10-point real estate continuing education that school didn’t (or won’t) give you. 

Real Estate Education Tip 1: Know the Clients

How well do you know the people who buy and sell homes in your marketplace?

How well do you understand them? Their motivations? Their aspirations?

Because if there’s a disconnect there, you’re not going to achieve any success in real estate.

Knowing how these people think and act are essential to your success.

If you don’t know, you need to put in the work to gain that understanding. Join networking or community groups. Strike up conversations at local events. Invite people you don’t know from your database out to lunch to pick their brain and get to know them.

The better you know your clientele, the more successful you’re going to be.

Real Estate Education Tip 2: Know the Corporate Players

If I asked you about different real estate companies in your town, could you identify what they’re known for?

Could you tell me about what type of clientele they attract? Or the types of properties they primarily list?

Knowing these things will give you a leg up on the competition and allow you to speak confidently with prospects who might be considering listing with one of those companies. You’ll better understand how to position yourself against their strengths and win the business.

Real Estate Education Tip 3: Know the Competition

Who are the big players in your market? What do they specialize in? How do they generate business?

And here’s a big one… Would they let you “shadow” them for a day or two?

One of the best ways to learn this business is to model what the very best agents are doing.

Also, after conducting your research, ask yourself this: What gaps exist in the market that no one is serving? (Can you create a niche from it?)

Real Estate Education Tip 4: Know Market Trends

How often are you inside the MLS, analyzing what sold, what’s not selling, what’s new, inventory levels, price trends and real estate industry insights?

Especially if you’re new or inexperienced, this is an essential daily task.

The more you know your local market trends and can compare them to national trends, the more you can educate and inform people in your marketplace.

That’s how you become the “knowledge broker” in your market.

Study those things every day and make sure you’re proactively sharing that information with people in your town, whether that’s through videos on social, email, direct mail postcards, door knocking, whatever it takes!

The best place for real estate continuing education is undoubtedly my Roadmap Tour. That’s what the event is all about. And on a daily basis, make sure you’re reading Keeping Current Matters

Real Estate Education No. 5: Know the Neighborhoods

Can you speak confidently about the differences from one subdivision to another in your city? Could you explain to an out-of-towner everything that makes one community different from the next?

If I was a new or growing agent, any free time I have, I’d jump in my car and go preview different neighborhoods until I’ve covered my entire marketplace and knew it like the back of my hand.

Better yet, do that with your video camera recording and publish edited “drive-through tours” to position yourself as the expert who knows the details of all the different communities buyers may be considering.

If Christophe Choo can find time to do this, you can too!

Starting a geographic farm is an awesome way for new agents to establish a presence and become familiar with a specific area without overwhelming themselves. 

Real Estate Education No. 6: Do What Others Will Not

If you’re new to this business, you might hear familiar refrains about FSBOs and Expired Listings being more trouble than they’re worth.

Well, I beg to differ.

Not only are FSBOs and Expireds excellent prospects, but they’re also an incredible opportunity to get inside the head and learn from people who are actively in the market. (Or were recently.)

I’d encourage you to make time to call FSBOs and Expireds – with no expectations – and just operate from a learning perspective. Ask them why they feel their property hasn’t sold, their thoughts about agents, and what agents have done for them.

Then, digest that information and figure out how you can solve consumers’ perceived problems.

Make these calls a regular part of your week, and I guarantee you’ll gain important empathy that will serve you well throughout your career and put you a level above the competition.

Real Estate Education No. 7: Know that It’s Your Job to Educate

You need to be…

  • on social media.
  • comfortable shooting video.
  • willing to put yourself out there, be authentic, and document your journey.
  • using those platforms to educate and inform potential buyers and sellers.
  • showing yourself doing the work.

Video is king. Use it! Neglecting your social presence is one of the easiest ways to fail in real estate

Real Estate Education No. 8: Success Takes Practice

“Winging it” isn’t a recipe for success in real estate.

You need to dedicate time to role playing your real estate scripts and objection handlers.

You need to practice your negotiation techniques.

The more you do these, the quicker your ascent will be.

A great way to make these not too overwhelming is to include them as part of a powerful morning routine, along with studying the MLS. Do it every day, make it a habit, and you can thank me later.

And of course, you MUST have a strong real estate business plan!

Real Estate Education No. 9: Commit to Prospecting 

When you’re new to this business, there’s nothing more important than finding potential buyers and sellers.

Without a robust marketing budget, your best bet is picking up the phone and calling people to talk about their real estate needs.

You need to be prospecting at least 2-3 hours a day. If that seems like a lot, I’d recommend just getting used to it. Remember, this is a job. 

Real Estate Education No. 10: Go on Every Appointment Possible

There’s no substitute for getting face-to-face with real customers, so I’d encourage you to go on every single appointment you possibly can… Even if you suspect it’s not going to go anywhere.

The more you talk to people, the more comfortable you’re going to become, and the more people will turn to you and refer you to others.

Success in Real Estate is an Ongoing Effort

I hope no one told you to get into this business because it’s easy. Getting in might be easy, but success in real estate is hard work. I’d recommend every new agent commit to all 10 of these real estate career tips on a daily basis, ON TOP OF everything else. 

These aren’t things you need to do instead of the real work that will keep you afloat. They’re in addition to all of that.

Do them, focus on the right things, and I like my mentor Bill Mitchell assured me, the money will follow.

And if you want a guarantee that you’ll do the right things AND see money in just a short amount of time, that’s what Tom Ferry real estate coaches are here for.