How To Be Successful in Real Estate

It is very easy to get your real estate license. Some say it’s too simple.

You can count yourself among the top real estate agents who succeed if you treat your career as a small business.

Agents who are successful can follow up on leads, be focused on lead generation and accountable to others. They also manage their money and are subject-matter experts.

This guide is for experienced real estate agents looking to move up the ladder.

Follow-Up, Follow Through, Follow Back

The Three Fs of Follow-Up are Follow-Through and Follow-Back.

Ryan Serhant gave me this exact item.

In his video on the key to success, he talks about the Three Fs (beginning around the 6:04 mark).


Contact and engage leads quickly

New leads don’t tend to be attached to an agent, except for referrals or inbound leads. They’re waiting for someone who will impress them. That can be done by being the first to reach them with value.

Be the first to get there with the most.

Nathan Bedford Forrest is the author of this military aphorism

You can win the battle for internet leads by being the first to contact a lead (listing information or search) or impressing a new referral lead.

It is not enough to do it one time. It can take many contacts to convert leads. They are rarely ready to list or view houses immediately, even if they have several contacts. It is crucial to keep in touch with them throughout the lengthy real estate sales cycle. It can be very distressing to see sellers and buyers you used to work with suddenly buy and sell with someone else.

Real estate success is built on following up with leads over time. This includes not only once, but for weeks, months and even years.


Be true to yourself.

Serhant’s description of agents promising to send listings, a CMA and an email as soon as they return to the office …. is accurate. They don’t. (I am guilty of the crime.)

Executing on what you promise will get you noticed by many agents.

This principle is related to the following: Don’t overpromise.

I think about the time it will take to do something, and then I double that amount. “Oh, I’ll get that back to you by tonight……er…..tomorrow”. This way, I can have some cushion to deal with whatever happens in my day and still meet their expectations.


Keep in touch with your clients and past clients.

Referrals, your influence and repeat business are the key to a successful real-estate business. If you are a transactional person, you will fail. It is important to build relationships.

You can keep in touch with your past customers by helping them with their annual property tax assessment or a market report. This is a great way of keeping your mind open and to get referrals.

Stop Chasing Squirrels, and Start Generating in Your Niche

Reo bank-owned foreclosure niche

Most agents do too much.

Open houses Door knocking. Blogging. Calling FSBOs. Postcards. Seminars for home buyers Promote posts on Facebook Zillow leads Subscribe to our email newsletter. YouTube videos

This means that they don’t spend their time on the most important things.

Do not chase after every shiny object. Instead, focus on the four pillars that make up your business.

four real estate lead generation pillars

Here is an example of an agent who will be focusing on referrals (every agent!). Payed leads, open houses, probates and paid leads. Do not let other activities like direct mail, builders, social media distract you. These are your four pillars.

Focusing on a handful of pillars will allow you to manage a lot more things than trying to fix everything.


You can still diversify your lead generation strategies by choosing 4 pillars (one should be referrals, past customers, friends, and family), but you shouldn’t overextend yourself.

Lead generation requires consistency. It is difficult to be consistent when there are so many things going on.

Take a deep dive in your four preferred lead generation strategies, and leave the rest.

The Niches are the Riches

Your chosen niche is closely related to the four pillars. Marketing hacks that work are centered on a niche can include choosing a niche and focusing your lead generation efforts on it. If you’re interested, I have created a list with pros and cons for each niche.

Different types of homes






New Construction

Farm and Ranch

Vacation Homes

Being environmentally conscious


Historic Districts

Different types of clients

Foreign Language / International



Niche Social Groups

Students in College

Homes that are ADA Compliant

Different types of situations

Short Sales

Bank REO/Foreclosures

Relocation for Corporate Clients



It’s a great way for you to create a niche that is unique and offer something no other agents can match.

You can turn this into agent referrals. If other agents have buyers who are looking for an exemption from ag taxes and you are the expert on farm-and-ranch, they will be more inclined to refer you.

Divide Your Work into Daily Tasks

Checklist for accountability

How can you tell if your goals are being met? It can seem like you have accomplished so much in a single day of real estate.

Did you do the right things to keep your business afloat?

I created a printable Accountability Checklist.

This checklist can be used to break down your annual goals into weekly tasks, using the four pillar method I mentioned above.

EXAMPLE: You have a $100,000 income goal and FSBO leads will be one of your lead generation pillars. The average price point you can sell is $250,000 with a 3% brokerage commission and an 80/20 split. This means that you will earn $6000 on average per transaction (250000*0.03*0.8). This means that you will need 17 closings from FSBOs (100,00000/6000). It is possible to convert 2.5% of FSBOs that you contact. This means that you will need 680 FSBO contacts per year (17/0.025), or 14 FSBO lead per week (680/522). This week, did you reach 14 new FSBO leads? If not, you’re failing.

These numbers will first need to be estimated. As you do business, however, you will be able to refine your estimates and become more precise with your assumptions.

Accountability Groups

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a team. If you have a spouse or business partner who can keep one another honest, it could be an individual.

You want to keep a small group together.

Do not BS your way to success. My experience with accountability groups is that agents often start by summarizing their week. This is a waste of time. Get straight to the point. Are you achieving your goals? What are you doing to make it happen?

Is your goal realistic? Are you able to adjust your goal? Are you looking for time management? Did you spend your time effectively? Are you able to use scripts in practice? Are you able to prepare better? Write it down and plan your next week.

Agile methodology is a business strategy that allows you to quickly improve what you do weekly or bi-weekly. Agile is a great way to rapidly improve your practices and reach your goals.

Professionize yourself

student housing niche

How to present yourself as a professional

Being professional requires you to dress professionally, arrive on time, set expectations and communicate with clients quickly.

This includes cleaning up social media if necessary. Don’t post politics to your professional accounts. Don’t curse. Etc.

It also means that you should use a professional email.

Email are no longer valid If you have an email like this, it’s time to change your domain. If you’re already a Gmail user, you can do this via Google.

Becoming an expert in a subject matter

There are three things that will make you a competent agent in real estate.

Market Knowledge

You will quickly lose your clients’ trust if you are unable to communicate fluently about local market conditions.

A core responsibility of a good agent is to keep your clients and contacts informed about the current market.

Don’t limit yourself to the monthly market report from your MLS. Although that’s a great start, it’s not enough. Spend some time exploring the MLS. All the data is available to you! Matrix makes it easy to find the median home price, DOM and sell-to list-price ratios in any search.

mls market information

mls market data

It is crucial to have a market knowledge in order to make a comparative market analysis for sellers and convince them that they are the best.

Professional Knowledge

The best agents are familiar with their contracts. They know the types of loans. They are familiar with the real estate process. They are able to explain the schedules of the title obligation, Closing Disclosure and an appraisal. They do not leave their clients or themselves vulnerable to lawsuits.

A good broker will help you succeed as a realtor. You should be able to read every sentence in every contract and every transaction document.

Consider pursuing further education in real estate with accreditations and designations, especially the Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI). This course has everything you didn’t get in your license program. How to complete contracts, marketing, best business practices. When I came out of the GRI, I was just as proficient as a veteran agent.

Industry Knowledge

What’s the deal with iBuyers What’s the future for the MLS consolidation trend. What does NAR’s policy on pocket listing affect consumers? Flat-fee brokerages are sacrificing quality to make a quick buck?

Inman is an excellent way to stay on top of the industry. I have compiled a list of resources that will help you stay on top of the big topics and trends.

Real Estate Books

Real Estate Websites

Real Estate Podcasts

Real Estate Conferences

Real Estate YouTube Trainers

Real Estate Experts

Real Estate Twitter Influencers

Real Estate Facebook Groups

Consider joining your local association, MLS committees or even a board.

Businessmen and women are the best real estate agents. They are well connected to their industry and can often be leaders and innovators.

Stop wasting money on stupid stuff

Manage your money

An article I wrote was called 23 Things Real Estate Agents Lose Money on. Here’s the complete list:

Buy leads

Facebook and Google Ads

Office space

Yard signs

Business cards


a website

a car

Predictive analytics

Open houses

Lists of expired/FSBO


Commission splits




Designations and accreditations



Drones and cameras

Automatic renewal


Too many MLSs


Take a look at the list and cut what you find!

However, that doesn’t mean none of these items are worth your time. Depending on the stage of your business and your lead generation strategy, some are necessary. They aren’t necessary for every agent.

Shiny-object syndrome is a very common problem for real estate agents. I was a subscriber to three different CRMs at once!

Lead with revenue. Spend money only when you can. To grow your business, earn money and then spend it (after you have paid yourself).

These are the five things I believe every agent should invest in:



Correct insurance (car, E&O, etc)

Software eSignature

Cloud-based document storage

Take Care of Yourself

A budgeting strategy called “Pay Yourself First”, also known under the name “reverse budgeting”, is available.

It is believed that people justify spending money on their business because it’s profitable. The business benefits from business expenses! Agents will incur business expenses throughout the year. Then, any surplus is considered their “income”.

This expense-first approach has the drawback that your income shrinks while your expenses rise.

Instead, set aside your salary before you receive your commission checks. This will allow you to see how much money you have left and can invest in your business.

Based on your goals, choose a salary that is reasonable. You should first pay that amount to yourself out of your commissions. Keep a buffer of six or twelve months. You can invest the surplus in your business if your savings start to exceed that amount.

Accounting Software

As a real-estate agent, I would recommend that you have someone do your taxes starting at Day 0! Independent contractor taxes can get complex, so even one missed deduction could be costly.

Likewise, it is important to understand your business numbers.

How high was your GCI in the last year? How much do you earn per transaction? How much money did you lose in “commissionectomies”?

These should be closely monitored and you should be able to report your year-to date earnings and total transactions without looking.

Realtyzam is my favorite way to keep track of my numbers. It’s an easy-to use and affordable system that agents can use. You may need a brokerage platform or Quickbooks if you are a team.


$9.95/mo. Realtyzam is the best piece of real estate accounting software available. Realtyzam is extremely easy to use. Other software might benefit from its simplicity. You can track your closings, commissions, expenses, P&L, and closings like a pro. It can link to your bank account so you can track and categorize expenses. It is a single agent that can handle all your financial and tax needs.

Do what you do best and outsource the rest

social groups niche

Peter Drucker, one of the most influential management advisors of the 20th Century is the man who coined the phrase “Do what you love best and outsource all the rest.”

This is particularly relevant to real estate agents. Agents are responsible for their own business planning, prospecting, sales, website management, HR, and IT. There is a very small chance that you are an expert at any of these tasks.

Get together

However, outsourcing can be costly!

But not necessarily!

Partnering with other agents within your office is an option. You should partner with someone who is opposite to you. Do you enjoy being a social butterfly? Look for someone who enjoys sitting at the computer, running ads, creating websites, and sending DocuSign contracts. You can partner up 50/50

Joining a team is even better. You can use your team’s resources to pool your resources and help you hire transaction managers, assistants, or share the costs of lead generation.

Lead with Revenue – Get Help from Closing

You can also outsource certain elements of your business, such as the transaction, to Transactly. Transactly provides transaction coordinators who you pay per transaction at the closing.


Free (software); $125+/transactions with a VA. Brokers can use the software for free. Transactly’s transaction coordinators are where it makes its money. They charge a per-transaction fee and will handle your listings and transactions for you. This is an enormous advantage for teams and brokerages that don’t require full-time VAs or TCs, but don’t want their salespeople to spend too much time doing paperwork.

Virtual assistant companies allow you to outsource repetitive or lower-impact parts of your business and let you focus your efforts where they’re most useful.

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