My 17 Best Business Tips for Real Estate Agents

Want to add thousands of dollars to your real estate income next year? 

And add loyal clients to that bank vault of contacts you need for long term success?  Then follow these tips.  (After 8 years of running a now-thriving real estate business, I honestly think I would have at least $100,000 more in the bank if I had read a list like this earlier on.)

New agents, this goes double for you.

Here they are:

1.  Stay in touch with past clients.

I can’t believe how often I ask people who their real estate agent was when they bought or sold their house, and they can’t remember – even when they liked that person enough to use them again!  (Yes, that clinking noise you hear is the sound of money down the toilet.)

Next time you walk into your house, glance at the foundation and wonder how your home would look without it.

Past clients are the foundation of any successful real estate business.  Contact your current and past clients at least once a month.

2.  Automate your marketing.

Unless you have an assistant, at some point you’re going to be too busy to get your marketing out the door.  Plus, your time is too valuable (or will be too valuable) to spend doing everything it takes to churn out quality marketing consistently.  Start looking now, and find something that will go out regardless of how busy you are.

3.  Be yourself.

The best advice I ever got in my real estate career was from my now-gone Harley-riding agent friend, Rick Bakke.  It’s simply,  “If you can’t be yourself in this business, hang it up.”  (More on how to tell if you’re just leaving your comfort zone or becoming someone you’re not, in my other post on Rick’s advice.)

4.  Get your own domain name.

It doesn’t matter if you think you’re not ready for a website, or even if you’re not techie at all.  Just do this:  Go to Godaddy, search for your first and last name with .com after the end, and buy it if it’s available.  (It’s a measly $9/year investment, it’s easy, and you don’t need a website first because you’re just buying the name.)

If you’re feeling creative, search for some other good website names too – but at least buy that one.  Go ahead.  I dare you.

5.  Get your own blog

At least 70% of the agents I talk to either don’t have a website, hate their website or are re-doing their website (and spending plenty in the process.)  But these days it’s easy to be online, even if you have no web experience.  Get your own real estate blog - Active Rain is real estate-focused and is a great place to start for free.  (Blogger is another easy option.)

6.  Learn basic Search Engine Optimization.

If you read even just Day 2 of this great SEO Power Strategies course by Brad Callen (it’s free), you’ll be light years ahead of 50% of the people who are online.

7.  Learn basic copywriting.

Real estate is actually a marketing business – but 90% of us jump in without ever having learned how to make someone want to buy something!

Here’s a cheat sheet:  It’s about them, not you.  Talk about benefits, not features.  People buy on emotion first, then justify with logic.  (Thus, starting a home description with “$2,000 carpet credit”, like I just read yesterday, is a bad idea.)

For the best advice, start with Copyblogger.  (Brian, I would have said that anyway. :)

8.  Ask for a referral at the end of your voice mail greeting.

Just say, “And if you were referred to me by friend or family member, please let me know who that was so that I can tell them ‘thank you’.”  This reminds people that you expect and appreciate referrals.

9.  Ask for referrals, period.

Most people find this painful.  But what I learned is, it works.  No matter how much people love you, sometimes they will forget to refer you unless they’re reminded.  And, no matter how badly you botch the asking, they’re more likely to refer you afterwards.

And speaking of botching….

10.  Get the referral spiel down.

If asking for referrals feels awkward, you’ll subconsciously try to avoid it.  But by not asking you’re guaranteed to lose out on thousands of dollars in future business.

So make it not awkward.  I don’t care if it means locking yourself away in a hotel room with a week’s supply of Crunch Berries, do what it takes to come up with a spiel that sounds like you and that slips nonchalantly off your tongue.  (That tip alone will pay for years of high-end coaching – which now you may not need!)

11.  Beware of time-wasters.

If you work in a social office, this can be a challenge.  But the next time someone pauses at your office door in a well-meaning attempt to talk about their Schnauzer’s last toenail operation (or worse, to commiserate with you about how real estate sucks), remember that there are always more of them than there are of you.

Beware, and find ways to politely guard your productive time.

12.  Don’t ask “How much can you afford?”

Ask, “What price range would like to stay within?”

13.  Learn the basics of home staging

This is key to getting listings in the future.  You don’t have to get a certification (although that’s not a bad idea), but learn what it takes to prepare a home for sale.  Over 80% of agents don’t do this, or if they do they flub up the photos.

And speaking of photos….

14.  Always take “Before” photos of your home staging.

Why?  Because a “Before and After” home staging photo gallery is one of the most powerful marketing techniques you can use to get home listings. 

(But take it from me – you’ll be tempted to skip the “Before” part, so just make yourself do it.)

 15.  Learn how to take good real estate photos.

Or, hire out.  But the current level of quality for real estate photos online is abysmal, and clients are getting tired of it.  Be on the crest of that wave, not behind it.  Start by using a 24 mm camera, or wider angle for interior shots (not the usual 35 mm.)

16.  Ask for testimonials, and use them in your marketing.

The power that other people have when it comes to selling your services is far greater than your own.  Yet most real estate agents have a string of happy clients and no written testimonials they can quote.  There’s an easy way to ask for and get testimonials that I only learned a year of so ago, and it’s in my post “How to Get Better Testimonials”.

17.  Hang in there.

At the end of my fifth year of real estate (and having done pretty well during the third and fourth years), pretty much all it took for me to burst into tears was for someone to say something incredibly poignant along the lines of, for example, ”Hi Irene, how are you?”

I went five straight months without a paycheck – working like a horse the whole time – and by the end I seriously was wondering if the jig was up.  Was this going to be, in hindsight, the part in the story when I would say “And that’s when I got out of real estate?”

I went from November through March without a paycheck.  But by December I had made twice what I made the year before.

Often we’re tempted to give up when we’re 80% of the way to reaching our goal.  And nearly always, the last 20% of your effort will produce 80% of your results.

So, hang in there. 

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14 Responses to My 17 Best Business Tips for Real Estate Agents
  1. Simon Payn
    December 4, 2007 | 7:21 am

    Great list. You say they are in no particular order, but I think #1 is first for a reason – it’s incredibly important. As you say, it’s wasting money if you don’t. I’m going to pass this list along to the agents I work with.

  2. irenedorang
    December 4, 2007 | 11:30 am

    Thanks Simon, and you’re right, #1 and #2 are definitely the most important, and the ones 90% of agents ‘know’ about and still don’t do consistently. (I was a peak offender for years.) Thanks for passing this on!

  3. Eugene Ridenour
    December 5, 2007 | 10:43 pm

    Irene, great list. i found you from a post you had on copyblogger and was intrigued about his recent suject on headlines. I enjoyed reading your tips and appreciate the refresher. I will pass on to other agents in my office as well.

  4. irenedorang
    December 6, 2007 | 5:15 am

    Hi Eugene, thanks for the comment, I’m glad you found this helpful. Nice job on your own blog by the way!

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  8. Paul Francis, ABR,CRS
    December 18, 2007 | 6:25 pm

    Great Article Irene and I’ll make sure my wife sees this to pass on to her real estate agents for her next training class. It really does not have to be that hard does it? Thanks to Brian for referring me! :)

  9. irenedorang
    December 19, 2007 | 8:05 am

    Thanks Paul, glad you liked it! It’s true, a little info beforehand can make things a lot easier.

  10. Shawnna
    February 21, 2008 | 11:39 am

    Great blog! I’m curious… Can you elaborate on 2. Automate your marketing. What type of marketing have you found to be particularly useful? Sending out flyers, mailings, distributing business cards, cold calling, etc?

  11. irenedorang
    February 27, 2008 | 8:35 am

    Hi Shawna,

    Thanks for your comments, yes I can elaborate! I’ll make it the next blog post. But the short answer is I use The Agent Guide’s own automated email newsletter service (at http://www.toolsforrealestate.com/how-it-works.html) once a month, then I do a once a month postcard mailing of community events – it’s not completely automated but is also very popular – I’ll post a photo of the template in the blog post. Thanks for reading!

  12. Julian
    April 1, 2008 | 10:46 pm

    Wow, Such great insight to the business. I have taken a few Real Estate classes and even read Gary Keller’s “The Millionaire Real Estate agent” which was great. Your help seem sincere and very reputable, which is vital. I know you will help save every type of agent time,money, and lots of headaches. Thanks again, your a true humanitarian.

  13. real estate agent guide
    July 8, 2010 | 6:23 am

    great post, this will help improve to the real estate agent if they apply this 17 tips in the business… it should be like this.. thanks for posting…

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