I began my Real Estate career in 1998. A lot has changed in that time. Economies have crashed and been rebuilt. New technologies have allowed home buyers to take more control of their own home searches. Mobile devices and electronic signatures have revolutionized how business is done. Some advancements have been positive and some have had their drawbacks. No matter what changes come to the industry one constant remains; We help people buy and sell homes.
There wasn't social media back when I got licensed 17 years ago other than AOL chat rooms (if you're too young to know what AOL and chat rooms are then you don't know how good you have it). Dial-up modems were still prevalent. High-speed Internet connections weren't available in most places. We did business the old fashioned way. We talked to people. I know that sounds like such a foreign concept to anyone under the age of 30 but it's true. We actually went outside, met people face to face, introduced ourselves, and asked how we might be able to help them with purchasing or selling a home.
When you're fresh out of real estate school you have a crisp new license but no idea what homes are worth or the reasons why buyers should purchase a property in one neighborhood over another. One of the best pieces of advice I received when I first entered real estate was to go on as many home tours as possible so that I could learn neighborhoods, markets, and price points. However, since the creation of the MLS and dozens of National real estate portal websites, home tours are barely a blip on the radar anymore as anyone with an Internet connection can search for homes on-line.
The other bit of guidance I received as a new agent was to find a seasoned veteran or mentor in your office that would be willing to look over all of your contracts and paperwork before you turned it in to your broker. This would minimize any embarrassing slip-ups or corrections that would need to be done and also be a good learning experience for you as you honed your craft under someone much more skilled than you. But office environments have changed since I began my career. Very few agents even go in to a designated office on a daily basis. The advent of the home office and mobile technologies have almost made a traditional office a thing of the past. It can be difficult for a newly licensed agent to track down a learned sage to have a true mentor-ship.
If you've been tracking with me so far you've hopefully found the common thread in my musings to this point. Everything has gone on-line. For better or worse most business is now conducted in the virtual realm. Aside from showing up to a listing appointment or taking buyers out to view properties I could perform an entire transaction without even meeting my clients face to face. Marketing and advertising yourself can all be done across a website, social media, blogs, and other forms of on-line communication. But because of so many technological advances what many new real estate agents fail to understand is the foundation of any successful real estate career begins with interacting and meeting people. No, I'm not talking about texting, Snapchatting, Facebook messaging, or any other form of impersonal interaction. I'm talking about shaking hands, making eye contact, and being in front of a real live human being.
My advice for new real estate agents goes completely against the grain and direction of society. Put down your phone, walk away from your computer, go outside, and talk to people. Are electronic forms of marketing and communication a bad thing? Absolutely not. They are a necessary part of the shifting landscape of doing business. However, it can be a stumbling block to a firm foundation. Real estate is a people business. Inherently our customers and clients want to know that we are genuine, trustworthy, and professional. You can't get that feeling from an on-line persona.
Business professionals and individuals can pretend to be anything they want to be on the Internet. It's extremely hard to fake it when you're face to face. Your true personality will show through. This goes for clients as well. There will be some people who you will choose not to work with because of how they acted when you were in front of them.
It's a great big world full of real, live, walking, breathing men and women who need assistance in purchasing or selling a home. Go meet them. Get to know them. Have conversations and ask questions. Let them tell you how you can help them. The best part about it is that it's free. It doesn't cost you anything but your time. You'll be inundated with emails and phone calls from companies telling you for a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars a month they will send you leads. First of all, you will find that the overwhelming majority of these paid leads are D.O.A. Secondly, as a new agent you won't have the money or resources to afford such useless services.
At the risk of sounding like a crotchety curmudgeon the younger generation has started to lose the ability to have meaningful and personal relationships. Well, that's what real estate is all about. We help people buy and sell homes but we invest in their lives along the way. When you get your license, start making the investment in to people and the return you get will be immeasurable.