As the calendar creeps closer to my anniversary date of the day I joined the Windermere/NCW team, I found myself looking back on all that I’ve learned and done this past year.
By the numbers:
- 12 months of real estate practice
- 28 floor duty sessions (this is when I’m stuck in the office praying for the phone to ring)
- 8 transactions closed
|Open House Selfie|
- 5 buyers
- 3 sellers
- 5 contracts that failed to close
- 5 open houses hosted
- 11,000 miles driven
- 1 fender bender
- 6,673 minutes talked on the phone
- 6,692 text messages
- 2.2 million dollars in volume
- 2 continuing education courses taken (Peak Producers & Accredited Buyer Representative)
- 1 MLS committee joined (YAY for party planning!)
|Advertising door hanger|
|Wenatchee Valley Farmer’s Market Booth|
Wow, seeing the numbers on paper is a real eye opener. Sometimes you don’t know how crazy things are when you are in the thick of it. I can only hope that next year is just as great if not better.
A big thank you to my supportive husband and awesome clients, most of whom I already knew and were willing to take a chance and work with a very green realtor. Cheers!
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I took a couple months off from blogging so that I could focus my energy on putting all of my real estate knowledge into action. And what an action packed first quarter it has been!
Starting at the end of January, I invested in my continuing education and took a twelve week course from Buffini and company called Peak Producers. This program is a step by step action plan to help real estate agents develop the habits, attitude and skills needed to be become a peak producing agent. I’m so thankful I got to take part in this program because as a fresh agent, barely into my fourth month, I was struggling to find my footing. Now that I have the Peak Producers diploma hanging on my cubicle wall, I feel that I have a solid plan. I know what I need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis to be successful and to represent my clients to my highest ability.
Midway through February, I received my first big break. I took a floor call for a potential listing. HOLY COW! My first listing interview! The two days beforehand, I was a nervous wreck, I prepped the best I could but when you’re new, you never know how deep to go. Fast forward to presentation day and I did it, and it wasn’t pretty. But bless her heart, the seller hired me. For thirty whole days, I worked by butt off. Here is the sign I put in the front yard… I did have my personalized signs yet.
|My personalized sign|
Another milestone that happened this quarter was writing my first purchase and sale agreement for one of my buyers. My client and I had made a plan to tour homes on a gloomy Sunday afternoon and low and behold, we found “the one”. An adorable two bed, two bath, ground floor condo with peach colored walls that make me laugh each time I see them. I’m so excited to be a part of this chapter of my clients life. Helping her buy her first home has been so fun and huge affirmation that I made the right call to become a real estate agent.
The last point to my business model triangle is learning the forms. Washington State has over 200 of them. That’s a form for every scenario that you can think of and yes…I have to learn what all those scenario could be. This is why you hire a professional to buy or sell your home.
This last week I was given the assignment to write a purchase and sales agreement from start to finish. So I set out to pick my practice property and begin writing it up for my fictional buyer. My dog, Cooper, was going to make an offer on a lovely 3 bedroom home in the neighborhood I grew up in. After reviewing the manual, I thought, “I’ve got this”. HAHAHA, Man was I wrong!
After sitting down with my managing broker, we went line by line through the purchase and sales agreement. I had the key components for making the offer, I named the parties involved, had a legal description of the property, had the purchase price but I was missing my fictional clients back story. Meaning, what kind of buyer was he? Knowing more specifics would have helped me a great deal.
My offer fell apart when I didn’t attach the necessary addendums. These forms identify the specifics of the offer. After some thinking, I decided Cooper’ was a first time home buyer. So he would be getting an FHA loan which requires a 3.5% down payment. He wants the offer to be contingent on an inspection and title as well as his ability to get financing. Needless to say I was missing a few key elements.
Now that the back story was in place, I should have filed the following forms with the purchase and sales agreement: Financing, because Cooper is not a cash buyer. Receipt of earnest money, Cooper wants his offer to be taken seriously by the sellers so he has put a $2,000 deposit down. Evidence of funds, Cooper will need to prove that he has the $2,000 in his bank account. Next, a title contingency, just in case there may be a lien on the property, the title needs to be marketable. Optional clauses is next, this covers title insurance, items left by the seller, utilities or leased property such as satellite dishes. The inspection form, this is a big one because after defects of the home are exposed some buyers determine the investment is not worth the amount of money it would take to fix the defect. So the inspection contingency allows the buyer to terminate the contract should they want to. And lastly, homeowners insurance to protect your asset once the purchase is finalized.
Theres a lot of stuff to know when it comes to real estate so if you don’t mind, I think I’ll pause the blog for a moment while I go back to memorizing all 200 forms so that I’m at the top of my game for my clients.
Until next time,
So, I’ve been at this gig for 2 and a half months now and the whole time I’ve been working hardcore on marketing myself. Because without clients you wont make any money. However, as it was gently pointed out to me by a colleague, “What do you do when you finally do get a client”? That is a HUGE question.
So I sat down with my managing broker like I do every week and we discussed the the triangle of real estate success. A triangle because there are 3 points that need to be learned and mastered. Number 1, Marketing. Number 2, Forms. And number 3, Inventory.
My last post was about marketing which I feel I have a pretty good handle on. I’ve got a good following on my Facebook page and I did decide to advertise on Zillow.com so I feel I have opened the conversation gap with those I know and some I’m meeting along the way. I’ve also started going to Realtor Association events such as Fast Pitch, a networking coffee hour for brokers and affiliates like home inspectors, real estate attorneys, lenders and insurance agents.
Now I’m on to learning about the market and thankfully I have several opportunities a week to network with the same group I listed above as well as see homes that are listed on the MLS. Every Tuesday, my office has a sales meeting then afterward we go out as a group to see new office listings. Sometimes we see just one but other times we have had up to five in one day. I equate our tour to speed dating but with houses. We’re in and out in such a short time but as an experienced professional you get a general feeling of the features and if its priced right in just a few short moments. On Wednesdays, our local MLS puts together a Broker’s Tour which lasts most of the morning. Brokers who subscribe to the MLS can list a home they are listing on the Tour and brokers from other offices get out and see whats on the market. Again, this is a great opportunity to network as well as see the inventory. I’m a huge fan of carpooling during the tour because not only are you with a buddy but you have someone to bounce ideas and opinions off of. I find this to be helpful. And lastly, I try to pencil in 1 or 2 vacant listings on my own when time allows.
When starting a career that solely depends on lead generation and referrals it can seem daunting. One would ask, “how do you get leads”? There are several ways, some are tried and true and others are more risky and require lots of attention. For example, Facebook page, direct mailer, and personal letter introducing oneself. I have chosen several different platforms for getting my name out there. They include:
The first thing I did was set up a business page on Facebook. Its FREE so why not. In today’s society its almost a requirement to have an online presence for any business. When looking for a home today most people do months of research online prior to contacting a Realtor and you can bet that Realtor will be Googled by the potential client. I know I did that when I was in the client position.
Another platform that I took advantage of was my agent website. This tool is included in my desk fee that I pay to Windermere. Once the administrative assistant put through my documents I was able to set up the website. I had no idea how tech savvy I needed to be when I entered this field. Thank goodness for tech support! The website has my contact info, my listings, and a search bar for looking at all properties in the MLS.
Once I had Facebook and my website set up I was able to order my business cards. This box is like gold to me. It is so easy to hand hand out during conversation. The card has all my contact information on it.
I put together a personal letter to mail out as well. This introduces me as a new broker and outlines all my services. I sent this letter to everyone I know. Friends and family alike. I also enclosed 3 business cards with each letter.
And lastly, I ordered my first piece of marketing material just this weekend. Door hangers. A professional design geared towards homeowners who may be in the market to sell. As soon as these come in, I’ll be hitting my favorite neighborhoods on foot to generate leads and hopefully listing appointments. This is what it looks like:
As of this afternoon, I’ve also contacted Zillow.com to discuss advertising with them. An agent can be added to their directory free of charge or for a fee one can become a premier agent which keeps your photo in the public eye as they use the website. I’m on the fence about paying for advertising at this point. I’m so new and have next to no budget. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide.
Until next time,
My last post left off with me comparing the two brokerage firms that I interviewed. Thankfully I didn’t have to deliberate for too long before I came to my decision. Windermere came out on top. My main reason for choosing Windermere is EDUCATION. Some firms sign agents then say “have at it”, they struggle to swim in the new environment and unfortunately this method is why the turn over rate is so high. Did you know that real estate has an 83% drop out rate? That’s crazy high. So I went with the firm that was going to provide me the tools to succeed in my new career.
I scheduled an appointment with the managing broker at Windermere to discuss me coming aboard. That morning I arrived thinking I would sign some paperwork then be on my way until I was “ready to start”. Well I was in for a huge surprise.
First we tackled the contract. A 17 page document that covered everything under the sun that you could think of. Commission rate (very important), FEES, FEES AND MORE FEES. As a new broker you invest a lot just to get started. I’d say at this point in the game I have put up around $650.00. This includes my license application with the DOL, fingerprinting, membership to the Northwest MLS and the North Central Washington Association of Realtors. Don’t worry, that’s not all. I will have a couple months worth of desk fees taken out of my first commission check. I know what your saying, “that’s a lot of money”! But ya know what? It takes money to make money. Anyway, back to the contract, errors and omissions insurance (in case you royally mess up and get sued in the process), auto insurance requirements (for when you are driving your clients around), services and expenses provided by the firm (things like a desk, copy machine and an endless supply of coffee) and lastly the standard of practice expectations.
So, review of the contract took about 2 hours. Like I said, it was 17 pages long and covered a lot of ground. The next step was my license application with the Dept. of Licensing. I put together a packet of my temporary license with broker signatures, finger print cards, and copies of my drivers license as well as the actual application. All of these items were easy to procure with the one exception of the fingerprint cards. I have to say it took me almost 2 hours just to track down a facility that does this and was open. I was referred to one company that couldn’t get me in until two weeks later. That’s crap! So I took to tracking down other places that I could get into sooner. After multiple attempts of trying to reach the records department at our local Police station, I was able to schedule an appointment for the following morning. And it only cost 25 bucks. All that for finger prints.
Alright, I’m scheduled for fingerprinting and now I have to tackle my application for the North Central Washington Association of Realtors. Another contract, another check to write. The NCWAR runs the local Multiple Listing Service or MLS. Very important if I am to help my clients list or buy property in our area. Thankfully, this process was pretty painless and didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. If anything, learning how to use the program has been the difficult part.
Finally, I’m nearing the end of my first day. Multiple contracts covered and signed, a tour of the office and desk assignment and introductions to other Realtors who happen to be in the office are done. Whats left to be done? Well, a lot. I left the office with a to do list that was 2 large sticky notes long and included the following:
- Have photos taken for professional use
- Decide what info to have on business card and turn in for publication
- Create Facebook page for business
- Create broker website which is provided
- Set up email
- Add all my contacts into the marketing program
- Contact my insurance agent to update my auto insurance
- Gather personal office supplies from home to decorate my desk space
- Start my blog
Well there ya have it, a synopsis of my first date at Windermere Real Estate/NCW. Stay tuned for more on my road to becoming a Real Estate Broker.
Many things about being a real estate agent are different compared to the regular J.O.B. When you do a quick google search on becoming an agent, you’ll learn that you have to find a firm to hang your license with, meaning lots of research on that company. Find out what their annual sales numbers are, what kind of training they provide, marketing material available to agents and how much money is required of the agent to utilize the firms name. Thats a lot of things to consider when starting a new career especially one that is COMMISSION ONLY.
When I starting searching for a firm to call home, I took a different approach. I took a drive around the beautiful town I call home and searched for yard signs. You know, the “For Sale” signs that show which firm is representing that seller. I made mental notes of the company names I was seeing. Eventually I narrowed the list down to two names. Windermere and Premier One Properties.
I took the first step by sending an interview request to the managing brokers at both firms. With in 10 minutes I got my first response. It was Russ of Windermere. His reply was one of congratulations and support on embarking on my new career. We set up a date to meet a few days later. Then came Paul’s response. Two interviews in 1 week. Exciting! Now what do I do? I’ve interviewed people before but they didn’t intimidate me like this. Thank goodness for the World Wide Web otherwise I would have no idea of the types of questions I should be asking. After lots of pondering of what was important to me, this is what I came up with:
- Do you provide training?
- How many days or hours of formal training?
- Is there a cost to me?
- If so, how much?
- Who will be available to help me after the training?
- Is that person easily and readily available to me?
- Do you have a mentor program where I can shadow a top producer for a period of time?
- At what commission split will I begin?
Do you offer a graduated commission split that pays me a higher percentage as my production increases?
If so, and say I reach 60%, do I go back to my beginning split at the end of a designated period?
May I have a copy of the commission schedule?
- What costs will I incur?
- Initial: Licensing, application, business cards, photo, name badge, dues, etc.
- On-going: Monthly or quarterly charges such as long distance calls, desk fees, franchise fees, (do you have) voicemail, etc.
- Per listing: Sign, lock box, advertising, etc.
- Per sale: Error and Omission Insurance
- In which publications do you advertise?
Who pays for it?
Who determines which listings get advertised?
Who writes the ads?
- Do I need specific liability insurance on my automobile?
- When will I start property time (Floor Duty)?
What is the minimum amount per month?
Maximum amount per month?
How many hours per shift?
- Will I be allowed to hold other agents listings “open” to attract buyers to help me get started? If so, how soon?
- Please show me the examples of marketing materials available to me.
- Just listed
- Just sold
- Just participated in a sale
- Door hangers
- Free market analysis
- Brochure of the company
- Company letterhead
- Legal size pre-printed shells for my flyers
- Letter size, heavy shells for color brochures
- Is there a cost to me for this material? If so, how much?
- Who pays for the postage? (Bulk and Individual)
- Web pages
- Prospecting tools
- Do you have a company policy manual? Will I have a copy if I sign on with you?
- How many full time agents do you have??
- How many do you want?
- How many part time agents?
- What is the agent turnover rate?
- What is the average tenure of agents?
- What was your gross volume of sales last year?
- Average per full-time agent?
- How many computers do you have available to agents? Do I need to purchase my own computer and software?
- Do I have to pay for my board MLS training?
- Do you have a full time receptionist/secretary?
Would clerical assistance be available to me such as preparation of monthly mailers, typing letters, preparing flyers, entering and making changes in listings, etc.?
- About referrals:
- When will I be given one?
- After I am eligible, how many can I expect per quarter, assuming I prove I can do a good job with them?
- What are the sources for referrals?
- Approximately how many referrals do you give the agents per month?
- Regarding market share, compared to the top 10 companies in this area, what number is this office?
- What is the average income per year of full time agents in this office?
- Does this office have a focus on team work, or does each agent operate pretty well on their own?
- Do you hire part time agents? If so, what do you expect from them?
- What is the policy on referral fees I receive from sending outgoing referrals? Is it split with the company? If so, at what split?
- In understand I will be working as an independent contractor, and that your contributions are limited by that status. However, some companies offer perks such as availability of health and life insurance, retirement, and other benefits. Does your company offer anything along these lines?
- What commission does your company charge a seller for selling a home?
- What commission do you charge for undeveloped land or lots?
- Do I have the authority to list for less commission under certain circumstances?
- If yes, what are those conditions?
- Could I list it for more?
- Do you have weekly sales meetings and property tours?
- What day, time, and how long do the meetings usually last?
- Could I attend a sales meeting before I make a final commitment to come on board?
- What are your office goals?
- Do you have expansion, move of office, or growth in your immediate plans?
- Will I be reimbursed for expenses of my initial classes/training?
- What is the business dress code for this office?
It took 7 months but I finally did it, I completed my real estate course through Rockwell Institute. To say I had doubts about completing the course would be a serious understatement. I mean, it was REALLY hard. Really, really, really hard. Ok, maybe not that hard but still hard enough to make me concerned about passing the course. Scheduling to take the state exam was easy, the week of prep work I put into it before hand was not. I spent an entire week taking mock exams that covered every single possible scenario that could potentially be covered. Thats a lot of info! By the time test day came I thought my brain was going to explode. For those who want to know, my brain did not explode. I just had a massive headache that lasted for 3 days afterwards.
Anyway, I made it to the testing site which in our area is an H and R Block. I was ushered into this tiny room with two other gals, both of whom were taking their tests for the second time. Talk about pressure! I was thinking to myself, is this test really that hard?! I’m surprised I managed to remember anything that I learned over the past 7 months. Between the headache and the nervousness (test taking is not my strong suite by the way), I managed to finish. I finished the exam in exactly 2 hours. I was allotted 3 & 1/2 and I was the first to be done out of the three of us women. When i got up from the computer I thought was I going to puke. To be done early and the first, I was sure I had failed. Plain and simple.
Your test results print the second you hit the submit button and the test proctor has them waiting for you when exit the tiny room. She had no expression that gave any hit as to how well I did. I was terrified. The proctor handed me the freshly printed page, facing downward. I took a deep breath, turned the page over and scanned it so fast that I had to scan a couple more times before I found the word “PASSED”buried amongst the other mumbo jumbo.
I looked up at the proctor and with wide eyes, said “Holy shit…I passed”. We exchanged a couple high fives and huge smiles then I was on my way. When I got home my husband was patiently waiting and by patiently waiting I mean he was playing a video game. But he did press pause when I walked in. “So how’d it go”, he asked. “I passed”, I squeaked and I got the most biggest, proudest bear hug I have ever gotten.
The test is now behind me and I was issued my temporary license so that I could sign with a brokerage firm of my choosing. The big question now is, What’s next??