Tools Of The Trade: Becoming A Real Estate Agent

This article is the third in a series of six about getting started with a real estate career. This article covers the “tools” you’ll need and the “tools” that are nice to have to help you be successful in this career. We’ll briefly talk about creating a budget and things you’ll need to get started as well as things you can consider in the future.

Creating a Budget. Since you are essentially starting a business there will inevitably be some expenses you’ll have. The first ones are of course your exam and licensing fees, as well as dues you’ll most likely pay to belong to the local board of Realtor. Since these expenses are mandatory we’ll skip talking about them. We’re talking more about the expenses that you’ll incur as a result of doing business on a day-to-day basis. There are tons of businesses out there looking to sell you leads, or advertizing opportunities, or “guaranteed” programs of how to get 10 listings in your first 60 days of being in business. I wouldn’t consider these products until you’ve been in the business at least one year. The most important thing to ask yourself when you get started is “Do I NEED this product or service today?” If the answer is no then, make a note of it and set it aside. Get some experience and deals going on and you may realize you don’t need those products at all.

Everyday Tools. The basic items that most real estate agents use every day are:

1. A cell phone – Most agents have smart phones with internet connectivity so they can get e-mail, view online data, and use applications that help them provide better faster service to their clients.

2. Access to a computer – Preferably one with internet and a printer. You need to fill out and print forms online so you can create listing and sales documents for your customers. Not to mention all new listings will appear in an online database provided by your MLS(multiple listing service) which you’ll definitely need.

3. Business Cards – The most simple of business marketing materials, but definitely a must have. Get high quality cards that are professionally designed, not the perforated ones you buy at the local office shop. Those are cheap and it people will subconsciously connect that to you and your service. Most brokerage companies have a relationship with a large printing company that offers professional templates at a reasonable price.

4. Lock boxes, yard signs, electronic keys, a reliable vehicle. This list needs no full explanation but to typically cost a fair amount of money so you’ll need to look carefully and shop around. Ask around the office to see where other agents get their products and how much they pay to get an idea of what you’ll need to spend.

Additional Tools. These items you’ll want to consider getting eventually if not right away.

1. Professionally branded e-mail address. Many brokerages will give you an email on their domain, i.e. billsmith @ This is great, but what happens if you leave ABC Realty. You’ll have to contact everyone you know and give them a new address. The best thing to do is purchase your own domain. Many agents choose their own name which can be a good idea. Domains are cheap i.e. $10 annually and you usually get an email address or two for free with it.

2. Your own website. Professionally designed websites can be expensive, so until you have the couple thousand it will take to get a high quality interactive site you can do one of two things. Your broker may give you a page on their main site, or you can get a basic 4-5 page site designed by a free lancer that provides basic information about you and how to get in touch with you. Either is fine to start with.

3. CRM Tool - This stands for Customer/Client Relationship Management Tool. Essentially it’s a software program that helps you keep your contacts and activities organized. While they are a fantastic tool they do tend to be expensive and are often a monthly recurring bill. If you can afford paying $30 or so a month for the service then I would highly recommend it. There are many real estate specific programs like Top Producer, ACT, etc.

Thanks for reading. Please check back for our next installment “Getting Started In Real Estate: Where To Get Business”.

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