YPN Members Give Advice on Thriving Past the Five-Year Mark

Nicole Slaughter Graham Establishing Your Business, Mentoring Leave a Comment

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By: Nicole Slaughter Graham

Recently, realtor.com published a study of findings on what real estate professionals believed were their top issues when building a successful business. Part of their #thrivepastfive campaign, the study’s purpose was to understand better what real estate professionals needed in those first few years of business to create sustainable and long-term success. The first five years of business are crucial in determining long-term success. Even more important, those first two years can make or break an agent.

In the study, over 2,000 real estate professionals were surveyed. Among those surveyed, 32% identified as men, and 68% identified as women. The average experience level of those surveyed came in at 1.34 years. “New agents” for the study were defined as agents with 5 years or less experience.

The top three concerns newer agents, or those looking back on their careers to their early years, were:

  • Finding new clients (a significant concern for 70% of the new agents surveyed)
  • Converting clients
  • Lead quality

The study also looked at marketing spend and data on how many transactions/sides made for a successful early career. Whether an agent was part-time or full-time in the business made an impact on success as well, asserting that “9 out of 10 (agents), work full-time and 64% last that two-year mark suggesting that if you want to succeed, you have to put in the hours.”

YPN members weighed in, providing their best tips on how to #thrivepastfive in real estate.

Capitalize on Your Strengths

For my doctoral research, I studied some of the nation’s top 1000 real estate agents/brokers. Can you guess the theme found in the research? The peer-reviewed research supported that when you learn how to, as I call it, “profit with your personality,” you can thrive whether you are in year six or 26 of your career. Why? Because you are the constant. No matter how the market shifts or tech comes about, you can repeatedly and organically generate leads from a place of authenticity. This will also help you save time and energy because you won’t constantly reach for the next big thing that might not fit your personality.  In studying the top 1000 and since coaching some of them, I’ve found that there is no magical tech tool that will help you weather every market for the rest of your career. Instead, I encourage everyone to discover their personality type regarding lead generation (one of the easiest tests with reliable data is DISC but feel free to use Myers-Briggs, Strength Finders, etc.) and the corresponding sales skills. You’ll be glad you did!

-Dr. Lee Davenport, Atlanta-based real estate coach. Find her at Learn With Lee.

Play the Long Game

Thriving long-term in real estate is a marathon, not a sprint. Two important things can help new agents avoid burnout (and also avoid spending their entire marketing budget). First, it’s important to use marketing strategies that you actually enjoy—or at least don’t hate. For example, if you hate doorknocking, don’t do it. Find something else to get you started, such as social media marketing or hosting open houses.

Secondly, keeping your spending down is important when trying to make it long-term. There are countless shiny objects, advertising opportunities and marketing strategies to spend your money on. Although you may think it’s a good idea that will bring you tons of leads, that doesn’t always happen at first. Ideally, you keep your expenses low until your business is running itself and you can afford to spend more. Be patient, and know that the leads will come with consistency. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to start your business and keep it running.

-Alex Capozzolo, co-founder of Brotherly Love Real Estate in Philadelphia. 

Expand Your Network, Find Your People

When you make your world bigger, nothing bad happens, and involvement at any level of the association will bear fruit because you will be able to get in touch with and have relationships with more people that can help make your world bigger.  Finding your tribe and peers within the association makes the most sense when you are trying to navigate a new and changing market.

-Harrison Beacher, managing partner at Coalition Properties Group in Washington D.C.

Hone in Where it Matters

Congratulations! You’ve made it to five years, which means you beat the odds. By now, you probably have a good handle on your ideal client. You should also be able to define your value proposition. If not, take some time to give it some thought and articulate it in a way that resonates with consumers AND make it known by incorporating it into your mission, vision statements and marketing strategy. Be selective and strategic about who and where you invest your time. It may be time to deepen the relationships you’ve already made versus continuing to go on networking events. Consider implementing a solid client appreciation program to connect with past clients. Adopt a just-in-time learning approach by only taking training and courses you will have the time and energy to implement right away and can use to represent your clients better. Pause to add systems and processes in your business to provide consistently high-quality service to all clients. Ensure you are practicing with fair housing in mind AND leveraging your time! Implementing these practical strategies should yield you a referral business with low customer acquisition costs, position you as a professional business owner and allow you to take TRUE vacations!

-Tezeta Roro, real estate professional with Keller Williams Suburban Realty in Livingston, N.J. 

Use Goals

Keep setting goals! 80% of Americans says they don’t have goals.  16% have goals but don’t write them down.  Less than 4% write down their goals.  And fewer than 1% review them on an ongoing basis.  You might be tempted to stop setting goals as repeat customers are on the rise and referrals seem to be feeding your pipeline, but this would be a mistake!  Setting goals, reviewing them frequently and documenting your progress is essential to continued growth!  Even at this stage in the game!

-Stephanie Bartek, REATLOR® at CENTURY 21 Amerisouth Realty

Get Involved at the Association Level

Make sure to get involved with your local, state and national associations. By doing so you surround yourself with likeminded peers who continuously push you to learn more. The more involved you are, the more connections you build, which gives you the resources necessary to keep up to date with the latest tools and trends to be the best realtor you can be. It has certainly been a game changer for me. I am so thankful for the opportunities bestowed upon me through advocacy and leadership. I am proud to be the 2024 YPN president-elect for The Miami Association of Realtors! My goal is to inspire others to get involved as I attribute much of my success to leadership!

-Dania Diaz, team leader at RE/MAX Advance Realty in Miami, Fla.

Master the Small Stuff

First, if you’re in year 4 or 5, you’re already above the 80% attrition rate. Don’t stop! Everything you do today gives you the business you’ll need three months from today. Remember that being a real estate professional is a 40-50 year plan. Make sure you have a database you can access from your phone (apps are great for this). Be the script master: know exactly what to say in each scenario. And also, have your listing presentation mastered! Ask questions 90% of the time. Make sure you know exactly what your buyer or seller needs from you, and that starts with asking questions. You want to ensure you listen twice as much as you’re talking. Get super comfortable with mirroring and asking for the appointment. This is key! Get a mentor. You should already have someone coaching you, whether a mentor, office manager, coach or broker. Now is the time to jump in if you’re not being coached. Find someone who wants what you have in the business and seek to learn from them! Attend seminars and meetings. You’re in YPN. Attend your local and state meetings! Remember that this is a people-first business. Business will come from referrals, your reputation matters and yes, you will have to talk to people!

-Matt Clements, CEO of The Clements Group at KW Luxury International in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Get Your Money Right

“To get to the five-year point—and thrive—it is all about cash flow management from the beginning. You can think of cash flow as the money going out of your business and the money coming into your business. The goal early on as an agent is to find the balance between money going out and money coming in. Often in those early years, it is easy to sign up for and make commitments to things that take money out of your business. Examples might include high desk fees, long-term marketing or lead service contracts, and more. Another aspect is taking money out of the business to live off of. This can starve your business and cause you to find yourself with a hefty tax bill at the end of the year that you didn’t account for. Early on, agents should focus on bringing in cash from lead sources that cost very little; think floor time, open houses, etc. As their business develops and they leave money, they can transition to more long-term channels that cost money; think lead companies or FB ads. I would recommend analyzing your budget so that you can keep as much cash in the business as possible to invest back into the business. While you can get into real estate for very little cost, staying in the industry for the long-term can require a significant investment in money or time.”

-Alex Craig, founder of the Dolinski Group in Lansing, Mich.

Rule of Three

The big three. I have found that setting three core goals a day that you must complete, through thick or thin, will consistently drive you as well as your business, forward. Sticking to these basics, with the unwillingness to end the day before they are complete, has helped me with improved prioritization and truly advanced all aspects of my life. Consistent and intentional steps forward lead you to the greatest opportunity ahead, often even bigger than initially expected or planned

-Sam Medvene, real estate agent at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty in Washington D.C. 

Know Your Why, Help Someone Else and Stay Educated

If you have made it to five years in real estate, you must first celebrate. I think we all know of many people who have come and gone. To get to year five in such a hyper-competitive industry means you’ve put in long hours, overcome setbacks and probably questioned yourself. After you’ve celebrated, invest in education both personally and professionally. It’s also time to figure out your “why” (or make sure your “why” still suits you at this point in your business). Why are you in the business? What keeps you here? Make that crystal clear to yourself, and keep your why in the back of your mind on the hard days. Also, it’s time to start giving back. Maybe you give back to your community or others in real estate in some way. Whatever you decide, figure out where you’ll give back.

-Neil Goradia, founder of Go Indy Real Estate in Indianapolis 


Nicole Slaughter Graham is a consulting editor at REALTOR® Magazine and the manager of the YPN Lounge. Connect with her at ngraham@nar.realtor. 

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