Kevin is the founder of Marker real estate, an innovative company with a transparent, integrative and customer-oriented strategy.
As a new broker, I’ve never specialized in a particular market or property type. I have raised my hand for every opportunity presented and followed those opportunities to the end. I believe my decision to take every opportunity I can think of has contributed to my success as a real estate professional and entrepreneur. Why do so many brokers and team leaders encourage new agents to do the opposite?
I often hear that brokers and team leaders encourage new agents to focus solely on sellers or solely on buyers. I’ve also heard that it’s better to only work in one neighborhood or just focus on a specific type of property.
My best guess is that if you focus on one thing and reject everything else, you will gain credibility as an expert faster and not waste time chasing things that do not fit your chosen client profile. I agree that specialization is important for experienced agents. But when it comes to new agents, this can be dangerous advice. This may even be a reason why real estate has one of the lowest retention rates of any profession.
Keep all doors open
My advice to new agents is to take every opportunity like it is your very last. This means that you keep all doors open and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. I don’t share this advice because I think new agents should bring themselves to their knees – quite the contrary. The more you do, the more you learn, the more people you meet and the more likely you are to be successful. There are four main reasons for this:
Working with buyers and sellers is part of your industry education.
Understanding the buy and sell side of the market is important if you want to be successful in real estate. Even if you end up specializing in one thing or the other, understanding the psychology behind working with buyers and sellers will help you become more competitive down the line.
Having a presence across the neighborhoods makes you more agile and competitive.
Even the hottest real estate markets go up and down. If you get too deeply anchored in a market early on, it can be difficult to switch or expand. Local knowledge is always an advantage, but don’t lock yourself into a single neighborhood or region too early. When you do this, you may have difficulty responding to changes in the market.
Sometimes plans are best broken.
Having a plan (e.g., setting clear benchmarks to measure your success) is great, but if you are afraid of breaking your plan, you risk stunting your own growth. Let’s say your goal is to get into the luxury real estate market. It’s a great destination, and the returns can be impressive. It’s also a high bar for any new agent. Keeping your options open is the best way to acquire the skills, network, and insight you need to ultimately focus solely on luxury real estate and high net worth clients.
You can’t think outside the box when you’re locked in.
Just as you don’t want to be locked into a single plan, you also don’t want someone else to include you. Even if a broker or team leader brings you to a dead end (e.g., urges you to only represent buyers in a particular market or neighborhood), you are fighting to keep your opportunities open. Asserting yourself doesn’t have to be confrontational. If you state that you want to get as much attention and experience as possible, most brokers and team leaders will understand. In the end, your ability to think outside the box will be well served if you never let others lock you up.
So what’s the bottom line? Make sure you expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible. If you can, join a team that is offering leads, ideally different types of leads. Whatever you do, stay hungry and open to options. A niche market or specialization may develop over time. But don’t assume that to be successful you have to close doors. Many of the most successful real estate professionals keep the door open to new opportunities throughout their careers.
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