12 Tips for a Career in Real Estate
To be a real estate agent in Kenya and especially Nairobi can mean two things. It can mean that you are a person who prints your contacts then sticks the pieces of paper on the sides of trees and lamp posts. You show up once you are called by a potential client then demand payment before you show a single property. On the other hand, it can mean that you are a person who has business cards and works professionally. So, what kind of real estate agent would you like to be? Below are a few tips for a successful career in real estate.
You should be good at sales. Not necessarily so good that you can sell a fur coat to a bear but good enough to coax people into being genuinely interested in your product. While in real estate, the customers initiate everything. Some may require a little bit of hand-holding. They need some bit of sweet-talking so they can remain interested in the process as opposed to merely going through the motions. Being good at sales means that you will be able to explain the qualities of the house properly. There is a certain charm and charisma in salespeople that make them more popular with clients.
- People person
You should also be good with people. You should be able to deal with people of different temperaments. You cannot apply a cookie-cutter approach to dealing with people. You must understand that some people are grumpy while others are too energetic for life. No matter what is happening in your own life or your personality, you must be able to remain warm and cordial with anyone. You should be likable yourself. This will ensure that you remain on your clients’ good side. It will also make the process easier. Clients will be more committed to the process if they get along with their agent. They will also be more likely to suggest you to other people who might need your services. On that note, you should stay away from particular small talk topics like politics and religion. These conversations can quickly go downhill and cost you a client.
- Extra mile
You should be willing to go above and beyond for your client. Does the client need someone to wash the house for him or her before they move? If it is not too much trouble, go ahead and organize that. If they want to view the house multiple times, that is fine too. This can be a tricky one as you never know who is simply being tedious and who is genuinely interested. You should be prepared to do a little bit more. Set yourself apart from the others by being helpful and diligent in your agency.
The key to reaching and exceeding any of your goals in life lies in consistent and intentional improvement. As a real estate agent, you need to keep a keen eye on your clients’ reactions to the choices you have picked out for them and the entire house hunting experience. This will inform your research and improvement strategies. For example, if it seems like your clients never like the choices you have picked for them and almost always end up picking something different from your listing. It could be that you are not taking time to understand the clients and their needs. You should, therefore, endeavor to improve that part of your service. The point is, never stop improving.
- Constant research
To improve consistently, you also have to constantly learn. You will need to do a tonne of research at all times. Find out the current trends in Kenyan real estate. Find out how to be better. Find out how other real estate agents are working. It is important that you remain informed about industry news. The research will also keep you abreast of the kinds of listings that are popular. You will learn about trends in the industry and the evolution of clients. One generation of real estate clients cannot be the same as the next, there will be a difference in preferences and behaviors. It will also be useful to see how other countries’ real estate markets are looking at any one time.
You should make maximum use of the internet. Not just for your research either. You should place your listings on as many reputable sites as possible. You should be vocal and present on social media about your work. The concept of video house tours is pretty new especially in Kenya but it makes use of a resource that has been around for a long time. Having a YouTube channel is free. You could use your phone to film if you do not have a budget for that. Having a social media account is free. Some of the real estate sites will charge you but it is usually a very small amount. The internet can be your first office before you get an actual office. As far as office rent goes, this is as low as you will go.
In any profession, it is important to mix with people. As a real estate agent, your networth will be determined by your network. In Kenya and most of the world, it is all about who you know. Who can spread your name around? Who will think of you first? Get out there and mingle with people in the industry. Get out there and mingle with people in adjacent industries like say construction. Attend industry galas and meetups. Be as visible as possible Ensure no one forgets your name. Your success will be determined by word of mouth and referrals. So as you work to improve your professional capabilities, you should also work to expand your network.
It is always important to know someone who has been in the industry for a long time. Someone who can tell you all about the workings of the industry. Someone who can teach you things that no one else bothered to teach you in training. A mentor will direct you to make all the right decisions so that you can end up as an independent agent. They can also introduce you to some influential people as well as walk you into the inner sanctum of the industry where all the real deals happen. As long as you know the right people, you should do well.
- Pay your dues
While being an independent agent is the dream, you probably should start from an already established firm. You should not be afraid to start from the very bottom of the food chain. If they put you on activations, then do those activations with as much zeal as possible. Be enthusiastic. Do the best job you can no matter how mundane the task is. This is how you get noticed. This is also how you train yourself not to overlook any part of the job.
- Predict challenges
You will face many challenges as a real estate agent. Some clients will have you moving around looking at houses but never really buy anything. Or there will be an issue with the weather thus making it difficult to see as many options as you would like. You should, therefore, make sure to predict these challenges. You should make contingency plans so that these challenges do not get in the way of the process.
- Business expenses
As a real estate agent, moving around will cost you. It may be fuel or fare but you will need to find a way to set off those expenses. The client fees should be able to cover these expenses as well as leave a little something for you. If you pay business expenses out of your pocket then you begin to fail. You will be financing the job instead of being financed by the job. Handling business expenses will require a sober mind. This ability will come in handy when you start working for yourself.
- Legal requirements
When the time comes for you to open up your shop, you should make sure to have all your papers right. There is an Estate Agents Registration Board. You should have a KRA pin for your business as well as business registration certificates. Make sure to do your research on how to not only open a business in Kenya and Nairobi but also how to be a real estate agent in this town. You should also find other professional bodies apart from the EARB.
Anyone can be a real estate agent. To be a successful one, you need to be a friend, confidant and salesperson all rolled into one. You must wear all these hats while also maintaining your professionalism. All the best!