You can certainly begin your career by representing sellers, but why try and take a shortcut when helping buyers will get you to your end goal far more quickly? Trust me: All that blood, sweat, tears and frustration will pay off in ways you’d never expect them to. It certainly did for me. And there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same, especially if you tackle your career ascent in the following order.
What are the first 3 steps to building your client base?
- Find the right mentor.
- Transform short-term clients into long-term ones.
- Treat your clients like extended family members.
Step 1: Find the Right Broker
This is a slightly more polished way of saying, “Shop around until you find yourself a proper mentor.” If your broker’s face is plastered on the side of buses, on billboards and across public benches, I’d be very cautious about signing up to be on their team.
Thirst for public notoriety isn’t just a red flag; it’s an air raid siren bellowing my ego outweighs my financial acumen. As a young agent, you never want your boss to be obsessed with selling, because if they’re spending all their time chasing down deals, who’s going to help you become a better agent?
I recommend asking all potential employers to explain, in great detail, four key aspects of their brokerage operations:
When you’re new to this industry, the right broker can accelerate your growth or stunt it. Be mindful of the paid recruiters. It’s going to seem, at first blush, like they have all the right answers. They’re going to say all the right things. They’re going to sound slick. And they are going to make you feel really good about their business model.
But remember: You want to make a smart decision, not an emotional decision. You have to read between the lines. In many cases they are really in it for the monthly desk fees that go onto your credit card every month.
Step 2: Transform Renters Into Buyers
It’s exciting for a renter to become a homeowner, but it’s twice as exhilarating to transition from being a renter to being a landlord in one fell swoop. That’s what I did for my very first clients, Mr. and Mrs. Rankin, who bought a place in Richmond Hill and quickly converted their new basement into a rental unit.
At the time there was a little-known initiative called the purchase plus improvement program, which was being run by insurers who specialized in high-ratio mortgages. The purchase plus program allowed the Rankins to obtain a mortgage based on the initial value of their new home, prior to any renovations. That initial mortgage, however, could be revised upward to include additional renovation costs and bundled into an all-in-one mortgage.
Take care of your clients, and they’ll take care of you.
Under the program, renovations could begin as soon as the sale was completed, albeit with one small catch: The renovation portion of this bundle would be held back by the bank upon closing and released when, and only when, one of its inspectors verified that the work was properly completed.
This addendum didn’t concern me a bit, because my uncle and I supervised those renovations for the Rankins. And sure enough, when the work was completed, we received high marks from the inspector. The check was cut by the bank. We were paid. And Mrs. Rankin celebrated.
Over the years I’ve devised all sorts of interesting financing deals, all legal and above board, to reduce the total costs for my clients. Put your head down and find a way to make things happen, even when the odds are stacked against you. Because if you do make things happen, if you find a way to make something out of nothing, who do you think your clients are going to call to sell their house years later?
They’re going to call you. Doesn’t matter who comes knocking at their front door, offering to sell their house. Doesn’t matter if someone else sends them a fancy marketing brochure or inundates their inbox with emails. They’re going to remember you. They’re going to remember all the hard work that you put into being the best buyer’s agent possible and ask you to be their seller’s agent too.
Step 3: Treat Your Clients Like Extended Family Members
As a buyer’s agent, you need to prioritize the needs and interests of your client above all else. In other words, you have a responsibility to consider their best interest. This includes 100 percent confidentiality. You must disclose any and all pertinent information that might affect their decision-making process. You are responsible for making good-faith disclosures. And you owe your clients competency, loyalty and good faith.
Trust me when I say that soft skills matter. They really matter. I offer you, as proof, the story of an early client of mine, a single mother whom we’ll call Ruth.
Ruth was struggling to make ends meet and purchase a new house, so I suggested she create a rentable basement apartment with access to her garage. Normally, homeowners pay for their own permits, but Ruth didn’t have enough money to cover them. So I stepped in and put up the money for her. I also personally guided her through the entire approval process.
In some cases taking a hardline approach might be necessary, but when you’re working with a quality client, putting up a little of your own money will win you a client for life and sterling referrals for the rest of your career. On this particular project, I knew we’d have some tricky zoning issues to deal with. But what we didn’t realize was that we’d be saddled with a building inspector who’d show up to our work site every week looking for something to critique.
Suffice to say Ruth and I persevered. I was punctilious in ensuring the work was completed both quickly and correctly. By the end of the project, the inspector had no choice but to approve it. Ruth was overjoyed. And to be honest, it felt really good to know that we’d done a little something to give her daughter a head start in life.
It’s very simple, isn’t it? Take care of your clients, and they’ll take care of you. That’s how you build a reputation in this industry: You go the extra mile for your clients. You build a name for yourself by convincing trustworthy people to trust you.
And sure enough, years later, I received a phone call from a man I’d never met before. He’d called me out of the blue. He said, “I don’t know you, but I have a friend named Ruth. When I told her about my problem, she told me to immediately hang up the phone and dial you.”
Then the man said something I still cherish to this day: “Ruth tells me she would never be where she is today if it weren’t for you.”
Excerpted from Onwards and Upwards: Discover the Reality of Building Real Estate Success by Dean Artenosi. Copyright © 2023 by Dean Artenosi. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written consent of the author, except as provided by the United States of America copyright law. Published by Forbes Books, Charleston, S.