By Jasen Edwards
Dear 18-year-old agent,
I remember the day I received my real estate license exam results in the mail. Just a few weeks after I turned 18, I slid a single piece of paper out of the envelope from the Texas Real Estate Commission and I saw the word “PASS.” I was looking out from my third-floor apartment balcony and felt like I was literally on top of the world. After working at the Texas Association of REALTORS® throughout high school, I was convinced that I would soon be just as rich as I assumed all the REALTORS® were who I knew at the time.
Now that I’m 45, with full knowledge of what it really takes to make it in this business, I envy the hopeful, newbie energy you no doubt have. I encourage you to hold onto that excitement and hopefulness as long as possible. We can never be certain about the future, except to know that challenges and adversity will come.
Earlier this month, I realized that the September 11th attacks on the United States happened 19 years ago. So, if you’re getting your license at the age of 18 as I did, then you’re among the first group of agents who born after our country was attacked. People who are just a few years older than you will have some memory of that time and most can answer the question, “Where were you when the planes hit the towers?”
I was seven years into my career at that point and headed out to a property tour, excited to be showing my personal home to fellow agents. I was certain they’d have a buyer for me right away but sadly, no one saw the homes on tour that day. When we heard about the planes hitting the towers on the radio, we all went home and stared at the news in shock for hours on end.
All of this got me thinking about how much the industry you are entering seems to have changed since then and how, but when you strip away the noise, the most important factors that contribute to your success are still the same. While you were growing up, not only did real estate pros navigate the uncertainty of the market after the terrorist attacks, we also made it through the dot com bust, several rounds of panic that the internet would disintermediate agents, and the Great Recession. We adapted as advertising and lead generation shifted to online platforms, and as consumers were flooded with more information about real estate than they’d ever need. We learned to incorporate social media and we even adapted to the ways reality TV shows portrayed our work to the average consumer.
There’s no doubt the world has changed quite a bit since you were born, but there are five things that haven’t changed, and if you focus on them now, you’ll build a solid foundation to support your career no matter what life throws at you in the future. Here’s what I’d tell myself if I were 18 today and starting my career.
1. Your primary job is to generate leads. You might think that working with the properties themselves and doing the work to help clients through a transaction is all there is to the job, but that’s an illusion. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is the reward for doing your job well. But for a minimum of 60 minutes a day, you need to focus on generating leads, which is what results in listing and buyer representation agreements.
2. You must learn how to sell—on the phone and in person. The world is going to try to convince you that you can text your way into huge commissions. You cannot. People move because of major life changes and that comes with a lot of emotions. Algorithms don’t account for emotions and emojis aren’t how you deal with real human events. So, it’s critical you learn how to sell. Selling is simply leading your clients to a place where they feel comfortable doing what they already know they want to do. Treat salesmanship with as much respect as you might have for accounting, medicine, or law.
3. Use your marketing to drive people to your database. We say that on September 11, 2001, our country was attacked. It’s such a dramatic event in our nation’s history because we normally have absolute control over our homeland. Conversely, our embassies around the world can be overrun at any time, and we know this. In your business, think of your website and your email list (your database) as your homeland. Everything outside of that—especially social media—are your embassies. You could lose control over them at any minute. When you advertise and use these platforms, drive people back to platforms you own—your homeland.
4. Learn the lifetime value of your relationships. Your database is made up of people who will help you thrive in any market, that is if you remember one thing: People send referrals to you to help themselves, not you. What I mean is, when you get a referral, it’s because the person who sent it thinks you are going to do a good job—and then they get to be the hero for making the connection. To maximize your relationships; it’s not enough to do a “good job” with the referral. You must perform in a way that you have enhanced the reputation and social standing of the person who referred the client to you in the first place.
5. Develop a success-based mindset. This is work that’s going to last a lifetime. Once you make it past the “conquer the world” energy of your 20s, you’ll have a new set of issues crop up that will require you to dig deeper into your personal development. Every decade after that will take you deeper. Don’t worry about this too much right now. Read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill at least once a year and you’ll be as ready as you can be.
Now, take these five tips and go conquer the world. Become the top producer I know you can be.
Jasen Edwards is a sought-after sales expert, performance coach, and motivational speaker with more than 25 years of real estate experience. In his production heyday, he was the youngest person ever listed on the Austin Business Journal’s Top 50 agents list and was featured on the cover of REALTOR® Magazine as a member of the 30 Under 30 class of 2002. Jasen’s first book, The Top Producer Life: How To Build The Real Estate Career Of Your Dreams In Any Economy, will be published in December 2020.