By Brandon Johnson
There’s a real trick to appearing, communicating, and performing like an experienced real estate professional. And, as a 23-year-old agent who got his real estate license in June of this year, I want to share how I transformed myself in less than half a year on the job.
Only 3 percent of licensees are under the age of thirty in my local association, and I am the second youngest overall. Still, I can proudly say I have started off strong as the youngest agent in our brokerage to make the top producer’s list my third month as a licensee. The key to my early success is that I quickly adjusted to the demands of being a real estate pro in three key areas.
Looking Like a Professional. I look young. When people initially meet me, many are inclined to think I’ve just graduated from high school. Therefore, the hardest part of working an open house the first few times was not answering questions about taxes or square footage. I realized that customers came in assuming that I am not an expert, a professional, or in some cases not even a real estate agent. I needed to change that, so I started to experiment with my attire. When I started to wear a shirt, tie, blazer, and slacks, clients started to ask real estate questions and not questions asked about how much experience I had. I realized I had to change my appearance to stand out compared to other agents. If a customer attended a dozen open houses on a Sunday I wanted to be the agent that stood out so that when I followed up they would remember me. As a result, my open house activity directly contributed to thirty percent of my closings.
Speaking Like a Professional. Of course, a clothing change isn’t going to stop everyone from asking about my boyish looks. But when clients did ask, I realized I could simply state that I am working in my first year under our company’s mentor program and get back to the real estate questions. But when a customer seriously questions your age as a negative factor of being a real estate agent, you cannot let them leave your presence without proving that your age is actually an asset. I tell clients that since I am younger I have fewer commitments, allowing me to spend more time focusing on my career. When you explain that you have devoted your life to a new career and that you are passionate about working in real estate, people will understand that you truly want to work for them. When I tell them of my early successes, I am not boasting. I am telling them that I am qualified to represent them as a real estate expert. The best advice I received about communicating like a professional was not to rush into answers to sound like you know it all. If a customer asks a question that you cannot answer with certainty, tell them. I respond by saying they asked a good question and I would like to ask the listing agent or my manager to provide the most accurate answer in a timely manner. If I’m at an open house I tell them that I will respond to them Monday afternoon and ask for their contact information. Because I was honest, I usually am able to turn that short interaction into a lead.
Goal Planning Like a Professional. I told our managing broker that I wanted to close a million dollars’ worth of deals before the end of the year. Her response was not negative, but it was not optimistic either. I entered into real estate clueless of what an average first-year agent produces. I wanted to be a top producer, and that led to me working like a top producer. I noticed that the most experienced agents in our office started working around 8:30 in the morning. I made it a goal to beat them into the office every morning. I noticed that many agents work an open house every Sunday but the best agents work two, so that’s what I do. I can honestly say the amount of time I spend in the office is the reason that I have generated most of my leads. Lead generation aside, my time spent in the office impresses the more experienced agents I work with. I tell my clients that I have 100 years of experience because of the network I have built in our office with my fellow real estate agents. I tell them that my company will not let me fail, and that my goal is to build a relationship with them that will be converted into a closing.
Brandon Johnson was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. He graduated from Keith Country Day School in 2009, graduated from the University of Illinois in 2013. During his time there studied Spanish linguistics and international relations, became a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and expanded his family’s business. He became a licensed broker in June 2014. Brandon is a council member of Rockford Illinois’ Young Professional Network. Also, at the age of 23 he is one of the youngest licensees in the Rockford Association. Outside of real estate Brandon is a certified IHSA Basketball official and enjoys being involved with the community.