House to House: Advice for New Real Estate Professionals 

By Gary Isom, Executive Director, Arkansas Real Estate Commission

A close acquaintance recently asked me what advice I would give to his daughter who had just decided to enter the real estate profession. After offering my thoughts, it occurred to me that others who have decided to make real estate their career of choice may like to know what an old regulator who’s stuck around since 1987 has observed. So here’s basically what I told my friend.

First of all, new licensees should make a commitment to quality education, beginning with pre-licensing and post-licensing and extending to continuing education. It is not uncommon to find that licensees who are named as subjects in complaints and sometimes even formal hearings before the Commission have made undisciplined decisions regarding education. The signs of educational neglect are easy to spot: some licensees complete their education late year after year; others repeat the same exact distance education course every year even though the content of those courses doesn’t change much, if any, from year to year; still others opt for free “seminars” as opposed to quality classroom presentations. The list goes on and on. Real estate licensees are required to spend a minimum amount of time in education, so make that time count. After all, time is something that you can never recover. Hold your instructors and course providers responsible for ensuring that the time and money you spend in education is indeed well spent.  

Second, choose a firm with a Principal Broker who is dedicated to training and providing support to those agents licensed with them. While independence and a flexible structure may be appealing, don’t let that structure encompass a shoddy foundation. Principal and Executive Brokers who make a commitment to their agents can mean the difference between success and failure in the real estate business. Time is of the essence for most new licensees, as many of them will have to survive a few lean months before building a sustainable business. Don’t waste that precious time with a firm that cannot or does not offer support and training to those entering the profession.

Third, get involved. That means your profession and your community. Professional trade associations are a “must” in the real estate business. And don’t go into an association with a “take what you can get” attitude. Go in asking what you can give because you will eventually get out of it what you put into it. As for service in your community, you are entering a service-oriented business. You are going to need to develop and foster an innate desire to serve others. When you do, it will be noticed and that will eventually mean more business for you.

Lastly, communicate, communicate and communicate. Never forget that your clients and customers are wondering “what’s happening” every day. Let them know, even if there’s little to report. They want to know that you are thinking about them and their real estate needs. Along with this, hold up your end of the real estate brokerage process. Don’t be agent who brings a client or property to the transaction and depends on cooperating agents to put everything else together. Stay involved, working with other licensees to make sure the details are addressed and the wheels keep moving in the right direction. Technology has created a new environment where there’s little excuse for not being accessible. If you’re not inclined to make yourself available to your clients, customers and cooperating agents, we wish you well in your next career.

Entering the real estate profession is a wonderful career choice. I’ve certainly enjoyed my years as a regulator observing so many of Arkansas’ licensees build strong and reputable careers for themselves in this industry. I’m sure those licensees would tell you that they achieved their success through following some of the advice offered above in one way or another. But don’t take my word for it. Find a veteran agent or two and ask what’s made them successful. In the meantime, best of luck to you along your journey, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the Real Estate Commission if you need any help.