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A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

When starting a new career, it’s often difficult to even know where to begin, particularly in a business as complex as real estate. New real estate professionals must tackle a dizzying array of details, from selecting a brokerage to polishing their sales technique. The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate (Trafford Publishing 2002; $19.95.), by Mark Nash, provides a starting point for newly minted salespeople and other readers considering a real estate career.

It gives practical advice with a personal touch. Nash, a Broker Associate with Koenig & Strey/GMAC Real Estate in Chicago, describes it as “the book that I needed when I started out in 1997, as I flopped around looking for the answers to jumpstart my sales career.” He alternates lessons on real estate basics with autobiographical asides, labeled “Mark’s Story” detailing his experiences breaking into the real estate field. The book provides a rapid-fire introduction to the real estate business, outlining business decisions, identifying common obstacles, and defining industry terms.

The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate assists readers in weighing vital early decisions, such as choosing their first brokerage. Nash advises new salespeople to use lists to make their decision-making process more concrete. In “Chapter 1: Address for Success,” he recommends that readers draw on their previous jobs to pinpoint qualities to hunt for in potential brokers. This requires that the salesperson write down the professional traits that they liked (or disliked) in their previous managers. For instance, some of these qualities might include: team player, ethical, outgoing, sincere, methodical, and business plan driven. Similarly, he recommends writing a list of requirements for prospective real estate offices, using questions such as:

  • How far do you want the office from your home, daily travel routes?
  • What size office do you want to work for?
  • How much pressure to produce sales volume do you want from your managing broker?

Learning industry jargon presents another challenge to real estate newcomers. “Chapter Nine: Understanding the Terms” defines the industry jargon, so that newbies won’t feel lost when coworkers toss off terms such as assumable mortgages and inspection riders. Other chapters provide explanations for the alphabet soup of designations available to real estate professionals, from ABRs to SRESs. These glossaries provide a great way for new real estate professionals to get up to speed on industry terminology.

The book also identifies common problems that new salespeople will face in the field, such as dealing with difficult personality types. “Chapter 3: The Welcome Wagon” summarizes “passive aggressive clients,” “control freaks,” and other problem personality types that real estate professionals might regularly encounter. The book offers techniques for dealing with each of these behavioral types—for instance, salespeople should disarm controlling customers by sticking to the facts over emotion. Although this section can familiarize new salespeople with the broad outlines of the problems they might face, it highlights a weakness in the book’s presentation.

The book covers a great deal of territory in a relatively brief space, preventing the author from lingering on any one topic for too long. Its to-the-point coverage of the real estate industry works better with some topics than others. Subjects such as definitions of designations or explanations of different commission splits lend themselves to brief coverage. However, issues such as buyer personality types cry out for a more detailed examination. (Entire books have been written on this subject alone.)

Overall, the book presents a solid introduction to real estate fundamentals. New salespeople will find that after they’ve passed their license examination, their real work has just begun; with The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate they can get a head start on the challenges that lie ahead.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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