The bulk of letters and e-mails I receive from readers are complaints about their real estate agents -- griping about lousy service and bad advice or agonizing over how to fire an agent, often a relative, without causing a family riff.
How Much Experience Should Agents Have?
Instead of asking how much experience an agent has, ask how many times the agent has renewed his or her real estate license. In Oklahoma, for example, real estate licenses are issued for three years; New Hampshire's term is two years; in California, we enjoy four-year terms.
You have probably heard the adage that 10% of the agents do 90% of the business. That's because top producing agents are consistent, and this consistency comes from experience. The minimum number of transactions many brokers expect an agent to complete per year averages out to about ten, which is almost one per month. Not a lot by a top-producer's standards, but adequate in most real estate circles.
Why Do Real Estate Agents Quit?
The number one reason real estate agents leave the business is because they aren't making enough money. The median salary for an agent in the United States is less than $35,000 a year. Subtract from that figure normal business expenses and taxes, and let's hope nobody is trying to feed a family of four on what's leftover.
Although experts advise new agents to keep six to 12 months of salary in reserves, few heed that advice. The business appears to be very easy to outsiders looking in, but real estate is complicated, time consuming and the average Joe or Jill are typically ill equipped to become a real estate agent. Unfortunately, many don't find that out until they've weathered many months without a paycheck.
Here are some of the skills successful agents possess that help them to prosper in the real estate industry:
- Time management
- Patience to handle conflict resolutions
- Marketing expertise
- Self promotion
- Projection of an outgoing personality
The Benefits to Experience
An experienced agent is one whose mistakes are new. Successful agents learn something new every year; while lesser agents tend to repeat past mistakes. Top agents treat each client as though their business depends on the client's success. Because it does.
Agents who are experienced:
- Offer solutions based on previous results
- Anticipate problems before they occur
- Enjoy solid reputations with other agents
- Have practiced strong negotiation techniques
- Refer time-tested vendors such as mortgage lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, general contractors, pest inspectors
- Understand the complexities of changing real estate markets
- Provide statistics and crucial market data to clients
- Professionally guide clients to smooth closings
Should You Hire a DNA Agent?
DNA agents are relatives. As such, relatives are often careful not to offend each other. Agents who are related to you might not want to counter your opinions or ideas, even if it's in your best interest to do so. You might not feel comfortable demanding what you deserve, as you would with an agent who was not family.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.