Looking to start out strong or need a reboot? San Diego Broker Rachel LaMar offers guidance.
Think back to your goals when you first began your career in real estate. You may have been looking for more flexibility in your schedule or direct control over your earnings. You’d only be limited by how hard you were willing to work. Right? Whether you’re a new real estate agent or have been in the business for decades, you know that building a real estate business -- and especially one that’s self-sustaining -- has its challenges. One challenge, in particular, is leveraging your hard-earned network and experience to create the business you envisioned.
We caught up with San Diego real estate broker Rachel LaMar to glean some insight into how she built her successful business. Rachel has leveraged her legal expertise to create a boutique brokerage, LaMar Real Estate, that specializes in residential buy and sell-side transactions along with investor real estate services. At the dawn of the foreclosure crisis in 2008, she self-published the first book on options to foreclosure. She used the material to help others through local seminars, as well as webinars and blogs to train agents. Rachel shared with us some of her favorite must-dos for taking your business to the next level.
For New Agents
For those who are just starting out in the business, or are transitioning from real estate as a side-gig to a full-time commitment, one of the hardest things to do is to find a niche or something that makes you stand out from other agents. Figure out what value you bring to your business that no one else can. In Rachel’s case, it was her experience as an attorney which allowed her to advise clients from a higher level of expertise. “Being an attorney really sets me apart from other agents” she says, “and it helps me develop relationships with clients who value my ability to fully understand the business and legal side of transactions.”
Building your client pipeline is the most important element for new agents. Rachel suggests the following steps:
- Handwrite letters to everyone you know and include two business cards -- one to keep and one to share. Send them to people even if they’re outside your market area to build awareness. While they may not use you, they may have a friend in your market who’ll hear about you this way.
- Establish a CRM system and add to it as much as possible. “If you find out someone got a new dog, had a baby, or is thinking about moving -- add that info and follow up,” says Rachel. Reach out monthly with a newsletter or holiday note.
- Spend the money on a nice website. Have a high-end, professional video on it to give people a sense of who you are. It will help people research you and learn about your points of differentiation. You’ll then need to drive traffic to your website through social media, Youtube, and other digital marketing.
For Established Agents
The average real estate agent in the US is a 53-year-old female; digital marketing may not come as naturally to her as to some of her younger colleagues. If that resonates with you, don't let that hold you back -- in fact, if you embrace technology, it can give you an advantage over your peers.
If you’ve been using your brokerage’s website, consider spending the money for your own website. If you don’t have a personal logo and branding plan, this is the time to work with a consultant to develop one.
If you’re a good writer, start a blog and include it on your website -- it can help establish you the go-to authority in your local market. If you love being on camera, create short, informal videos showing off your knowledge of the local market. Showcase local neighborhoods you love, create restaurant reviews, talk about market stats or film at local events. Don’t just tell people you know the market -- show them.
Generating Future Referrals
As you build your client base, continue nurturing those contacts to build your referral business. Rachel suggests some of the following strategies for making sure you’re staying top of mind:
- Stop by, call, or text your past clients
- Invite clients to lunch or coffee
- Get client testimonials -- either written or on video -- to share on your website or on social media
- Make use of downtime to step up your outreach
Most of all, do an amazing job. Make it hard for clients NOT to talk about how great you are.
So you want to start your own business?
If you’ve developed a strong client base, you may be thinking about starting your own independent real estate business. Rachel says this may be right for you if you’re “a self-starter, super motivated, and able to operate without the structure of working for someone else.”
Her suggestions for success?
- Talk to someone who’s been there and knows what it takes to start and build a real estate business. Get their advice and insight before you decide to strike out on your own. Entrepreneurs are supportive of other entrepreneurs.
- Take into account the expenses that will be involved. Branding, logos, website, payroll, marketing materials, taxes, and incorporation -- all of these will take time and money.
- Talk to an accountant and an attorney regarding the complexities of licensing requirements, insurance, and other regulatory hurdles.
- Remember that when you’re the boss, you can’t pass off complaints or problems to someone else. The buck stops with you. Make sure that you are prepared for that level of responsibility.
As an attorney and real estate broker, one of Rachel’s most important tips is that too many agents feel that they have to be all things to all clients and should be able to answer every question. “When in doubt, the best thing you can say is ‘let me get that answer for you,’” says Rachel. “Call a legal hotline or get a second opinion; agents shouldn’t be offering legal advice.”
Leveraging strategic partnerships
As a real estate agent, you know that one of the most important things you can do is develop partnerships with professionals who can help make your clients’ real estate goals a reality. Finding the right lending partner is probably the most important of these partnerships since a reliable and seamless financing process is essential to a successful transaction. How much in commission have you lost on deals where the financing fell through? How many offers have you had rejected when competing against an all-cash buyer?
A modern lending partner like Neat Capital can make all the difference in the success that your clients -- and your business -- experience. Contact Neat Capital today to learn more about partnership opportunities. Since Neat Capital validates your client’s financial scenario up front, your client is able to compete against all-cash offers and you’ll have financing certainty.