Buying & Selling Houses

How to Be a Rockstar Real Estate Agent: 9 Tips for Standout Success

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate News & Commentary, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance
105 Articles Written
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There is this misconception that selling real estate is easy—that being a rockstar real estate agent means you get your license, print up some business cards, and poof! You’re making the big bucks instantly. All you have to do is list properties, sit back, and rake in the cash. Easy, right? Except when real life gets in the way.

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New real estate agents seem to come in two different camps. Either they’re overconfident, certain they’ll be making six figures in their first year, or they’re nervous wrecks, positive no leads will ever come. Neither are true—because the real secret is simple. If you want to be an agent, be prepared to work.

No, getting your real estate license isn't all that hard. That simply means that just about anyone can do it. But getting a license doesn't automatically make you a successful real estate agent—or make any money. So, how do you achieve that coveted rockstar status? Here are several real estate agent tips—plus some suggestions from a client—to boost your real estate career into the stratosphere.

While a real estate license isn’t a necessity for all investors, some find it an essential part of their investment strategy. But getting your license can be a long process, involving coursework, exams, and background checks—and, of course, you’ll need to find a broker. Learn more about what separates average agents from the great and get all the details on acquiring your license with our in-depth guide: How to Become a Real Estate Agent—An Investor’s Guide.

1. Answer the Phone (or Risk Missing Real Estate Leads)

I’m licensed in Colorado. I’m an investor, and I’ve been buying houses since before dirt was invented. I’ve made my share of phone calls to real estate agents… yet every single time, my call goes directly to voicemail.

Yes, there are times when you cannot answer your phone. I get that, and have no issue leaving a message if you’re actually busy. But almost without fail, I get an immediate call back—and about 99 percent of the time, the agent hasn’t listened to my voicemail.

Rockstar real estate agents answer their phone. Having a quick-response records means past clients will refer you to your friends, who can become new clients—and those referrals are the lifeblood of successful agenting.

2. Return Emails

Because the not-answering-the-phone thing is so prevalent, I have since turned to email. I wake up super early, and don’t want to wake anyone else up. Each morning, I sit down and email while I’m drinking my coffee. I hit send, then crickets.

Nothing. No response—hardly ever. Just as often as not, my email goes ignored. What if I were a potential home buyer? Those agents just lost a lead, especially since so many of today’s buyers and sellers want to do business with digital natives.

My ignored email prompts a phone call, voicemail, and (surprise, surprise) immediate callback, where the email recipient professes that they never received the note. Sigh.

Set up an agent-specific email address—nothing looks less professional than [email protected]—and review your inbox every day. Respond to everything every day.

woman in maroon shirt and yellow sweater talking on a cell phone while going over notes on a notepad

3. Create a Killer Business Plan

“To be a rockstar agent, you need a strong business and marketing plan. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and proactively promote yourself through networking, social media, and target marketing,” says Chris Dickson, a real estate manager with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, The Preferred Realty.

Great advice, Chris. I'll add: While every property is different, there are a lot of similarities. There's no need to reinvent the wheel with every new listing. Come up with a killer marketing plan. It should include social media and more traditional methods, like newspaper, direct mail, and open houses. Not everyone is online, and you want to contact as many people as possible—especially if your competition only targets the online market.

4. Have an Online Presence

This comes hand-in-hand with your killer marketing plan. Says John R. Lyons from John Lyons Real Estate, "Master social media and leverage your videos on all social platforms. The more exposure and good content you produce will elevate the market's perception on your business."

Ryan Fitzgerald of Raleigh Realty credits his “…commitment to technology and online marketing strategies” to his success. “While other companies are wasting time with paper ads and TV commercials, I’m on every Facebook newsfeed between the hours of six and nine p.m., when people are most likely to search homes for sale. We use Facebook ads to capture traffic and retarget that captured traffic with branding through retargeting pixels so they are constantly seeing my brand.”

He continues, “Today we are doing nearly five new leads a day from our website, with 20 percent growth in traffic nearly every month! If you want to become a superstar real estate agent, you’ll need to have an incredible work ethic and master a lead generation strategy that works for you! For me, that was online marketing.”

Pay attention to Google, too. Write SEO-relevant blog posts and update your Google search listing to stay top of mind for local searchers.

5. Listen to Your Clients’ Needs

“My most important advice would be to listen to your clients’ needs and work toward helping them achieve those goals. Too many agents are more concerned about their own financial gain or success. They don’t take the time to listen to their clients with the understanding that helping them meet their goals with compassion, honesty, and ethics—and coming from a place of educating them—will result in the success you’re searching for,” recommends Peter Boscas, Broker and Principal Owner of Red Cedar Real Estate.

6. Build Your Client Relationships

Christopher Leavitt of Douglas Elliman Real Estate says his focus on client relationships makes him a superstar real estate broker. Even with his packed schedule, he always takes the time needed to talk to his clients. One of the ways he does this is by never rushing his clients when he’s with them. He also takes every opportunity to learn. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 million or $50 million home—Chris never shortcuts the time his prospects need with him. Chris checks in with his clients on a regular basis and believes in the philosophy of once a client, always a client.

7. Know Your Local Market

Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty states, “You need to be knowledgeable about the areas you work in. You need to know everything about the areas you focus on, and when you talk about prices and deals and investment opportunities, be articulate and confident in your answers. Don’t focus on dozens of neighborhoods. Conquer one, two, then move on to the next. It takes years, not months to build an empire. Have patience and stamina.”

Collin Bray of Century 21 Cityside completely agrees. He suggests, “Preview property. Knowledge is power. Know your specific marketplace. Who are the other top agents, developers, and buildings with amenities? What new restaurants are coming to the area? Public transportation and school systems?”

Knowing your market isn’t just knowing the housing market. You must understand the entire real estate industry, including everything that affects the housing market, too.

8. Establish an Amazing Work Ethic

“If you want to become a superstar agent, you have to work harder than any other agent. If you’re not dreaming about the deals and clients you work for, whether it’s a nightmare or fantasy, you’re not working hard enough,” says Bacal.

Bray agrees, adding, “A superstar is defined as a high-profile and extremely successful performer or athlete. Perfect! How does an athlete become a professional? Years of practice and discipline. That is why so few agents are successful; it’s why becoming a professional athlete is so difficult.”

9. Treat Your Business Like a Business

“You’re a real business, which means you have to promote yourself and your brand, your name, your expertise, and success and accolades everyday, and when you stop doing that, business will stop. You have to spend money to make money, like any other business. If you want to be an agent by referrals only, then you don’t have a real thriving day-to-day business full of escrows and deals in motion,” recommends Bacal.

This one is actually the most important—and the least followed. Many new agents don’t understand that being a real estate agent isn’t like having your own business. It is having your own business: a real estate business. You are a business owner. (Congratulations!) Yes, you hang your license under your employing broker. Perhaps you even have quotas you need to meet in order to stay at that agency. They might even provide you with leads. But it is your business, and you are 100 percent responsible for your success.

Work on it part-time, and you’ll get part-time results. Work on it full-time, and treat it as the business it is, to realize the best and most profitable results.

Related: Newbie Agent 101: How to Choose a Real Estate Brokerage

Bonus: 10 Quick Tips From a Client

But what are your clients looking for? Jordan Wirsz, CEO of Savant Investment Partners, shares what he’s looking for in an agent. His main points of advice:

  1. Don’t pre-judge your clients or potential clients.
  2. Spend time with them in person.
  3. Even if you are a kick-butt agent with lots going on, never get the “entitled” and “arrogant” attitude that you have all the good deals—and that if an investor wants good deals, they need to kiss up to YOU.
  4. Don’t “sell” them on deals. You might think that your job is sales, but it isn’t. Your job is to be trustworthy, smart, and transparent.
  5. Always, always, always communicate promptly and extremely well.
  6. Do more than “your job.” Go the extra mile. Help find and coordinate contractors, do your best to find ones that do good work at fair prices, and show the investor that even though your commission is earned, you are their “partner” and looking after them just as you would yourself. This is called integrity.
  7. Until you become an investor (if you aren’t one already), you’ll never really understand how difficult it is to make a good return on your money. There is an old adage, “Look after the pennies, and the dollars will look out for themselves.”
  8. Don’t show preferential treatment to yourself or any other investor.
  9. Show gratitude for the business and the relationship.
  10. Know that not every “big investor” relationship is a match made in heaven. Over time, you will get to know that investor, develop a relationship with him or her, and sometimes, unfortunately, you will find out that their expectations and treatment of you is not the right fit for you.

Any agent can list a property on the MLS. Any agent can write up an offer. But being just "any" agent isn't going to get you the referrals and repeat business that is the difference between a license and a rockstar reputation.

Related: Real Estate Investors: Should You Become a Real Estate Agent?

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Are you a rockstar real estate agent? What do you do that sets you apart from your competition?

Let me know with a comment!

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for more than 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado, author of How to Sell Your Home, and the community manager for BiggerPockets, where she helps new and experienced investors learn the proper ways to invest in real estate to grow their wealth. Mindy is an alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks and will happily share her experiences with anyone who asks. When you can get her to stop talking about real estate, you can find her on her bike or adventuring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.
    Ugwu Uche from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great article, I am a new agent and a lot of these tips are in line with my current strategy. Confidence inspiring knowing that I am on the right track .
    Patricia Young Real Estate Agent from Freehold, New Jersey
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great tips and very insightful!
    allen james
    Replied over 4 years ago
    very informative article will help for the growth of my bussiness
    emily bennette
    Replied over 4 years ago
    This is some really good information about real estate agents. I like the idea of my real estate agent being really social media savvy. That seems like it would help your sell our home.
    Donald Price from Andover, MA
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Mindy, Great article! I especially like the Bonus Tip “10 Quick Tips From Your Client”. Any agent who wants to work with “investor” clients should print and post these tips on the wall.
    Cindy Tesler
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thanks for pointing out that when dealing with home buying, you should always answer your phone. You also said that it’s also important to always answer your emails so that you can stay in contact will sellers regularly. I think it’s a good idea to choose a real estate agent that has experience in selling homes in your potential neighborhood.
    Mindy Jensen BiggerPockets Community Manager from Longmont, CO
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Very true, Cindy. In fact, I’ve got a real life example. There is a neighborhood in my city that is very high priced. It is the only neighborhood like this, and the prices are really skewed compared to the rest of the city. You’re buying the neighborhood. There is a house for sale near me that used an agent who specializes in this expensive neighborhood to list, and she listed so far above what the home could ever sell for that in the hottest market my city has ever seen, it sits, stale, gathering dust. It started off more than $100k overpriced, easily. Use an agent familiar with your market.
    Cindy Tesler
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thanks for pointing out that when dealing with home buying, you should always answer your phone. You also said that it’s also important to always answer your emails so that you can stay in contact will sellers regularly. I think it’s a good idea to choose a real estate agent that has experience in selling homes in your potential neighborhood.
    emily bennette
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Knowing and understanding the market does seem like a great thing for a realtor to know. I like the idea of having someone help me find a home who truly understands the place I want to live. It seems like it would make house hunting easier.
    Jonathan Kobler Real Estate Agent from Southlake, Texas
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Great information. It’s important to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd and these tips can help with that. Thanks!
    Jonathan Kobler
    Replied over 3 years ago
    It’s it’s important to distinguish yourself from the crowd and these tips can help you do just that. Thanks for posting.
    Erika Franklin
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I love this!
    Mike Arman
    Replied 6 months ago
    I will second the motion that knowing your market and area is vital. I am selling properties in our residential air park development (lots for hangar homes on an airstrip) and let me tell you that if you don't know *exactly* what you are doing here, you don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of making any kind of a deal. These are expensive lots, and the homes on them are also expensive. Knowing your customer and knowing their needs and resources is crucial - as is knowing about aircraft (what the runway is suitable for and what it is not), and finding appraisers who realize that airport properties are similar to waterfront properties - rare and expensive. Surprisingly, aviation-savvy bankers are not as important as you might think, many of these buyers pay cash, they lend money TO banks rather than borrow money from them.