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Seven Mistakes to Avoid During Your First Year in Real Estate

When Molly de Mattos started her real estate career in 2005, she was fortunate enough to have a cheerleader in her father. As someone who had built a second career in real estate, de Mattos’ father was an encyclopedia of advice, setting her up for a real estate career strong in its foundations from the very beginning. A KSCORE and KW MAPS BOLD Coach who runs a mega team in Asheville, North Carolina, de Mattos offers seven mistakes that first-year agents should be aware of as they enter the industry. 

“The issue with a first-year mistake is you can condition that into a second-year mistake and a third-year mistake,” says de Mattos. “And then you build your business on a cracked foundation, or you get burnt out and give up altogether.”

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Keller Williams has partnered with Kaplan Real Estate Education to make entering a career in real estate affordable and accessible with the Keller Williams School of Real Estate (KSCORE). With prelicensing education provided by Kaplan Real Estate Education through the KSCORE training program, aspiring real estate agents no longer have to worry about the financial constraints or confinement of a physical classroom**.

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Seven Mistakes to Avoid

1. Treating everything as urgent. For many real estate novices, this may be the first time you are accountable to yourself and your own goals instead of goals that have been set for you by an external employer. And, it may feel like saying ‘yes’ to anything and everything is the way to move through your business. “You’re conditioning yourself to do these activities over and over again,” de Mattos warns. “If you give up lead gen time to show a property because you think you can make a bit of money, you may, but think about how you’ve missed the opportunity to grow your business. Don’t get distracted by all the shiny objects,” she adds.

Instead, she advises creating a broad framework for structuring your days, and sticking to it. “There is no such thing as a real estate emergency. This is not life or death. Focus on the activities that bring long-term results. If 80 percent of your time, you follow a schedule and you stick to your guns, you’re going to create really good conditioning that will serve you and your long-term business.” 

2. Not grounding yourself. One way to create de Mattos’ aforementioned structure is to bookend your days. In the morning, decide what you’re going to do and who you want to be on that particular day, and stick to it. Before logging off, ask yourself the following: What did I learn today? What did I do well? Was I the person that I had set out to be? 

3. Allowing limiting beliefs to creep in. Being a new agent brings many learning opportunities and moments of failing forward. What it does not bring is an excuse to be stagnant and not try new things. One of the biggest mistakes new agents make, shares de Mattos, is a lack of confidence. “Don’t fake it until you make it, because for many clients, this is obviously the largest financial investment a person will make in their lifetime,” she says. “But, embrace looking bad and being wrong. You’ll learn so quickly, and you’ll be able to create the correct mindset to be learning based and apply that to getting experience. If you don’t know something, say ‘I’m not sure, but I’m going to find out.’”

4. Not being seriously committed to lead generation. “Structure your lead generation in a package that’s going to be consistent over time,” advises de Mattos. She shares that everyone should have a PAM (plan, act, and maintain). As you think through your lead generation, take some time to plan who you’re going to call and what you’re going to say. “It might be that five of your calls are gratitude calls, five are business-to-business relationship calls, and ten are asking for business.” Then, act. Stick to the plan. Lastly, maintain during the last 30 minutes of the day by keeping your notes tidy and following up on action items.

5. Allowing distractions. “We have so many more opportunities for distraction than ever before,” de Mattos says. “Everything dings, pings, everything is urgent, and everyone needs everything right now.” So, she references the teachings of Gary Keller: Build a bunker. “Take an inventory of what pulls you away from your actual activity and work to eliminate those things,” she says. If the cell phone is too much, replace it with an old-school phone, or employ any features your phone may have to mitigate distractions (such as the iPhone’s Focus feature). “Also, the greatest destroyer of focused lead generation time is your email. Separate that out.

During your lead generation time, don’t forget to be mindful of TCPA guidelines: WARNING! You must comply with the TCPA and any other federal, state or local laws, including for B2B calls and texts. Never call or text a number on any Do Not Call list, and do not use an autodialer or artificial voice or prerecorded messages without proper consent. Contact your attorney to ensure your compliance.

6. Being too focused on quantity. While it is important to speak to as many people as possible and begin planting relationship seeds during your first year in real estate, much of your income down the line will come from your ability to stay connected and follow up. “If we don’t stay in front of people and cultivate that relationship, have nuanced conversations, and come from contribution, they’re going to forget about us before they’ve driven out of the parking lot. I want you to think: If I do this right, I will reap the benefits three years from now. That’s about the time frame for a return on investment in a relationship.” Quantity and quality should go hand-in-hand. Always ask for the opportunity to be a resource for your sphere. 

7. Getting stuck in the learning phase. In real estate, a learning-based mindset is encouraged! But, as with everything else, it’s about creating the right balance. “Anyone can get caught up in being a professional student of the career. What we don’t want to do is get ready, get set, get set, get set … and never go,” de Mattos says. “You can’t just learn for learning’s sake. You’re going to do it wrong, but in the words of Michael Jordan: ‘A loss is not a failure until you make an excuse.’” 

Your first year of real estate is not going to be perfect, but as de Mattos points out, “The only way to fail in this business is to quit it. As long as you just keep going, detach yourself from the results, and attach yourself to the success of the actions you take every day, your actions will drive your success.”

**Keller Williams Realty, Inc., has an agreement with Kaplan Real Estate Education to promote online course information to consumers and real estate licensees. KSCORE, Keller Williams School of Real Estate, KW School of Real Estate, KW Prep, Keller Williams Realty, Inc., and Keller Williams market centers and franchisees (collectively “KW”) are not the developers of these prelicensing (PL) and continuing education (CE) courses; they are simply providing a referral. This program does not apply in Minnesota, New York, and elsewhere prohibited. PL and CE instruction will be provided by Kaplan Real Estate Education, a state-approved education provider (PL approved in: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, IL, KY, MI, MO, NC, NM, NV, PA, SC, TN, TX (TREC Provider #4546), VA, WA, WI; CE approved in: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, IL, KY, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NM, NV, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX (TREC Provider #31), VA, WA, WI). KW offers nonvocational training to help individuals become better real estate agents. KW is not an approved provider of state real estate PL or CE. Any questions regarding PL and CE course content or technology should be directed to Kaplan Real Estate Education.

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