To the newbies: What does it take to survive in the business?

by Justin Kua15 Oct 2014
For any of the agents who have survived their first year in real estate, let alone the first five, congratulations. You’ve survived in one of the most competitive industries in the world, and above all, one of the most hated professions according to annual surveys.

While I can’t speak for others, I can share what helped me to survive and grow in the industry during my “formative” years.

It was a combination of mentality, mentorship and my competitive nature. I had hit a stroke of luck towards the end of my first year, as a part-time agent while holding a full-time position at a bank. I ended up closing five deals in February and I felt like I was rocking and rolling. Above all, I generated a GCI in one month, the equivalent of my annual salary at the bank. So what did I do? Quit, thinking that by the end of the year I was going to be grossing over $200,000. If I made $35,000 in one month without knowing what to do and half-assing it, imagine how much I would make if I was dedicated and make real estate my full time career. So what ended up happening? I ended up playing golf for three months straight and subsequently blew the majority of my earnings until it got to the point where I needed to get myself back on the sales wagon in order to survive.

At that point, it wasn’t the money that drove me to succeed. It was my competitive nature. I told myself, I was going to dedicate myself to be one of the top agents, first in Toronto, then Canada-wide. But more importantly, I wanted to beat one agent at my brokerage, who will remain nameless. It was only because I played a mental game with myself, that I was able to get past the superficial reason the majority of people pursue a real estate career (money) and make a serious commitment into improving my chosen craft.

What came next was mentorship. It also happened by chance, as I had no intentions of working with another agent, let alone being coached by one. But a close friend at the time had told me about the office she was working at, and how the broker/owner at the time was the top agent at Century 21. So I was curious to see what I could make of the opportunity. It was at that point, once she had agreed to work with and groom me that I realized I would continually need a mentor/coach, to help me 1) improve my game, and 2) keep me on top of my toes. Even to this day, I use the services of one of the top coaches across North America, because I figured if this guy could sell over a billion dollars of real estate, he’s got to know something I don’t. Plus for only $1,500 a month, he would teach me the tricks of the trade that took him more than 20 years to perfect, plus at the cost of millions in advertising dollars he had personally invested in the course of his business. Seems like a no brainer to me.

And that brings me to my third point: mentality. The main difference I see between the top producers and the rest of the industry is that they the treat their business as that, a business, rather than a job. It takes a significant amount of business acumen to survive in real estate. But above all, what is your perspective of the world as a whole? Do you have the mentality of abundance, or scarcity? Do you work to have everything or do you see limited options as in either or? This, in my opinion and experience, has been the determining factor in surviving the first few years in real estate. Lots of agents try coaches, but go broke or end up dropping out, only to try another new coach in hopes they find the magic bullet. Lots of agents have competitive natures and will undercut their competition in listing commissions just in order to have their name on the lawn. But with the right perspective, it will only be a matter of time before the tide turns in your favour.

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