“I had trouble figuring out how to do different marketing things,” she said. “You don’t learn any of the sales stuff when you become a real estate agent. Just being realistic about what’s going out and what’s coming in money-wise, I found I spent a lot more money on coaching and memberships and things that didn’t teach what I’d be able to do.”
Johnson’s story is a familiar one for rookie agents, most of whom learn how to become successful the heuristic way, but reflecting on lost time always leaves a bad taste.
REMAX, Johnson’s banner brokerage, has started training its newer agents on the finer points of developing business, marketing and economic plans, and a company spokeswoman says that’s vital in an industry replete with brokerages competing for top-selling talent.
“It’s important to provide the tools for the next generation,” said Katy Robinson, director of events, learning and developments at REMAX Integra. “The agent population of REMAX in Canada is certainly younger than it is in other places but we want to make sure we’re grooming and inviting in young professionals and let them know they have a home at REMAX, so we’ll support them right from the get-go.”
While inexperience is certainly part of the equation, Robinson says consumer behaviour is undeniably different today than it was even a decade ago, and sales agents have to keep up lest they get left behind.
“I think, without a doubt, agents have had to change because our customers are changing,” she said. “Customers now come to agents thinking they know everything they need to know about the property, and in some cases they know a lot about the property, but sometimes what they may not know is about a neighbourhood, or a school district, or past zoning that may affect the area they’re looking to move into. So, I think the change is our agents need to look even harder to become that trusted advisor and be up-to-date on all of those things. They need to make sure they’re up to speed on everything around the home.”
Johnson has been a sales agent for three-and-a-half years but has only come into her own in the last month or so. She says about half of the young agents she encounters struggle to stay afloat.
It would be great to have something like this when we started because you’d have a lot more agents who are knowledgeable,” she said. “There are a lot of rules in real estate and (the instructor) taught the difference from knowing the rules to understanding them.
“It’s a whole different way of doing your business than just getting thrown into it like we usually are.”
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Like most new sales agents, Jenn Johnson had trouble closing deals upon beginning her career.