Tips to Help Make You More Successful – By Matt Burrus

When we surveyed our members recently, one of the things that kept being suggested as an area of interest was tips from top producers. This isn’t anything new, but everyone likes to hear from successful people and especially those whose careers they might want to emulate.

We reached out to the top 10 REALTORS® in individual and team categories as identified by the Houston Business Journal (HBJ) and included in its annual list of Top Residential Real Estate Professionals earlier this year. The rankings by the HBJ were based on self-reported 2017 sales. These are the cream of the crop, and each is the epitome of the term “top producer.” As many of them say, look to those who have been successful to help you be successful.

They are obviously all very busy people, so we greatly appreciate those who took the time to respond…and understand those who didn’t. The responses may have been edited for length or clarity, but the sentiment and message remains. The answers are printed in no particular order, and we selected a couple of the best responses from each member to include here. The firm listed for each REALTOR® is their current firm and may not be the firm at which they practiced real estate in 2017.

We hope you will find some inspiration and maybe some tip(s) that will make you more successful as you move through your real estate career.

Alex Rezende | Houston New Home Team | RE/MAX Pioneers

Q: What do you think have been the keys to your success?
A: I call it the BULL approach. You have to go for it—and go for it hard—like a BULL charging at the matador.

Q: What does being a member of HAR mean to you?
A: In my opinion, HAR is one of, if not the best, REALTOR® associations in the country.  I have talked to lots of brokers and agents, and we have a very good, up-to-date organization that supports us.

Sharon Ballas | Greenwood King Properties

Q: What advice would you give to someone just entering real estate as a career?
A: This isn’t a part-time job. Your clients deserve the best. Be flexible, adaptable and available. Stay focused. Develop your skill set by learning to do everything yourself. Don’t be dependent on others. Embrace technology and use all the available tools. Focus on a particular area and learn everything about that area.

Q: What do you think have been the keys to your success?
A:  Understanding and staying focused on my clients’ goals. Treating parties and agents with respect. Being honest and sincere. Never, never, never giving up.

Paige Martin | Keller Williams Memorial

Q: What advice would you give to someone just entering real estate as a career?
A:The best advice that I could give someone entering a real estate career is to be sure they have a good understanding of what it takes to be successful. Specifically, we have moved to a 24- hour- a-day / 7 days per week / 365 days per year world where clients expects their REALTOR® to “always be on” and “always be active.” This is not a 9 – 5  job. You need to always be on, always be responsive, and always be working.

This is typically one of the biggest mental challenges people have when they enter the industry. Part- time REALTORS® typically get marginal success because clients don’t want to wait. It used to be that clients seemed to be ok waiting 1-2 days for a response. Then, the timeframe moved to about 30 minutes. Now, the statistics we track is that clients are looking for responses within 5 minutes.

In addition, I would strongly encourage new REALTORS® to find a partner, mentor or a team they can initially work for to learn the business. It’s a lot more professional for someone who’s new to the business to say, “My partner and I have 25 years of Houston real estate experience,” than “I’ve been an agent for 2 weeks now.”

The faster an agent can develop their experience, knowledge and understanding of the industry, the better off they’ll be.

Q: Do you ever take vacation or have down time?
A:My husband and I like to travel, and we travel a lot. However, no matter where I am in the world, I’m on email (and usually on calls). Being a REALTOR® gives a lot of flexibility, and it’s a great career. But it doesn’t give you a chance to “check out from the world” if you want to be successful.

Lisa Kornhauser | John Daugherty REALTORS®

Q: What advice would you give to someone just entering real estate as a career?
A:Best advice I would give is do not treat this as a part-time job. You are either in in full-time or not. It takes a commitment and a love for real estate to be successful.  The hours are long and its 7 days a week with no set hours, so you really have to love it, which I do!!!!

Q: What do you think have been the keys to your success?
A: My love for what I do and love that it changes daily, so always keeps it interesting. Also, I have an amazing team…Kevin Johnson, Marcus Selander and Nicole Kornhauser. I absolutely love working with my team, and we always have a great time working together. You can’t ask for more than that!

Walter Bering | Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty

Q: What do you think have been the keys to your success?
A:Persistence. The road to success is a journey, not a destination.  The journey is filled with many obstacles. If the goal is always in sight, the obstacles become small. My business is built on relationships. I have some clients with whom I have had had multiple transactions during the past 38 years. The sales were small in the beginning. As my client base began to grow, the sales volume and average sales price also began to increase. Prospecting and market knowledge are essential elements to success. My dad used to tell me that the most successful agents are in constant contact with people and are a walking encyclopedia (do those still exist?) of their marketplace. That expression holds true today.

Q: Do you ever take vacation or have down time?
A: Yes. The best way to get a break from the business is to leave town. Otherwise, you are always “ON.” Even when I’m out of town, I’m usually still “plugged in”; however, a change of scenery is a great way to unwind. Rest is an essential component in order to keep the creative juices flowing and maintain enthusiasm. As Martha Turner has said, “If we are not fired with enthusiasm…we will be FIRED with enthusiasm!” Burnout is a sure fire way to lose enthusiasm. 

Charlie Kriegel | Charlie Kriegel Properties Team | Winhill Advisors – Kirby

Q:Why would you advise someone to work as part of a team?
A:I would always advise starting off with a team. This teaches agents the hard work and consistency it takes to be a top producer in this industry.   All agents learn by in the field experience, so there is no better way to jump start your career.

Q: Why are you an MLS Platinum subscriber?
A:My sellers need to be able to see maket insights, and the HAR lead management system feeds my buyers agents.

Gary Bisha | My Castle Realty Team | My Castle Realty

Q: What advice would you give to someone just entering real estate as a career?
A: Be patient and persistent.  Success does not build overnight.  Be prepared for a lot of ups and downs.  Focus on the victories, learn from the losses.

Q: What does being a member of HAR mean to you?
A: I am proud to be a member of HAR. It’s great to be a part of the most dynamic and successful MLS in the country. Kudos to the leadership and staff.

Tammie Bell | Tammie Bell Team | TBT Real Estate

Q: Do you ever take vacation or have down time?
A: Absolutely. You must learn to balance your personal life and your real estate career. Vacations are the highlight of my year. You must take care of “you” in order to take care of others. This business can consume you if you allow it. Set healthy expectations and you will balance them. Even with the best systems in place, your vacations will still sometimes be interrupted, but you are your own boss, so that should be expected.

Q: What HAR tools/services do you value most?
A:When I started in real estate, we still used the MLS book; yes book, so it is almost like asking someone that grew up with no washing machine if it is the best invention in their life. There are two tools that I value as a pertinent part of my business and success. The auto emails are a requirement. Let the system work for you! When this became available, it was a game-changer in real estate services. It keeps the clients informed as frequently as they would like for new listings as they come available. The second tool that I find very beneficial is the Client Experience Rating system. Consumers want to know what others think about your services. It is simple, easy and lets consumers have the opportunity to share their experience. If you are providing a professional level of service, it will be reflected.

Mike Mahlstedt | Heritage Texas Properties

Q: What do you use the most from the MLS Platinum package of services?
A:I think the Client Experience Rating has been an MLS Platinum tool that has really helped my business. The more transparent you are, the more the consumer is going to trust you. It is OK to not have a 5-star rating. A 4.95 rating is still very impressive to most consumers. The sooner you start having your clients rate you, the more great ratings you will have, which will prevent a bad rating from doing too much damage to your overall rating.

Q: Why do you think it is important to invest in TREPAC?
A: Investing in TREPAC is our responsibility as REALTORS® to help fund those programs that help fight for our careers. Our industry is so heavily regulated that is important that we are funding the advocacy that is out supporting the issues that strengthen our industry.

Ryan Birdsong | The Birdsong Team | Birdsong Real Estate

Q:Why are you an MLS Platinum subscriber?
A:MLS Platinum has so many useful tools and is the cheapest thing you can add to your arsenal of great marketing and client care.

Q: Any other words of wisdom, humor or insight you might have?
A: Don’t take everything personally. You can’t be everything to everybody. Know when to move on.

Ronnie Matthew | The Matthews Team | RE/MAX Legends

Q:What advice would you give to someone just entering real estate as a career?
A: Take notes, always return phone calls, be quick to respond and always accessible. Find someone with experience that can mentor you. Always read, listen and look for opportunity.

Q:Why would you advise someone to work as part of a team?
A: At any point, you have someone that can cover you or assist with part of the real estate process when you are unable to. If I’m out showing and there are three other task-related items that are needed, as an individual that is challenging to balance and handle. When you have a team, a strong team, someone can step in and assist with what is needed. As a team, you learn to work together, how to build trust, pick up strength and knowledge from multiple people, and a good team becomes more than that – they become family.

Laura Sweeney | John Daugherty REALTORS®

Q: Do you ever take vacation?
A: I do take vacations. Sometimes I find the minute I get to the airport is when I get an offer, so I am always ready to make it a working vacation.

Q: Any words of wisdom, humor or insight you might have?
A: I hear the saying “If it is meant to be, it will be” often. I have never liked that saying. I think hard work and perseverance can help you make things happen.

Heidi Dugan | Greenwood King Properties

Q: What advice would you give to someone just entering real estate as a career?
A: Be prepared to work harder than you ever have. People think REALTORS® make their own hours. This is not at all true. Our clients make our hours. I am frequently on the phone working at 10 or 11 p.m. and at people’s homes in the evening. Also, have a year of savings as it takes a long time to get going. Also realize that this is one of the biggest investments in people’s lives and there is a lot of emotion involved.

Q: What do you think have been the keys to your success?
A: I work 24/7. I never give up. As many issues as arise in a transaction, I am always equipped to problem solve and negotiate to hold the deal together. I was a paralegal for 13 years prior to real estate and gained a lot of knowledge and experience that has helped me. I enjoy working with and connecting to people and gaining their trust. I enjoy seeing people happy in their new homes.