Buying, selling and investing in real estate involve complex transactions and high financial considerations. Given this, buyers, lenders and investors usually ask the help of real estate agents and real estate brokers to help them in their real estate needs. This is because real estate brokers and agents possess a thorough knowledge of the real estate market. They are also familiar with local zoning and tax laws and with financing agencies. In some cases, agents and brokers also act as intermediaries in the negotiations between buyers and sellers on the price of the property.Becoming an agent or a brokerBeing a real estate agent or a broker has proven to be a lucrative source of income for those practicing this profession and most estimates show that in the near future, the number of real estate agents and brokers will continue to rise because of this fact. However, becoming a real estate agent or broker requires that potential agents be at least 18 years of age, a high school graduate and be able to pass the state exam. The state exams, which is usually more comprehensive for brokers include questions on real estate transaction and relevant real estate laws.If you wish to become an agent or a broker in the United States, you must be informed on the different requirement of the different states with regard to licensing. In most of the states, it is required that potential agents must complete between thirty to ninety hours of classroom instruction. For brokers, they are usually required to undergo sixty to ninety hours of formal training together with a required amount of experience in real estate transactions, which range from one to three years. Most of the courses in the training include subjects on marketing, accounting, and a substantial amount of courses in real estate, finance and real estate laws.Most states require that these licenses be renewed every one or two years. However, instead of requiring agents to take new exams, some states require continuing education for agents and brokers for them to be able to renew their licenses.Where to enrollGiven the demand for real estate training, a large of number of rims has been set up to provide such services. These firms cater to both beginners and experienced agents and brokers for their specific training needs. Apart from the traditional institutions such as universities and colleges, potential brokers and agents can also look to the Internet for online courses. As the number of agents and brokers who wish to get formal training on real estate continue to increase, the importance of institutions that provide these training will further be highlighted.
As I look back at the successes and “expensive lessons”, I don’t believe in failures… just very expensive lessons… and I have had more than my share of those lessons. Anyways as I look back at these successes and lessons as a real estate investor, I have been able to identify 10 categories, I’ll call them “steps” which I believe have been instrumental in my accomplishing the goals I set out to accomplish when I started investing in real estate.What are these 10 steps that any real estate investor can perform? I call them the “10 Easy Steps to Wealth Creation and Freedom”. Pretty clever, wouldn’t you agree? It has occurred to me that everyone who is in the business of helping real estate investors has their own 3,or 5 or 8 step program that will absolutely assure success. So it seemed only appropriate that I develop a multi-step process to keep up with this crowd. I will tell you that there are ten steps, and about 100 sub-steps and that some of them are easy, and most of them will be a challenge to you, as they were to me, and that if you work through each step and repeat step 10 often, you will create real wealth and achieve more freedom in your life than you will be able to handle!OK, OK, here they are… all ten of them.1. Condition Your Mind. How many of you believe you are prepared for the success you say you want? How many times have you found yourself getting involved in any endeavor where you thought you would end up in a better place then where you started from… and then were disappointed because you really didn’t get that far? I think if we were brutally honest with ourselves, we would discover that on more than one occasion we got in our own way. We sabotaged our efforts, most likely due to some fear we created, and never allowed ourselves to discover our true potential. This is what I mean by conditioning! It is the most important step in this entire process. You can execute each of the following steps flawlessly and I assure you, if you don’t master this first step, you will not reach your full potential and achieve the wealth and freedom as a real estate investor you are seeking.2. Develop An Achievable Roadmap. Most of us have used Mapquest or have our favorite version of a Garmin to help us to determine how to get from one place to another. As a matter of fact, these tools have become vital parts of our everyday lives. So, answer me this question, why would we focus so strongly on developing a plan to travel from point A to point B, yet we seem so willing to rush into new ventures without hardly a thought being given towards developing a plan. As Dilbert so eloquently puts it… If you don’t know where you are going… how will you know when you get there? Great question! Where’s your roadmap? Does it address how you are going to get from a full-time JOB to full-time real estate investor? Does it address what knowledge and skills you need prior to starting out? How about this… does it take into account your local economy, housing market, interest rates and how you are going to adjust as these things change? Well, if you don’t have a roadmap, you better get one, and it better consider, at a minimum some of the things I mentioned above.3. Select Right The Formula(S). I have been asked so many times what area of investing should I get into… Bird-dogging, wholesaling, rehabbing, land lording. Should I focus on Subject 2s, pre-foreclosures, foreclosures, etc. My short answer is why are you asking me that question… if you have started to develop your roadmap you would know which “formula” best suites your current situation. So, selecting the right “formula” is really a matter of having an honest understanding of your current circumstances. By this I mean your knowledge and skill levels, your financial status, your overall business skills, and your ability to understand and mitigate risks. This list is not inclusive, just an illustration of some of the things I deem important. I firmly believe that many real estate investors fail, and fail big, because they do not select one formula and stick with it until they are experts. So, as a what is your formula, and how does it support the achievement of your roadmap?4. Start Your Business. That sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just start your business. Well, actually it is very simple to start a business. I recently created one for the new venture I rolled out in January. Got the name, tax ID number, the business paperwork completed and the bank accounts set up. All of this took about 4 hours total. It really is that easy. Yet starting a business means so much more. I have read so many posts from people just starting out who say they’ve completed all of the paperwork for the business, got it incorporated, opened the bank account, etc., and then ask the question… what “formula” should I pursue? Or worse, they tell me they did all of this over 6 months ago and are still working to find their first deal. Are you kidding me! I hope none of you reading this fit into these categories! Have you noticed how far down this list “starting your business” is. It is important to create your legal entity, yet it is so much more important to have a firm and complete understanding of how you are going to generate profits from that business.5. Market To Find The Deals. Have you ever stated that there are no motivated sellers where you live? I would bet that if you made that claim, you proved yourself correct. What do you think? Are there motivated sellers in your market? You won’t know unless your marketing is well thought out, fresh, when possible targeted and above all consistent and disciplined in its follow-up. In a recent wholesale I took down, I have been working on it for over 4 months. We have been working that deal since May. Where other real estate investors may have moved on, I did not and I got paid! Without properties to purchase, we really can’t accomplish much as real estate investors. For our businesses to succeed we must find motivated sellers and we must make offers. So, how would you rate your marketing? If its not supporting your goals then you need to ACT now to correct this situation. But wait you say. I get so busy working the renovations I have, or managing my tenants, or working my full-time job that I don’t have time to market. I’ll let you in on a little secret… I don’t believe you! You are only using that as an excuse… which means you probably haven’t completely conditioned yourself for the success you say you want. So what’s it going to be… a well thought out marketing plan, properly executed, or just a bunch of excuses? The great thing about this is that you and only you get to decide. Good Luck!6. Finance Your Machine. Money… won’t it be wonderful if all of the funds we needed as real estate investors to finance our deals were available whenever we needed them? What if I told that, that is the only way you will be ever be able to build your wealth and achieve true freedom and control over your life. I made it the most important part of our business strategy to ensure that we had funds for our deals. Those funds came from hard money, banks, and private investors. Yet very little of it came from our pockets. I have spent an inordinate amount of time learning how lenders worked, what their criteria were, how to present my business and my deals to them to remove most of the risk as they might have seen it. In short, I learned how keep the money flowing toward my deals all of the time! How about you? Do you have next to unlimited funds available for your deals? Or are you constantly chasing money to fund deals, or just to survive? Regardless of your situation if you want to achieve your business and personal goals you had better learn how to get lenders begging to give your money!7. Renovate For Fun And Profit. This seems to be the one area where most real estate investors want to start. Well, this step and becoming a wholesaler, which means you had better be executing a kick-ass marketing plan. Being a successful rehabber is a great way to enjoy consistent and large paydays. For many of us, the proceeds of one rehab may mean more cash in our hands then we’ve ever had at one time. Are you conditioned to receive that much cash? Any successful rehabber will tell you that this part of real estate investing can be a challenge. The biggest difficulties usually involve our lack of knowledge regarding repairs needed to a property and finding and managing our beloved contractors. Did you know most lenders see the contractor piece of our business as the single biggest risk to you and therefore to them. If you don’t have an understanding regarding repairs needed or haven’t or don’t have the processes and procedures in place to effectively manage contractors your life is going to be pure Hell! So, you know what to do… right? Increase your knowledge in these areas and manage, manage, manage the process.8. Sell To Your Market. A couple of years ago this step, for most real estate investors would have seemed like a no-brainer. Amazing what can happen in just a few short years. I believe this step is important because you must have a plan A, and a plan B and even a plan C, especially in today’s market. For rehabbers plan A is selling it to a homeowner or perhaps to a landlord. In either case, you need to know the best methods for selling to those “customers”. Many rehabbers have been caught by the market and are exploring rent or rent-to-own scenarios until the market completes the correction it is experiencing. Not necessarily the best option, but if you have to take the action, you need to know how to protect yourself. If you are experiencing any of the above situations, are you prepared? Are you protected? If not, you know what to do… right?9. Know When To Hold ‘Em. As an extremely experienced land lord I can tell you that owning income producing properties is both difficult and rewarding. Based on my experience as a land lord, this is one area as a real estate investor where it does take money to make money. You need capital reserves. You can’t count on big paydays, like those of a rehabber. Yet you can count on the proceeds (tax free) from refinancing properties to continue your acquisition strategies… assuming you are comfortable using leverage. As a matter of fact that is exactly how I executed that portion of our business. I purchased severely distressed properties, at very low purchase prices, renovated them, placed high paying tenants into those properties, and then refinanced them taking cash out to start the process all over again, until I had purchased well over 100 properties in just 5 years. I also found that the just as the weak link for a rehabber are contractors, the weak link for landlords are property managers. So to deal with this situation we trained ourselves, developed extremely robust management processes and procedures and ended up with one kick-ass system. Which if you ask nicely may be made available to help you manage your tenants.10. Repeat Steps 1-9, Become A Millionaire In 5 Years Or Less. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could skip the first 9 steps and just jump down to this last step? I am pretty sure it doesn’t work that way. Although I am equally as sure many of the gurus would like you to believe that. See… I look at this last step as the one where you prefect the previous 9 steps. This is the step where you reevaluate what is working and what is not and then make the necessary changes. Once you reach this step you will find that your business will start to accelerate. Things will become much easier, you won’t find yourself reinventing the wheel with each task you undertake. You will definitely see your income and net worth start to increase and assuming you stick with it, you will achieve your goals. All you have to do is get started on the first 9!See, wasn’t that easy. Just follow these ten steps, and in no time flat you will be wealthy and free! Not so Buckaroo! Follow these ten steps and you will have the basis for an extremely successful real estate investment career. Follow these ten steps and you will know what actions you must take and how to prepare yourself for the success you desire. Follow these ten steps, challenge yourself to be disciplined in executing these ten steps and I guarantee that you will be a millionaire. You may get there in 5 years. You may get there in only 2 years, or perhaps it may take you a little longer, and you yet will get there!All you need to do is WHAT… TAKE ACTION!To Your Success…
#1 – Good contact management system
As a salesperson, you have to be able to keep in touch with prospects and clients easily and effectively. You have to be able to put your hands on names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in an instant.You can track and keep your people and prospects the old fashion way (on 3×5 note cards), but you will outgrow that quickly. My advice is always to get a CRM software package. There are many available that are specifically designed for salespeople, like ACT, Goldmine, Shareware, and Salespeople.com. These are all made for anyone in sales.Another option is to buy something that is specific to the real estate industry. The programs that are specific to Real Estate Agents hold many advantages over the general sales programs. They are usually programmed with letter templates and correspondence an Agent could use. They also have pre-created lead follow-up and client follow-up plans already build in. Most have plans to apply when marketing a property. They also have plans you can launch once you have secured a buyer for your listing.I recommend a real estate specific software like Top Producer or Online Agent. With Top Producer, you can also just pay a small monthly fee per user for an internet access version. This saves you all the up-front costs of the software, and you gain the updates for free. You can also access your database from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a high speed internet connection.A good contact management system is a must for any serious minded Agent.#2 – Real estate calculator
An Agent must have the ability to help their client figure out the approximate mortgage payment, net proceeds after the sale, and down payment amount needed based on loan to value ratios.Most importantly, an Agent needs to be able to figure out their commission amount. When selecting a calculator, select one that has the features you want. Also, ensure that you can learn to use it easily. Some have so many different functions and keys that are unnecessary that it can take forever to learn how to use it.#3 – Professional Attire
Each real estate area or region has a level of professional dress. Your first impression to a prospect can carry a lot of weight. If you are dressed well, they will assume you are successful even if you are not. The public will make a judgment of you, fairly or unfairly, based on how you dress.For men, in most markets except resort or tropical markets, I still believe that a suit is the correct attire for a professional Real Estate Agent. It was rare for me not to wear a suit to work. You feel better and more powerful when you are dressed well in a suit. When buying clothes, buy classics that will never go out of style initially. Stay away from the ultra trendy colors and styles. By investing in classics, you can mix and match and expand your wardrobe. Blue shirts, black shirts, and white shirts with red and yellow ties are part of the classic look.For men, have your shirts professionally laundered. There is nothing as crisp, clean, and professional as a well starched shirt. It reeks of success. I would advise women to do the same thing with their blouses. When meeting clients or out in the public, make sure you portray the image of success.#4 – Personal website
With more than 85% of buyers using the internet to search for properties, your website has become an essential tool for lead generation and exposing your sellers’ homes.You don’t need the fanciest, most expensive website you can find. There are a lot of companies that make solid template, mass produced websites. These types of sites are extremely economical in the initial investment you have to make, as well as monthly hosting. Many of these companies build cost effective sites, so they can get the residual income they charge monthly from hosting your site.You want to work with a company that builds template sites as well as custom sites. You also want a company that has the ability to place you higher in the search engine rankings. This is where you will generate the traffic and leads. I would encourage you to check out ChampionRealtorWebsites.com. They build template and custom sites. They also have a program that generates high search engine placement.#5 – Professional business cards with your picture, note cards, and letterhead
These are all essential tools for a successful Agent. You want business cards with your picture on them to help create a quicker connection and recognition. My caution with a picture is, make sure it’s current. I have seen too many business cards handed to me by Agents that caused me to look three times at the card and person to detect any kind of resemblance. Too often, our old pictures can look like we just left the high school prom.Also, having note cards, letterhead, and envelopes that identify you is advisable. We need to ensure the professional image is carried through with every contact and correspondence with our clients and prospects.#6 – Clean, professional, reliable car
If you are a newer Agent, you will be working with more buyers than sellers in the early part of your career. By having a professional and reliable car, you can increase your probability of success.Ideally, you never want to meet prospects for an appointment at the home they called or e-mailed you on. You want to meet them at your office. By meeting at your office, you can suggest that you ride in one car. With the vast increase in gas prices, you can make this a benefit to them. You are better able to model the consultative relationship you want.Before taking them out in your car, it is better to conduct a buyer interview. It’s easier to draw them into your office for this type of meeting if you aren’t meeting them at the home. When they arrive at your office, if they want to go out to the home they are interested in without a buyer interview, if they ride in your car at least you will be able to conduct some of the interview in route to the home you will be showing them.That is why you need a professional and reliable car. You must also have a car that is clean both inside and out. You don’t need to drive a BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus, but you do need a car that demonstrates you are doing reasonably well. When you are a listing Agent, you can operate by other rules. I didn’t have a buyer in my car ever again midway through my third year in the business. The exterior of my six year old 7 Series BMW was perfect. The inside, to be truthful, was a trash can with papers, cups, bags, and clothes. It didn’t matter though, because the seller couldn’t see inside my car.My advice is, if you can’t afford a luxury brand of vehicle that is new or newer, buy one that is older with low mileage. Make sure it’s a classic in style and prestige. I drove my original real estate car for over eight years, and it still looked good when I sold it.#7 – A headset for your phone
You all know what a proponent of prospecting I am. A headset makes it easier for you to prospect effectively. It allows you to stand while you are doing the prospecting. Your hands are free to use to engage your body in your communication. A headset will improve your posture, position, energy, and enthusiasm.It will leave both hands free, so you can type notes directly into your contact manager while you are talking with the prospect or client. It’s the only way to do it.My caution is, don’t go the cheap route. You can get cheap headsets for $50, but they sound like cheap headsets. Make the investment of a couple of hundred dollars and get a good one. I prefer wireless headsets because I am completely free to walk my whole office when talking to someone.#8 – A number based business plan
Too few salespeople have a business plan to follow that encompasses the sales ratios and numbers of this business. They don’t know or calculate the number of contacts needed to generate a lead, the number of leads needed to generate an appointment, the number of appointments needed to create a committed client, or the number of committed clients needed to generate a commission check. Once you know that and your average commission check, you can calculate how to make any amount of money you desire to earn.#9 – Sales scripts
Knowing clearly what to say in every situation really separates the high earners from the low earners in real estate sales. Success leaves clues for anyone who is seeking. Ancient scripture says, “Seek, and you will find.”My best advice is find yourself some scripts that are proven and work. Invest hours weekly practicing them to perfection. A word of caution, practice does not make perfect as the old saying goes. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect. To achieve perfect delivery, be sure to have the right attitude, expectations or success, pauses, and enough repetition to master each script.Be sure that your role play partner is as committed to your success as you are. My best role play partner was my wife, Joan. I know there were times when, on the inside, she was thinking “not again”, but she never showed it.#10 – Support system
This is not a tool in the classic sense of the work, but we can use it as our most effective tool. In fact, this should probably have been first.I would never have had the success that I had in my real estate sales career had it not been for my wife, Joan. There were countless days I went home dejected, frustrated, and beaten up. There were even a few days that I wanted to quit. She would listen, care, and love me. Then she encouraged me that, even though it was a bad day, tomorrow would be better. She told me straight out that she believed in me and knew I was going to be successful. Her support role caused my success to happen. I think you will find that, with many successful people in life, there is a spouse, child, friend, parent, or significant partner that contributed mightily to their success.