5 Mistakes Rookie Agents Make — and 1 Thing Working in Their Favor

Road sign that says "Wrong Way"

If you’re a rookie agent taking the plunge into a new career, it can probably feel like you’re stumbling in the dark toward success. But rest assured, you’re not alone. More than 156,000 new agents joined the National Association of REALTORS® throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 — nearly 60 percent more than in the two years prior. Although the trend slowed last year, with NAR growing by only about 21,000 people in 2022, there is still a record number of new agents.

Being a new agent trying to figure it all out can feel overwhelming. There are so many places where you can go to find useful information. There are almost unlimited resources that say what you need to do. Sometimes, it’s almost easier to narrow down the question to “What should I not do if I want to be in business a year from now?”

Brian Erhahon is a MAPS coach, community leader of Keller Williams Young Professionals (KWYP), and Operating Principal of Keller Williams Realty in Chino Hills, California. He’s also a successful agent who works with eager (but inexperienced) agents on a daily basis.  

We asked Brian to help us identify the top five mistakes that new agents make. He masterminded with KWYP leaders and here's what we found:

Mistake 1: Putting Your Eggs in Too Many Baskets.

In The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, Gary outlines numerous sources of lead generation across the two main forms—prospecting and marketing. Although it’s wise to diversify your lead generation sources as you’re learning what you’re good at and what works in your market, Brian warns against spreading yourself too thin. He suggests picking only three methods of lead generation as you’re getting started and focusing in on a single preferred method. “Less is more,” Brian says. “Start with the strengths and focus on your sphere of influence.” Then, depending on your results and energy level, add another one as you’re comfortable building out another system.

Because conversion rates determine how much return on investment you’re getting from your time and energy, it’s important to build out systems and models that will track results. This is yet another reason to spend your time on a limited number of lead-gen sources. In real estate, a jack-of-all-trades truly is a master of none.

Mistake 2: Lacking Accountability

When beginning your real estate journey, you may not yet know how you will operate in entrepreneurial role. “As a W2 employee, you know what’s expected of you. In real estate, you have no idea,” Brian says. The first several months, if not years, as an agent will require committing yourself to new habits that will set you up for success. But to make sure you’re sticking to those habits and that they are effective, you need hold yourself accountable. One way Brian suggests doing that is by learning the Six Personal Perspectives. The Six PPs help speed up the process of self-discovery so that you can focus on what really matters: doing the work.

Step 1: Commit to Self-Mastery.

Step 2: Commit to the 80/20 Principle.

Step 3: Move from E to P.

Step 4: Make Being Learning-Based the Foundation of Your Action Plan.

Step 5: Remove Your Limiting Beliefs.

Step 6: Be Accountable.

Brian says that rookie agents are more likely to switch brokerages if they’re not achieving success quickly. Running through the Six PPs gives agents the opportunity to reflect on their own mistakes rather than immediately pass blame. The Six PPs force you to ask yourself what you’re missing, how you’re dropping the ball, or if your mindset isn’t right.

Accountability is a process that never ends. But fortunately, science tells us it only takes sixty-six days to form a new habit. Think of following the Six PPs as a foundational habit that will help you form other effective habits.

Mistake 3: Not Having the Right Balance of Doing vs Learning

A lot of new agents hesitate to contact their sphere of influence out of fear that they’ll pass on the wrong information, mess up, or otherwise make themselves look bad to people they know. This fear is a limiting belief. Just think of how much business you’re losing out on because you’re not comfortable.

Although it’s important to do your due diligence, rookies are prone to let not knowing everything hold them back from doing anything. “Be careful not to get stuck in class to the point where you don’t take any action,” Brian warns.

As we learn in the economic model of MREA, there’s a minimum number of leads, appointments, listings, and sales that you must meet to earn a commission check and your goal income. Meeting your numbers in each of those areas requires concrete action.

Mistake 4: Not Knowing or Focusing on the 4 Laws of the Database

Many rookie agents don’t just lack knowledge of the real estate industry, they also don’t know much about the sales business as a whole. Any experienced salesperson knows that a database isn’t just crucial to their business, it is their business. As such, rookies would be wise to learn the four laws of maintaining a database—building, feeding, communicating, and servicing—and do so quickly!

Mistake 5: Mismanaging Money

Saving for taxes, sticking to a budget, and watching your P&L like a hawk aren’t necessarily things you’d learn by getting an MBA. They’re life lessons—and trust the pros when they tell you they’re essential to your business.  

Beyond the discipline managing money requires, you also need to know the right questions to ask. How do you handle your commission income? How do you decide when you need a new lead generation source? Or a new hire? How do you know when you’re ready to incorporate? Answering these questions will help you level-up your business.

A Rookie’s Hidden Strength

There are plenty of mistakes rookies make, but there’s also one thing rookies have that pros lack: plentiful enthusiasm. The longer you’re in your career, the more you see, the more you might take the business for granted and the less excited you might be.

“I remind folks to ask themselves: when was the last time you high-fived your clients? Could they tell you love what you do and you’re having a good time doing it?” Brian says. “Real estate is very serious, but buying a property is also an achievement and an uplifting experience. Use your enthusiasm to you advantage—perhaps even make it part of your value proposition. “

You’re bound to make plenty of mistakes as a rookie agent, so don’t let fear of making them hold you back from getting started on your Big Dreams. By arming yourself with the knowledge of these mistakes, you’ll start your journey on steady footing.

Have you made these any of these mistakes? Tell us about it, and what you learned, on our Facebook page. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for other exciting articles.

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