Your pre-license real estate courses teach you the basic principles and practices you need to understand before you can take your real estate exam and earn your real estate license.
But these quick courses can’t teach you everything you need to know about being a successful real estate agent. There are several important things you’ll need to learn on-the-job. Luckily, there are also resources available to help you learn these things more quickly and efficiently.
Here are seven things you won’t learn in your pre-license real estate courses (and where you can learn them).
1. Advanced Real Estate Principles and Practices
While your pre-license courses cover basic real estate principles and practices, they really only scratch the surface. They give you enough information to get started in real estate, but not enough to make you an expert.
Advanced principles and practices are typically (but not always) covered in your real estate continuing education (CE) courses. Real Estate CE courses are required for all real estate agents and brokers. Each state’s requirements are different, but you generally need to complete a specific number of educational hours before you are allowed to renew your real estate license.
The advanced CE courses give more detailed information on common topics like contracts, fair housing, and law. They also dive deeper into useful topics like real estate finance, property valuation, and property taxes.
While this advanced knowledge will get you one step closer to being a real estate expert, it’s often not the most urgent information you need to learn. If you’re new to real estate, learning how to find new client leads and close deals takes priority because you need to be able to start making money to continue your real estate career.
2. How to Find New Client Leads
As a real estate agent, you’re paid on commission, meaning you only earn a paycheck when you close a deal. And to even have a deal to close, you need to find new clients. This means prospecting (reaching out personally to drum up business) and marketing (putting your message out to a wider audience so they can contact you).
Some states have approved marketing courses as real estate CE electives. In Texas, for example, you can take the substantial Texas Sales and Marketing 101 for Real Estate Professionals course for credit toward your continuing education requirement. But many states don’t offer any CE courses on marketing or finding leads, so you’re often on your own to learn this critical skill.
You can start with an online training course. The Proven Path course, for example, gives new real estate agents a game plan to help them find quality client leads and continue getting new leads month in and month out so there’s always business coming down the pipeline. And Be the Neighborhood Expert offers an introduction to geo-farming and a marketing plan to help you continuously earn new client leads from your chosen neighborhood.
3. How to Convert Your Leads into Clients
Finding new client leads is only the beginning. Once you find these leads, you need to sell them on your services to convert them from prospects to clients.
When targeting sellers, your listing presentation is typically the deal-maker or deal-breaker for converting leads into clients. Many sellers interview multiple agents before choosing their listing agent, so you may have some direct competition at this stage. Knowing how to present your services as a listing agent is critical. To improve your seller conversion ratio, consider taking this 3-hour Listing Appointment course, which will teach you how to do a listing presentation that will help you earn more listings.
For buyers, your goal is to get an exclusive representation agreement signed. This document confirms that the buyers have chosen you as their buyer’s agent and are not simultaneously seeing another real estate agent. This protects you against losing time with buyers who end up buying from another agent, so it’s in your best interest to get this signed as early in the relationship as possible. Typically, you want this signed even before your first home showing with new buyers, but buyers in-the-know may want a few showing as a sort of interview to make sure you’re a good fit for them.
You can learn a lot about how to convert leads to clients from books and online courses. Check out our list of the 20 best books for real estate agents to get started.
4. How to Close Deals
Having clients doesn’t get you anywhere unless you can actually close the deal. It’s only on closing day that you receive your commission, so you need to learn how to close deals to be successful in real estate.
If you’re working with sellers, this means:
Marketing the property to find the right buyers
Advising your sellers to take, leave, or counter each offer
Getting all applicable disclosures and other documents signed by the sellers
Representing the sellers in post-inspection negotiations as applicable
If you’re working with buyers, this means:
Advising your buyers when it’s time to make an offer
Getting all disclosures and other documents signed by the buyers
Helping your buyers navigate the home inspection process and negotiating on their behalf if issues arise during the inspection
Your broker and/or mentor are both great resources for helping you navigate this process. But books and online courses are also solid resources for teaching you about the art of sales and closing deals. Refer again to that list of the 20 best books for real estate agents for ideas.
5. How to Create a Business Plan
As a real estate agent, you are an entrepreneur. Your real estate practice is like your own business, and you’re responsible for every aspect of that business, like branding, marketing, finance, and operations. The best way to address each of these areas is to create a business plan. Your business plan will help you align your business practices with your business goals to keep you on track.
But your real estate classes won’t teach you anything about creating your own business plan. You have to learn that on your own.
While you can take classes, read books, and download templates for general business plans, it makes sense to start with a solid overview of a real estate-specific business plan. Check out The Ultimate Real Estate Agent Business Plan for a primer on what goes in your plan and how to put it together.
6. Real Estate Investing
Many agents get into real estate, not only to help other people buy and sell homes, but to build a real estate investment portfolio of their own. Unfortunately, your pre-license real estate courses typically don’t cover real estate investing.
While some states offer real estate investing as a continuing education elective, many don’t. The good news is that there’s lots of information available on real estate investing, and much of it is free!
If you’re just starting to think about real estate investing, BiggerPockets® is a treasure trove of information. You can read useful blog posts, listen to interesting podcast episodes, and access its free real estate investment calculators. BiggerPockets also regularly publishes books for sale.
And speaking of books, there are tons of useful real estate investing books available. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller is a perennial favorite. And new real estate investment books are hitting retailers each month.
7. How to Create Additional Income Streams for Your Business
New agents are often nervous about going commission-only. It can take a few months to close your first sale and earn that first commission check. While it’s a good idea to have at least three months’ worth of expenses in your savings account to cover this period, that’s simply not possible for many of us. But instead of keeping your day job and entering real estate part-time, you could jump right into real estate if you had multiple income streams! It’s too bad your pre-license courses don’t even mention this possibility.
Lucrative income streams for your real estate business include:
Property management: You can earn more immediate income by leasing space to renters on behalf of the property owner. Some states offer a property management course as a continuing education elective.
Property tax appeals: This largely untapped revenue stream just requires you to show your local tax assessor that they have over-valued your client’s home for tax purposes. Your client’s taxes get reduced, your clients are thrilled with you, and you earn a fee for service.
Transaction coordination: If you want to earn immediate income while getting lots of experience steering deals through the escrow process, you could act as a transaction coordinator for other agents while you build your own client base.
And while you’re at it, why not learn how to create some passive increase streams that generate money even when you’re not actively working on them? Passive income allows you to shift your focus from earning a paycheck to meeting your clients’ needs. And that generally produces a better outcome for everyone!
Your pre-license real estate courses will cover the basics, but there’s so much more to learn if you want to thrive as a real estate agent. Set yourself up for success by taking advantage of your continuing education courses, enrolling in professional training courses, and reading up on how to run a real estate business.