Ian Grossman of Keller Williams: New Real Estate Agent Survival Guide

Thinking about making a career switch and entering the real estate industry? Meet Ian Grossman , who did exactly that a few years ago. Today on the AceableAgent blog, the former elementary-school teacher turned Austin real estate agent talks career path, being your own boss and how to crush the first year on the job.

1. Before we jump into things, can you tell us a little about yourself and your real estate background? I grew up in Marietta, Georgia and went to college at the University of Arizona. After my first semester, I decided I wanted to be a teacher and I wound up getting a degree in elementary education. I moved back to Atlanta after college where I taught fourth/fifth grade for five years in the Fulton County Schools system. I moved to Austin in August 2013 and taught fifth grade for two more years in Pflugerville ISD. In the summer of 2014, I decided to get my real estate license, and while I was still teaching I joined Keller Williams in October 2014. After the 2014-2015 school year ended, I stopped teaching and went into real estate full time.

2. In your opinion, if someone is considering becoming a real estate agent, what questions should they ask themselves first? Many people ask me about getting into real estate and ask if they should quit their current job and dive right in. While starting a real estate business is one of the least expensive as far as startup business costs, you must ask yourself if your current financial situation can handle switching to a "commission only" income. As a new agent, you can easily be looking at five-plus months before seeing your first paycheck, so you want to make sure you're financially prepared for this up front. That being said, I think it's also important to ask yourself: "How willing am I to put myself out there right away?" The cool thing with this business as that your actions have a direct influence on the amount of money you make. If you're willing to hit the ground running, you can begin to see returns much quicker.

3. What costs will new agents incur when first getting their license? How do you suggest preparing for that? Getting your license and paying for test fees will typically run you anywhere from $1,000-$1,500. Before going straight to one of the real estate schools , ask some brokers about discounts they might offer. I know Keller Williams offers a 50% discount code, which helps you save a significant amount on your license fees. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way after I paid full price. I would strongly encourage a new agent to have three to four months of reserves saved up before jumping into real estate. This will help cover startup costs and the first couple of months of possibly not seeing a paycheck.

4. If you could go back in time to when you were just starting your real estate career and tell yourself one thing, what would it be? Run your business like a business. Some agents join a team when they first start as a way to get their feet wet while others work as individual agents. If you choose the latter, you will quickly realize that you wear all of the hats (managing, sales, marketing, accounting, etc.) of your business. Be a good boss and hold yourself accountable. When there's no one to answer to but yourself, it's easy to make decisions that negatively impact your business. Stay disciplined, stick to a schedule, and be hard on yourself.

5. In your opinion, what’s one of the biggest mistakes new real estate agents can make? There's so many avenues out there to earn business. As an agent, there are always companies calling you trying to sell you the newest and most effective way to "get more leads." It's easy to trust their systems and throw money around in order to have access to the most amount of people looking to buy and sell real estate. My advice would be to hold off on paid lead sources and work the most inexpensive sources (people you know, open houses, networking events) as much as possible. Our friends and family want to help us, so take advantage of your biggest advocates to help spread the word that you're now in real estate. Once you've built a business big enough to afford alternative paid lead sources, then explore your options and see if it's a good business decision. One other thing I feel like I have to bring up without much need for explanation. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. There are A LOT of curveballs thrown at you in this industry, so seek the help of others who have experience and let them HELP YOU!

6. What’s your favorite thing about being a real estate agent? One thing I love about being a real estate agent is that there really is no ceiling to your success. You determine the activities and actions that make you successful and you can add people to your team along the way to continue your upward growth and support your vision. There is a direct correlation between effort and success, and the work that gets you there, while often stressful, is usually very fun!

Dan Laugharn
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