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July 25, 2014

Getting Your First Deal and Avoiding The Sophomore Slump

by mark mclean

Sophmore slumpSo, just how long does it take to get your first deal? It’s a question nearly every new agent asks me during the first interview. I say that they should prepare for at least six months without any income, but the reality is that everyone is different. Some come into the business with clients ready to go. Others start their career buy buying or selling their own home. Others have a massive sphere of influence and will turn a deal in a few weeks and others don’t know a soul in the city and take a few months to get ink to paper. Frankly there is no exact science to it, so I asked the question in a local Facebook group and got answers that ranged from a few weeks to half a year. Here is a cross-section of answers from agents in different markets.

One agent said… I managed to firm up my first deal in about 6 weeks. got paid in about 10 weeks. I would tell a new agent that they may lose money the first year. You can never predict how the market will behave.

Or, this one…I tell every new agent to have 6 months worth of wages (for personal and business expenses) comfortably in the bank. Don’t count on a pay cheque for 6 months min. I had mine in 5, but was prepared for 6. Too many drown in the overhead without a plan.

Another great comment… It took me 3 months and the second one didn’t come until the 9 month mark. I would say 9 months generally to a new agent.

Also this one…Started out on my own September, first commission December. I was prepared also for six months but very happy to say it took four.

And finally some wise words… it all comes down to how much the Brokerage can help them in the beginning and if the person will work it is a job. So much learning to do in the first year or so… so the stronger the brokerage I believe the faster the deals. Just like the stronger the team… more experience for the new agents, greater confidence and more deals.

Actually, I believe that it isn’t the first year that determines your success in any business but what you do in the years that follow. Many agents coming into the business with prospects or clients ready to buy or sell. They spend there first few months buying or selling homes for friends and family that they forget the basics of building a business for life. We have seen it several times, new agents who rock their first year, they go out and buy a new car, go for a holiday and think that they have walked into the easiest job ever. Then the reality of year two sinks in and they have no business in their pipeline. It’s called the “sophomore slump”.

So, how can you avoid the “sophomore slump”? Don’t take your initial experiences as gospel. Use your first commission cheque wisely. Use every opportunity to research your farm area, work on your website, get your continuing education credits out-of-the-way, and above all, prospect. These are just some of the basic building blocks for constructing a successful career.

Of course there is more to think about than surviving for as many as 6 months without an income. Have you heard the old expression…you need to spend money to make money? Starting any new business, whether it is a flower shop or real estate, requires some capital outlay. The good news is that, depending on where you work, the initial few months can be floated by the brokerage. Still, there are business cards, open house signs, name riders, website, not to mention a clean car, rent, food, gas. The list goes on and the amount needed will differ substantially depending on where you live and work. As crazy as it sounds, it’s important to have your finances in order right from the start.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.

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