EPISODE 61

6 Mega Myths I’m Busting About Working in Real Estate

If you’re thinking about getting into real estate, have plans underway already, or are still growing your business, in today’s episode I am going to be busting 6 mega myths about working in real estate, that need to be put to bed once and for all.

I’ll be sharing my insights and perspectives on these controversial topics and busting some myths while I do:

  • Niches
  • Commissions
  • Working full-time vs. part-time
  • Working with listings vs. buyers
  • Lead generation
  • and whether you’re too young or too old to get started (hint…you’re neither!)

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Episode Transcript:

If you’re thinking about getting into real estate, have plans underway already, or are still growing your business, in today’s episode I am going to be busting 6 mega myths that pervade this industry and need to be put to bed once and for all.

If you’re new here, welcome back to the Women Rocking Real Estate podcast. My name is Jen Percival and I’m the host of the show and happy to have you here. For the rest of you loyal listeners, welcome back.

So this year I had all of my episodes planned out until September and yesterday I looked at the calendar and was like ‘what the heck’ how is it Sept 30th already? And I realized I didn’t have a plan for what October’s episode was going to be about and I hit this wall of like “I’ve talked about everything there is to talk about in real estate”….like the well is dry and I got nothing left.

So I sent out an email to everyone in my database and asked you all – what you want me to talk about and low and behold you all came to the rescue and saved the podcast! Thank you to each and every one of you that responded to that email and shared your ideas with me. I so appreciate it and it fired me right back up again. Like OMG apparently, I so have NOT talked about everything there is to talk about, there were so many great topic ideas….and then the pendulum immediately swung in the opposite direction (like it usually does) and I immediately become overwhelmed with where to start? So many great ideas!

What I realized as I was going through everyone’s responses, is that there are a lot of big myths circulating around about what you all should be spending your time doing and what is.

Before we dive into the good stuff, I wanted to give a personal shout-out to a bunch of you that left lovely reviews for the show on apple podcasts, so thank you to Stacie, Jessie, khodson, Sara, Mykael, Wake124, MissisPuff, Holly, Phredgirlie, Sam, Blaize & Dawn. I so appreciate each and every one of you.

Ok, can we skip to the good stuff? Yes, we can, here we go. Oh actually before we go, I feel like I need to give a disclaimer here. The views and opinions represented on this podcast are strictly my opinions and thoughts and do not represent those of other agents, brokers, brokerages, coaches, other experts – I’m using air quotes, etc. In fact, many of them will vehemently disagree with the opinions I’m about to share and in fairness, they may be right, but they’re just my thoughts and I believe them to be true based on my observations and my experience. Take what you want, and leave what you don’t.

Ok looking at my list of myths here, I don’t know which one to even start with…actually, let’s get a big one out of the way first.

Myth #1 – I need to niche down to be successful.

Everyone else in the world says yes, I also say yes, but not in the same way everyone else says yes. How’s that confusing? Clear as mud?

Let me explain. I’m sure you’ve heard it before that the riches are in the niches and if you’re trying to speak to everyone, you’re speaking to no one…and yada yada yada.

Yes and no. What I have learned is that there’s a very important distinction when it comes to niching in real estate.

Before getting into real estate I spent 13 years in marketing. I was in the corporate world and was trained by some of the best marketing minds in the country. So when I got into real estate, I applied everything I had learned and knew and back then, this business was not very sophisticated so it was NOT hard to be different and stand out. Well, it had always been drilled into my mind that you HAD to have a niche if you wanted to get noticed and stand out. So when creating our brand messaging I told my partner that we HAD to have a niche and because we were both moms and that was predominantly our sphere of influence, we decided to focus on families with young kids.

So that part was great. We started creating a lot of content around real estate and families, we got really involved in the mom community, we became experts on everything about the community as it related to families, and were the go-to people when anyone had a question about anything related to the communities we worked in. And guess what, after about 6 months to a year, our business took off – with a lot of families with young kids.

So that was all great. Where we went wrong, however, was creating a tagline of “We Find Homes For Families” and we put that tagline everywhere our logo was – our website, business cards, postcard mailers, ads, and marketing materials. It was out there everywhere and in the beginning, I attributed our growth of working with families to that niche because we’d been so clear in our marketing efforts. And then as our business grew, people started saying things to me like “Oh I was going to refer so and so, but they’re not a family so I know you don’t work with them” or “oh we would have called you to list our house, but I know you only work with buyers” and I was like what NOOOOO???

So it happened enough, that we decided to take that tagline off our logo. We still did everything else – we still created content that catered to that niche, our website still had loads of resources for families on it, we still networked with lots of other families…..and guess what happened? Our business continued to grow with families, but it also started skyrocketing with all sorts of other niches – investors, couples going through divorces, downsizers, and pretty much any other niche you can think of.

And this is where I learned the really subtle but important distinction about niching in real estate. You can have a niche without screaming from the rooftops that you have a niche and thereby turning away anyone that falls outside your niche.

Do you see the distinction?

You can speak to, resonate with, get noticed by, and attract a niche with your content and your marketing strategies, WITHOUT putting an obvious stake in the ground that that’s your niche and thereby unintentionally turning away business.

So when you create generic content that doesn’t speak to anyone, it’s true that it won’t attract anyone. But you can be very strategic about how you do attract the right people, while also keeping your options open if you catch my drift. Nudge nudge wink wink. Anyways there is a very specific strategy to walk this line and it’s exactly what I teach in my Attract program as well as my Convert program.

Alright moving along, the next big myth I want to bust is this….

Myth #2 – I need to get listings to be a successful real estate agent.

In real estate, there’s a saying List to Last and it essentially means if you don’t have listings, you won’t survive in this business, and in my opinion that is so completely not true. It’s hogwash.

Now in fairness, the reason having listings does really help grow your business, is because they are great marketing opportunities. For-sale signs are probably the best marketing vehicle you can use, along with all of the other advertising opportunities a listing provides you, not to mention open houses, etc. But let’s be clear if you had a bunch of listings, but you did nothing to market them – no for-sale signs, no open houses, no postcards, no social media posts, no ads, etc. they would not be NEARLY as effective at helping you grow your business because the only people who would know you even had the listing, would be active buyers who look at the property.

So instead of thinking that having listings in and of themselves is important, I want you to instead think of the marketing opportunities they provide as being important and then think about how you could replicate those opportunities, even if you don’t have any listings.

So let’s touch on some of those things:

  • For sale signs. You know what signs are JUST as effective as an advertising tool? For lease or for rent signs. There ain’t no shame in the game of rentals. They are MUCH easier to acquire and they provide an amazing advertising opportunity. When someone drives by a For Lease sign on someone’s lawn they don’t think ‘oh that’s not a real listing’. They don’t even notice the lease part. They just see the sign and your name and your branding and think you’re a successful local realtor.
  • While we’re on the topic of rentals, they provide the exact same marketing and advertising opportunities. Yes you’re going to make less money, but have the foresight to know that a lot of renters become buyers, also they’re still people and can still refer you to other people. Working in the rental business can be a great lead generation strategy and if you’re in this business for the long term, you’re playing the long game. What you do today is helping you build your future business.
  • Let’s say you’re not able to do rentals where you work…..how else can you get signs on people’s properties? Get creative! How about creating Just Purchased Signs that your buyer agrees to have installed after they’ve taken possession? How you like them apples? I’m probably aging myself with that reference. If you’ve not seen Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon, it’s a classic, check it out. Anyways make sure you’re not breaking any rules when you get creative, but try to think outside the box when it comes to lawn signs. This has been really overdone here in Toronto, but on busy streets near schools real estate agents created Please Slow Down signs and asked homeowners if they could put them on the grassy section by the street. Great free advertising opportunity.
  • Getting back to the other marketing benefits of listings. Open houses are a big one – not just the marketing of them, but the hosting of them. The good news, you don’t have to be the listing agent to host an open house. So connect with other busy realtors in your community and ask to host their open houses. This is another thing loads of people will tell you not to waste your time doing, but in my early years I hosted every open house I could and they were a HUGE source of business for me. Almost to the point that I picked up a new client at every single one. How I did that is a topic for another episode, but it worked for me.
  • You also don’t have to be the listing agent to run ads for listings. With
    permission, of course, lots of agents will give you permission to advertise their listings. I always recommend you let them know that you’ll clearly identify that they are the listing agent and their brokerage in all of your marketing, but you should be looking for opportunities to advertise every listing you can find and put them on your website, social media and even run paid ads through Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
  • It will have the EXACT same benefit it would if they were your own listings.

Alright before moving along to the next big myth I want to bust, I’ll leave you with this thought. The absolute best way to get lots of listings right now is to have had lots of buyers 5 years ago. Let that sink in. There are lots of benefits to working with buyers and building a strategy to find more of them. For starters, buyers are fun. It’s usually an exciting process. You often make more money because buyers don’t try to get you to cut your commissions as often as sellers will and they’re a little less difficult to please making them more likely to provide positive testimonials (if you get them quickly enough before they start blaming your for things going wrong in the property) and because they’re easier to please, they’re more likely to refer you. As long as you stay in touch and provide lots of value over the years, they will very likely turn into a listing at some point. So if you have a good buyer business today, you’re setting your future up for success in this business.

Ok moving along….the next big myth I want to bust and this one will likely really make me unpopular is….

Myth #3 – I should never cut commissions.

Now before ya’ll jump all over me, I want you to hear me out. There is no other industry on this planet where people aren’t paid more money based on their years of experience and expertise. In most other industries, you have to work for free as an intern to learn the ropes. You have to spend years articling until you’re qualified outside of school and in the real world. When you hire a law firm to represent you, there are cheaper lawyers who have less experience and there are super duper expensive lawyers when you need to bring out the big guns. Go and get your hair cut, you’ve got junior stylists who are more affordable and senior stylists who are more experienced and they charge different amounts. There is nothing wrong with that, it is industry standard.

But agents get up in arms when other agents charge less commission because they are threatened by it and feel like it undermines and undercuts them. If you’ve got 25 years of experience and have done 1000 transactions you need to clearly articulate the benefits of why that experience is so valuable, how it’s going to benefit the client and what will be prevented from happening as a result of that experience.

Just like every other industry, there should be a sliding pay scale in real estate based on experience. Think about it, does it make any sense that a brand new agent who’s never sold a property in their life, makes the exact same amount as an agent that does 100 transactions a year and has been doing it for 10 years?

The way we have structured this business undermines ALL OF OUR VALUE because the message it sends is that there is nothing different between any of us. All of us do the exact same job and anyone can do it even if they have zero experience…..and guess what message THAT sends? That this job doesn’t require any particular skills, knowledge, or experience, and all that tells buyers and sellers, is that they can do it themselves and that agents aren’t worth what we’re paid. We have undermined our own value by having standard commissions that aren’t based on skills or experience.

Now if you are brand new to the business, I can guarantee your brokerage or team lead is not going to want you to cut commissions because they have a vested interest and make money off of everything you sell. This is where the ugliness of this business shows its colours. When people tell you to do things, that isn’t actually the right thing to do, they do it because they’re going to personally benefit from it. That’s wrong.

So if you are new and want to cut your commissions to entice someone to take a chance on you, let them know all of the ways you’re going to mitigate any risks of using someone newer and cut your commissions proudly without feeling like you have to put your tail between your legs.

Now if you’ve been doing this for years and have tons of experience, charge full commissions proudly, and don’t feel like you have to cut your commissions to compete. But do earn your worth.

In the book the Go Giver (Go Givers Sell More is one of my all-time favourite books) the authors describe 5 laws of stratospheric success and one of the laws is the Law of Value which states “Your worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” When you can leave every client feeling like they got more in value than they paid, that is how your referral and word-of-mouth business will skyrocket. And sometimes that can be really difficult to do in real estate. When you’re making 30, 40, 50, or sometimes even more in commissions on one transaction, think about how much perceived value you’d have to provide to have your client think they got more value than what they paid?

Now notice I said ‘perceived value’. People can perceive a lot of value in things that don’t cost you a penny. So providing value is not only about spending money. It’s not only about the services you provide. It’s about providing time, care, attention, and empathy. It’s about solving big problems and more importantly preventing them from happening in the first place. It’s about being really good at what you do and that requires a lot of self-improvement and a willingness to always be learning more and developing your skills beyond just paperwork and marketing and the legalities of real estate.

One of my clients is a multi-multi millionaire. He is a super smart dude and insanely successful. He owns more businesses than I can count and under normal circumstances, someone like that would probably intimidate me. But even though he invests in businesses for a living, when it comes to buying personal real estate, he’s just like most other clients. He can get overwhelmed & frustrated in negotiations, he can let his emotions get the better of him and focus on little things that don’t really matter & then make decisions based on his emotions vs. what’s really important. He’s just a regular human being instead of a business superhero. So when it came to providing VALUE for him, I focused on what he really needed and that was someone who would help him navigate negotiating effectively, when his emotions were getting involved and getting the better of him and for him, that value was immeasurable. He’s done so many transactions with me over the years and trusts me implicitly. He tells me that he couldn’t buy real estate without me and I just find that so bizarre given how successful he is, but it just goes to show the value we can provide goes way beyond putting feature sheets together and hosting open houses.

Alright the next myth I want to bust should be a quick one and it’s going to sound hypocritical when I tell you to want it is. I have heard this one 4 times in the last few days from different agents and I don’t know where it’s coming from, but….

Myth #4 – I need to make 100 calls a week to my database to be successful.

No, no. No, you don’t. In fact please don’t. There are a lot of brokerages and coaching programs out there that will drill this tactic into your head as the only thing that works to build a real estate business and it is so not true. So let’s break this strategy down, so I can show you why it’s not the best strategy to use.

When you’re calling your database or sphere of influence, to see if they are thinking about buying or selling or know anyone who is, you are only reaching out for ONE reason and that is to get something from them. You are pursuing, you are hunting, and a lot of people actually describe it as stalking. I know this because when people I knew would call me, they’d always tell me they were calling me about real estate because I never called them about real estate. Everyone I spoke to for years relayed the same message over and over and over again, that they hated it. That they felt used, that it was disingenuous and that it was clear they only had a relationship with the person, because of real estate. People would tell me that they really liked the agent before they got into real estate, but after they became super offputting and they now avoided them like the plague.

So do you want to be known as that? Do you want people talking about how annoying you are behind your back? No? Well then don’t call your friends and family and bring up real estate. In fact, the less you bring up real estate the more OTHER people will bring it up. It’s like a reverse psychology thing….people actually LOVE to talk about the market, they just don’t love you bringing it up. So stay quiet and watch what happens. The less you initiate conversations about it, the more they will.

However, when they do bring it up, this is your opportunity to shine. Know what you’re talking about. Know the market, know pricing, provide value, and most important of all – don’t be biased. Don’t use it as an opportunity to see if they’re looking to buy or sell or tell them now is a good time to buy or sell. Even if it is! When you are starting out in this business, you need to focus on 4 things:

  • grow who you know
  • Build relationships with people – genuine relationships, not just so you can try and get business
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and authority
  • And Provide Value

That’s it. Really your only goal is to build trust with people. So don’t sell, just serve.

Now you do need to stay top of mind with people as well, but that should happen more organically and naturally, vs. Contacting them with the intention of trying to get business. Make plans with them for fun and to catch up, engage with their content regularly on social media, look for opportunities to provide value in their everyday life, and support them when and wherever you can. Connect them with other people that could be of value to them, and share helpful resources. Just be a normal human being like you always were, before getting into this business. Now if you didn’t make a habit of these things before getting into real estate and you suddenly start now, that is going to seem a bit weird, so just start being a little more intentional with doing these things gradually.

Now when it comes to leads and past clients, you may not have a close relationship with them where you’re regularly seeing them in person. But that doesn’t mean you should be calling them all the time or either looking for a business. The same principle applies, serve don’t sell. In fact, a good rule to follow is to never reach out to them, unless you have a purpose of providing value.

  • sending a sales report
  • Sending a market update video
  • Sending an annual CMA on the anniversary of buying along with a video explaining the CMA
  • Dropping off a holiday gift
  • Sending flowers on their birthday
  • Inviting them to a client appreciation event
  • Sending them your monthly newsletter jam-packed with relevant and valuable content.

Your Touchpoints should be regular, but they should always lead with value and giving vs. Getting. If you do this consistently, you won’t NEED to make 100 calls to your database every week and you won’t risk ruining the most important asset you have – your relationships.

Alright moving along the next myth I want to bust is this.

Myth #5 – You can only be successful in real estate if you’re full-time.

Once again I’m sure there are lots of agents that are cringing when I say that, but I need you to hear me out.

Full-time agents are almost always going to be more knowledgeable and experienced than part-time agents. Knowledge and experience both lead to being a better agent. Those are facts, However, I don’t believe that you have to START full-time to be successful eventually. In fact, for some people, in some circumstances, I actually think you’ll do better if you start part-time and have some financial stability outside of the real estate, while you’re building your business.

The key point differentiating point here is that you INTEND to build your real estate business and do it full-time. You are invested and committed to being the best agent you can be. You want to genuinely help people and be of service in protecting their best interests.

Where I do take issue, is someone that has a full-time job that they have zero intention of ever leaving and they don’t make any efforts to improve their knowledge or skill sets and they just do deals on the side here and there for extra income. That is getting into this business for the wrong reasons and contributes to the reputation that all realtors are only in it for the money.

But for those of you that want to do this full-time, but are financially stressed, in my opinion, you are better off, then take the pressure off and have some sort of supplemental income. When you jump in full-time and have financial commitments or dependants, it can very quickly make you desperate for deals, so that you can make ends meet and that is never a good thing. For starters, people can smell desperation and it’s off-putting, but more importantly, it can make you make decisions that may not be in the client’s best interest or YOUR best interest long term.

Now if you are going to start part-time, here are my two cents…

  • if you’ve got a full-time job and kids at home, set your expectations accordingly. It is going to take you a long time to get traction and it will require you to invest more of your dispensable time, than you may be prepared or able to give.
  • If you’re going to have a part-time job, I highly recommend choosing one you hate. Ideally, do something where you can choose your own hours so that you can work when you have time and focus on real estate when you need to and also pick something that requires zero creative energy. Our creativity is not a limitless bucket you can tap into. We only have so much creative capacity, so when you deplete your creativity for someone else, you’ll have less left for yourself. Whatever you do, do not start some other side hustle! That’s the worst thing you can do. When you try to chase multiple rabbits, you’ll catch none. So think about jobs like grocery shopping for Instacart or uber eats food delivery. Mindless, indépendant work that you can do when you need to and not do when you’ve got to a deal to focus on.

Alright next on the list and I hear this one a lot.

Myth #6 – I’m too young / too old / not attractive enough to be successful.

I know a 23-year-old that makes $600,000 a year and a widowed woman that started when she was 65 and now makes a million dollars a year. If anyone else can do it, you can do it too. Your age and your looks mean absolutely nothing. What does matter is that you’re a great agent and that you care about people and protect their best interest. On the looks front, I just told this story this past Monday at our weekly eXp team meeting. I referred a past client of mine to an agent I’ve done one on one coaching with. This agent is awesome – she is amazing, so smart, so invested….all the things. Well, a few days after I referred her, my client called me and said ‘find me someone else, I’m not working with her.’ And I was like OMG what happened???? and she said nothing, I checked out her personal Instagram page and I’m not comfortable having someone that attractive work so closely with my husband and I.” So apparently there is such a thing as being too attractive and not the other way around and clearly, I didn’t fall into that bucket for her!

So stop thinking about all the things you think are not enough about you, not outgoing enough, not a high enough D score on your DISC profile, not confident enough, not articulate enough, yada, yada, yada. Confidence comes from competence so focus on building your competence and your confidence will follow. Then accept and embrace everything that you think you’re not and go build a kickass real estate career that I know you can and that you deserve.

Remember the more you learn the more you’ll earn, but only if you’re
implementing what you’re learning.

Until next time!

Jennifer Percival