Five Free Tools that will Increase any Real Estate Agents Productivity

What are the best free tools available to increase productivity?

As you progress forward in your real estate career it will become more and more important to stay organized. Without mastering a few select tools it becomes very challenging to stay on top of everything that will be thrown at you as a real estate agent. If you are a beginner or looking for ways to stay more productive you may want to consider the tools I’ve outlined below. While they certainly aren’t the only productivity tools available, these are the tools I use personally. Best of all they all feature free versions or are have premium versions that are very affordable. Most of these tools are included in my technology guide for beginning real estate agents that explains easy ways to fit these costs in your starting budget.

Shift

The idea of shift is to bring all of your emails, apps, and extensions into one dedicated browser. After using Shift for almost two years now I truly don’t know how I would go back to another platform. It did take me a little while to adapt to the interface, but once I was able to, I’m not sure how I could ever go back to the way I used to work on my desktop. Not only can you combine emails, you can also streamline popular services from Google, Microsoft, and others all in one place.

Why I Use Shift

I own several businesses and have a separate email address for each company, along with a personal Gmail account. Shift makes it possible to keep all of these open at the same time without overwhelming my desktop. It also allows me to search all of my inboxes at once, which saves a ton of time. All of the other productivity apps I have listed below are also available at all times in the same Shift browser. It has really simplified my workflow and allowed me to be more productive. The custom workspace feature is new but is also a great way to organize things like Google Sheets or specific websites open in one place.

One Idea on How to Use Shift for Real Estate

Create a custom workspace that already has your MLS and prospects open. This will allow you to quickly go through and identify new properties that may be an ideal fit for clients to email them immediately. Also, include your calendar application in Shift for quick access to your schedule (Better yet, if you are a Gsuite user, send your client’s open slots that they can quickly choose from).

Evernote

Evernote has been around for a long time and is still the king of organizing notes and thoughts in one place. There are some other applications that will do the job, like Google Keep, but in my opinion, nothing compares to the simplicity of Evernote.

Why I Use Evernote

For me, organizing my notebooks and notes in Evernote each night has become a cathartic experience that also helps me relieve stress while I stay organized. I also really enjoy the ability to save web pages or articles I’m reading directly to a relevant notebook to reference later. The web clipper allows you to just save text from a specific area of a web page, add a few notes, and save it to the note of choice. On top of that, you can easily take a picture of virtually anything (including handwritten notes) and import it into Evernote with one click.

One Idea on How to Use Evernote for Real Estate

If you are doing real estate correctly, you should be meeting a ton of people, especially when you are just beginning your career. I always recommend new agents set quick face to face meetings with other agents in the office, loan officers, title reps, and others in the industry that you will come to rely on. Use Evernote to organize details about every meeting. Label people that you meet by industry, and then take real notes about the meetings you had with them. Categorize different people that you meet with things you believe they can help you with in the future. For instance, did you meet a lender that does a good job with grants, or a title rep that will close anywhere? These are good things to know in the future and if not cataloged properly, they can be easy to forget.

Todoist

I juggle way too many things at once, and have a lot going on. This becomes obvious to people in my life, and they often wonder how I am able to stay on top of everything going on. Unfortunately, I do miss things from time to time, but one way I eliminate mistakes as much as possible is by using Todoist to keep track of what I need to do.

Why I Use Todoist

This is somewhat repetitive, but creating lists really is the main function of todoist. What makes it better than a plain old sheet of paper is the ability to organize your tasks in a dynamic way. They even have a karma system that can make completing tasks more enjoyable and rewarding.

One Idea on How to Use todoist for Real Estate

Set up a routine in todoist that will take you through specific tasks you want to perform each morning. Perhaps you would like to set up a routine each Monday morning where you update sellers about their listings, alert buyers to new listings, and send out five hand written cards to people in your sphere. With todoist, you just set these as repeatable tasks and make notes on what you accomplished as you finish. That way you will be able to go back to your notes the next week to see what you accomplished.

RoboForm Password Manager

There are a few different password management software applications on the market that I like, such as LastPass. However, I personally use Roboform and believe it offers the most bang for the buck (especially if you just use the free version). It does a lot more than just manage your passwords and keep them safe. Roboform also allows you to store credit card information, addresses, and other information so that you can quickly fill them in while you are browsing on any device or browser.

Why I Use Roboform

Its almost hard to believe, but the amount of hackers and criminals trying to get access to your information on the web is simply out of control. After dealing with a few personal incidents where crooks were able to steal from me, I’ve been adamant about keeping sensitive information about myself private on the internet. Roboform is just one of the ways I’ve been able to do that. It is also a huge time saver and keeps a lot of data in one place. How many times have you had to go through the “forget password” link on a website in the last few months? With Roboform, that issue is all but eliminated.

One Idea on How to Use Roboform for Real Estate

This would be applicable to any profession and is fairly strait forward. However, real estate agents do have a lot of places they need to log into. Typically they have email, CRM, local MLS, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and a variety of other websites that they will need to log into regularly. Use Roboform to keep passwords very safe and also easily accessible.

Airtable

The best way to describe Airtable is that it is essentially spreadsheets on steroids. They describe it as having the ability to create your own app, which in some ways is very true. It is very easy to create complex and dynamic spreadsheets to help you keep track of just about anything. People use it for everything from tracking their pets medical records to their social media calendars.

Why I Use Airtable

I like Airtable because it allows me to make production schedules and calendars for things like blog posts, social media, and listing marketing. Not only can I create these tasks to remember for the next time, but I can also easily share them with my team so that they can understand the process I want to follow and I can easily track their progress.

One Idea oh How to Use Airtable for Real Estate

There are a variety of templates available on Airtable for real estate agent users. One that I particularly like is the real estate transaction management template. With this template you can keep track of all of your listings and buyers in one place with easy to use labels. If you use this template I would recommend reviewing it each evening or morning to make sure you don’t miss any important dates.

Summary

I truly hope you found this article about free productivity tools helpful to your real estate business. Even if you are not overly busy when you are first starting out, it is important to get in the habit of utilizing tools like these. If you try to learn all of them when you are already busy they can seem overwhelming. Staying productive is all about creating good habits and staying organized. If you have any questions about these products please don’t hesitate to reach out, I’m always happy to help.

Our Favorite Books for Real Estate Agents

Recommended Real Estate Books

I have read all of these books and would highly recommend reading them a few times, then leaving them at your desk and referencing them often.  There is a ton of great advice in all of these books for real estate agents.  I tried to pick a wide variety of topics than can help you in different aspects of your business, from your marketing efforts, to Youtube channels, to organizing your day. 

Recommended Business and Motivational Books

There are a ton of valuable business books available that are not necessarily in the real estate genre. I’m absolutely obsessed with reading or listing to just about any book I can get my hands on, and there are a ton I would recommend.  However, I tried to pick out the top three that I thought would help someone that is just in the beginning stages of setting up their real estate business.

Study Materials

Here are a few study materials that may be useful if you are prepping for your exam.  I have provided links to online courses on other pages, but sometimes people learn better with physical books and flashcards. 

Financial Guide to Getting Started in Real Estate

Create a Clear and Organized Financial Strategy

One of the hardest things I see real estate agents struggle with is their finances. Financial woes are typically a big issue at the beginning of and agents career, but once a bad habit or big debt is acquired, it can be nearly impossible to get rid of. That’s why it’s important to set yourself up for success at the beginning, and understand that being a real estate agent is more than likely not going to lead to a huge financial windfall right away.

It takes some agents years to develop a consistent income, and even veteran agents go through rough patches. This can lead to stress and depression that can have a big impact on an agent’s career, which just manages to deepen the downward spiral. So the real question is, what can you do to avoid the pitfalls and how do you develop the financial habits necessary?

Create a Budget and a Plan

This may sound simple enough, but it is surprising how many agents do not take this as seriously as they should. I’ll often hear them say they have prepared or understood it may take a while for their first commission. Unfortunately, many times I don’t think they really grasp how serious they need to take this aspect of being a real estate agent.

Some of the most successful agents I have come across employ a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 strategy when they receive a commission check. This is a simplified version of what could be a very complex budget, but sometimes the simpler the better. With this plan they put one-third of a commission check in there general checking to use for regular expenses, one-third in a savings account, and one-third in another account that will eventually pay their yeard end tax bill. This is just one example of many ways you can handle your finances.

Consider a Separate Legal Entity for Your Real Estate Business

Consult with your accountant or do your own independent research, but it may be a good idea to set up your real estate business in a separate entity such as an LLC. We will get to having your own E&O insurance later, but for now lets talk about the benefits of having a separate legal entity to run your business finances through.

It creates an extra layer of protection if you are involved in a law suit or other legal issue such as a divorce.

Easier to keep track of your business expenses and tax liabilities.

Allows you to build business credit that is separate form your personal credit

Build Business Credit

If you follow my advice on creating a separate LLC or S Corporation for your real estate business, you should then start building your business credit. You will need to begin by obtaining your unique EIN from the IRS. This will allow you to file your entity with Dun & Bradstreet and obtain your D&B number. After you have this, you can begin by starting small with some lines of credit through specific service providers and then moving onto business credit cards.

Open Separate Bank Accounts

Regardless of whether you decide to set up your business as an LLC or other entity, you should absolutely establish three banking accounts right away to help you stay organized and on budget. Especially if you like the idea of the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 plan that I mentioned above.

  1. Spending Account (Checking)
  2. Taxable Funds Account (High Interest Savings)
  3. Investments and Fun Money (High Interest or Robinhood Cash Account)

Understand Your Specific Tax Situation

I cannot tell you how many real estate agents I have known that forgot to save enough of their commission payments to pay all of their taxes at the end of the year. It can seem wonderful to get a huge $10,000 commission check. However, what many agents often do not consider is that Uncle Sam is going to want his share at the end of the year. Believe me, you do not want to be in debt to the IRS.

As I mentioned above, use one of your bank accounts to set aside your taxes for the end of the year. Always overfund this account, it is never a bad thing to have too much money saved to pay taxes. Any extra funds can be used to invest or to get a head start on the next fiscal year.

Have a Basic Understanding of Tax Rates

Below are the 2020 Federal tax brackets and rates just to give you an idea of how much you will need to save.

2020 Rate Individuals Married/Joint Heads of Housolds
10% $0 $0 $0
12% $9,875 $19,750 $14,100
22% $40,125 $80,250 $53,700
24% $85,525 $171,050 $85,500
32% $163,300 $326,600 $163,300
35% $207,350 $414,700 $207,350
37% $518,400 $622,050 $518,400
Source: Internal Revenue Service 2020 Federal Tax Brackets

Remember that you will also need to save for state and local, which can vary quite a bit based on where you live. States like Florida and Texas have no state income tax, whereas New York and California are fairly high. Be sure to research the tax rates in your state. There is also the standard deduction and many other factors to be aware of. I would advise using software like Quicken or _________________ to keep track of your taxes in real time or consult with a professional CPA.

Track Your Expenses and Use Deductions

Speaking of taxes, don’t forget to begin tracking all of your business expenses right away. There are several programs out there that will help you track mileage, office supplies, software, business lunches, and a variety of other deductible expenses. It is important to keep receipts and deduct items that actually have to do with your business. As of now, you cannot deduct things like clothing or country clubs, but you can deduct business meals or trips.

Remember, if you are in real estate as an agent you are more than likely operating as an independent contractor. That means all of your business-related expenses can be deducted directly from what you make as an agent. Always consult with a CPA to ensure you are following the tax laws appropriately while also keeping every penny you are entitled to.

Make the Proper Investments

Invest in Yourself

Don’t forget to invest in your own professional development. I don’t just mean a fancy cars and clothes. Many agents believe these are important steps to becoming a successful agent, and that really couldn’t be less true. Invest in yourself with proper marketing, coaching, and education to continue your professional development. These items are also deductible for your business and are incredibly important if you want to have a successful career.

Invest in a Real Future

Do not forget to invest in financial assets that will also begin to generate wealth for you in the future. Being a real estate agent is hard in the best of times, but when deals are scarce it is nice to have a few investments that can help cover your bills. There will also come a point where you want to work less. For agents that are just beginning their real estate career, you may want to consider investing in something like Fundrise. This allows you to invest your money in real estate with a lot lower starting capital that buying an actual property, while also learning about different types of real estate investments.

Now for the Final Piece of Advice and Encouragement

After all of this talk of financial planning, I’m sure you could use a little bit of encouragement. Remember, you are much closer to being a millionaire than the likes of Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates. Now that is saying something!

How to Choose a Real Estate Brokerage

How to Begin Looking for the Right Real Estate Brokerage

HINT :: GET MY FREE INTERVIEW TOOL AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE


Every agent begins their career trying to find the right brokerage for them. When you consider the incredible range of options offered into today’s real estate brokerage environment, that can be a challenging objective. In fact, you may have even noticed that many agents you know have jumped from brokerage to brokerage more than once. Many times that’s because circumstances change, but more often than not I believe it is because the agent did not do their proper homework.

While you are completing your course work, it is just as important that you begin meeting with different brokerages and teams. In the current brokerage market, it will not be hard to set up these meetings with most brokerages of any size. Large franchise brokerage models rely on recruiting as many agents as possible, while smaller, local brokerages often do not spend a lot on recruiting and are also normally thrilled when someone reaches out to them professionally for a meeting. With that being said, do keep in mind that even as a new agent, you have more leverage than you may think.

Finding the right brokerage or team to join can set the stage for a long, prosperous career in real estate. The real question is, how do you find the right brokerage?


What to Look For

As someone who has been in the industry for a long time as both an agent and a broker, I tried to think through all of the things I believe agents should consider before they agree to sign on with an agency.

Size

Does the size of the brokerage make sense for your goals and the way you work? Some people may prefer a larger brokerage where they can network with a lot of other agents and blend in, while others may prefer a smaller brokerage where there is more opportunity to stand out. Neither small, medium, or large brokerages are necessarily better than the other. Whether it is classes at school, sports, friends groups, or something else, carefully consider the types of environments where you have thrived in the past.

Technology

If you are not up to speed on technology, then I would highly suggest that you become familiar (consider reading my getting started tech guide for real estate). Technology is becoming more and more intertwined with the way we live by the day, and the real estate industry is no different. When you are speaking with brokerages ask them a lot of questions about the technology they offer and what the cost to the agent is for this technology.

I have found that a lot of brokerages will use buzz words like AI, CRM, the Cloud, etc, but then when you actually look at what they offer it isn’t anything all that special. On top of that, they will charge you a monthly fee just to have access to the technology that you may end up not even using. It is not at all uncommon to see agents at big brokerages using independent software platforms that they have to pay for themselves AND paying the brokerage for software that they never use.

Training (Hint: It May Not Matter!)

Another brokerage selling point you will here touted quite often from many brokerages is ‘training’! They will shout it from the rooftops as if they are going to mold each and every agent that joins them into the ultimate agent. I hate to be negative or the bearer of bad news, but most of this training is just more classroom or CE work that will seem incredibly similar to the classes you just went through to get your license in the first place.

The truth of the matter is, training and real estate coaches are everywhere. The web, Youtube, independent coaches, your local board, etc all offer tons of valuable training that may even be more tailored to your specific needs than what a brokerage will offer. All of this learning is absolutely very important, however, none of it will make up for actual work in the field. Regardless of where you hang your license, you need to find mentors in the industry that will allow you to help with open houses, showings, writing contracts, mailings, or anything else you can help with. This is how you will learn, and by the way, you’ll probably have to do it for free.

Cost and Splits

I’m going to say this first because it is very important, commission splits do not matter when you are starting your real estate career. Let me say this again, commission splits don’t matter when you are starting your real estate career! (haha, ok, sorry, you get the point). Be realistic about what kind of split to expect if you are just starting out in real estate, the monthly fees may be more important than the split itself anyway.

commission splits do not matter when you are starting your real estate career

There are many low-cost brokerages out there, but those aren’t typically the best place for new agents to start out, even if it may be something to consider as your career progresses. If you are considering starting out on a team, you will definitely be relegated to a much lower split, but you will more than likely make up for that with the extra leads and exposure you receive if you choose your team wisely. It’s important to balance the compensation you will receive, with the access to the variables you will need to start your career in real estate.

Also consider your personal financial status, and consider reading my financial guide to beginning in real estate.


The Do Not’s

Don’t Join Because of a Friend or Relative

I know it can be tempting to join a brokerage because you already have a friend or relative telling you how great their company is. While that advice definitely shouldn’t be ignored, don’t let it dissuade you from doing some research of your own. As I have discussed throughout this article, there are plenty of reasons one brokerage may work for one person and not for another.

There are also crucial relationship pitfalls to consider. If you are going to work somewhere because of a person you know, be sure to set some ground rules on how you are going to interact with that person before you join. Are they going to help you? If so what does that mean exactly? What happens if you are both competing for the business of a common associate? It’s important to consider these items and have a serious conversation before you are forced into an awkward situation.

Don’t Fall for Fancy Brochures

I’ve seen the fancy recruiting material that many brokerages hand out. Please remember, they spend an inordinate amount of time on their recruiting efforts because in reality, you are their product. They need to jam their rosters full with as many agents as possible to pay monthly fees, which in turn, covers their overhead. Many brokerages are so good at selling their brokerage to new agents that their turnover rate is nothing short of remarkable. New agent joins after being promised the moon, then they leave after realizing it’s not true, then another new agents joins and the cycle continues to repeat itself. Please believe me when I say that you need to look past it and focus on what truly matters to you.

Don’t Believe the Hype

This sort of falls into my last point, but is important nonetheless. It is very common for recruiters to pump agents up into believing they will do $3 million plus in sales their first year, but they “only have room on their roster for one more agent”, or they “only have leads available for one more agent”! 99% of the time this is not true, don’t let them pressure you into making a hasty decision.


The Do’s

Do Talk to Successful Team Leaders

If they will take a meeting with you, definitely consider meeting with team leads that are open to taking on new agents. Working with a team may be a great way to start in real estate. The splits are usually lower, and the time commitment is probably going to be higher. However, the opportunity to quickly learn the ropes is going to be much greater in a team environment than on your own. Just like the brokerages, however, be sure that they are a good fit for where you want your career to go.

Do Your Own Research Before Joining

We already discussed this briefly, but don’t just listen to friends or relatives about how great a certain brokerage is. Talk to people, read reviews, call random agents at the brokerage, etc. Do your homework on any brokerage you are seriously considering. Remember, this is YOUR business and its important what brand/company you choose to align yourself with.

Do Consider Your Goals

This is the first homework I have given out in this entire article, and you almost made it to the end, sorry about that! Now is the time to put pen to paper and really begin setting realistic goals for yourself. Here is a link to an exercise that may help to set your goals and how to identify if a brokerage is the right fit for them. Its just a google spreadsheet that I made, but it may be of use.

Do Work Hard

My last piece of advice, no matter who you decide to partner with, please remember that this is your real estate business. The only way you will be successful if you are willing to work incredibly hard for your success. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that life is all glitz and glam for the most successful of agents. While its true that many agents lead a comfortable lifestyle, what is often hidden from sight is all of the hard work they had to do to get there.

Regardless of the brokerage you choose, at the end of the day, your effort will determine whether you sink or swim. I wish you nothing but the best of luck!

Getting Started with Real Estate Technology

What Technology Does a Real Estate Agent Need?

Mastering technology has become an incredibly important part of being a successful real estate agent. Whether you are still working on obtaining your license, you are new to the industry, or you could still use an upgrade to your current business, this article is meant to deliver a common-sense approach to boosting your real estate businesses technology. I’ve tried to suggest ways to start on a budget, with some total cost figures at the bottom of this page.

Step by Step Guide to the Technology You Need in Real Estate

As a new real estate agent, sometimes knowing where to begin is a challenge. Follow these steps for a practical guide on everything your real estate business will need to succeed:


#1 Buy Your Domain Name

Your broker may provide you with a website that has search available. I still think it is smart to create your own website with your own content. If you switch brokerages there is no guarantee your current broker will allow you to take your content with you. In fact, they probably will not and I have seen this have a drastic impact on agents in the past. Regardless of what you decide to do with your website, buy your own domain name! Do not let your broker buy your domain name. If you are able to purchase your full name that is a good place to start.

Recommended: Bluehost

Bluehost is a very popular domain registrar and hosting company. They have become so popular for being reliable and are also very budget-friendly.

Try Bluehost Now

Alternative: Namecheap

This is actually the service I use most of the time to purchase domain names. I’m only putting them second because they don’t have quite the product offering of Bluehost for beginners to do everything in one place. Most importantly Namecheap has a wonderful tool called “Beast Mode” for domain name searching.

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#2 Get Your Own Email Address

Just like your website, you want to control your email address. Most brokerages will provide you with a company email, but I would highly recommend also using a personally branded email that matches your domain name.

Try to refrain from using a free gmail or yahoo account for business. You want a real email that matches a domain that you use to look professional.

Example:

Correct: [email protected]

Incorrect: [email protected]

Recommended: G Suites

I use G Suites for my business and can’t imagine using anything else. The interface is exactly like gmail and it also gives you access to a ton of other tools I find myself using nearly every day now. Google Drive (cloud storage), Google Docs (Word), Google Sheets (Excel), and Slides (Powerpoint), just to name a few, have really caught up with Microsoft and I find myself preferring them at this point. Sign up using my link https://refergsuite.app.goo.gl/JttC and get a free 14-day trial, and message me to get an exclusive discount when you try G Suite for your business.

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Alternative: Bluehost

If you purchased your domain at bluhost, namecheap, or any other domain hosting manger, the odds are good they also offer an email service. This will work fine and is a cheaper alternative to G Suites. It just will not have all of the bells and whistles you may wish you had later on.

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TIP :: After you set up your email, use this free email signature generator by Hubspot https://www.hubspot.com/email-signature-generator


#3 Customer Relationship Manager (CRM)

No matter where you store the information, you will want to begin storing your contact list immediately. I would recommend always keeping a backup of your database in something like Excel or Google Sheets. If something were to happen with the data stored with your brokers CRM or a 3rd party provider, that could be devastating to your business. On top of that, you will find that many other software platforms you use will allow you to upload a .csv file, which will save you a lot of time. In fact, it may be best to start with a simple spreadsheet.

Recommended: Google Sheets (Because its free with G Suites)

If you are using G Suites this is a great way to start your database and understanding the actual point of a good CRM. Eventually, you will work your way into more complex CRMs, but this is the fundamental way to begin. I know several veteran agents that still just use a spreadsheet to manage their client database.

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Alternative 1: Keap

Once you are ready for something more complicated, Kaep is an incredible option. The ease of use and automated follow up tools are second to none. While they are not a real estate specific platform, if you do any research you will find that it is utilized by quite a few of the top real estate agents. Its also a great complement for those that are building their own IDX websites, which we will get to shortly.

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#4 Website Hosting

As mentioned above, I would recommend starting with your own website in addition to anything your brokerage gives you. It can be as simple as a one page introduction to yourself, to as complex as your very own real estate lead generation site (which may be very profitable if done correctly).

Recommended: Bluehost

For the same reasons as above, if you have your domain name here, then this is a great option to get started with a simple website. I would still recommend WordPress when starting. For the cost and ease of use, it is hard to do much better on a beginners budget.

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Alternative: WPengine

If you are going to get serious about creating a real estate search site with IDX using WordPress, then WPengine probably going to be the way to go. I have personally used WPengine for 10 years now and it is incredibly reliable with fantastic support. They also acquired Studiopress, which will give you access to Studiopress and all of the amazing themes that are offered with the Genesis Framework (don’t worry if you don’t understand what any of that is yet).

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#5 Website IDX

If you are going to take my advice and have your own website, you may want to include an IDX feed on your site. This is probably the most expensive thing on my list, but it may net you some valuable leads for your business. I have many training videos and articles on how to set this up for yourself at AgentCrammer.com.

Recommended: IDX Broker

IDX Broker Platinum is the product I use, and I like it due to the Widget feature, which allows me to build multiple Niche websites that filter back into one main website. A good example would be my downtown lofts and condos blog at ColumbusLoftsandCondos.com that feeds into my ColumbusRealEstateSearch.com website. If you use my IDX Broker Link you will save the initial deposit and I will also personally provide you additional support with building your website.

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Alternative: iHomefinder

I did use iHomefinder for a while and I liked it a lot for just one website. The optima mapping tool is really nice and its easy to build links. I stopped using it due to the widget feature that IDX Broker has, but its still really nice.

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# 6 Internet Safety

Wire fraud has become one of the biggest scams in existence. Its more important than ever that you protect your clients and yourself from unnecessary theft. I’ve seen these types of scams hold up deals from closing, and even worse, lead to lawsuits against agents. Here is an informative video about real estate wire fraud if interested. There are three things below that you can do to help protect yourself.

Get a VPN

Recommended: Nord VPN

Nord VPN is a great company that allows you to work from a virtual server. This keeps your data and location information safe, even in a coffee shop. Scammers and hackers are everywhere, this just makes it a lot more challenging for them to access your information. For the price its a no brainer. (You may need to have Chrome translate to English for you just FYI.)

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Purchase Additional E&O Insurance

Recommended: Hiscox

More than likely your broker will provide some sort of blanket E&O insurance. However, many times this won’t cover everything, including wire fraud (be sure to check). Also, if you make a mistake that goes against brokerage policy, your own broker may be forced to turn against you to save their own business. It’s always a good idea to have your own insurance just in case. Hiscox will give you a quote online and is a simple place to start. I would recommend calling around to a few insurance agents for quotes if you want the best price.

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#7 Make Your Life Easier

These are not absolutely necessary, especially if you are trying to cut back on costs, but will all make your life a little bit easier. Many of them start as free plans that allow you to grow over time.

Email Automation & Landing Pages

This is not mandatory, but definitely fits in the category of “make your life easier”. Yes, you could go through and email everyone individually, or figure out some kind of email merge (but that never looks professional imo). Some CRMs will offer these tools, but I find that dedicated software for email campaigns is easier. Both of my suggesteions are free to start

Recommended: Mailerlite

I really can’t recommend this product enough. Especially if you are just starting with a spreadsheet as your CRM to save on your monthly budget, this will take the place of what a lot of CRMs offer (and honestly it makes it easier than most CRMs). Your first 1000 subscribers are free and you can send up to 12000 emails per month! This is a perfect beginner tool that will allow you to upgrade over time as you grow your client list. You can also create very nice landing pages, websites, and forms.

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Alternative: Mailchimp

This is another option that is completely free to begin with. I would only recommend this if you are fairly tech savvy, as it can be a bit more complex to begin. However, there is a ton of functionality and its a great product.

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Password Manager

Recommended: Roboforms

This is a free and easy way to store your passwords in one place. There is an upgraded version that allows for multiple devices. If you decide to go with NordVPN, they also offer a password manager for a little more per month.

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Separate Business Phone Line

Recommended: Grasshopper Virtual Phone System

Right now Grasshopper is offering 7 days with no commitment, so you can try it out and see if you like it. I provide Grasshopper phones for all of the agents at my brokerage and also use it for a construction business I am a partner in. Its a very nice way to seem professional even if you are on the go (which hopefully you are!). It also has texting, fax, and a variety of other helpful features. The best aspect of having Grasshopper is that you can keep your business line separate from you personal line, and you can direct it strait to VM during off hours.

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Actual Mail and Greeting Cards

Recommended: Send Out Cards

You will often hear real estate marketing people say that regular mail is dead and that you should focus on web/email lead generation. I tend to disagree and still think that regular mail can have a big impact on your business if done correctly. There is also no reason you can’t make it simpler by using a product like Send Out Cards. They even have a print that looks like handwriting, which can save a ton of time.

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Note Taking

Recommended: Evernote

There are multiple tools to take notes, but I haven’t found anything I enjoy using more than Evernote. For a real estate agent, it can be the ultimate time-saver. Quickly store business card information with your camera, auto-create text from print, speak to text while driving, etc. Organization is very important in real estate and this will help you stay that way.

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Example Monthly Budget

Here is an example monthly budget if you added something from every category on my list. As I have mentioned, your brokerage may provide some tools that will take the place of a few of these, and you may not need a few of them when you are just beginning. If you believe you can comfortably afford it, then great, if not just choose wisely!

Personal domain name is a one time cost of $10-20/year so I did not include it in the budget**

ServiceService ProviderCost/Month
Email HostG Suite for Email$6/month
CRMGoogle Sheet (CRM)Free
Web HostBlue Host$3.95/month
IDXIDX Broker Lite $50/month
Web SafetyNord VPN$3.71/month
E&OHiscox$35/month
Email AutoMailerliteFree
Pass ManagerRoboformsFree
Phone LineGrasshopper$29/month
Greeting CardsSend Out Cardsper card
NotesEvernoteFree
Total/Month$127.66
This is just an example budget, there are a variety of ways to begin*

Obviously, you can pick and choose your services, and some of these costs may change over time. However, this gets your real estate business started on the right track for around $125-150/month with nearly everything you will need. Even better, most of these providers will allow you to scale the cost over time as your business grows, which will also offer more services from these providers at higher price tiers.

Finally

Thank you for taking the time to read this article about the best technology for real estate agents that are just getting started in the business. Please make sure to do your own research and to make sure that each product is a good fit for you and your business. Some brokerages may provide software that will take the place of some of these items.

Most importantly, a lot of this advice is centered around building your own business’s brand, so that you can take it with you anywhere you go!

There are a million and one software platforms out there, and there are new offerings on the daily. I did my best to come up with a budget-friendly list that I think can help any agent get off the ground without spending a fortune. Most importantly, a lot of this advice is centered around building your own business’s brand, so that you can take it with you anywhere you go!

Why should you consider becoming a real estate agent?

Reasons Why You May Consider a Career in Real Estate

Everyone will always need a house to call home and a commercial space wherein they can conduct their business. If you are considering a career in real estate, this may be a good option for you, especially if your forte is in sales and in dealing with various kinds of people. In fact, these days, more and more individuals are choosing to go down the path of real estate. There is an estimated growth in this industry every year because the real estate market is continuously evolving and growing as well.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed their estimates that say the real estate agent profession is expected to grow 3 percent between 2014 and 2024. In the same token, the real estate broker profession is estimated to grow by 2 percent between 2014 and 2024. What makes a career in real estate a viable and attractive option for others? Read on below to see why professional real estate agents and brokers love their jobs, and why it is worth it for you to consider this profession.

The Freedom to Be Your Own Boss

Many professionals are actually shifting into this industry because real estate agents have the freedom to be their own boss. Real estate agents are independent contractors that have the power to set their own hours. They have the luxury to work from home when they are working on proposals, fixing listings, or fielding calls. They can set their meetings on days that are the most convenient for them.

If you choose this profession, you will be able to manage your time and priorities based on your needs. Unlike in a corporate setting where you are tied to your chair from 9 to 5, in real estate, you can be more flexible. If your children ask you to attend something in school, you can re-arrange your schedule easily to accommodate their request. Having the freedom to set your own goals is very satisfying. You can prioritize your tasks based on your goals. Moreover, you are rewarded when you put in a lot of effort.

It is a Quick to Transition to Rel Estate Compared to Other Professions

If you are on the verge of switching careers, then choosing to be a real estate agent is sensible because the process to crossover to this industry is fairly easy. Unlike other careers that require long periods in the university and passing certain stringent board exams, a job in the real estate industry does not need such a fancy background. Getting your real estate license is also a fairly easy thing to do.

However, this doesn’t mean that a real estate job is easy. It just means that this industry is more accepting and welcoming of people with various backgrounds. Although the job is rewarding in real estate, it can also be demanding. The rewards, flexibility, and ease of getting into the field are the primary reasons why there are many part-time real estate agents out there.

Great Potential to Earn Big Money

You’re not alone in considering real estate as a career. There are many others out there who likes this career path because the potential for earning money is big. In this job, you are not limited to earning an hourly income. You’re also not limited to a particular salary range.

Your pay grade is not cut and dry every month. Your income is based on commission, which is dependent on how many houses you sell and how much those properties are. This also includes sales made from getting tenants to sign up lease contracts.

Because a real estate job is essentially like running your own business, your main limitation is how you can grow your clientele, expand your reach, and boost your income earning potential. If you are hard working and diligent enough, a career in real estate can actually be very lucrative. Of course, you don’t make money overnight. You have to be willing to put in the long hours in order to succeed.

The main priority is the client, so you have to put in your best effort to pleasing the client. If you don’t merely worry about pushing for a sale, but you truly prioritize your client’s need, you will end up more successful. Help people to get their heart’s desires. Be their partner in finding their dream home. When you are truly invested in your client’s happiness, sales will never be too far behind.

Satisfaction in Being a Partner in Major Milestones

If you enter into this industry, you will be a part of families’ major milestones. Helping someone secure their dream home is very fulfilling. Many real estate agents find a deep sense of satisfaction knowing they have helped people through major milestones in their lives. Moving to a dream house will always be memorable for those people you have helped; and you will always be seen as a partner who is a part of that memory.

Whether it is helping a newly married couple move to their first house, helping an established couple find their vacation home, or finding the right condo for a bachelor, a real estate agent plays an important role in several stages of people’s lives. You will feel a sense of belonging to your community.

As a real estate agent, you do not just sell houses. You sometimes have to act as a life coach, finance advisor, friendly ear, and part mentor to your clients. Thus, this career is a fulfilling path for those who love to help out other people. In finding residential properties, there is usually a lot of emotions involved. When someone trusts you to be their agent for this kind of project, you feel very rewarded.

Never a Dull Moment on the Job

Every single day is not the same for real estate. If you get into this profession, you will realize that is is always evolving because this job is dependent on many other factors. If you enter this field, you will not be bored of repetitive tasks. This career is actually perfect for people that find an office job boring.

There are just some personalities that do not enjoy doing the same things over and over again. If you are the type of person who thrives on new trends, loves changes, enjoys adapting to different markets, then a career in real estate will certainly offer you versatility.

Apart from this, you also get to meet a lot of new people and interesting personalities. Unlike in a regular job where you are stuck seeing the same faces everyday, with real estate, there is a possibility of meeting someone new on a daily basis. If you are the type that loves to socialize, then you will thrive in this kind of business setting.

Develop Respectful Relationships

Getting into this industry means spending some time learning the nuances of the craft. As the days go by, you will also hone your skills in this field. You will eventually realize that you have become truly knowledgeable and good at what you do. You will feel clients looking up to you and constantly asking you for advice. When clients go to you with a question, you can confidently answer them.

The reputation you have painstakingly nurtured will help you. Eventually, it is the clients who will come to you because your long roster of happy clients recommend you out their respect for you and their faith in your abilities as a real estate agent. This again contributes to that feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction, which helps you to become a more positive person who lives a purpose driven life.

There is an Incentive for Hard Work

If you choose this line of profession, you will realized that this job entails a lot of hard work. But the main thing here is you are working hard not for someone else who owns the company where you are employed it. Instead, you are working your butt off for yourself. Remember, you are striving to hit your targets because you are your own business.

Some Related Questions About the Job

How long will it take to get my real estate license?

The amount of time it takes to get your real estate license varies from state to state. I’ve created a guide to getting your license in each state. Here is a link to the interactive map to help get you to the right place.

Can a realtor make good money?

The short answer is, yes, you can certainly make a lot of money being a real estate agent. However, the long answer is more complicated than that. Some agents have a median gross sales of more than $120,000, but the common rule is that 10% of agents make 90% of the sales. Real estate agents that dedicated their full-time career to making sales tend to be the highest earners in the industry, and it often takes them 2–3 years to establish themselves. Read my financial guide for more information.

How fast can a real estate agent make money on the job?

If you are new, you cannot expect instant results. For some people, it can take 3 to 6 months before they start to consistently make any income, others it can take years. The main thing here is you don’t give up easily and continue to work hard over time. Referrals and leads can snowball over time into a very nice sized real estate business.

When do real estate agents get their commissions?

Real estate agents are typically paid entirely by the seller of the property, and the amount they receive is usually between 2-4% depending on what was negotiated in the contract. This commission is paid out to the brokerage, who then will typically review all of the documents and process payment within one to two weeks or sooner depending on the borkerage.

Is being a real estate agent stressful?

It can definitely be a stressful occupation. Agents don’t typically make a sale until a deal is closed, so this can be very alarming for some people who have few leads or prospects in their pipeline with bills to pay. Deals can also become entangled with upset buyers or sellers. However, as you grow your career and knowledge, you will learn how to successfully manage these issues. Staying consistent, being honest with clients, and great organization are great ways to avoid the stress that is related to your real estate career. I’ve curated a list of tools and tech that may help.

Bottom Line

Getting your real estate license is easy, but being a good agent is a different story. If you want to excel in this field, you will have to be willing to put in the effort to market yourself and your listings well. There are no shortcuts, you have to make sacrifices to your personal life and prioritize your clients in order to attain continued success. If you read through this article, and this still sounds like the right career for you, then you should definitely consider getting your license and begin interviewing brokerages.