As a new real estate agent, there is a vast amount of information you need to learn in a very short period of time. Beyond real estate school, the tools, forms and processes of being an agent are an entire education unto itself.
The bigger brokerage firms will have training programs that provide more classroom-style education covering contracts, marketing and real estate basics. For the brand new agent, this is often a very valuable resource, but comes at a price. Either through a much higher commission split, education fees, or both, there is a cost for the training.
An alternative to the classroom style training is mentoring, which can be utilized by a brand new agent, or even one that is seasoned. An experienced agent may be coming back after time away from the industry, or is wanting to grow their business and needs guidance to reach their goals.
Mentoring is typically a close relationship where the experienced agent leads the new agent step-by-step through the art of the transaction. Together they go through the very basics of a real estate transaction, from searching for and showing homes, to working a lock box, writing the first contract together, inspections, walk-throughs and wrapping it all up at the closing table.
In a mentoring situation, the mentor is there to guide the student through every detail. A text, e-mail or phone call away, the mentor is there to assure the transaction goes smoothly, while preparing the student to transition and work on their own.
Coach vs Mentor
A mentor can be a coach, providing support, strategy and guidance. However, a coach is not a mentor. Typically, a coach plays more of an advisory role, and doesn’t get into the daily, or even hourly details of the transaction. A coach will provide support, suggestions and even homework, but isn’t the “boots on the ground” support a new agent needs.
This isn’t to say coaching is valuable or recommended. A good coach will help new and seasoned agents with growth strategies and ideas. Meeting with a coach on a weekly basis will provide ongoing accountability to assure you continue to move towards your goals.
Broker vs Mentor
The new agent’s broker is much closer to playing the mentor role, especially in a small company. But typically the broker is busy watching over dozens, or perhaps a couple of hundred agents, and doesn’t have the time to spend on one individual. A good broker will certainly take the time necessary to keep an agent on track and out of trouble, but they can’t provide the intense, ongoing support.
The mentor is dedicated to the student agent and the transaction. Their job is to see that the new recruit is gaining the knowledge needed to do more of the next transaction on their own, and also to follow the details of the sale to assure everything goes smoothly to closing.
All of this individual attention has a cost. While the mentor spends large chunks of time bringing the new agent up to speed, they are not able to do as much production in their own business, so they will usually take a percentage of the commission from the new agent’s sale. The ranges in percentage and details vary greatly. A mentor may take a percentage of the first few transactions, while the new agent learns to become self-sufficient and ultimately keeps their full commission. For a seasoned agent, the mentor may take a flat rate for every deal they assist in. Just like everything in real estate, the arrangements are negotiable.
Support for Success
As a new real estate agent, look for companies that have a strong mentoring program. It is a fast way to learn the craft of real estate sales. When interviewing, make sure your mentor will be responsive. Can you connect with them evenings and weekends? Will the call you back within a couple of hours of your call? Be sure your mentor will be present and committed to your success, and not simply collect a portion of your commissions.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have a mentor that you never see or doesn’t call you back when you need help, look for a new mentor, or consider another brokerage. It isn’t uncommon for a new agent to start their real estate career in one brokerage, and move companies within the first six months. It may take a couple of moves, but with proper support, and a good mentor, you can build a great career in real estate.
Jim Brown is a Realtor® and agent success leader at Private Label Realty in Denver, Colorado. He advises, assists and mentors agents at all levels to help them succeed and grow their real estate business. www.JimBrown.me