The Real Estate Encyclopedia
Residential Sales (Illinois) - What's it like?
Category - Professional Development - Become a Real Estate Agent

Since the State of Illinois requires that every prospective agent take and pass a prelicense course (currently 45 hours) and then pass a State exam the uninformed would believe they were prepared to sell a home.  Not true, of course, the process is not unlike taking driver’s education and then the driver’s test. The new agent is no more prepared to service a real estate client than the new driver is to handle rush hour in Chicago.  Since it is also true in Illinois that you’ll need to find a broker to sponsor you into the business, the choice of company should be made, to a large degree, on how much training you’ll receive.  


What are the better brokers looking for in an agent?  While the born salesman may find a career in real estate, the agent most brokers look tohire is one dedicated to making this his or her career, understands that it will be difficult in the beginning, is not overly introverted, and, above all, is a nice person. 


So you’ve picked your office and they’ve agreed to sponsor your license, what will you be doing, day to day, in this new career?  For years and years the business has been one of meeting people and helping them find or sell a home. That won’t change; it’s just that the methods have changed.  How successful you become and how quickly will depend on how many people you already know (sphere of influence), how active the market is, how well you adapt to the tasks of prospecting, and luck.  The term “salesman” (or woman) does not really apply in this business.  You will be much more successful acting as a caring consultant than you will trying to close a deal (think Glengary Glen Ross and if you haven’t seen the movie you should rent it.) 


During any given week you may do many or all of the following:

  • Sit floor time (in essence field any calls or walk-ins seeking service)
  • Broker Tour (new listings open for inspection to fellow agents)
  • Sit an open house (open to the public, usually on a Sunday)
  • Show homes
  • Do listing presentations
  • Prepare feature sheets and fliers
  • Write contracts
  • Negotiate with other agents on behalf of your client
  • Attend home inspections
  • Work with attorneys
  • Work with lenders
  • Attend closings (that’s the best)
  • Attend office meetings
  • Call agents for feedback
  • Stay in contact with current, prospective, and past clients
  • Further your education or attend seminars
  • …and more.

Still, the most important thing you’ll be doing is meeting people. Sitting open houses on the weekend is one way, farming a neighborhood used to be a popular method, direct mail and advertising is a possibility, floor time can be helpful, but it’s using and increasing your sphere of influence that will provide the greatest return. If you take the people you already know (providing they don’t duck when they hear your name) and add the people you are bound to meet in the business, simply let them know that, “anytime you or any of your friends have a real estate need or question, please don’t hesitate to call me.”  But you can’t just let them hear that once or twice, you need to contact them at least six times a year.  You want these folks to think of you when anyone says they are considering a move. It may take a friendly phone call, and you don’t have to ask them if they’re considering a move, just to say, “Hi.”  It may be a birthday or Christmas card. It might be a visit or a personal note.  The important thing is to be consistent and persistent, without being overbearing.


For the past ten years or more, the real estate business has been more and more centered on the internet.  Probably greater than 80% of all buyers have looked at homes on the web and many have already chosen the home they’d like to see.  It becomes very important that the company you associate with and you as an agent have a strong internet presence.  The terms VOW (virtual office web site) and IDX (internet data exchange) have become commonplace.  The importance to you, the agent, is that you need to have your name on a listing or associated with a site when prospects are searching for property.  There are dozens of really great sites out there, but if you can direct prospects to use your site and it does the job, you will capture a percentage of them.  Do not get into this business and ignore today’s marketing hottest tool.


There’s the old saying about real estate, “Location, location, location.”  The same is true for real estate salespeople, but it’s, “Prospecting, prospecting, prospecting.”  If you can spend at least some of each day trying to meet new potential customers, you are destined to become successful. 

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Professional Development - Become a Real Estate Agent
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