It would be hard to ignore the buzz around housing right now. Homes sell in the blink of an eye, buyers continue to enjoy historically low mortgage rates, and real estate professionals enjoy missed opportunities from last year’s selling season. For many, a career in real estate has never been more enticing as many see the benefits of not having to return to an office in a 9-5 environment, have the opportunity to create unlimited wealth opportunities and just start something new .
So what does it take to make the leap into a real estate career and what can be learned from those who are highly successful at it? For two Coldwell Banker Real Estate agents—an experienced veteran and a rookie—their introduction to the real estate industry couldn’t have been more different, but both stories offer important lessons for those looking to make it in this competitive yet rewarding industry.
Building strong foundations
Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Realty in Sarasota, Florida, went to college thinking he wanted to be a veterinarian — real estate was the last thing on his mind. He took a double major in biology and chemistry and eventually decided he wanted to become a doctor. But while in college, he got involved in student governance and people-centered projects that allowed him to get his first taste of marketing and promotion.
After graduation, he landed a job as a marketing assistant for a resort called Longboat Key Club, which introduced him to the world of real estate and made him realize that he no longer wanted to pursue a medical career. In 1985, Longboat Key Club was acquired by a real estate company that later merged with Coldwell Banker in 2002, and since that day its business has been associated with Coldwell Banker. Pettingell has contracted and sold over $2 billion in luxury properties and has been a consistent top producer at Coldwell Banker for over 10 years.
While Erin Lail of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley in Napa Valley, California, might be considered a “rookie” given she has four years of brokerage experience, she is far from green. An entrepreneur at heart, she started Honeydew in 2001, a luxury property management firm that offers all facets of property management and luxury events. Her comfort in working with high net worth individuals allowed her to build clients naturally – and soon even local real estate agents were asking for her expertise in closing deals. After realizing she’d passed on $44 million in business over the years and only had a $50 gift card to show, she decided to turn that frustration into action. With the help of a mentor, she obtained her real estate license and eventually joined Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley in 2019.
“Boy, was this the best thing I ever did!” says Lay.
As a fifth generation Napa Valley Vintner and with her deep local knowledge, her insider approach to real estate transactions in the area is unmatched. In her first year with Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley, she reached the #2 ranking and showed her dedication to making her customers happy.
Technology and tools are essential
No matter what stage of the game you are in, technology and tools are an essential part of a successful broker.
Pettingell loves to seek out and test new tools. While not everything has stuck, he likes to try everything to see the options available to him – and attribute the good ones to his continued success. He enjoys attending conferences and trade shows such as the National Association of Realtors’ annual tech conference iOi and Coldwell Banker’s annual Gen Blue event to get a feel for the latest trends. “Any time there’s an opportunity to be on the cutting edge, it’s where I want to be,” he says.
Lail agrees and thanks Coldwell Banker’s powerful marketing and technical tools for improving its customer service. She acknowledges that the technology she uses has helped her sell more homes. Tools like Listing Concierge help agents become twice as productive, and agents and teams who added a listing in Exclusive Look saw a 23% increase in gross commission income year over year. Agents like Lail work long hours and the fact that they can streamline their services with the help of technical tools helps them save time and be more available to their customers.
Advice from the experts
Are you considering following in the footsteps of these agents and starting your own career? While real estate is rewarding work, it also takes a lot of hard work. Lail likens being a cop to a 50-tier pie, because cops have to be incredibly versatile. As a real estate agent, you will go a long way by building a stronger sense of community and knowing your local market, as homebuyers are always impressed by rich local knowledge – something Lail knows well. “Introduce yourself to people who will become resources – from title companies, banks, insurance companies and construction crews, anyone who will put your name in the area can become a future customer.”
Pettingell’s biggest tip is to find a mentor who can guide you as you gain a foothold in the industry. Networking with other agents is more than valuable, both locally and nationally. He also advises agents to look for new, out-of-the-box ideas when it comes to marketing themselves and their brand. Take it from the expert: When he wanted a new way to optimize his marketing strategies, he started his RealTalk web series, which became a hit with viewers. In addition, while some people think it’s an easy thing, he emphasizes that success doesn’t come overnight. “One of the things you need in this profession is tenacity and the sweating ability and willingness to invest your time in this career,” he says.
The Stars Align – Joining the Perfect Company for You
Lail’s experience building businesses from the ground up has helped her understand the importance of a great team. When she worked at her first real estate agency, she was forced to learn things like giving presentations and writing offers on her own, because there was no built-in team to support agents. Since joining Coldwell Banker, community has become an important part of her career. “I finally feel like I have the support, education, and team environment I’ve been looking for,” she says.
Pettingell also believes that having a strong brand behind you is essential to establish credibility in your market. He believes that access to education, technology and resources at Coldwell Banker is unparalleled. “In any market, especially one like the one we currently have, you need to be able to get the widest possible net out in the shortest amount of time if you take an offer,” he says. He believes that the only way to maximize your listing’s visibility and not leave any money on the table is to partner with a brand like Coldwell Banker that offers the cutting-edge technology it takes.
If you’re ready to start your real estate career, visit coldwellbankercareers.com.