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“I’m new.” What does that mean to potential clients?

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Yes, I’m a new agent…

It’s pretty clear that I’m new at this real estate thing. I’ve got lots of questions. Perhaps more of a rookie indicator than my questions are my answers, which go a little something like “Let me get with my broker on that.”

However, I’m not ashamed. So far, I’ve disclosed my lack of experience with each of my clients and not one of them was bothered by my new agent smell. It’s similar to a new car smell, but with less paper floor mats. Now, I’m blessed to have a great broker and knowing that she’s my mentor probably helps my clients know they’re in good hands. But about my fresh career…

Should I disclose my rookie status so openly?

If you say no, then maybe we see the whole transparency thing a little differently. But, here’s my philosophy. Of course, I could probably go on and on about the services I provide, how I’ve lived in my city since birth, and how great everything is going to go. Then they say “By the way Michael, How many listings have you sold?” Um… none.

At that point, maybe they overlook my experience and go with me anyway because I’m likable. Maybe they don’t. Either way, I’d rather be upfront and honest from the beginning. That’s why I announce, in a video on my blog, that I am indeed new. Eventually this will come to surface anyway, right?

So what’s your take? Get them to a listing or buyer’s interview and tell them then? Or let people know publicly like I’m doing now? I’m a believer in honesty being the best policy, but could the that be costing me business?

How do I overcome the stigma?

The easy answer is be less new, right? I promise I’m working on that and I’m learning more and more all the time. Besides, wisdom is measured in experience, not years right? But, until I’ve got years served, sales volume, or both, how do I overcome the stigma associated with the new guy?

Truth be told, I can’t really blame consumers. When I look for someone who provides a service, I’d like them to be experienced too. However, my career change has made me rethink that stance and begin giving the new guy a shot at my business.

So, my experienced go getters, how do I convince consumers that I’m worth a shot? Thankfully, it hasn’t mattered much when I’m face to face with clients, but could I be losing potential clients? How was your rookie status received when you were new to the business? If negatively, how did you overcome that?

The comments are yours.

Michael is a copywriter turned social media maniac who digs marketing. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he has a degree in advertising with a minor in psychology. His theory: combining traditional advertising and old school values with the technology of today is a great way to go about your business. So what's he doing here? He's a real estate agent trying to find his way. He's taken his license and marketing ideas to @Homes Realty Group in Huntsville, Alabama. He's here to learn from you, the AG community, and hopefully share useful information with you in return. You can find Michael talking marketing at MichaelBertoldi.net and his real estate blog is ThisisHuntsville.com

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40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    May 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I’m not an agent, so I can’t speak first handedly on the topic, but I have a quick story to share. Last month on Twitter, one of my friends in town asked for a referral. I ask the standard prequal questions so it’s a quality referral, and after all of that (in 140 characters, mind you), I told him, “I have two people in mind for you that would both be great.” He said he’d trust anyone I recommend. “Do you want an agent who has practiced for over 20 years and been in almost every house in your hood or an up and coming new agent?”

    Guess which he chose? The up and coming new agent. Now, the new agent has a few sides under her belt, but he said he wanted someone who would bust their butt for his business and be super attentive and felt that the veteran agents he’d worked with in the past just didn’t get it. He wanted to put the biggest investment in his life in the hands of a new agent on PURPOSE.

    So it’s not always a negative stigma because some people expect new agents to work harder since they’re fresh, new and not worn down (yet).

    • Michael Bertoldi

      May 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Awesome story Lani! I’ve thought about that from a “time” perspective, as in, I’ve got plenty of time to help. But didn’t think of it from the effort side.

      Thanks for the new point of view Lani!

  2. Eric Hempler

    May 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t think it matters if the agent is new. Especially if that new agent takes the time to ask their broker several questions so they’re more prepared when meeting a potential client.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      May 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      I ask questions before, during, and after. haha. That’s the only way to find out, right?

      Thanks Eric.

  3. Christine Bearse

    May 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Sometimes the new guy or girl is a best bet, they are willing to do anything for their clients and are also eager to learn and ask questions. You are right, honesty is the best policy, and just like there is a buyer for every house, there is a an agent for every buyer/seller. You won’t be new forever and this is just a short phase in your career! Best of Luck, Rookie!

    • Michael Bertoldi

      May 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm

      All good points Christine! Thanks for sharing and for the support!

  4. Elizabeth Cooper-Golden

    May 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Just keep being the awesome Rookie that you are. So far, all of your clients love that you ARE in fact so darned honest. Transparency is one trait that many lack…keep it up. Integrity can’t be taught. Market statistics and Real Estate knowledge can.
    You are the “bomb” and all that…you truly are. I’m SO proud of you and all of your accomplishments thus far.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      May 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm

      Coop! It helps to know you’ve always got my back. You rock.

  5. BawldGuy

    May 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Hey Michael — My rookie year began just days after the Amazin’ Mets won their first world championship. 🙂 Just eight weeks past my 18th birthday, there was no way I was gonna sell experience, super expertise, or massive knowledge, right? So I did the next best thing, which was to sell my firm — “We sell more homes by number than any other brokerage in San Diego County.” This was how the general manager advised me to approach sellers.

    That approach worked well ’till slowly but surely I morphed into a somewhat more experience and self-confident agent. You have several advantages I didn’t have, as you’re older, and tech-wise big time. Your knowledge level is likely significantly above mine at the same point.

    Am I making sense?

    • Michael Bertoldi

      May 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      Perfect sense.

      Great point on selling the firm. That is something that I can definitely do. I do mention that because my broker is my mentor and so involved in what I’m doing, clients are kind of getting both of us, which is a big bonus in my book.

      Thanks for the tip BawldGuy. I always look forward to your comments.

  6. David Sodemann

    May 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I too am new and have found to some extent that my inexperience can turn off potential clients. However, honesty is the best policy and will help you sell yourself.. In addition, i draw on the other experienced agents around me and tell my clients that.. That way they understand that while I may be listing their house or representing them as a buyer, I have this large group of people standing behind me helping me out when I need it.. People appreciate you more when you admit that you don’t know everything and they especially like it when your so willing ask for help.. it never hurts.

  7. michelleNKY

    May 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I, too, am a new agent and new to this site. I truly appreciate your post. It’s good to know that I am not alone. The feedback here brings up a lot of good points that I never thought of and helps to get rid of the fear of competing against the BIG AGENT IN TOWN. Thank you so much!!

    Shine On,
    Michelle

  8. Celia Sellers

    May 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I’m in the same boat. I made a decision at the beginning (a whopping 6 months ago) that I would be completely honest in answering direct questions. I think that policy has to flow throughout all of your transactions. However, I don’t make a point of bringing it up. If the client is concerned, they will ask. If not, we move on to a successful transaction!

  9. Dave Gunn

    May 28, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Congratulation Michael on your new career move. I think its important for your clients to know first, you’ll be completely honest with them. So be up front about your experience level. Meet your customers at your Real Estate Office. If it’s buzzing with activity it will instill confidence when you tell them ” you have experienced agents as part of your team.” You also have a fresh education with all of the newest rules and regulations fresh in your mind and a Broker who wants you to succeed. Earn your customers trust and respect by working hard and you’ll do just fine.

  10. Marianne

    May 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    People will choose to work with you when they think you will do a good job for them. Since you know you will do that job well, and are backed up by various resources, it will come across to your clients. Just being the professional you are, and have positioned yourself as, is enough. You don’t have to consider your lack of experience a deficit, because experience alone is not what a client values. It is one indication that you are serious about and competent at your job, but not he only one, nor the most important one, as you are already aware. Therefore, you don’t have to “disclose” it at all. It is not a secret, nor a liability. It probably won’t come up, but if it does, answer any question truthfully, but not apologetically. The truth is that each transaction is a new set of elements, and every client is different. People who think they understand everything already are less likely to listen closely than you are. So you are really not that new, in the sense of not being able to help your client.
    That said, you seem to embrace the “new” angle. As long as you feel new, you are motivated and open and enthusiastically engulfing every aspect of this venture. Keep it! Stay new. Some day you will be able to say, “I’m brand new. I’ve been listing and selling real estate for ten (20, 30) years, and I learn something new every day! It’s an amazing business. Now, tell me what you would like to do, and let’s see what I can help you with.” Another aspect of using the newness factor is that it gives you an opportunity to dive into what you will do for them. Still, though, over all, I don’t think it’s necessary to insert a doubt where there was none.
    For now, as long as you think it is a deficit, compensate for it by outlining your advantages or your plan, as you do. When you think your stance is adequate, it will be. If you find it a positive, you are ahead.

  11. red

    May 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    i’d have to agree with lani here.
    hungry? yes. and a fresh perspective on life in the new neighborhood !!

  12. Matt Thomson

    May 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I don’t think disclosing that you are new upfront has anything to do with honest. Why does that matter? You’re saying it matters to you that you’re new, and assuming it matters to your clients.
    Obviously, when they ask how many listings you’ve sold, you don’t lie then, but an answer like, “I am new in the business and haven’t sold any yet, which is why I’ve chosen to align myself with Susan Seller, my mentor and broker, who has sold over 500!” is a great answer.
    Like most agents I’m sure, I’ve had great deals with new agents and horrible deals with veteran agents. Broadcasting I’m new doesn’t screem honesty to me, it shouts lack of confidence.
    I don’t care how long my service providers have been doing what they’re doing, I care how good they are at it. I’ve never let my lack of experience hold me back, nor have I let my 6 years of experience con me into believing I’m good just ’cause I’ve got a few years under my belt.
    Service and ability are exclusive from experience.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      May 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm

      That’s an interesting perspective Matt. Quite frankly, I’ve never really thought of it as shouting a lack of confidence.

      My first couple of buyers had some questions that I didn’t know the answer to, therefore I told them I’d ask my broker and I did explain that they’re getting me and my broker, which is really a benefit to them. But if it has nothing to do with honest, couldn’t I have just kept my experience level to myself? Couldn’t I try to get listing interviews and hide my lack of experience until I’ve got them face to face?

      If anything other than honesty and transparency, you could call “shouting” that I’m new a disclaimer in that I’m saying upfront, “I haven’t done this for very long and there are going to be some questions I will have to refer to my broker.” But to characterize my openness as some sort of weakness is a little off to me.

      I’m plenty confident. I know I’ve got it what it takes. And when I feel like I can answer all of my clients’ questions without calling my broker, perhaps I’ll quit disclosing my experience.

      And yes, thus far none of my clients have cared about my experience. However, I didn’t know that it would be that way. I’ve grown up watching people in other industries emphasize their years of experience in their marketing. I still see it today. But I admit, so far, it hasn’t seemed to make a difference to my clients.

  13. Fred Romano

    May 28, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    This all sounds so sweet – BUT… when I am looking for someone to do some work at my home I want experience! I don’t want a newbie plumber, electrician, or carpenter – I want experience.

    I know whats it’s like – I got in the business on 2003, but I never lied… I said I have been in the business for “less than a year” – not a lie, the truth. You need not share your details with them, just like you don’t ask them how long they have been employed – right?

    Also – BawldGuy’s idea is great – focus on selling your company and use the brokers company stats/numbers.

  14. Scott

    May 28, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I struggled with that when I was new- trying so hard to dig up business and wanting to overcome that “new guy” stigma around the office. What I did was take extra real estate classes, so when I was asked a question about my tenure, I would reply that “I am new to the industry, but I have been trained very well for success in this business. I can guarantee that I will be more familiar with our industry’s best practices than most veteran agents.” While that comment kind of piggybacks on the idea of selling the firm, it did help my clients overcome any trepidation they might have had. Good luck, and stick to it!!!!

  15. Ben Padilla

    May 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I am a new agent and have experienced some negativity when prospecting. I feel as you do in the sense that honesty is always the best policy. Personally, I would be devastated if I lost a client because I was caught in a lie. It only takes the word of one to spread a tale of dishonesty that can tarnish your reputation. I can handle losing a client because I am a rookie, but not from being dishonest. There is a lot new experiences for new and seasoned agents alike, so I think that levels the playing field just a bit. I know that I have lost business because of being my rookie status but I think that I will continue to offer these prospects items of value even though they did not choose to hire me.

  16. Denise Hamlin

    May 29, 2010 at 12:00 am

    I really don’t think that it matters that you are a new agent. Consumers really don’t care that much. They just want to know that you know what you’re doing. I never had a problem with that. I didn’t tell my first clients that I was new and it wasn’t because of a lack of transparency. It just didn’t come up. I actually think it was better that way. I’m sure if they had known they would have second guessed themselves and me throughout the transaction. As it was they trusted me to take care of things and to this day we still have a very good relationship.

  17. Dan Connolly

    May 29, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Most people won’t bring it up. If they do, be honest, and then sell the company. If they don’t you shouldn’t either. Just keep asking questions, and really listen to their answers. That, in and of itself, will put you miles ahead of most of your competition.

  18. Alex Cortez

    May 29, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Aloha Michael, I wouldn’t necessarily advertise that fact. If you act with confidence in yourself, clients will believe in your expertise (whether founded or not) and trust/value your opinion. Obviously if you are asked a question, answer it with candor (which you obviously do). Best of luck as you embark in your new career.

  19. Joe

    May 29, 2010 at 8:08 am

    “So far, I’ve disclosed my lack of experience with each of my clients…”

    This is a good thing Michael. Most real estate agents, I mean those who are Realtors, do not realize misrepresenting experience is against the code of ethics. I’m very keen on this, as I want to venture into commercial real estate and it’s just my wife Colleen and I. We have our own company but neither has commercial experience. So, to avoid ethics issues, which in turn a violation thereof could result in a lawsuit, I will need to divulge my lack of experience. I kinda wonder how much business I will lose as a result. I guess we will see. Fortunately, I can afford to loss some clients in the interim as we are busy and have kept ourselves out of debt, so we do not need much to survive.

    Anyway, it’s good (and necessary) to make your clients aware of your experience. I think most folks will appreciate your transparency Michael.

  20. Maria Kadau

    May 29, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Hi Michael,
    I too am a new agent, just about 3 months. I LOVED that you brought this topic up so openly. What my biggest “a-ha” has been so far is that what I lack in actual experience, I certainly make up for in creativity, drive and determination as compared to some of the more established agents. I think that is a big plus when I share my value with clients, and will certainly help my business grow.
    A few months ago, I was a little intimidated by the vast years of experience that the veteran agents had, but as time has gone on, I realize that many of them are just average when it comes to overall value. I intend to go above and beyond, so I’ve chosen to learn from those who have positive attitudes, great customer service, willingness to embrace new ideas, and a constant desire to better themselves. Agents helping each other is a wonderful concept!

  21. Lani Rosales

    May 29, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Realtor.com asked on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/realestatemarketer#!/posted.php?id=77713743483&share_id=120888481284887&comments=1#s120888481284887), “Is there a negative stigma to being a new agent? Or can it work to your favor as some clients may have the perception that you’ll be more aggressive working for them than an agent with 20 years of experience and 40 listings? Great article on this topic! How difficult was it for you when you first got started in real estate… how did you jump start your business?”

    There were 36 responses:

    Bob Faith said, “Whether you are a new agent or old. You work with what you’ve got to build your business.” Yesterday at 1:10pm

    Colleen Wayman: August Oh people think that the new agents do not know what they are doing – they would be amazed at the service some new agents provide vs the seasoned ones lol – Ive seen agents with 40 listings that rarely speak to any clients. Many have the mentality to put up the sign and wait for the call – thats not marketing a property
    Yesterday at 1:15pm

    Claude Marcoux: Everyone has to start somewhere, When I started South East Home Inspections, in Orlando, I told them my background in contruction before home Inspection and how long I have been a home Inspector and they still called me and they very happy with my service.
    Yesterday at 1:16pm

    Daniel Haas: Most of the people that I came across wanted someone with more experiance for what ever reasons they had. I was never able to glean the inforation from them. So I figure that it was their loss. Now that I have found a better company I have learned what questions to ask and how to ask them. And now know what the problem was. That is why it is important to have designated agents to help and teach newer agents.
    Yesterday at 1:20pm

    Cat Connor Spradlin: finds it tough being a new agent in a very small town, especially in this market, so I appreciate the info!
    Yesterday at 1:24pm

    Phyllis Grubb: I wish people thought that way. I have noticed some agents that have been in the business a long time will not work as hard for their clients . Once listed they set back for someone else sell it .
    I know one who even says they don’t answer thier phone. ThAt is so frustrating when you have a question
    Newer agents will work harder for a client . I knowi will work 24/7 for my client. I want them to be able to recommend me to others
    Yesterday at 1:24pm

    Debbie Reid-Beckford: I believe that it depends on the type of deal, but generally your work ethics and professionalism goes a far way! I started out with family, friends and referrals. It worked out great because of the work I did, not the experience or lack of!
    Yesterday at 1:25pm

    Martha Lois McNeelis Bailey: We learn by doing, run small advertisements, attend networking opportunites, have a mentor agent to help you, develop a rapor with clients, let them know that you really care.
    Yesterday at 1:31pm

    David Sodemann: ain’t that the truth Colleen.. My clients love me because they know I’m willing to got the extra mile for them and be aggressive.. I honestly thing that what they pay me for.
    Yesterday at 1:31pm

    Retha J Arrabal: Debbie is right on… if your work ethic & professionalism is there, then it goes a long way. I knock myself out for my clients, and love every minute of it! (mostly)
    Yesterday at 1:35pm

    Chris Lewis: I agree with Colleen. Whether your a new or seasoned agent. It all comes down to correctly doing your job. There are just too many transactions where I have to not only take care of my clients but the other agents clients as well. If you are a new agent. Go with a Broker that is going to help you get established. Above all lean on your friends and family. They are going to make you successful the first couple of years.
    Yesterday at 1:35pm

    Rob Moxon: Service and commitment will set you apart from all others whether it’s good or bad. Ask lot’s of questions of the “senior” agents in your office and learn, learn, learn. Be confident but never cocky and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can be succesful. Good Luck!
    Yesterday at 1:39pm

    Ginger Slocum Gausman: I never hid from my clients that I was a new Realtor. I just let them know I am strong in Customer Service and will take care of them through the process and if I don’t know something, I will get the answer quickly from my broker for them! I put “It begins with trust” on my business cards and I truly meant it…I need to trust them as much as they need to trust me!!
    Yesterday at 1:41pm

    Dale Louderback: hard work overomes everything
    Yesterday at 1:42pm

    Cindy Beasley Grosskopf: I think it is harder for older agents to grab on to the new technologies that are needed in today’s business. I feel that many times good companies overlook new agents because they don’t have the training systems in place that most new agents want or need.
    Yesterday at 1:45pm

    Krysti Zulpo: Does not matter if you are new or old in the Business… You should give the same service to all clients no matter if you are one day new or been 40 years into the business… You can ask all the right questions and get all the answers that you want, but if you dont know what to do for your clients, if you dont know how to gain their trust… Then you have nothing… Most of my clients tell me that they get all kinds of fake promise from agents, what they want is results… So you work to the extreme to make it happen, and remember, its NEVER about YOU… But its all about the clients! I will never forget when I was NEW… I felt like a little fish in a big shark tank… But I wanted to be good at this, and I would offer what other agents lacked, and it was personal service to the clients… Letting them feel apart of what was happening, letting them feel as if they had some control over the deal… I made them feel like real people with a mission that was all about them.. It so worked for me.. I droped the stiff look, and made them feel warm…. I worked off referrals with just months in the business, and never had to farm, unless I wanted to door knock… and the bonus is, I moved from the southern states to Orange County, Cali to do just Real Estate… I knew NO one, and made it work.. Big place, and lots of people, but I found a way to stand out from the rest, and that is the key to being an agent, you have to stand out from the other agents. I have never took NO for an answer! I find away to make things happen.. You have to work for your clients! I am always available to my clients, be one or all 30 listings… They know you can call me any given time, and they feel as if they are the only client I have… its called keys to customer service with a twist of caring, understanding, and making them feel as if they matter…. People just want to know you care, and its NEVER about the money… I see many agents put the money in front of the client, but what good is the money, if you never close the deal… You got to put the focus on who gets you there, and that is the client.. the money is just the icing on the cake!! Keep it focused!! Yes, it makes a difference… Remember a good agent is one that is referrable!! So new or not.. You want to treat all clients to the level you would want, and I promise you that you will have a business out of this world!! Your name will spread like wild fire, and phone will ring like crazy!! Be someone that they are excited to refer to those they know! Trust me, before long being “new” will no longer matter.. 🙂
    Yesterday at 1:50pm

    Juan L Bassett: If you are in service to your clients and represent their best interest… new or old doesn’t matter..
    Yesterday at 1:54pm

    Pat Drelling Smith: Unless you work in a 1 person office, a new agent should surround themselves with a “team”….their broker, a trainer, a mortgage rep, a title rep, an inspector, etc. That way you build on the experience of everyone and you’re not “new” anymore.
    Yesterday at 2:00pm

    Rebecca Seibold: You definately need the help of a team to learn as much as you can and help to reduce the mistakes many of us rookies make. Especially have a good mortgage person to help you, title company and inspection and appraiser. You can learn a tremendous amount…Just be honest and don’t exagerate or tell the client you will deliver if you cant
    Yesterday at 2:09pm

    Karen Murphy: I have been licensed since 2003 and a full time REALTOR since 2007. In my office that is still fairly new. I found my 1st clients doubted what I was telling and showing them about the market changes. I was unable to get price reductions or when presented with an decent offer they countered so high the buyer went away. I listed homes for what the sellers wanted instead of what the market said they would sell for. Three of those listings are still owned by those same people today. They wish they could get close to the price I quoted them back in 2007. The one that did sell listed with another agent at the price I suggested and sold in less than 30 days.
    Today, I do not take over priced listings. My business is much better. The best advise I would give any agent new or experienced, is do not take over priced listings. You cannot do enough marketing to overcome a listing that never sales and sits in MLS having a birthday. If you didn’t sell it, then the neighbors nor any freinds will use you to sell theirs. The buyer calls you get from an over priced listing, don’t think you know what you are doing either. The REALTOR is always to blame when it doesn’t sell.
    When the sign goes up and comes down in a reasonable time frame, areas, and prices vary. You are GOLDEN and get the referrals.
    Yesterday at 2:10pm

    Ozzie Ramirez: No matter how seasoned you are, you have to do whatever it takes to be educated if you want to be successful or beat any stigma. I started part time in 2005 and went full time in mid 2006. In the last qtr of 2006 I won HAR Top Producer award. I chose to educate myself on everything my audience wanted me to know. I never worked for a big firm or had a mentor, I used what I knew the best and that was the internet. All of the start-up education you need is at the tip of your fingertipsand the rest will come with experience. I took every free HAR class and attended every First Time Home Buyer Pogram I could find. I even went even further and taught myself how to repair credit. Real Estate is a battle, will you have a knife or will you choose to drive a tank. Knowledge is your weapon.
    Marketing Philosophy: You can spend thousands of dollars on post cards, billboards, magazine ads, etc, but if your service s crappy, then all you are doing is paying to tell people: “Hey, my service is crappy.” Focus on your knowledge and customer service and create raving fans.
    A must read for real estate agents: “Raving Fans.” by Kenneth Blanchard.
    At whatever stage in your career you are in, use what works best for you. When I was a rookie, my edge was that I was extremely technology saavy and I would hustle hard and let my cliets know that there was no one out there that would out work me because nobody was more driven. I would call FSBO’s and ask them to let me have an open house in their house. No commssion and no commitment unless I brought them a buyer(just 3% if I brought them a buyer). That’s how I go my foot in the door, then eventually, if I did not sell it, I would build a relationship and let them know that we would have a bigger audience if they let me list it on the internet as their agent. It worked like a charm.
    Now that I am almost 30 and have been in for more than 5 years, I do not have to market because my referral base takes care of that for me.
    Yesterday at 2:50pm

    Ronda Osborne Courtney: The market is so hard right now. Joining a team is something I just did again. What a relief!
    Yesterday at 2:58pm

    Tom Seddon: Education is everything and staying up on all the changes that seem to happen almost daily anymore. I have been a full time Realtor in Virginia and North Carolina since 1979.To say there have been changes is an understatement.
    For new agents try and get a seasoned top producer to be your mentor if you need help.I was helped in the beginning and I help now without expecting compensation…Tom Seddon, Coldwell Banker Professional
    Yesterday at 3:06pm

    Bonnie Bodnar: Congratulations Ozzie! That’s the way to do it. Knowledge and excellent customer service.
    Yesterday at 3:16pm

    Bill Weeda: We have the best of both worlds, my wife Patty has 22 years and I just got licenced last month. Serving as her assistant while I learn the ropes, it’s awesome.
    Yesterday at 4:16pm

    Patti Baker: Sell yourself, give professional advice and service. Sometimes it is the smallest things that steer a client to you.
    Being new in a small town is probably the hardest due to the “old boy network” send out flyers hang out at the grocery store, wear your name badge. When I first strted no one had name badges so I had one made for myself and I got business from wearing it. 28 years later I am still going strong and I am up on all the new technologies…..
    Yesterday at 4:22pm

    Michael Bertoldi: Wow. I appreciate all the comments and responses you all have provided here. While it would be hard to reply to everyone, thank you all for commenting. Keep in mind, you’re not only helping me, but any other new agent who reads the post. Thank you all again. I’ve read these comments and there are some nuggets of information in this thread that are definitely worth remembering.

    You guys rock!
    Yesterday at 4:54pm

    Jim Steele: I will ALWAYS be new, even after 20 years!
    Yesterday at 5:57pm

    Theresa Rock: Me to after 27 years:-)
    Yesterday at 6:55pm

    Jlo Loperaberrio: I’M NEW” This has def. been tough for a broker I personally know. He started this business for someone he knows who had experience in a big real estate company and still no clients. I’m beginning to believe that being new is not a good thing….people don’t believe in you, nor do they give you the opportunity. If they only knew! Abbey Road has everything they need, mtg brokers, exterminator, appraiser (if it’s FHA, because of the new rules), etc…and even attorney referrals (the owner is an attorney with over 20 years experience and hundreds of residential and many commerical closings- so you know he knows the business!). So it doesn’t matter I guess….people don’t give new business’s a chance.
    Yesterday at 8:57pm

    Cherie Smith Zurek: I have been in the business for 24 years…I answer my phone and return calls within two hours…my office phone goes to my cell telephone…but I agree that the new agents might be more internet savvy wthout trying because the new young agents ..it is in their blood when they are born..like my kids who are 30’s…I have to really try hard …keep up on my Facebook page…putting my listings on Utube…I carry a Iphone so I can text my young buyers and sellers.so they think I hip..my listing can be Texted off the sign and the virutal tour sent to their Smart phone right then….I am the # 1 in my marketplace and plan to keep it that way until I retire. I am open to giving tips to new agents…if you want to email me at ******@aol.com
    Yesterday at 9:43pm

    Linda Denton Smith: as a new agent, I let my clients know that if I don’t know the answer to a question, I have my broker on speed dial! I assure them that we will walk hand in hand through the entire process. I have an agent in my office that I refer to as my mentor and she is the best! I always make sure I get voicemails answered and return calls within 1 hr of when I get them even if it’s only to tell them I’m working on their question. Love it, love it, love it!!
    Yesterday at 10:01pm

    Patty Weeda: I’m the “Patty” that is attached to Bill Weeda’s comment, Thank you, honey…..however, I agree with Jim Steele…”I’ll always be NEW!”
    Yesterday at 11:26pm

    Maria Santiago Kadau: I’m new and my biggest takeaway has been that what I lack in actual experience, I certainly make up for in creativity, drive and determination. I’ve chosen to learn from the agents who have positive attitudes, great customer service, willingness to embrace new ideas, and a constant desire to better themselves. The agent-helping-agent concept is so beneficial when you’re new.
    14 hours ago

    Mary Oglesby Rhem: I came into this business determined to define my success. I don’t focus or promote the number of years of doing my business. I focus on results. Every transaction is different and I work each one differently. I tell my clients what I can offer which hasnt change from day 1, 20, and 1974, that is, providing exceptional service! Yes, “customers” like to focus on titles and adjectives such as “new” or “experience.” If my short number of years don’t get me that client, then it’s their loss. When they come back because the 10, 20, 40+ agent drops the ball, then it’s my gain. Hence, it hasn’t hurt me yet.

    All fellow agents preceding my comments have said some great things. We should all be able to go after new business now not being intimidated by our senior colleagues. 🙂
    13 hours ago

    Colleen Dermody Sample: good luck newbies. do all the training you can, webinars,speakers, programs that your board of Realtors gives…volunteer..hit the ground running and always see the glass half full!
    8 hours ago

  22. Chuck G

    May 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Michael,

    One thought that I haven’t seen in all of the great comments so far — use your “newness” to your advantage by focusing your marketing on first-time buyers. First-time buyers are new to the process too, and they’re much more likely to form a bond with you because of your eagerness and willingness to go the extra mile for them.

    You have to expect in your first few years of business, that you’ll be on the buy side far more often than on the listing side anyway, simply because most people who are selling their home likely have an established relationship with the agent who sold them the home in the first place. Listing are really tough to get in an established market.

    So sell your un-divided attention over the established agents experience to all of the new buyers that are coming on the market. And don’t forget, YOUR buyers today will be YOUR listings in a few years.

    Good luck!

    • Michael Bertoldi

      May 31, 2010 at 2:12 am

      Great point Chuck. I agree that’s a good way to look at the situation.

  23. Jim Whitlock

    May 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Wow! What great colleagues I have out there! Now a seasoned verteran with just over a year under my belt …. NOT!, I can only full heartedly agree with all of you who mentioned service, care, trust and integrity. New or seasoned those traits will always define you.

    Though I’ve only had the pleasure to work with a dozen or so clients over the year, not only have they become clients for life, but all good friends. As I am about to hold my first Annual Client Appreciation BBQ I look forward to seeing and SERVING them all once again ….. not with closings this time, but with hamburgers ….. maybe next year with lobster and steak.

    Serve your clients always above yourself and then fasten your seatbelt!

  24. Carmen Brodeur

    June 1, 2010 at 2:32 am

    I am impressed with your honesty and I am sure your clients would be impressed too. It takes courage to say that you are new at the game.

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Opinion Editorials

Ways to socialize safely during quarantine

(EDITORIAL) Months of isolation due to quarantine is causing loneliness for many, but joining virtual social groups from home may help fill the need for interaction.

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quarantine

Quarantining, sheltering in place, staying home. We’re tired of hearing it; we’re tired of doing it. Yet, it’s what we still need to be doing to stay safe for a while longer. All of this can be lonesome. As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the alone time is getting to even the most introverted among us.

Solitary confinement is considered one of the most psychologically damaging punishments a human can endure. The New Yorker reported on this in a 1992 study of prisoners in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, as well as Vietnam veterans who experienced isolation. These studies showed that prisoners who had experienced solitary confinement demonstrated similar brain activity to those who’d suffered a severe head injury, noting that “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”

We aren’t meant to be solitary creatures. Your “pandemic brain” is real. That fogginess, the lack of productivity, can be attributed to many things, including anxiety, but being kept apart from other humans is a big part of it too. Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and join others virtually. Be it an app, a class, a Facebook group, a chat room, or a livestream, someone somewhere is out there waiting to connect with you too.

The good news? We are lucky enough to live in an era of near limitless ways to interact socially online. Sure, it is different, but it is something. It’s important. The best thing about this type of social interaction is being able to hone in on your specific interests, though I’d caution you against getting caught in an online echo chamber. Diversity of interests, personality, and opinion make for a richer experience, with opportunities for connecting and expanding your worldview.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to socialize while staying home and staying safe. Communicating with other humans is good for you, physically and mentally.

Interactive Livestreams on Twitch:

Twitch is best known as a streaming service for video game fans, but it offers multiple streams appealing to different interests. This is more than passive watching (although that is an option, too) as Twitch livestream channels also have chat rooms. Twitch is fun for people who like multi-tasking because the chat rooms for popular livestream channels can get busy with chatter.

While people watch the Twitch hosts play a video game, film a live podcast, make music or art, mix cocktails, or dance, they can comment on what they’re watching, make suggestions, ask questions, crack jokes, and get to know each other (by Twitch handle, so it is still as anonymous as you want it to be) in the chat room. The best hosts take time every so often to interact directly with the chat room questions and comments.

Many Twitch channels develop loyal followers who get to know each other, thus forming communities. I have participated in the Alamo Drafthouse Master Pancake movie mocks a few times because they are fun and local to Austin, where I live. Plus, in my non-quarantine life, I would go to Master Pancake shows live sometimes. The chat room feels familiar in a nice way. While watching online is free, you can (and totally should) tip them.

Online trivia in real time:

There are some good options for real-time online trivia, but I’m impressed with the NYC Trivia League’s model. They have trivia games online on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The NYC Trivia League seems to have figured out a good way to run the game live while keeping answers private from the other teams. They run games on Instagram Live with a live video of the host, and participants answer via the question feature. Clever!

Online book club:

First I have to shout out my Austin local independent bookstore, BookPeople, because they are fantastic. They run book clubs throughout the year, along with readings, book signings, and all things book-related. BookPeople hosts several online book clubs during these lockdown days, and most people will find something that appeals to them.

I’m also impressed with this list from Hugo House, a writer’s resource based out of Seattle. This list includes Instagram and Goodread book clubs, book clubs for Black women, rebels, and poetry lovers. The Financial Diet recommends the Reddit book club, if you are comfortable with the Reddit format. Please note that it’s a busy place, but if you like Reddit, you already know this.

Cooking class or virtual tasting:

This is doubly satisfying because you can follow these chefs in real time, and you end up with a meal. There are a couple on Instagram Live, such as The Culinistas or Chef Massimo Bottura.

You can also participate in virtual tastings for wine, whiskey, or chocolate, though you will have to buy the product to participate in the classes (usually held over Zoom or Facebook Live). If you are in Austin, Dallas, or Houston, I recommend BeenThere Locals. The cost of the course includes the wine, spirits, or cooking kit in most cases, and all of the money goes to the business and expert hosting the class.

Look for your favorite wine, spirits, cheese, chocolate makers, and chefs that are local to you to find a similar experience. Most either prepare the class kit for pickup or delivery within a local area.

Quarantine chat:

To interact with another quarantined person seeking social interaction, there’s Quarantine Chat. Quarantine chat is one of the ways to connect through the Dialup app, available on iOS and Android devices. Sign up to make and receive calls when you want to speak with someone. The Dialup app pairs you randomly with another person for a phone conversation, at a scheduled time, either with anyone or with someone with shared interests.

Quarantine chat takes it a step further with calls at random times. When your quarantine chat caller calls, you will not see their number (or they yours), only the “Quarantine Chat” caller ID. If you are unable to pick up when they call, they will be connected with someone else, so there is no pressure to answer. It’s nice to hear someone else’s voice, merely to talk about what you’ve been cooking or what hilarious thing your pet is doing.

Play Uno:

Uno Freak lets people set up games and play Uno online with friends or strangers. Players do not need to register or download anything to play. Uno Freak is web-based.

Talk to mental health professionals:

If your state of loneliness starts sliding toward depression, call someone you can speak to right away to talk over your concerns. When in doubt, call a trained professional! Here are a few resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET, 800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to this text line 24/7 for someone to text with who will also be able to refer you to other resources: U.S. and Canada: 74174, U.K. 85258, Ireland: 50808.
  • Psych Central has put together this comprehensive list of crisis intervention specialists and ways to contact them immediately.

There are many ways to connect even though we are physically apart. These are just a few real time ways to interact with others online. If you want something a little more flesh and blood, take a walk around the block or even sit in a chair in front of where you live.

Wave at people from afar, and remember that we have lots of brilliant doctors and scientists working on a way out of this. Hang in there, buddy. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for all of us.

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Opinion Editorials

Working remotely: Will we ever go back? (Probably not)

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Now that the pandemic has opened the door on working remotely, there’s no way we’ll put the genie back in the bottle. But, here’s some ways you can adapt.

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Woman working remotely on her couch with a laptop on her lap.

When it comes to working remotely, will the toothpaste ever go back in the tube?

Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale…” By 2030, Zuckerberg anticipates that over half of Facebook’s workforce will be remote. Many other companies are jumping on the work from home bandwagon. Working remotely has helped many businesses manage the pandemic crisis, but it’s unsure what form remote working will take over the next 10 years.

We know that employees are responding positively to WFH, as reported in this article – Employers: Lacking remote work options may cause you to lose employees. As offices transition to a post-COVID normal, here are some things to consider about your office and remote work.

What does your business gain from allowing workers to WFH?
The future of remote work depends on a conscious application of WFH. It’s not just as easy as moving employees out of the office to home. You have to set up a system to manage workers, wherever they are working. The companies with good WFH cultures have set up rules and metrics to know whether it’s working for their business. You’ll need to have technology and resources that let your teams work remotely.

Can your business achieve its goals through remote work?
The pandemic may have proved the WFH model, but is this model sustainable? There are dozens of benefits to remote work. You can hire a more diverse workforce. You may save money on office space. Employees respond well to remote work. You reduce your carbon emissions.

But that can’t be your only measure of whether remote work fits into your vision for your organization. You should be looking at how employees will work remotely, but you need to consider why employees work remotely.

The work paradigm is shifting – how will you adapt?
The work environment has shifted over the past century. Remote work is here to stay, but how it fits into your company should be based on more than what employees want. You will have to work closely with managers and HR to build the WFH infrastructure that grows with your organization to support your teams.

We don’t know exactly how remote work will change over the next decade, but we do know that the workplace is being reinvented. Don’t just jump in because everyone is doing it. Make an investment in developing your WFH plan.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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unemployment

Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out. And even as we enter 2021, there is still more to be aware of – we’re not out of the woods yet.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note… So let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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