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I’m officially a Realtor! Time to… wait. Now what?

yesYes, that dreaded exam is finally over! I’ll admit, I was prepared to take it two, three times if need be. What a blessing it was to walk out of that testing facility with excitement. And as of yesterday, my dues are paid. I am officially a member of the National Association of Realtors. Now, on to conquer the world! It’s time to… Hold on a minute.

Hey… Over Here Please. I Didn’t Get Any Instructions With This License?

Did your license come with an owners manual? Mine didn’t either. But, that’s why I love you guys and gals. See, you were once right here where I am. Fresh off the exam, dues paid, with a week old license in your hand . Think back to that short time ago. What was the first thing you did? Now, if you went to happy hour or sang “celebration” with your windows rolled down, let’s hear that too. But I’m talking that first, awkward transaction.

Time to Share Your Rookie Moment

Let’s talk about your first transaction. Were you representing the buyer or the seller? Where did the lead come from? Was the entire thing a smooth run through or did you trip on the front porch of the first home you showed? How about getting that lock box open? You didn’t drop it on your buyers’ toes did you?

I know you guys have some stories! Some probably went great, some not so much. Mine hasn’t happened yet. But, don’t be shy. If you’re brave enough to spill the beans, let’s hear the story of your first transaction. Hopefully, I’ll have a story to add to the mix soon.


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Written By

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 and his real estate blog is



  1. Bruce

    April 6, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Welcome to the greatest business opportunity in the world.

    February 2007
    My first client was a referral from my wife. A colleague of hers wanted to sell and move up. We listed her house on a Monday and had three full price offers by Wednesday. Instead of using a local lender, she decided to use a mortgage broker in the back of a nursing magazine. We scheduled both closings on the same day–her sale in the morning and the buy in the afternoon. The sale of her previous home closed without a hitch…the buyer used a local mortgage broker.

    Now we waited for the closing on her new home…using the mortgage broker from the classified ad in the magazine. You guessed it, the lender not only dropped the ball, they completely lost it. In an effort to save the deal, my mentor and I called a LOCAL mortgage broker and they got the FHA loan completed in 7 days!! The builder was awesome and allowed her to place some of the personal items in the garage until the closing.

    A very eye opening experience.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      April 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm

      Thanks for the story Bruce. Does that mean I shouldn’t contact any mortgage lenders from ads? Haha. I hope that sort of thing isn’t a regular occurrence. Thanks for the comment and I think I’ll stick with local lenders.

  2. Steven Kopstein

    April 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    My first sale was a semi-detached home in Southeast, DC. I was a total rookie working the phones at a Lewis & Silverman office in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was 1989. Interest rates were around 11%. A cold call came in over the phone and I grabbed it and worked with the buyer – showing them every home in the area they liked which matched their budget.

    I had no experience and no knowledge of the area they were interested in – but I did a lot of research and was very persistent. In about 3 weeks we had a contract – with FHA financing. I think the purchase price was less than $100,000.

    Many years later, I now own my own real estate firm in Manhattan, with an office in SOHO and I’ve earned commissions greater than the price of that first sale.

    Stick at it and you will do well – just treat people with honesty and respect along the way and it comes back to you.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      April 6, 2010 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks Steven. That’s a great success story. And of course, the note about honest and respect is something that I hope I live up to everyday. In due time, I hope to see success like yours.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. James Malanowski

    April 6, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    My first sale was to a nice couple who I picked up on a floor call. We ended up getting an offer accepted that included not only the house, but a house full of furniture. Come to find out – quite a ways into the transaction – that the wife of the seller died in the house and the wife of the buyer happened to be extremely superstitious. Needless to say, there was a few days of uncertainty before her husband and I were able to calm her down and agree to move forward.

    The day of closing, the buyers came into my office upset because when they got to the closing table to sign the final docs, their lender through in an additional $9000+ of costs that they hadn’t originally disclosed. Ahh the good ole days …

    Lessons learned on that first transaction: Disclose everything up front or as soon as you become aware. I was not the listing agent on this one, but I still got that lesson for future use. Make sure you prepare a detailed estimated net/cost sheet when making the offer. It is always better to prep the client for a worst-case scenario. They will love you when the deal costs them less or makes them more than you had originally told them … They will hate you if it’s the other way around!

    Good luck, Michael. Remember, if you live by the Golden Rule, all the other text in the REALTOR Code of Ethics can be tossed out because it simply becomes unnecessary.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      April 7, 2010 at 12:02 am

      Thanks James! Your point about over-estimating closing costs on the high side reminds me of something I learned in Psychology. It had to do with a girl in college saying she dropped out, totaled her car, and a long list of other things, then eventually said none of that was true but she did make a D in one of her classes, or something like that. Point being, a D didn’t seem so bad after all the other things she mentioned.

      Not in an unethical way, but I see that it’s much to better to estimate over on costs rather than under.

      Thanks for that tip James, and of course, for sharing your story.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    April 7, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Michael – Congratulations again! My first sale was interesting to say the least, I’ll try to sum it up as best as I can.

    I was showing a lot to a buyer who was referred to me by a local mobile home salesman. The lot had a mobile home on it, but only the lot was for sale. Already, I was nervous about the fact that this guy might buy it, because the whole lot/mobile home combo made things a little different than what I had been through in training over and over again.

    The guy hated the lot. In fact, he was looking for something impossible. While we were looking at the lot, the owner of the mobile home and some neighbors came out to chat with us. From across the street came a young guy wearing nothing but shorts (no socks, no shoes, no shirt), carrying a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He struck up a conversation and as we were getting ready to leave he asked me for my card.

    He called me moments later as I was driving back to the office and told me he wanted to buy that lot. He was really excited about the idea. We had a chat and he said he’d give me a call and have his dad talk to me. For some reason, I assumed he was just getting ahead of himself.

    Within minutes his dad called. Before I knew it, we were writing out an offer. A cash offer. Because of the situation with the mobile home, I did have a lot of questions for my broker, but I always tried to find the answer first, then went in to his office with my thoughts of how to do it. I found out that I knew more than I expected I did. It was a great confidence builder.

    Two things I learned: never judge a buyer by their shorts, and before you ask “how do I do this?” try and have “this is how I think I should do it” answered. When you see how often you’re right (or wrong), you can begin to build the confidence that will carry you even further.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      April 7, 2010 at 1:22 pm

      Matt, that was an awesome story. Definitely proves the “don’t judge a book but it’s cover, or shorts” proverb.

      And, trying to figure things out before asking is great advice. Something I might overlook, but should try to do. Building confidence seems to be key in this business.

  5. Jason Vondersmith

    April 7, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for the stories so far. I’ve just obtained my license as well and have big plans that include social media similar to Michael. I love that last story by Matt. “never judge a buyer by their shorts”. That’s great!

    • Michael Bertoldi

      April 7, 2010 at 1:24 pm

      Congrats Jason! I hope that my posts help you out along the way. Not by reading my posts so much, but by learning from these guys and gals who comment on them. They really are a smart bunch. Keep us updated!

  6. BawldGuy

    April 7, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Boy, did Matt ever hit the nail on the head. Same principle, different story from my Dad, told to me at breakfast on what was to be my first ever day at the office as a licensee — 10/18/69.

    As a 19 year old seminary student in Missouri, he worked part time in the local haberdashery (men’s store for all you whippersnappers out there). One Saturday afternoon the poster guy for hayseed walked in. Overalls, beat up straw hat, suckin’ on a piece of straw. “How much is that shirt in the window?” he asked. Dad said that shirt was $18, which in 1948 was nearly a week’s wages for some folk. Dad said, “Why don’t we take a look at some of these shirts over here, as they’re far more reasonably priced?” It was at that point the ‘hayseed’ pulled out a wad of cash wrapped in a rubber band that would’ve choked Citation. He said, “Son, why don’t you let me decide what I can afford? Now be a good boy and go get me one with an 18″ neck.” Dad never judged anyone again by first impressions — and neither have I.

    My first transaction closed about a week before Christmas of 1969. Had to sweat the appraisal, then wait forever for FHA. Back then it took 45-60 days to close FHA deals. The pay scale for agents back then was worlds apart from today’s norm. 20% of the listing side for the lister, and 40% of the sales side for the buyer’s agent. A nice 3/2 home I’d listed for $18,500 sold FHA for $18,100. I’ll never forget how flush with wealth and success I felt when I picked that check up from escrow — $108.60! Since I still lived with Dad and my stepmom (I was 18), I decided to spend half of it on a new suit, and the rest on Christmas presents. 🙂

    That first check is special, Michael — I wish I’d framed mine. Tons of congrats, and I wish you a blazing start to what I’m sure is gonna be a wonderful career. I’m convinced you have what it takes.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      April 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks! It means a lot that you stop by and comment on my posts.

      That is an excellent story. On one hand we are told first impressions count and on the other, don’t judge a book by its cover (dueling proverbs). From you and Matt, I gather that I should go with the not judging a book by its cover. You never know where you’ll get your next client.

      That’s so cool that you know the exact amount of your first check. Maybe I’ll frame mine!

  7. Edward Laws

    April 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    My first deal started as a lease. The client called our office in a panic because he needed to find a short-term lease immediately to get his daughter out of a negative situation in the home she was currently living in. This was during the boom and agents were reluctant to take lease deals unless it was representing the owner, it was long-term, and the home was valuable. The client had actually spoken with several agents prior to getting me and had been turned away. He told me his story, which was very sad, and I promised to find him something as quickly as possible. I found a great place relatively quickly and he and his daughter moved in. Three months later I received a call from the client saying how happy he was with the help I had given him and that he was now ready to buy. Within one month we were in escrow on a $1.9 million home.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      April 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm

      Awesome Story Edward! From you, Matt, and BawldGuy, I’m seeing that sticking with people can really pay off. Not only is it a monetary gain, but you probably felt pretty good helping that Father and his daughter.

      Very admirable and it shows how you should be there for your clients! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Matt Thomson

    April 7, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Congrats on passing the test! I consider myself extremely lucky in the “newbie” arena. I joined Keller Williams fresh out of being a school teacher. I now realize how lucky I was to be surrounded by the type of coaching and consulting that I was.
    My first transaction was representing some buyers on a very small, very inexpensive home. The transaction itself was seamless as I had tons of people around me I could take every question I had to. The training and coaching that I found invaluable was the training to get those buyers in the first place!
    Learning how to generate leads was–and continues to be–the hardest part of my career.
    Best wishes to you!

  9. Jonathan Benya

    April 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    My first transaction involved buyers that didn’t show up to settlement unless the seller agreed to drop the price $5k. We got the deal done (it came out of the buyers agent commission, not mine) and everybody went home happy. Well, not completely. The buyers agent also forgot to mention to their client that they needed to have the utilities put in their name, so the buyer ended up spending 3 days without power until utilities could show up monday morning!

  10. Nashville Grant

    April 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Time to pound the streets, beat the bricks and whip up a little biznoose! Good luck!

  11. De Markham

    June 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Hi Everyone,
    All this is great about your first transactions and how they cam about . I personally want to know what you did in your first month after your acive license to start getting leads and referals, Did you launch a massive gorilla marketing campaign? Did you start by handing out business cards and talking to your circle of influence? WHAT WILL GET THE CHOO CHOO ROLLIN ?

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