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Your clients need more than your lockbox access (hint: know your value)

The beloved lockbox is central to the practice of real estate, but jingling keys isn’t your value proposition. If you want to make real money in this industry, you had better know the value you offer.

sentrilock lockbox

I’m going to say it straight out: your clients and prospective clients need more than the use of your lockbox card and your access to the MLS. They need your value, your ability to be resourceful, and your ability to problem-solve.

As I “browse” the Facebook groups for real estate professionals, I see lots of agents seeking advice from other agents. “What do I do if I learn after the closing that the listing agent didn’t disclose that the seller was his sister?” or “What do I do if the sellers want to cut my commission by 1 percent?”

I’ve got news for you. If you want to make money in real estate (real money closing more than just one sale every six weeks), you’ve got to hustle, you’ve got to be resourceful, and you’ve got to know how to do your job. You cannot be hemming and hawing on Facebook about what could have or should have happened on a transaction that closed weeks ago.

Are You a Real Estate Expert?

The main premise of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers is that expertise is developed after about 10,000 hours of practice. The book goes on to provide specific examples of individuals who (through a serendipitous set of circumstances) developed their 10,000 hours earlier than those around them. One example he uses is that of Bill Gates, who had access to a PC at his school and could learn computer programming before many of his contemporaries.

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Do You Have 10,000 Hours of Practice?

To provide value to your clients, it helps if you have those 10,000 hours of practice. Through that ample experience with all sorts of buyers, sellers, and their transactions, you have the skills of resourcefulness and problem solving—both of which buyers and sellers need far more than your lockbox key and your access to the MLS.

Here are four ways to develop further expertise in real estate if you need it:

  1. Attend marketing sessions or broker “open houses”. If you want to learn the inventory in your area like the back of your hand, then the best way to do that is to attend broker caravan in your area. Once you’ve done that for awhile, you’ll know most of the streets in your area, the floor plans of all of the tract homes, and the rules of the local homeowners’ associations. You’ll even have the additional benefit of meeting lots and lots of local agents; when you do write an offer on one of their properties, they can now put a face to a name.
  2. Listen to books on tape. I’ve got nothing against music, but you can maximize your down time by listening to books on tape or instructional disks when you are driving around town. We agents spend lots of time in our cars. A few minutes of a book here and another few minutes there will be a painless way to get your education while not impinging upon your “free” time.
  3. Find a mentor or join a team. The mega-producers in your town are probably few and far between, but you need to seek them out. Can you join their team? Can you shadow them through the day or on an appointment? When I started out in real estate, I learned more in one day from shadowing a top producer and listening to every phone call and observing every conversation than you can learn sitting in the office and waiting for the phone to ring.
  4. Take a contracts class and practice writing mock contracts. You may already be able to show homes and get buyers to write offers, but are you writing high-quality offers that protect the interests of your client? The best way to be sure is to take a contracts class at your office or local association and then write some mock contracts. Have your broker or compliance officer review them for completeness and detail.

The only way to gain experience is by getting to work. Initial transactions up until about the 3000-hour mark are probably going to be pretty hairy, which is why most brokerages suggest that you work with a partner on your first three to five closings.

As you develop experience, you’ll be able to better ascertain your own value and you will be able to clearly communicate that value to prospective home buyers and sellers.


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Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.


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