What to Expect Your First Year in Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate is challenging, ever-changing, and fast-paced, especially for a new licensed broker. However, it can also be one of the more lucrative careers out there if you can make it through the first couple years. This industry can be intimidating and competitive for a new commercial real estate broker, especially in the first year, so it’s good to be prepared and know what to expect.

Step One: Get your license 

Before you can start working deals, you need to get your license. While this may sound intimidating, it’s not that scary once you start getting familiar with the process. In most states, the real estate licensing process has three main parts:

  • Meeting the eligibility requirements (age, citizenship, criminal check, etc.) 
  • Taking an approved licensing course 
  • Passing the real estate licensing exam 

Every state has a specific licensing process, so make sure you check out the real restate licensing process requirements for your state before picking a course.

Step Two: Find a sponsoring broker

Finding a sponsoring broker is not as simple as it sounds. It’s vital that when you choose a broker, you know that they will take you under their wing. Because you’re new, you’ll need to learn and absorb all the knowledge you can, so make sure you find a broker who has a solid reputation and experience in the commercial real estate sphere. It’s not quite the same as your typical job interview, you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. It’s not uncommon to spend an entire career at the same brokerage, so it’s important to find a good culture and brand fit.

3 Important Skills For A Successful Career in Commercial Real Estate

How you perform your first year will likely determine if you choose decide to stay in the field, so make it count. Your first year, you should focus on developing on the skills that will make you successful in the long run. 

Negotiation Skills 

What separates a good broker from a great broker is their ability to negotiate. Becoming a skillful negotiator and understanding people’s desires deeply enough to create win-wins for everyone involved in the transaction will set you apart from the rest. Make sure you learn what each party wants, and use that to make the best deal for your client. Not only is it critical for you to learn how to negotiate, but you’ll likely need to help your clients learn specific strategies as well, so that you’re on the same page. You need to be able to sit with your clients, discuss the possible outcomes of a deal, and give them an insight into the strategy you intend to use in order to ensure flawless execution.

Attention To Detail & Comprehension

The devil is in the details. For example, you need to be able to read through leases and financial documents carefully. Not only that – you really need to understand every detail. You are expected to be the expert in the deal, and missing even the slightest detail can cost your clients thousands. Your clients will be counting on you to understand everything inside and out and guide them through the whole process, so you can’t disappoint them, especially in the beginning. And we always recommend the use of an attorney for reviewing all contracts.

By spending the time to fully understand the deal, you’ll be better equipped to put their anxieties to rest. And of course, by having clients that were happy with your work, you’re potentially earning yourself more clients. 

Relationship Building -Your network is your net worth 

Invest in relationships – they are the best resources you have and will have in your career, especially at the start of your career. As your broker is investing in you and showing you the ropes, the best way a new broker can reciprocate that value is to bring is a strong network (friends, former colleagues, family, etc). 

Your sphere of influence is a valuable source of referrals and can bring you a lot more deals. Make sure to maintain good relationships, both in the industry and outside. Pick a few people from your sphere that could be the most valuable for your career and focus on building long-lasting professional relationships with them. 

Referrals are the best deal flow – and the better you serve your clients, the more referrals will come your way. However, referrals won’t just come to you on their own. Some of the best ways to get referrals are the following: 

  • Provide a high level of service to your clients, so they recommend you to their friends, family, or acquaintances
  • Reward clients that bring you referrals to show appreciation and motivate them to bring more in the future
  • Keep in touch with your clients and prospects to show you appreciate and care for each person you cooperate with, regardless if they are a client or just an interested party 
  • Keep a close business relationship with other real estate professionals so you can close deals easier and give clients a better experience working with you

The winning formula:

Beyond mastering the three areas above, there are two additional ingredients to success your first year: Finding a strong mentor, and being coachable.

Find a strong mentor

  • Like in most industries, mentors can profoundly boost your career success and trajectory. In commercial real estate, I would take it one step further and say the number one key to success is to find a mentor. As I mentioned above, you need to have someone that will take you under their wing and guide you in the first year. The licensing course will get you a license, but you’ll quickly learn that working as a real estate broker is far more than what the books told you. 

A good mentor will fill that gap with their experience and tell you the best practices they’ve learned in the years they’ve been working as a broker. They will give you advice about closing deals, and ultimately, will be best tool you have available to help you succeed. 

The first thing you should look for in a commercial real estate mentor is a record of success. As obvious as this sounds, you need to find someone who has accomplished the things you want to. You should also solicit feedback from other people you know in the field – is your potential mentor well known? Do they have a strong reputation? Most importantly: Any red flags?

The commercial real estate mentor you choose should not only have the knowledge and experience, but they need to know how to share it as well. Mentoring a new broker can be a major time investment. Can they answer your questions and give you the time you need? Are they motivated to make you succeed?

Be coachable 

It’s not all your mentor’s responsibility though. As a new real estate broker, you need to be easy to teach and willing to learn. To put it simply, you should be coachable. Don’t be intimidated to ask your sponsoring broker for feedback. Many are hesitant to do this thinking it will make them look insecure or less competent, when in fact, it’s quite the contrary. Asking for feedback and being prepared to receive it and adjust accordingly is important. When you receive feedback, make sure you understand it and thank them for it. Then, adjust according to it and look for ways to grow and improve constantly. This way, you’re showing your mentors that you are willing to take their advice to learn, grow, and advance in your career.

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