There’s a saying that ‘you don’t try real estate, real estate tries you.’ And I think that anybody who has worked in the industry knows precisely what this saying is getting at. Making a career in real estate is exceptionally difficult. The majority of agents (statistics show between 70 per cent and 90 per cent depending on where you look) drop out of the industry within their first or second year.
These statistics may come as a surprise to those outside of real estate, especially when considering the barriers to entry into the industry are so low. But that may be precisely why it’s difficult to succeed. With low barriers to entry, the number of agents you are competing against is enormous. This is particularly true in inner city locations where the marketplace is saturated with agents — many of whom have more experience and tenacity than any newcomer.
So, if you want to be a good agent, you have to be competitive. Well then you may ask, how do you get competitive and the answer to that is you get experience. But how do you get experience if there is an exceedingly high likelihood that you will leave the industry within the first two years?
That’s a good question.
Many of the top agencies around the country have created programs to help young agents find their feet and ensure that they don’t leave the industry as quickly as they entered.
When I moved to Melbourne at the start of 2017, I knew what the difficulties of starting in real estate here would be. So I was looking for a company that had something more to offer me than the traditional ‘here’s a phone, good luck’ approach. Luckily I stumbled across Jellis Craig who have a cadet program to initiate new recruits.
What the work was like
The cadetship at Jellis Craig was fantastic for learning exactly what estate agents do day-to-day. Before stepping into the role I had watched many interviews with estate agents and even had experience in the industry, but it’s very difficult to know exactly what goes on.
The work itself wasn’t glorious. My days consisted of tasks such as letting building inspectors into recently purchased properties or helping agents with their letterbox drops. But, the advantage of doing work like this is undoubtedly the knowledge that you soak up in the process. There are 11 sales agents in the office that I work out of and during my months as a sales cadet I learned from every single one of them. I used the opportunity to see how they did business, because in real estate there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach.
I also got to shadow each of the agents around on Saturdays and work at their open homes. This experience alone is valuable beyond belief, particularly when you consider the calibre of agents that you get to work alongside at a brand like Jellis Craig.
Where to from being a cadet?
In the Jellis Craig Inner North Group where I work, many of the agents started out in a cadet role. To get a better understanding of the role, I spoke to managing director Craig Shearn about the role that the cadetship has played in the business. He said:
Finding the right sales people in such a dynamic industry who can both apply and adapt themselves to the demands of real estate, particularly in residential property with the long hours and weekend work, often proves a challenge. So, we feel the sales cadet program in our four office network (with around 60 team members) is a great opportunity for young people to enter the Industry and work their way through to becoming a stand alone agent or part of an EBU.
Indeed, we have a young partner who, over an eight-year journey, started as a cadet, then moved to a PA role and on to an experienced agent. He then became a stand-alone agent, now employs his own PA, and two years ago became a partner in the business. This is a very good example of how the program works.
It’s difficult to tell at this stage what impact this will have on my career. At the very best it has accelerated my learning and my progress, something I imagine would be appealing to new people starting in the industry. However, in my opinion this is not the most important thing. Given the huge drop-out rate of new agents, I’d say that anyone who is considering a move into the industry should be aiming at longevity. The longer that you can stay in the game, the more connections you can make, the more you learn, the more you grow, the more value you have to offer to clients, your agency and the community.
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