Ep. 22: Making the Most of Your Rookie Year in Real Estate [UPDATED]

Updated June 2021

Who should listen: New agents wanting advice about how to succeed during their first years in the industry.

Key idea: To give yourself the best chance at success, you need to have a clear vision of your goals and where you want to be, the systems that allow you to operationalize what works, and the commitment to take action.

Action items: 1) Engage in lead-generating activities every day; 2) develop a servant’s mindset; 3) remain focused on your goal.

Back in 2014, NAR reported that 87% of real estate agents leave the industry within five years. Since then, while NAR hasn’t updated its research, the percentage of agents that jump ship by Year 5 is repeatedly set at between 80%-90% by Internet authors of all types.

That’s mighty high. Numbers like those make you wonder why anyone would get into real estate in the first place (but that’s another blog for another time).

In this episode of Stay Paid, which was recorded in 2018 when we were still very new at the whole podcast thing (and boy, does it show 😬), we invited Stephen Acree (Luke’s brother and our first official guest) to share his thoughts on what helped him find success.

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At the time, Stephen was only a few months into his second year as an agent but had sold 35 homes in his first year and was already up to 29 homes by mid-April when he did this interview—enough to rank him in the top 10 of the 700+ active agents in his market.

When you listen to the episode, you’ll hear Stephen’s thoughts about:

  • What makes the first year in real estate the most difficult, and why so many agents fail so quickly.
  • Where he’s succeeded in finding leads.
  • What agents can do to hold themselves accountable to their goals.
  • How he’s using Facebook.
  • Why it’s critical to have the right systems in place from the beginning.

Because it’s likely to be the foremost thought on every new agent’s mind, we elaborate here on what Stephen did, and new agents can do, to find leads.

Where can new agents get leads?

During his first year as an agent, Stephen, of course, had no experience, no leads, and no luck.

He had been fortunate to have a part-time job trying to generate leads—not really knowing how—for a Keller Williams broker/owner, but he quit that job.

That left him with no income and no Plan B.

He knew Luke was a big advocate of taking action and making phone calls, so he tells that story about how, when he got home from the class that night at about 7 p.m., he started to make calls.

In that one night, Stephen booked four appointments with FSBO homeowners he found on Zillow. He also began to call expired listings and absentee owners with equal success.

(Today, almost six years after becoming an agent, Stephen still religiously calls FSBOs, expired listings, and absentee owners every day.)


Now that he’s in his second year, he’s been using Facebook ads to brand his business. He’s creating tons of listing ads, pending sale ads, and just sold ads.

He looks at who’s commenting, who’s liking, and who’s sharing. He reaches out with a direct message to those who comment, and then he determines the best plan of action to convert them into clients.

Image. That's a golden nugget. Stephen messages everyone who comments on his social media posts for approach to assessing their

But most of his leads, he says, are coming from his sphere. They’re the easiest transactions—all he needs to do is follow up with the people he already knows. And it’s interesting to see how his sphere has reacted to his Facebook ads—people he knows, but didn’t actively pursue as he should, are calling because they see his ads.

At his listing presentations, he comes prepared with high-quality marketing materials that he leaves behind, including issues of his own personally branded American Lifestyle magazine, which portrays him as the consummate professional, sets him apart from his competitors, and literally leaves a lasting impression.


More advice and words of encouragement

When you listen to Stephen’s interview, you’ll not only hear more about generating leads but also about lessons he’s learned that he hopes will spare other new agents some frustration.

He talks about his biggest mistake, why he believes in honesty over commissions, and why he says it’s critical that agents—especially new agents—need to be willing to always walk away.

Luke shares his insights about the difference between 99% and 100% commitment and what that 1% means to succeeding in business. He explains why no doesn’t mean never but only not now.

If you’re a new agent, and even if you’re not, this is an interview you’ll be glad you listened to.

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