Preparing for Your Successful Career in Real Estate

Written by Kacie Goff

When you choose to work in real estate, you’re choosing several benefits, from a more flexible schedule to a ceiling-less income. But maximizing those perks doesn’t happen overnight. You need to build a successful career. 

That’s the thing about real estate. While top performers comfortably rake in more than $1 million a year, a slow quarter can leave you worried that your commission won’t be enough to make ends meet. 

Really, how much you earn as a real estate professional comes down to your ability to close sales. In your pre-license education, you learn a lot about the logistics of that process. But some aspects of a successful real estate career extend well past attention to detail when it comes to contracts or best practices during showings.

To help you build a lucrative real estate career, you need to hone a very specific set of skills. Doing these four things can make a big difference.  

Research the competition

When you’re early in your real estate career, you can learn a lot from the people who’ve been doing it for a while. That’s especially true if you look to the best-known real estate professionals in your local market. These are the people who have figured out what works in your area.

Take some time to research your competition. Read through their websites. What features do they call out about their services? If they’re a seller’s agent, read through their listings, too. What aspects of the house do they bring to the forefront? 

It can also be helpful to spend some time on Yelp and other similar websites reading reviews. You’ll probably identify patterns. Do people in your area seem to value prompt responses when they reach out to their agent, or staging services, or something else?

As you’re getting a feel for other players in the game, consider making a list of their specialties. This can help you identify which specialties play well with local buyers and sellers. It can also help you pinpoint any gaps in your market that you could fill. Some common specialties include:

  • Green/eco-friendly properties

  • Luxury real estate

  • Commercial real estate

  • Fixer-uppers

  • New construction

While other real estate agents in your area are technically your competition, they can be an asset, too. If someone’s approach to the market really resonates with you, reach out and see if you can buy them a cup of coffee. Picking their brain is one of the best ways to get insider intel. Who knows, you might find a mentor to help you on your way to success. 

Learn your local market

Real estate markets are as unique as the homes, buyers, and sellers that make them up. Just because something works in one area doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in yours. 

In fact, insights into the local area are one of the best indicators of an experienced and successful real estate agent. 

Market knowledge is something you develop over time, but it pays to hone it as much as you can as quickly as possible. You want to become an expert in the wants and needs of local buyers and sellers and the makeup of houses in your area. To make this easier, it can be helpful to start small. Pick one or two zip codes to specialize in — you can always expand your reach over time. 

As you develop your market knowledge, look for trends. Are there a lot of young families in your area? Do people value a landscaped yard, or a house with lots of accessibility features? Spending time on the MLS can help, but it also makes sense to go beyond that. Sit in on local committee meetings, join local networking groups (like Nextdoor or Facebook), and talk with your neighbors. 


The better your network of contacts, the easier your real estate career will be. Let’s say you’re working with buyers. The ability to recommend a great home inspector and tradesmen for the work a home they’re considering needs can go a long way. Or if you’re a seller’s agent, you’ll want to be able to point your clients toward a quality staging service.

These relationships can be reciprocal, too. If you make it a pleasure to work with you and your clients, the vendors you use might, in turn, recommend you to people they know when they need a real estate agent. 

As you network, also work to build relationships with other agents in your area. Seller’s agents may reach out to buyer’s agents they like with coveted pocket listings. And buyer’s agents may advocate for homes being sold by seller’s agents in their network. 

Ultimately, the bigger your network, the more likely you are to build a lucrative real estate career. 

Ask for referrals

At the end of the day, a successful real estate career largely comes down to relationship building. Sure, people might find you on the internet, but they’re more likely to seek you out — and choose you over their other options — if you come recommended by someone they know. 

It’s never too early to share your real estate career goals with your friends and family. It might feel awkward at first, but asking for referrals is a standard practice in the industry. And the more you do it, the more comfortable it will feel. 

Plus, you never know when someone in your community is in need of real estate services. If you come recommended by someone they know, it can give them a big measure of peace of mind as they undertake one of the more financially important and stressful endeavors of their life. 

When you do get a referral, showing a little gratitude can go a long way. Consider sending a gift basket or a nice bottle of wine to the person who referred someone to you. 


Building a real estate career takes time and dedication. But looking into your competitors, steeping yourself in the local market, building your network, and asking for referrals can make things a whole lot easier. With those tactics at your disposal, you might be surprised how quickly your career scales.