10 Top Habits of Successful Real Estate Agents

How To Be The Best Real Estate Agent Through Habit Formation

Daily schedule and what makes a successful real estate agent

Successful Real Estate Agent Habits

As a real estate agent, habits are the backbone of what will make up your long-term success. We all know that the real estate agent silver bullet doesn’t exist (unfortunately), but if there was one thing that most acts like a silver bullet in real estate, it would be consistency and habit formation.  Setting your self up with a perfect daily schedule will put you in a position to do the right things over and over, so you can reap the rewards in the future.

The problem is habits can be a pain in the butt to form and too easy to let go of. Building these strong productive habits can be such a hard task.

Rev Real Estate School Students quickly learn the importance of leveraging hard tasks in their real estate practice. The beauty of hard tasks is most agents will not do them!

Even by doing the hard task you are miles ahead of the competition. Even if you are shaky at prospecting, if you have a structured prospecting habit then you are already doing what most agents avoid.

Rev Core belief: You don’t need to get 100% better tomorrow, you need to get 1% better each day.

By following this core belief you are harnessing the power of compounding while not changing your lifestyle overnight and risking giving up because of the dramatic change.

Download The Habits of Successful Agents Cheatsheet

If you don’t have productive habits in place, no worries, let’s talk about habit formation and how we can add positive habits while removing negative habits.  

One of the best books on habit formation is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This books explains habits but also how to implement the habits.

James Clear uses The Four Laws and Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change to upgrade his habits. This is a system and we at Rev Real Estate School believe that systems are one of the main pillars of real estate success.

We do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems

Let’s look first at how we can change habits with The Four Laws and Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change.

We can use the habit of daily prospecting (since it’s one of the most challenging to form)

Rule 1: Make it Obvious

In this rule, Jame Clear points to the importance of putting your desired habit right in front of you, so you can’t talk yourself out of the habit as it is right in front of you. He uses the example of a community in Amsterdam in the 1970s where the city was studying electricity usage.  They noticed some homes used much less electricity than their neighbours. When they looked further into this, they found that the homes using less electricity had their meters on the main floor of their house. Those that used more electricity had their meters in the basement. The conclusion is that because the main floor metered homes have obvious feedback, they tended to use less electricity.

For daily prospecting:

The night before, write out the exact plan that you will use during your prospecting time. Write down the phone numbers you plan on calling and lay out your handwritten cards as well. When you prepare for prospecting the following morning, you don’t need to dig through your CRM looking for people to call and connect with.

Rule 2: Make it Attractive

This rule works on the premise that we live with emotions and expectations or what Clear calls, cravings. We walk into a room an see a plate of cookies, we crave the cookie because we want that satisfying sugary taste in our mouth. The problem is long term this is a negative habit, but at the moment, the cookie is delicious. This shows that negative habits are usually tied to an instant reward while a positive habit is usually tied to a long-term reward.

To make items more attractive, we need to focus on the long-term reward associated with the positive behaviour and focus on the long-term pain associated with the negative habit. That cookie is delicious now but we pay for it with weight gain, health complications, etc.

For daily prospecting:

Remind yourself that top-producers are agents who prospect on a daily basis. Tell yourself that it may be a challenge now, but there are long-term financial rewards. However, if we I miss it today, I will feel good right now, but I could be a struggling agent for life.

Rule 3: Make it Easy

What we do in life is largely determined by how easy some task is (and conversely how hard the task is). Usually, with habits, we look at the habit has a whole and believe it to be a challenge. We look at the habit of working out as an hour and a half out of our busy day. Making it easy involves breaking it down to the first simple steps and we usually gain momentum from there. For working out, maybe it’s just putting your gym clothes on. From here it becomes easier to build the habit since you are making it easier on yourself.

James Clear uses the 2-Minute Rule where he says most habits can be formed in 2 minutes. If you do the first steps of the habit, then the rest of the habit should follow.

Here, you downscale your habit down to the easy first step.

For daily prospecting:

Don’t focus on the 2 hours of prospecting time. Just sit down at your desk and write one handwritten card. This is an easy task. Or just make one phone call. The thinking here is once one is completed, continuing on is less of a challenge.

Rule 4: Make is Satisfying

What follows immediately after your habit should be satisfying and you should feel successful in some way. This doesn’t need to be a massive reward after completing a task. Jerry Seinfeld used this rule with joke writing where he put an X on the calendar for each day he wrote a joke. His satisfying result was continuing on the chain of X’s and not breaking the chain of days. This draws on some immediate satisfaction about tracking your habits.

For daily prospecting:

You can follow the Jerry Seinfeld example and put an X through every day that you complete your prospecting. Continue this chain of X’s for as long as possible.

Pro Tip: Almost everyone will fall off their positive habit at some point. This happens to everyone. As a rule, if you break one day, try not to break two days in a row. If one day of prospecting is missed, make sure you don’t miss the next day. This avoids you losing the habit altogether.

How long does it take to form a habit?

We have heard all sorts of data on this. From 14 days to 66 days. In reality, this question has an underlying question of “when do I cross the finish line”? Well, actually, never, because you are constantly implementing this habit. However, it does become much easier to perform with time. One of the most powerful things to do at this point is instead of trying to think of trying to accomplish a habit, think of yourself as a person that does this habit. Not “I’m trying to be more consistent with prospecting. Instead “ I’m the type of person that prospects daily”

Grab the Habits of Successful Agents Cheatsheet

The Habits Needed to be Successful in Real Estate

Now that we know how to implement habits and how we can start to remove negative habits, let’s look at some daily habits that every real estate agent should be following.

Morning Routines

This is your chance to start your day off on the right foot, but it can be so hard when it’s dark outside and so warm in bed. If you haven’t read it, check out The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. There is even a real estate agent version!

If you don’t have a morning routine, this is the perfect place to start. Hal uses the acronym SAVERS to highlight his recommended routine.

SAVERS Morning Routine - Credit  LifeHacker.com

SAVERS Morning Routine - Credit LifeHacker.com

You can look at the morning routines of top people in the real estate space.

Fitness

In real estate, we need to be sharp and energetic throughout the day. Building a habit of fitness doesn’t involve long strenuous workouts every day. It can be as simple as a 10 minute morning yoga flow. For yoga, we recommend the awesome free videos of Yoga with Adrienne

Having a habit of fitness is a gift that keeps on giving as the day goes on. You will likely feel more energetic and you will be motivated to eat healthily.

The other important element of fitness is just feeling good about yourself. In real estate, we need to maintain our confidence and one of the fastest ways to build confidence is to build your fitness.

If you can’t stand the gym, try playing rec league sports. Not only do you get a workout in, but you are also networking for business!

If you aren’t sure where to start, just set out a number of activities you would like to try and start experimenting.

Modern-Day Reading

Like fitness, you could have guessed that reading was going to be on the list, but what is “modern-day reading”. Well, there are many ways to consume content in our current world. Picking up a real book and spending half an hour reading is a great habit, but we usually hear that “I don’t have enough time to read”. Enter Modern-Day Reading.

Consume your material in the way that best suits your lifestyle. As real estate agents, we can be on the road for long hours, so audiobooks are a fantastic way to read.

If you are more of the type that just wants the big ideas out of a book, consider picking up Blinkist. This is an app that provides the main points of most non-fiction books.

Finally, you can also pick up an e-reader and keep this in your bag. When you get some downtime, you can pull out your e-reader and take in a few pages or articles.

Prospecting

In our example above, we lay out the framework for starting a prospecting habit using James Clear’s Four Rules. If there is anything you do in your day that will have the greatest impact on your long-term success, it is prospecting.

If you need a few prospecting ideas, we have you covered in this post.

When prospecting, set yourself up for success by prospecting at the same time every day and follow a plan. This takes the guesswork out of prospecting.

Live Within Their Means

Budgeting in real estate is a challenge. We receive large commission checks, then we may not see another one for over a month plus. In real estate, it is all too easy to get pulled into a fancy new tech product, new car, or wardrobe upgrade when we sell a few homes.

Top producing real estate agents that are building long-term wealth for themselves focus on living within their means (or below their means). Almost every real estate agent learns this one the hard way.

Set a business and personal budget for yourself and stay within it. A great resource for budgeting is YNAB. You can start by reading the You Need a Budget book and then consider the YNAB software.

real estate agent budgeting

Learning with/without Education

Learners are earners! In the real estate industry, this saying rings true and the beauty of today’s world is we don’t need to depend on formal education for learning.

In real estate, the licensing courses barely prepare you for selling real estate. It’s not their fault as there is a lot of information to get through, but it becomes our responsibility to stay current in our field.

It’s highly recommended to take all the courses you can at your local board. These courses are usually geared toward your market, so you can pick up current information.

We also recommend that you look at attending a conference or seminar once a year. Not only will you pick up some great new ideas, but you will also be networking with your peers.

Another way you can learn is with podcasts! We are biased here at Rev Real Estate School but podcasts are an amazing way to consume content on the fly. As with audiobooks, you can have your list of go-to shows for your commute to the office. You can also explore platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, and Lynda

Networker’s Mindset

When we picture the classic real estate agent, we think gregarious, talkative, big extrovert. The reality is not every real estate agent has this type of personality. In fact, there are studies that indicate the most successful people in sales are ambiverts, a mix of introverted and extroverted. Hubspot has a great read on this.

Both introverts and extroverts can do great in sales, however, they need to be focused on other people. You don’t need to have the big, over the top, personality to succeed in real estate, but you should have a networker’s mindset.

With a networker’s mindset, you are constantly looking for opportunities to talk to new people: the grocery store, coffee shop, office, and on social media!

The trouble is this doesn’t feel natural for most. That it is a habit that needs to be built. It is amazing the opportunities that arise when you just talk to more people.

Pro Tip: The less time between when you decide you should talk to someone and the time when you do talk to the person, the better. With more time, your anxiety will increase. So, just dive right in and start talking. You may stumble a bit off the start, but with time, this habit will be second nature.

It is amazing the opportunities that arise when you just talk to more people.

To-Do List Lovers

The most successful agents need to stay organized. When you are juggling deals, new listings, team members, and paperwork, things can easily slip through the cracks. These agents depend on to-do lists to stay organized and on track.

Even if you are just starting in real estate, the to-do list is a game changer. It is such a simple concept, but now that you are in business for yourself, there is no one telling you what to do. You are in charge of your own schedule. I use Evernote (Free) for my to-do list as it syncs with my devices and I can customize the look.

On my to-do list, I have the following

  1. Urgent/Important: Items I need to get done asap

  2. Live Deals: Active deals I am working on

  3. Hot List: People looking to buy or sell in <90 days

  4. Warm List: People looking to buy or sell in 90+ days

  5. Annual Real Estate Evaluations For the Week: The weekly evaluations I am working on that week

  6. Important/Not Urgent: Items that need to get done in the future

  7. Urgent/Not Important: Stuff that just needs to get done

Know Neighbourhood and Market

The habit of checking the market statistics and keeping up to date on what is happening in your community is critical for a real estate agent.  

As agents, we know that the second question after “how are you” in a conversation is “how is the market?”

Then, “what is going in that empty lot down the road?”

Knowing the marketing and our community is part of our job. If someone asks about the market, you should be able to explain what is happening and the trends for different product types. If you sell in a particular area, then you need to know the listings and the prices in your geo-farm.

Getting in the habit of following the market only requires watching your MLS and looking at the monthly statistics.

If you are able to showcase your knowledge about the market in a conversation, there is a much better chance that person will think of you when it comes time to sell or when someone asks them if they know a real estate agent.  

Resiliency and Grit

The final habit is also one of the most important for any sales career. We need to be resilient and able to bounce back from a challenging situation. In real estate, you can be dancing with delight in the afternoon and in tears in the evening.

One small item can be the difference between a large commission check and nothing.

A resilient agent is a person that knows there will be tough times but they continue to stand up regardless of how many times they get knocked down.

To build resiliency and grit, you need to practice both of these. Unfortunately, no amount of reading and preparation will prepare you for your best friend listing with another agent or driving by and seeing another for sale sign in the lawn of one of your previous buyers. Don’t let these downers get in the way. Stand back up, dust yourself off and get back at it.

Conclusion:

Building habits are crucial for real estate agents. Being self-employed means you are in charge of your day. Sticking to positive habits will greatly benefit you over your career. Learning Jame Clear’s Four Laws and Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change is the key to forming positive habits and ridding yourself of negative habits.

All the top real estate agents have habits that serve them throughout their career. Depending on the person, these habits can differ but most will have some form of a morning routine, prospecting habit, learning mentality, networker’s mindset and resiliency.

Follow Up Reading:

Brandon Gaille has a great article on habits of successful entrepreneurs

15 Prospecting Ideas for REALTORs®

Successful Real Estate Agent Daily Schedule

What daily habits have best served you in your real estate career? What habits are you currently trying to build? Let me know in the comments below

-Michael Montgomery