Real Estate

It would be hard to ignore the buzz around housing right now. Homes are selling in the blink of an eye, buyers continue to enjoy historic low mortgage rates and real estate professionals are soaking up opportunities missed from last year’s spring selling season. For many, a career in real estate has never been more enticing as many are seeing the benefits of not having to return to an office in a 9-5 setting, having the ability to create unlimited wealth opportunities, and simply starting something new.

So what does it take to take the leap into a career in real estate and what can be learned from those who are highly successful at it? For two Coldwell Banker Real Estate agents – one a seasoned veteran and one a rookie – their introduction into the real estate industry couldn’t have been more different, but both of their stories offer important lessons for those looking to make it in this competitive but rewarding industry.

Building Strong Foundations

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Realty in Sarasota, Florida, entered college thinking he wanted to be a veterinarian – real estate was the last thing on his mind. He pursued a double major in biology and chemistry, eventually deciding he wanted to become a medical doctor. But while in college, he became involved in student government and people-oriented projects that allowed him to get his first taste of marketing and promotion.

After graduating college, he got a job as a marketing assistant for a resort called Longboat Key Club, which introduced him to the world of real estate and made him realize he no longer wanted to pursue a medical career. In 1985, Longboat Key Club was acquired by a real estate company that later merged with Coldwell Banker in 2002, and from that day his business has been affiliated with Coldwell Banker. Pettingell has contracted and sold over $2 billion in luxury properties and has been a consistent top producer for over 10 years with Coldwell Banker.

While Erin Lail of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley in Napa Valley, California, might be considered a “rookie,” as she has four years of experience as a real estate agent, she is far from green. An entrepreneur at heart, she began Honeydew in 2001, a luxury property management agency that provides all facets of estate management and luxury events. Her comfort working with high-net-worth individuals allowed her to build clientele naturally – and soon even local real estate agents were calling for her expertise on how to close deals. After realizing she had passed on $44 million in business over the years, and only had a $50 gift card to show for it, she decided to turn that frustration into action. Through the help of a mentor, she got her real estate license and eventually affiliated with Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley in 2019.

“Boy, was it the best thing I’ve ever done!” Lail says.

As a fifth generation Napa Valley Vintner and with her depth of local knowledge, her insider approach to real estate transactions in the area is unparalleled. Within her first year of affiliation with Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley, she reached the #2 rank, displaying her dedication to making her clients happy.

Technology and Tools Are Essential

No matter which stage of the game you’re in, technology and tools are an essential part of being a successful real estate agent.

Pettingell loves to seek out and test new tools. While not everything has stuck, he likes to try everything to see the options that are available to him – and credits the good ones to his continued success. He likes to visit conferences and trade shows such as the annual National Association of Realtors iOi tech conference and Coldwell Banker’s annual Gen Blue event to get a pulse on the latest trends. “Any time there is an opportunity to be on the cutting edge, it’s where I want to be,” he says.

Lail agrees, and credits Coldwell Banker’s powerful marketing and tech tools with enhancing her client services. She acknowledges that the technology she uses has helped her sell more homes. Tools like Listing Concierge help agents become twice as productive, and agents and teams who added a listing in Exclusive Look saw a 23% increase in gross commission income year over year. Agents like Lail work long hours and being able to streamline services through tech tools helps them save time and be more available to their clients.

Advice from the Experts

Thinking about following in these agents’ footsteps and starting your own career? While real estate is rewarding work, it also takes a lot of hard work. Lail compares being an agent to a 50-layer cake because agents need to be incredibly multifaceted. As an agent, building a stronger sense of community and knowing your local market will take you far because homebuyers are always impressed with rich localized knowledge – something that Lail knows well. “Introduce yourself to people who will become resources – from title companies, banks, insurance companies and construction crews, anyone that will put your name in the local area can become a future client.”

Pettingell’s biggest tip is to seek out a mentor who can provide guidance as you establish footing in the industry. Networking with other agents is beyond valuable, both locally and nationally. He also recommends that agents seek out new, out-of-the-box ideas when it comes to marketing themselves and their brand. Take it from the expert – when he wanted a new way to optimize his marketing strategies, he started his RealTalk web series, which became a hit among viewers. Additionally, although some people believe it’s an easy business, he stresses that success doesn’t come overnight. “One of the things you need in this business is tenacity and the sweat equity and willingness to invest your time into this career,” he says.

The Stars Align – Affiliating with the Perfect Company for You

Lail’s experience building businesses from the ground up has helped her recognize the importance of a great team. While working at her first brokerage, she found herself forced to learn things like giving presentations and writing offers on her own, because there wasn’t a built-in team to support agents. Since joining Coldwell Banker, community has become a significant part of her career. “I finally feel like I have the support, education and team-oriented environment I’ve been looking for,” she says.

Pettingell also believes it’s essential to have a strong brand behind you to establish credibility in your market. He believes the access to education, technology and resources at Coldwell Banker are unparalleled. “In any market, especially in a market like the one we have currently, you need to be able to cast the widest net possible in the shortest amount of time when you take a listing,” he says. He believes that the only way to maximize the exposure of your listing and not leave any money on the table is through partnering with a brand like Coldwell Banker that provides the advanced technology needed to do so.

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