Three Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Fail


Real estate is a competitive business. Even accounting for fierce competition, however, failure rates among agents and brokers is disproportionately high. Not surviving the marketplace and failing at sales accounts for attrition rates as high as 80 percent. Determining why both rookie and senior agents cannot close the deal is a key focus of industry experts who want to help more real estate professional find success in their careers.


Mastering Many Skills

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the habits and circumstances of successful people. Citing a frequently quoted theory, he writes that, “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”

Considering the many abilities and skills that the average real estate agent must master, ten thousand hours to accomplish one area of true expertise seems daunting for anyone breaking into the business. Agents must be adept at architecture, sales, taxes, financing, and building codes among many others. At five hours each, it could take decades to master real estate sales. Luckily for agents, the rule is wrong, but not by much.

Experts who debate the 10,000-hour rule say it applies to fields where rules never change and how professionals practice their trade. Selling frequently has no rules: every day is a fresh client with an unknown personality, a new property, and can be different from the day before. It is a difficult field to master because of the variables.

An Agent’s Worst Enemy

In addition to the time investment, the wrong people may be drawn unsuspectingly to real estate sales. According to an article appearing in Investopedia, failure to perform in sales can be attributed to psychology because the “most expensive real estate is the six inches between your right and left ear.” Self-doubt is the prime reason that real estate agents, and other professionals, fail to close.

For many sales professionals, finalizing a deal is a point of psychological make up. Certain people’s brains function at different levels. The same way that one student may excel in math, and another in English; adult brains are genetically programmed to succeed at different tasks. That, however, does not preclude a potential sales agent from developing the attitude and skills to sell.

Staying Flexible

Finally, agents fail to sell because they try to do too much. In a zealous effort to learn everything quickly, many agents burn out and spread themselves too thin. It is impossible to go in several directions at once without damaging the stability necessary to cultivate client bases, business relationships, and reputation.

After spending years learning to become an expert in their representative market, agents often find that fluctuations in values, loans, styles, and popular locations can shift. When this happens, it leaves them at the bottom of a learning curve they just mastered. Frustration shows in business and, like a writer with a block, stressed agents cannot sell effectively.


Developing the Right Attitude is an Agent’s Strongest Skill

Overcoming the obstacles that make selling difficult requires dedication and willingness to listen to new ideas and methods. When agents recognize sales-related dysfunction, they must address the problem before it leads to career failure. A professional career coach can help with the motivation necessary to break through psychological hurdles and clear the way to closings.


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