Starting Over in a New City: 8 insights for a relocating Real Estate Agent
We’ve all had dreams of moving to a warmer climate, a better city, closer to (or away from) family, but few think it’s possible. Especially in Real Estate when your business is you. In 2016 I walked away from my Real Estate business grossing over $1M in Michigan, started over in Florida, and did it without going broke. Whether you’re looking to start over in a new city, or just looking to start over, this is for you.
My wife and I decided to book a last minute trip to Marco Island, Florida. For us, Marco has always been a place to rest, relax and plan for the future. If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it!
Sitting there looking out at the ocean, we talked about how one day we’d move to Florida. That one day we’d escape the blistering cold of Michigan, and enjoy all that Florida had to offer. But not now. In our minds it would be 15-20 years into the future when our kids were off to college. It was the sort of conversation that people have when they talk about hitting the lottery. It’s exciting to talk about, you plan a little, you dream, but ultimately you come back to reality.
Then a funny thing happened.
What if we could figure out a way to move sooner? What if we could parlay the success we had in Michigan into starting over Florida? So we did something that surprised even us. We took immediate action. A few short months later we laid the groundwork and made the jump. After living here in Orlando full time for over a year, here are some insights from the trenches:
INSIGHT #1 – CHOOSING YOUR LOCATION
Before you jump to a new location ask yourself why you’re moving there. Is it a lifestyle change? Is it to raise your average sales price? Getting clear on why you’re moving will help you narrow down the field. To understand my thought process, here’s why we chose Orlando:
- Higher average price than Detroit
- Lots of job growth
- No state income tax
- Higher housing turnover
- The average agent sells less than my current competition. I saw that as an opportunity to take advantage of.
- Orlando is only 45-90 minutes from the beach, the weather didn’t hurt my face, and we love Disney.
Meshing business realities and personal goals make the destination more obvious.
INSIGHT #2 – GET LICENSED AND CHOOSE A BROKER BEFORE YOU MOVE
Seems obvious, but take a trip and visit a few brokerages and get licensed before you move. I’ve had friends who moved to California, only to fail the exam, and then move back home because they were discouraged and/or they ran out of money. Many states allow you to get licensed without physically being in the state. There may also be some reciprocity with your current state and where you’re headed. Just remember, time isn’t on your side. If you can cut off one to two months of downtime, you’ll be that much farther ahead.
INSIGHT #3 – PREPARE FINANCIALLY
Starting over in a new town, where you know no one, can possibly give you a slow start. I usually tell new agents joining my team that they need three to four months in the bank before quitting their old job. I’d say 6-9+ months of income is a solid idea if you’re moving somewhere brand new. That is, unless you can keep your old business going while you transition. Which is what I did. More on that another day.
INSIGHT #4 – EVEN IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO SPEND ON MARKETING, LEAD WITH REVENUE INSTEAD
I wanted very badly to hit the ground running and sell 100 homes in my first year. My EGO told me I needed it, and I was willing to spend whatever to get there. So I went in HARD after marketing. Which was very different than my Michigan business that I built on sphere and database marketing.
Instead of doing what I knew, I spent money on radio, direct mail, internet marketing, and even hired a couple inside sales people. Even worse, I did it all before making a single dollar. Over 120k later and I was forced to take a long hard look at what I was doing. I hit a hard reset on my expenses. Now that I’m focusing on what I know, we’re seeing faster more sustained growth.
When you lead with revenue, your business can grow on a stable foundation.
INSIGHT #5 – YOU MAY NOT HAVE A LOCAL DATABASE YET, BUT YOUR AGENT DATABASE WILL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE
When I moved to Orlando I was a little dejected not knowing anyone. I was the guy who built a quality database from scratch, and now I was completely starting over. That was until I realized that my Facebook account was filled with agents I’d created relationships with over the years. I quickly put together a referral agent database plan, and within a few months I was closing one to two agent referrals a month. Not a bad start!
INSIGHT #6 – YOUR EXPERIENCE IS EXTREMELY VALUABLE
Remember when you were a total newbie? How do I work the MLS, what’s the best CRM, and do I really need to attend office meetings, are all questions you already have figured out. So you won’t waste time on that stuff. Other than new contracts and some local differences, Real Estate is Real Estate. If you’ve been in the business for any amount of time in the past, that experience will serve you well moving forward.
Pro tip: Take four or five successful agents out to lunch in your new town as soon as you get there. The good ones will give you insights on the market and really cut down the any additional learning curve.
INSIGHT #7 – EGO IS THE ENEMY
Starting over can suck. I remember calling a friend of mine a month or two after we moved here. I was complaining about 10-hour days, holding open houses again, and essentially having to do all the things I did when I was a newer agent. Thankfully he sternly said, “So what dude. You wanted this right? It won’t last forever.” This was sage advice. Bottom line, your new city doesn’t care where you’ve been, how many homes you’ve sold, and if you were the top producer in your last MLS. You have to put in the work. Just remember, daily lead generation solves MANY of your problems.
Nothing in this business lasts forever. Dig deep, do the work, and you’ll come out ahead. (P.S. “Ego is the Enemy“ is an amazing book by Ryan Holiday. I suggest you pick up a copy!)
INSIGHT #8 – KNOWING WHY
Early on, there wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t at least think, “Did we make the right decision moving here?” Then I’d go back to all the reasons we moved here and it was so clear. If you’re moving to a new area because you’re running from something, or because you just want to “give it a try,” that may not be a big enough reason to hold you through the tough times. Make sure your “why” is crystal clear.
If you’re considering moving to a new city, just remember it’s not impossible. There have been people who’ve made the move before you, and there will be many after. As a community, we’re here to support you. You just have to make the decision and get to work!
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