Manage (Down) Your Expectations
Manage (Down) Your Expectations
If you’re starting your first year in the real estate business, Cynthia Mattiza has a few words of advice for you: “Expect the worst — then everything else will look and appear more positive.”
She speaks from experience.
Mattiza, now an agent with Realty Austin in Austin, Texas, came into the real estate profession in 2010 at the age of 24. For years prior, she had sold fixtures in a luxury kitchen and bath showroom. She was successful there, always hitting her sales goals. She figured that because she was so skilled at selling, working in real estate would come just as easily to her.
In her first six months as a real estate agent, she made almost nothing.
“The first year is incredibly hard if you are used to succeeding,” Mattiza says. “I was used to making a certain amount of income.”
The rules of real estate are different, she soon realized. She wasn’t handed a product to sell with a built-in customer base that would always come to her to buy, like they did at her last job. In real estate, you have to build from the bottom up.
“I sort of knew it would be hard,” Mattiza admits, “but I thought I might have been the exception, since I was always used to succeeding. I was wrong, and regardless of how much work I put in, [my business] didn’t prosper until about six months in. I’m grateful that I had saved and prepared for that. I was just naive in thinking that wouldn’t have been me.”
She started out being the “leasing guru” of her office, helping people find rentals in the first half of the year. Slowly but surely, her renting clients turned into what she calls “real buyers.”
She faced another hard reality, too. She figured that anyone who would request her services in finding a home was someone who was ready to buy. Not so.
“I didn’t know how to read clients very well,” Mattiza says. “I couldn’t tell the difference between the tire kickers, the looky-loos, and the real-deal clients. I would spend the same amount of time with anyone who would spend time with me. If you told me you wanted to buy in two years, I would have said, ‘OK, let’s get started.’ I wasted a lot of time — and I did have a lot of extra time, but was not efficient about how I spent it.
“I started to realize that buyers who weren’t that serious were the ones who wanted to go look every weekend and wanted to look everywhere,” she continues. “I began creating ‘buyer consultations’ where we would access their timelines and go over the process rather than jump immediately into showing them around.”
By that six-month mark, she got her first sale: a leasing client who “decided it was a better idea to buy,” Mattiza says.
“It felt great because they are very loyal clients still,” she continues. “Was it a big-money paycheck? No. But accomplishing your first sale is a big milestone in this career.”
Mattiza says that what helped her get through her first year in real estate was managing her expectations. Once she saw how the business worked, she rolled with the punches and sought out a mentor.
“Do anything and everything to meet clients: open houses, work leases, get out and meet people,” she says. “The bigger your network, the more referrals and leads will come your way. Save money; be frugal when it’s needed. Buyers and sellers don’t pick agents with the flashiest marketing — they pick you based on testimonials and referrals from past clients. Your network will be your salesforce.
“Lastly, a reminder that hard work always pays off. If you truly work hard in this industry, business will come — but it will not if you only work half fast.”