How Do Real Estate Agents Relocate to a New City?
As a real estate agent, your network is your livelihood. Your success is deeply tied to local connections, local knowledge, and community ties. But sometimes circumstances conspire against you. Your spouse gets a new position in another city, a loved one needs a caregiver, or you need to be closer to family. You have to leave your network behind and build a new one somewhere else. So what are the keys to success as a real estate agent in a new city?
Key #1: Get a Head StartYou shouldn't wait until you hit the ground to get running. There are steps you can take to shave months off your ramp-up time in a new market.
Research Licensing RequirementsResearch licensing requirements in your new location. It’s worth asking: “does your new state have a reciprocity agreement with your current state?” More than half of states have some kind of reciprocity that can fast-track your licensing. You can find an explanation of reciprocity types and portability rules here, but check with the real estate licensing board of your new state for the most up-to-date information.
Start Your Coursework OnlineStart your coursework online before you leave. If you're moving to a state with no or partial reciprocity, you'll need to take some or all of their licensing exam. Almost all states allow pre-licensing courses to be taken with a reputable online provider, so you can get that out of the way. In some cases, you may even be able to take the licensing exam online!
Research BrokeragesAs with the licensing, you'll save valuable time by starting a discussion with brokerages ahead of time. If you're early in your career and/or really stressed about your ability to build a new network alone, you may want to look into brokerages that offer a high level of support. You'll have to sacrifice on the commission split, but a smaller percentage of something is better than a larger percentage of nothing.
Leverage Existing ClientsIn an era where Americans are constantly on the move, you may not have to start from scratch. Reach out to former clients and let them know where you're headed. Ask if they know anyone there. Can they make an introduction? Even if they don't know anyone in that area now, ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anyone relocating in the future. If nothing else, use the conversation as an opportunity to solicit reviews that can act as social proof of your skill once you jump markets.
Mentally PrepareThere are probably some discouraging days ahead—if you've built a thriving referral practice where you live, you're going to have to grind a lot more than you're used to, while you get established. How will you stay motivated? What will you tell yourself on a bad day? You should also plan for a reduction in income until you're settled in.
Key #2: Do Your HomeworkMaybe you have time to research your new market in advance. Maybe it'll have to wait until you arrive. Either way, knowledge is power. Do your research in areas like:
Local GeographyYou can study neighborhoods, school districts, and market trends before you arrive. Study listing services and get a feel for the types of properties out there. Once you arrive, use your downtime to get to know the area up close and personal.
Your CompetitionLook at the presence of other agents in your new area—use your own house-hunting as an excuse to "shop around" and size up their practices. What marketing tactics are they using? What are their lead-nurturing practices? How are they distributed across niches?
Your NicheWill you be able to leverage your current niche there or will you need to adjust? Is it crowded? Who is occupying that niche in your new area? What are they doing, and what are they missing? How are you different? How can you step into the gap and distinguish yourself?
Your Own ExperienceApply a little self-examination to your relocation process, your impressions of the area, and the resources available to help you and your family adjust. These can be valuable experiences to leverage in your practice.
Key #3: Embrace Grunt WorkYou can learn a lot of valuable things by putting yourself down in the trenches in your new market. Humbling yourself can also be an excellent way to gain local allies in the industry. Consider the following strategies:
Become a HelperCover for other agents while they're on vacation. Offer to stand in for them at open houses. Offer to represent your brokerage at event booths.
Solicit Agent ReferralsBuild trust with top agents locally and offer to work their excess leads for a referral fee. Use conferences and networking sites to solicit relocation referrals from outside your market.
Get Back to Basics for Lead GenerationBefore you had a thriving referral practice, what were your lead generation strategies? Boot up the successful ones. Retry the others—they may work better in your new market. Host open houses. Create lead magnets. Build a Facebook ad strategy. Take up content marketing. Knock on doors. Cold call the FSBO crowd. Brush up your lead-nurturing mechanisms. Go low-tech. Go high-tech. Reacquaint yourself with the hustle.
Consider Rental BusinessEven if it's not where you want to end up, the transactions are quick, and they'll give you a chance to generate income and build local knowledge.
Key #4: Dive into the CommunityYour social life is a highly effective networking tool. Get involved in your community and meet as many people as you can—not only will you generate leads, you'll gain valuable insight into the wants and needs of potential clients, the marketing strategies that are likely to succeed, and the resources in your community. Here are some ideas for places to start:
- Join networking groups and local real estate organizations
- Get involved in Chamber of Commerce events
- Volunteer with local charities and worthy causes
- Take an active role in local events
- Host a housewarming party for colleagues and neighbors
- Visit to know local businesses and making yourself a regular
- Leverage your hobbies, interests, and family life to make connections
Key #5: Don't Forget Your Online PresenceThe internet is an integral part of our "real lives" now. Facetime is critical in building your network, but make sure your online presence is up to date. You want to make it easy for everyone you meet to find and hire you later. Complement your in-person hustle by:
- Updating Your Website and all your accounts to focus on your new location and niche.
- Leveraging Social Media to connect with local events, businesses, and leaders.
- Following and Friending new acquaintances to nurture those relationships.
- Joining Community Pages—first to learn the inside track, then build your reputation and gain leads.
- Shouting Out local businesses you frequent as the first step in building partnerships.
- Blogging about your relocation and the journey of getting to know your new home.