Agent finds real estate is all about experience

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, March 8, 2009

Before a local real estate agent could begin showing homes to clients, he had to learn the ropes of a career that takes time and patience.

“My opinion when I just got my real estate license was, ‘Hey, I’m just going to get my real estate license; I’m going to sell some real estate,’” said real esate agent Matthew Johnson. “It’s not like that; it’s years of hard work just to get into the business, establish relationships and build your clientele up and keep the clientele happy. It’s all about experience, I think.”

The learning process didn’t end there, as Johnson said it can take real estate agents six months to know if they’re cut out for the business. Johnson said the first months were difficult because he didn’t anticipate the work required to build a client base.

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Johnson, who grew up in Albert Lea, sold 27 homes for Albert Lea Remax in 2008, where he’s worked for over three years. He worked part time for a different broker before that, but Johnson said it was difficult to perform his duties when working part time.

“It is a career you need to be fully invested in order to be successful. I need to be there for my clients when my clients want me,” Johnson said.

Relationships with clients are important, because Johnson said referrals are a key way to gain new clients.

Johnson’s father worked as a real estate agent in Arlington, Texas for 20 years, and Johnson said seeing his father interact with people attracted him to the career.

Before Johnson could start building those relationships, he needed about 90 hours of training concerning Minnesota and national real estate laws, and he needed to pass state and national exams.

During the time it took Johnson to adapt to the business, he said he sought advice from mentors and co-workers.

“My dad helped me out; I did confide in him a lot in my first couple years. There’s ups and downs in this business. ‘Dad, what’s up with this?’ He would tell me, hang in there, do this, try this. So my dad was actually my biggest mentor,” Johnson said.

Johnson has adjusted to the business, and he’ll talk with clients to learn what they’re looking for in a home, and Johnson said he’ll try to meet those desires.

“Then the best thing is to get them out there; get them into those homes and let them have that honest feeling that when they walk into that home, they know that this is the home that they want. That’s the feeling that I like to have my clients have,” Johnson said.

A number of steps need to occur before a family can experience the feeling of finding the perfect home. Before Johnson and his clients can begin looking for a house, he said he has to be sure they are qualified, which means the client would have to meet with a mortgage lender to check things like credit stature, income and family size.

“I don’t want to take unqualified buyers out there, show them hundreds of homes when they’re not going to be able to buy a home. It’s not fair to the sellers,” Johnson said.

After a family finds the right home, it usually takes as long as 45 days to complete the buying process, Johnson said.

Other steps like home inspections need to be completed, and Johnson said it is important for him to have strong communication skills, so he can pass all the information he has to his clients.

“You have to be able to communicate with your client, stay in touch with them. You have to be knowledgeable also on what they are purchasing,” Johnson said.

Johnson said his first transaction was difficult, because the home inspector’s findings frightened the buyers, and they decided not to buy the home. The buyer made the right decision, but Johnson said he wished he’d had experience to handle that process differently.

Sales can be difficult for different reasons. Multiple parties are often involved with as many as six sales hinging on each other, and multiple real estate agents can be involved. If one sale falls through, Johnson said they all do.

“That’s what we’re here for: to ensure that that’s a smooth transition, to make sure that you the buyer, you the seller don’t have to worry about anything. We’ll take care of everything from start to finish,” Johnson said.

Through his work, Johnson said he’s been able to learn about what different areas of Albert Lea offer and what different recreational things are available. Albert Lea is not the only town he works in, as Johnson said he frequently works in Austin, Wells, Emmons and the surrounding area.

“There’s a lot of time I wasn’t expecting I’d have to put into this business, compared to your nine to five job — nine to five, punch the clock and you’re done. You need to be ready to go, any given time,” Johnson said.