Real Estate Agents' 5 Biggest Challenges + How to Overcome Them (2024)

Real estate can be an excellent career choice for motivated self-starters who have an entrepreneurial “the sky’s the limit” mindset. And while some agents do manage to achieve a high-six-figure or even seven-figure salary, it often takes years to reach that level of success.

The road to financial security and high commissions is rife with challenges, especially for inexperienced agents. But challenges don’t have to be a barrier to success. All agents, regardless of their income or how long they’ve been in the business face similar challenges. The difference between a lucrative real estate career and just getting by lies in how each agent chooses to overcome these challenges.

5 of the Biggest Real Estate Challenges + How Agents Can Overcome Them

Whether you’re a seasoned real estate agent or just getting started in the field, everyone faces similar challenges at some point in their career. Here are five of the biggest challenges real estate agents encounter on their road to success – and how to overcome them.

1.Market Fluctuations

Nothing stays the same in real estate. This places agents at the mercy of interest rates, inventory, and the economy itself. In a slow market, most agents struggle to make sales – while better economic times can bring bidding wars, which can make it equally difficult to close a deal. So what’s an agent to do?

The good news is that the market tends to be cyclical. With experience, it usually becomes easier for agents to identify the market indicators that can help predict coming market changes. Many top-selling agents use data analytics to assist them in identifying important market drivers like key trends, buyer behavior, and property values. One of the best ways, especially for new agents, to prepare for market fluctuations is to focus on lead generation and maintaining a healthy pipeline. Here are 15 proven real estate lead generation tactics that top agents rely on to help them play the long game.

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2. Fierce Competition

Real estate tends to attract competitive, goal-oriented people – and it’s broadly considered to be one of the world’s most competitive industries because its rewards can be substantial. But in the day-to-day trenches, there’s a small army of agents competing for the same clients, listings, and commissions. So, how can one agent stand apart from the rest?

The key is competitive differentiation. In other words – find a niche, become an expert, and work that niche. For example, agents who work in a market with a lot of a particular type of properties (e.g., Tudors, Craftsmans) could immerse themselves in the area’s history and the history of these homes, and position themselves as a “specialist” in buying and selling them. Other agents focus on serving particular demographics, like first-time buyers or people looking to invest in rental properties. If most of your competitors are chasing million-dollar listings, the best way to compete might be to go in the opposite direction. People like familiarity, so don’t throw away potential. Once you have your foot in the door with a client or prospect, maintain that relationship – and capitalize on your hard work by asking for referrals.

You can also compete on technology. For example, SquareFootHomes, a Florida Realty, created an interactive silo page for each of their Palm Beach neighborhoods, putting their customer's experience on par with some higher-end national websites.

3. Long Hours

The allure of setting their own schedule is often one of the things that initially attracts new agents to the industry. Based on television and movie depictions of “agent life,” rookies often envision leisurely days interspersed with a few showings, open houses on the weekends, and shrewd negotiations. In reality, a lucrative real estate career requires long hours and a lot of hustling, especially in the beginning when you’re carving out your niche and building your book of business. You might eventually become successful enough to outsource some of your marketing and administrative tasks, but agents who achieve that level of success often encounter a different set of equally taxing demands. Real estate is a year-round, around-the-clock business that demands almost constant accessibility – often at the expense of work/life balance, which can take a toll on relationships and overall well-being. Fortunately, there are ways to manage these demands and the stress that often comes with them.

Boundaries are essential in this business. It’s easy for agents to over-promise and spread themselves too thin, which helps no one. Instead, agents should set realistic expectations from the get-go regarding their accessibility and availability. This can help to prevent burnout while minimizing the opportunity for unmet expectations. Experienced agents rely on technology where possible to automate time-consuming processes, particularly administrative tasks related to lead nurturing. Mastering effective time management can also help.

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4. Time Management

In addition to juggling multiple clients, properties and back-to-back appointments, there’s marketing, lead generation, and administrative work to be done. Most successful real estate agents work more than a “9-to-5,” and they rarely have a day off. But there are some ways to get the most out of your time.

That adage, “work smarter not harder” definitely comes into play here. Working long days won’t guarantee success, but it could improve your chances – if you do it right. A good starting point is to identify and prioritize important and time-sensitive tasks, and get those out of the way first. But to build a solid business, agents must also be proactive, which means identifying high-yield activities and blocking off time to work on them. For example, lead generation is critical to success, so schedule time each day for prospecting and building your social media presence – and stick to the schedule. Just because a task doesn’t involve clients or direct income, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

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5. It Feels Like a Thankless Job

Sometimes, real estate agents feel like their job isn’t what they signed up for. It could be that sales are slow or a lot of their commission is going to their brokerage or being reinvested into things like marketing and MLS dues. Others get tired of what feels like constant rejection or dealing with people who are in high-stress situations, and therefore, not at their best. When you decide to sell real estate, you’re signing up for the long game.

Industry insiders say that it will take at least three months to see the fruits of today’s labors – and it will take at least three years of consistent effort to build the beginnings of a solid business. As with any business, you’ll have to spend money to make money, so become an expert in knowing which expenditures bring the best ROI. Making a business plan can help you keep your eye on the prize and ensure that you’re spending deliberately and with your goals in mind. Instead of letting rejection get you down, let it propel you forward. Real estate is in part a numbers game, so cast a wide net because success depends on how many people say “yes” – not how many say “no.” And for those difficult clients, put some psychology books on your bedtime reading list. Understanding different personality types and how to deal with them most effectively can help you gain traction against your competitors.

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Real Estate Agents' 5 Biggest Challenges + How to Overcome Them (2024)
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