Why mentoring matters

29 June 2022

By Katrina Creer

It is an intensely competitive business, but the real estate industry can also be one of the most nurturing. Sharing knowledge and experience - through mentoring - helps to foster professional development and leadership skills.

Its importance has been recognised by the REINSW which is currently in the process of developing a mentoring and coaching program. It will be aimed at those new to the industry, as well as existing agents with industry experience.

Taking time out to spend with the next generation of agents and property managers, not only benefits individual offices but the overall industry. While it can be difficult to fit into already hectic schedules, most mentors discover that working with rising talent can be hugely rewarding.  And for those just starting out, finding the right person willing to coach them through those early years can put them on the path to success.

Do you need a mentor?

As a young agent, Ewan Morton immersed himself in articles in his quest to improve his property career. It wasn’t until he attended his first real estate conference a few years later that he realised he had been missing out on vital mentoring from his peers.

“I just didn’t know that there were people out there willing to help me,” Mr Morton said.

“I found mentors in people who could inspire me and whom I could ask questions - so I went from doing nothing for five years – to really being quite invested in it.’

Now a successful agent, Mr Morton often speaks at events and never hesitates to help those who approach him afterwards for a chat. He also encourages other industry leaders to be involved in mentoring, saying it is both rewarding and energising.

His advice for young agents is to attend conferences and seek out speakers who resonate with them.

“Successful people know how very difficult it is to make it and in many cases are grateful to someone who helped them, so often they are willing to pay it back with some mentoring,” said Mr Morton, Joint Managing Director of Morton Real Estate and a REINSW member

Lynette Malcolm with Fredrik Eklund from TV show Million Dollar Listing

Putting yourself out there – how to find a mentor

While it may feel awkward asking someone to mentor your career, is often a case that if you don’t ask, you’ll never find out. Some people may appear to be unattainable but surprisingly often are happy to help someone starting in the industry.

Lynette Malcolm, a member of the REINSW Residential Sales Chapter Committee, was originally mentored by her dad who ran his real estate agency for 50 years. At the start of her career, she worked as a junior associate and was mentored by an experienced agent.

A few years ago, she found a very famous mentor when she crossed paths with Fredrik Eklund, an agent from the hit TV show Million Dollar Listing. Both had been speakers at a conference, so she later reached out directly and ended up spending a week at his New York office.

“In the world of real estate it isn't difficult to make contact with someone because all of their details are online,” Ms Malcolm said.

“So you can try to connect with anyone you want to talk to - but whether they will come back to you does come down to a bit of luck. You just have to take that first step - you never know what you will get back.”

Another way to find a mentor is by joining real estate support chat groups through social media. These can be another great way for agents to share information.

Is there enough mentoring in real estate?

Mandatory training is improving the professionalism of young real estate agents but there are some gaps.

Sarah Bester, Deputy Chair for REINSW Residential Sales Chapters, believes not all aspects of the job can be formally taught and that is where mentoring can be crucial.

“You can’t train people to have relationships, to hold sensitive conversations and to be empathetic,” she said.

“These qualities are either inherently within you or you have to learn them; the best way to do that is by working alongside someone who is excellent at creating and maintaining positive relationships with people, and who is very client-service focused.”

A challenge for a senior agent is finding the time to help young upcoming agents, while also getting their job done. One way around this is to hire a junior associate and take them under their wing. This relationship, however, can be tricky to navigate – particularly if the agent is not the owner of the business.

“Agents who are working for the ‘here and now’ commissions and not looking to the future of the business find this mentoring hard because there is a fear they will train the person to be better than they are and will be in competition with them,” Ms Bester said.

“One way around this is to share commission during their first year in business and put restraints into play that won’t jeopardise your database.”

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