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So you want to be a Real Estate Agent like on Million Dollar Listing

Updated on August 14, 2014

The Steps to conquering NYC Real Estate and Starting your new Career

We will take you on the journey from the beginning steps of getting your license through all the tips you will need to kick start your real estate career. The appropriate links, information and tips will provide you with the backbone of starting a successful real estate career in New York City, just like the show Million Dollar Listing. (except this is real)

Information provided by highly seasoned NYC agent with decades of experience with the biggest firms in New York City and currently running his own firm since 2009 - Demsker Realty

Rebny Member

Getting Started - What you need to do First

So after watching the show and crazy commission checks, you now want to be a real estate agent in New York City. Great. The first things you must do are:

1) Take a course in New York Real Estate - New York Real Estate Institute is a nice, simple and affordable course

Note: what they teach you in this class, besides ethics, is marginally applicable to becoming a successful agent in NYC. You just need to take the course and pass the course test (70%) or above, so you can move on and take the state test.

Note: The day of the school test, they will review most, approx. 70%, of what will be on test and what you just learned

Note: Test is all multiple choice and very easy. Hint, pay attention to the bold words in the book.

2) After passing the school test or even before, you will want to get a commitment from a licensed broker that they will sponsor you. Without a broker sponsor, you cannot do business as a salesperson, so you need to investigate companies and try to find one that fits your style and needs. Of course they will also have to want to take you on but typically since they don't pay you, it is very simple to accomplish. You will want to see what they offer in tools, training, commission splits and their reputation - all very important. Be smart with this step. REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) firms are your best options.

3) We'll assume you passed the test at the course level and have a sponsoring broker, so the next step is now taking the New York State Test. You will go to eaccess and register for the course test. It is usually pretty busy so have a flexible schedule. Once again, while the test is long, it is very easy and multiple choice. It is also very similar to the school test covering the same topics and principles


4) When you pass the State test, you will get your notification and be ready to be a licensed salesperson. Then you will find out that what the course taught you did not prepare you for working in New York City.

Note - Terms:

Broker - Runs the firm and has passed Broker exam + has requisite experience

Associate Broker - Someone who is a Broker but decides to work under Broker. For example if you work for Douglas Elliman. You would be an associate broker, if you passed broker exam and had requisite experience. Only when you went out on your own would you be Broker. Whenever you work for another company you will be an Associate Broker.

Salesperson - all new people, anyone who has passed state test but has not passed broker test nor has the experience, is a Licensed Salesperson.

Most Important Element to Real Estate - Generating Leads

Here are 5 Avenues for Generating Leads. There are many ways to generate leads and all ethical means are fine.

Things to remember:

When first starting Develop a Niche for your business. Once you dominate niche expand marketing outward.

Never stop generating leads. Even when you are super busy have time for lead generation.

Have a plan about getting business and what you want to do and execute it SYSTEMATICALLY.

You will be disappointed by putting a lot of work and nothing happening. Be able to turn the page and look at tasks at hand.

Lead Generation Example:

*Building Farms: Direct Mail buildings I like or live in or that cover an area (ie Tribeca) or that cover a specific type of building you are interested (is condo lofts). Any combinations are fine. Develop a small niche at first and grow from there.

Things to use in Direct Mail: Use Quotes from buyers/sellers for social proof, Mail 1x per month, housing stats

*Direct Contact - system to get in touch with people you know, people that you have met and people that they know. It is a

Systematic touch program for all email captures, friends, customers and anyone you come in contact with during your daily day. You can feature anything you choose and should always include something that shows you are an expert (even if you have to fake it in the beginning). A great resource is mail chimp is free and allows you to send out newsletter 1x per month free.


*connect to social media hubs and leverage that to get word out you are in real estate and are looking for referrals. Also use it to push your expert status by putting up relevant articles, your thoughts and anything else that shows expertise in Real Estate.

*Top Customers/clients/friends - those that refer you business or are most likely to refer you business. You want to give them extra special care and enjoyment. Gifts, lunches, drinks with top customers, Phone calls, Birthday messages - whatever helps you establish a deeper connection.

*Open Houses - If you want - you can man an established broker's open house, which you will do because you will be looking to pick up buyers. Email capture of the leads at the open house to obtain buyers - add to your direct contact system.

*Blog - create a wordpress site, 99 bucks per year, and blog about what you are interested and also tie it into your direct mail campaign so you have synergy. Within Blog you can have static pages to establish your expertise. This too should be linked up with your social media accounts. You can have your own stories, curated content and guest content from a mortgage broker or whomever.

*Referral program - Give small gifts like amex gift card to encourage/reward referrals from friends and others. Give at time of referral and closing of referral - gift size small in beginning and bigger on closing

Un-bounce pages - they allow you to target specific buildings, areas or whatever you are interested. This is a cheap tool that is easy to use.

Here are examples:

One Jackson Square

200 East 32nd Street

40 Mercer Street

I use a simplified consistent page but you can use different pages for each building, area or whatever. The keys to the pages are conversion so you can help more people - if they want the help.

*Networking - One of the most important. Join Groups for certain interests, professional organizations, clubs, charity groups, community events - anything that you are interested is suitable . The greater your sphere of influence/people you know is proportional to your success

*Working FSBO's - the most grueling. Identifying and working on converting fsbo listings to exclusives or to allow you to advertise them to try and get leads. You need there permission and you need to be nice. They get 100's of calls so don't be shocked if people are a bit disturbed if you call them.

This is a good beginning - you can use all or some or create your own plan. The main thing is to have a plan, never stop and do it systematically.

How to Price an Apartment

Using comparable sales or “comps” for proper pricing. The following websites are great resources to research like kind comparable sales or “comps” in your residential area to determine proper pricing. Comps are only closed sales and not active listings.

RLS (REBNY Listing Service) – the RLS has many of the recent closed sales and are supposed to maintained and updated by the listing broker.

Street Easy: Offers a complete comparable or “comps” service for New York City, Queens and Brooklyn.

New York Department of Finance (government affiliated websites)

Offers free comparable sales or “comps” service for New York City, Queens and Brooklyn.

Click the property link and then go to the rolling sales data link.

Note: Department finance materials don’t allow you to see the condition of the unit which is an important item in the equation to comparing closed sales.

Acris is the place all documents are stored for the area so you can see all closed sales data by looking at the deeds recorded. Once again you will not have the information on the condition of the unit.

The most important thing in using comparable sales (comps) is obtaining like kind comps.

Examples – Using comparable sales or “comps” to obtain like kind comparable sales.

Apartment – Compare residential units that have sold in the building within the same “apartment line” as your apartment.

Ex: You own residential unit “5A” – the best comparables come from “A” line apartments with the same layout as yours. Researching in this matter is the only way to get a “true” or accurate price and will ensure proper pricing of your residential area. Then you will adjust results based on the condition of the closed sales and your unit. Please be realistic and not overly emotional.

If no comparables exist, the seller should then utilize “comps” from inside the building in other “apartment lines” that are similar to his or her residential unit – such as its features and exposure.

Fact: Researching comparables inside the respective building, within the same apartment line is the most proficient method to ensure proper pricing as each building has its own selling “power” and selling price determined by many factors. Researching comparables outside a respective building is a less efficient method due to various differences in buildings and selling levels that are “outside” the comprehension on how “comps,” relate.

Always remember to factor in the condition of the apartment, as this is vital aspect to ensure proper pricing. Analyze all aspects and details carefully.

Ex: You own residential unit “5A” - upgrades need to be made to your kitchen and bathroom. After researching, unit “6A” was in great condition and had the exact same layout as yours when it sold for $600K last month. In order to properly price your residential unit effectively

today, you need to discount these upgrades off the $600K asking price. Get an estimate in writing from a local contractor to determine what this discount should be if you are unsure.

Important sites you will need

NYC.Gov Websites:


Department of State

Dept of Buildings



Department of Finance

Department of Finance: You can get taxes & rolling sales file (for current year or past years closed sales)

rolling sales file current year and past years,

pulling tax bills for condos,

finding info about tax abatements and post abatement tax estimates,

Acris: You can get condo declaration (by laws, schedule b with square footage and other info (Schedule B is precursor to Schedule A) ) condos only, see mortgage and any other document filed

pulling documents from purchase (deeds, liens, UCC-1, UCC-3, mortgage info, purchase price)

Schedule B for condos - telling units in the building (mailing lists or info), square footage, by laws

Map Site: You can get ownership info, FAR, links to all city sites and other building info (NYC, BK, Queens) + detailed info about many items of the city life.

Allows you to look up building address and get info about building/lot

links to all agencies like - hpd, dob, zoning..etc

has some demographic information

Be an Un-Broker, and you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

1. Treat people as you want to be treated

2. Create a personable and friendly environment

3. Listen, and get people what they need to ensure their success

4. Provide current and consistent informational flow

5. Be intelligent. Produce creative solutions to provide appropriate results

6. Create low pressure atmosphere

7. The Customer's needs always come first

8. Provide Professional service and Common Sense

— Thomas C. Demsker

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