The real estate profession is unusual in that it’s rarely something people choose to pursue early in life. Few if any four-year colleges offer it as a major or even have classes related to the field. Thus, becoming an agent is usually a decision adults make, most often as a second career at some point in their working lives.
Understanding all the property details, financial intricacies and often 24/7 effort required to succeed as a REALTORⓡ can only truly be grasped by those engaged in it. What looks so effortless to outsiders–showing houses to people with happy talk and a smile–actually requires tons of preparation, people skills, knowledge and more. Add the intense competition to secure listings and it’s even more arduous.
Mark Kotch knows all this, as do agents nationwide. But he grasps it better than most after spending several years training new-agent hopefuls.
Affiliated with Alain Pinel/Compass Realtors, in Pleasanton, California, Kotch first spent two decades as a company rep in the beauty products industry before deciding to make a change.
“I didn’t like being on an airplane every week, missing football and basketball games my kids were playing in high school,” he recalls. “My wife Theresa and I sat down one night and I told her I’m tired of it. She said, ‘You put food on the table for 20 years, and I was able to go back to school. I’m working full time now so it’s time for you to go get happy. I don’t care what you do, just please go get happy.’
It didn’t take long for Kotch to decide what was next.
“I talked to some friends who said I’d be an excellent real estate agent because I have a good way with people,” he says. “So I told the world I was going to become a REALTORⓡ. I got my license and passed the exam. That was 2004. I haven’t looked back and have enjoyed every day. Now if I get on a plane it’s for me, which is kinda nice.”
As someone entering the real estate business in his 40s, and with a lot of experience working with people, Kotch was offered and accepted the opportunity to train newcomers for his agency.
“Before we were purchased by Compass, we were the No. 1 real estate firm in the Bay area,” he notes. “New agents had to go through a comprehensive training program. I taught them about contracts, tools, marketing practices and more. I enjoyed it.”
He also was able to see what newcomers were like, how they perceived the industry without experience, and got a sense of their potential.
“Sometimes you can tell quickly if someone new will be successful and sometimes you can’t,” he says. “You can tell by what motivates them. If they just want to earn a lot of money but have no idea how, usually they are not going to make it. The ones that come in with a plan and are open to learning how things work tend to be a lot more successful.
“It’s not expensive to become a real estate agent but it’s not cheap either. You have to make a personal investment. A lot of people don’t think it through. They’re used to getting a paycheck every two weeks. With this job there’s no paycheck unless you sell something. Some folks jump in thinking it’s get rich quick, and don’t think long-term, like what do I do if the market changes, like it has now, and how am I going to survive.”
After many years as a trainer Kotch became an agent full time, with wondrous results.
He has his own slogan, ‘Mark It Sold’, and has won numerous awards for his consistently excellent sales numbers.
Kotch acknowledges that now the market has turned back from the frenzied spring and summer when bidding wars were the norm. Rising mortgage rates have cooled things, but he has followed a plan.
“I’ve gone back to my sphere of influence, my past clients, and dug deep with them,” he says. “Maybe it’s a good time to buy an investment property, or a second home or it’s time to upsize or downsize.”
Additionally he finds that old clients can be a great source to gain new clients, as personal referrals are a key networking strategy.
“I go back to them and start there, and keep them educated on what’s going on in the market.”