Though she originally trained as a radiologist, Mary Fitzgerald's accidental swerve into property led her to become one of the stars of the reality TV juggernaut that is Selling Sunset. The show, in which impossibly glamorous LA homes are sold by equally impossibly glamorous real estate agents, has made Fitzgerald an overnight celebrity.
She now balances her burgeoning fan base and shooting schedule with a heavy workload, selling multi-million dollar houses in the Hollywood hills. Here, she shares her insights into succeeding in the property business, knowing your limits and growing in career confidence.
Remember, it's harder than it looks
"I think the show gives the impression that you can just get your licence, walk into a $10 million home and say: 'Hey, do you like it? Cool, sign here.' It's so much more complicated than that. There are so many more details that go into it that aren't exactly glamorous or fun, like endless paperwork, scheduling inspections and removing contingencies. It's so much fun, but be prepared for a lot of behind-the-scenes admin."
Get yourself a mentor
"Property is an industry where I really believe you need someone to guide you, and show you how to do everything correctly, from legal aspects to insurance. This will allow you to represent your clients properly, and then you're gaining a reputation for knowing what you're doing and getting your job done. One of the best ways to do that is to become an assistant to an estate agent and really learn your craft on the job by watching them."
Have patience with your clients
"Moving home is one of the most stressful things you will do in your life so you have to appreciate that when talking to clients. I'm overly patient with them. I feel like estate agents are practically therapists because often people are buying and selling during the most difficult times in their lives. Either they've just had a baby, and they're stressed or overly protective and freaking out, or they just got divorced, or just lost their job. So you just have to talk them down, give them the facts and comfort them, and make sure this is the right decision for them. If you know they're just freaking out for no reason, you have to try to bring them back down to earth and explain what's going on."
Know your worth
"So much of this industry relies on commissions, so you have to really fight for the best listings. You are in constant competition. For that reason, you really need to know your worth, believe you can deliver the goods and portray that to the best of your ability."
Don't be afraid to ask questions
"It can be quite nerve-wracking at first, and I certainly didn't start with multi-million dollar homes, but confidence just comes with experience. There are so many small details of real estate where you second guess yourself, because they have consequences; it's a huge purchase, and there are so many legal documents. And so, if you screw up, and give bad advice, in the US, you can be sued. So, it makes me nervous. I used to second guess myself a lot but thankfully I have no problem asking questions. Never be afraid to ask questions, because once you just know the information and you're confident in your knowledge, then you're just so confident as an agent, and you will naturally become more successful. Once it kicks in, you'll take risks and and push yourself and talk to clients in a more confident manner."
Referrals are key
"One of the proudest moments of my career (and you see this on the show) was selling my wedding venue on the day of my wedding. But it wasn't just that I managed to do that on my wedding day, it was the fact that the client was so impressed he referred me to someone else, who then referred me on again and so on. From that one job, I got around seven others and it reminded me that your work will speak for itself. Your reputation is so important in this industry."
Learn when to delegate
"Last year I just worked myself into the ground because I thought I didn't need an assistant. It felt like admitting defeat; I just thought, 'I'm capable of doing it all!' I ended up getting really sick and I think that not reaching out for help was one of the biggest mistakes of my career. But what I did learn from this was that - in hiring an assistant - I actually could do my job better. She's amazing; I still have her and it has been amazing just to see how much more I can accomplish. Don't be afraid to delegate."
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