Real estate professionals face a myriad of challenges as they grow their businesses—and mentors can serve as an indispensable resource. Mentors can help agents navigate the nuances of the housing market, introduce them to invaluable connections to grow a burgeoning network, offer guidance and objective feedback on marketing and outreach efforts and collaborate to identify leadership opportunities. Moreover, these seasoned agents provide ongoing support and encouragement, which can be especially significant for newer, younger and LGBTQ+ real estate professionals learning to manage their career trajectories.

Mentors help build a skill set that guides the way less experienced professionals engage, think and—most importantly—lead. Nine in 10 employees who have a mentor say they are happy in their jobs. But while 76 percent of professionals believe mentors are important, only 37 percent have one.

As part of the ongoing Empower Your Outreach campaign aimed to support real estate professionals throughout every level of their career, Freddie Mac recently hosted a LinkedIn Live event highlighting how mentors are impactful and even crucial for real estate professionals’ career empowerment and enrichment. Teresa Palacios Smith, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for HomeServices of America and a twenty-year industry veteran, used open dialogue, best practices and personal experiences to show agents how to find and curate a mutually beneficial mentor-mentee relationship, grow their pipeline and elevate their career. Here are her top takeaways and overall strategies for success:

  • Understand the difference between a coach and a mentor. A coach typically receives training by a company or organization and can help you achieve your goals—for a fee. While mentors may not be formally trained, they have worked in your field and agreed to share their skills and expertise at no cost. This allows you to grow and develop at your own pace as the relationship evolves.
  • Seek out a mentor who has the relevant criteria—for each of you. Find a mentor who has more knowledge and experience than you do—regardless of their age. But also make sure they have the time and be respectful of limitations and other obligations. The most successful interactions will be those who meet minimally one hour per month for at least a year. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to serve as a mentor, but don’t take it personally if they don’t have the bandwidth, either.
  • Create a business plan with measurable, specific goals—and hold yourself accountable for meeting them. Your mentor can be a useful resource with this, checking in with you to see if you’re on track and helping you overcome barriers and obstacles thwarting progress. Set goals that are ambitious enough to encourage you to reach beyond your comfort zone, but not so lofty that they are seemingly unattainable and set you up for frustration.
  • Turn to unexpected outlets to gain experience. If you aren’t getting the relevant skills in your current job, look outward. Volunteer in organizations that can help you build those skill sets, seek out leadership and sharpen your business in less developed areas by jumping in and doing something that makes you totally uncomfortable.
  • Build a team that includes related industry colleagues—as well as your competition. Network with agents and follow them on social media to learn from their experiences, then become a member in their respective trade groups or organizations. Mastermind with as many agents as you can and let them know you’re willing to pay a referral fee for business they might not be able to handle. Fill your pipeline by reaching out to lenders, insurance brokers, warranty companies, stagers, inspectors and relocation agents to serve as mutual resources for homebuyers. Draw on your real estate agent network to help friends, family or colleagues buying in other markets, as those competitors may return the favor one day.
  • Use available educational resources, especially free ones. Attend all the training that’s available to you and utilize the tools your company offers for employees. As Warren Buffett said, “The best investment you can make, is an investment in yourself; the more you learn, the more you'll earn.”
  • Embrace the word “no.” Give yourself the same consideration about your own commitments and responsibilities as you do for your mentor’s time. “No” is a powerful word; get used to using the phrase “thank you so much for the opportunity, but I just can’t.” Keep a calendar and list your priorities; if something isn’t going to help you achieve a goal, think twice about whether you should commit (and can afford) the time.
  • Broaden your scope if it fits in with your career goals. While it’s easy to equate the real estate field with agents who work on commission, the industry encompasses many different roles. Your interests and experience might be better suited to a position in technology, operational excellence, event planning or business consulting. You’ll undoubtedly find mentors in all these roles who can help you hone your skill set and achieve success.

Freddie Mac is committed to continue to empower real estate professionals, who are an important part of the homeownership journey. Through offerings like the Freddie Mac Neighborhood Real Estate Professional (NRES) professional certification course, brokers and agents can learn to work more effectively with public and private initiatives that expand homeownership opportunities for underserved households and buyers. This educational resource can also help them become the top trusted advisors in their local markets.

Learn more about how real estate professionals can identify opportunities, anticipate trends and overcome barriers in the housing ecosystem to better serve their clients and build a fulfilling career.