A real estate career can be frustrating. Low inventory, missed appointments, unhappy clients, are just some of the setbacks you’re sure to face. Learn to recognize obstacles in your career as an opportunity to change, and you can succeed!

It’s easy to give up on our goals when the going gets tough. Every goal comes with obstacles. Achieving your goals will only happen if you cultivate a winning mindset.

We can blame the economy, our circumstances, or other people for our lack of results, but blame won’t change the situation.

Whether you struggle to find listings in a low inventory market, or you can’t seem to find enough time for prospecting, don’t let challenges hold you back from success.

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals

The Obstacle Is the Way!

Instead, turn your obstacles into a triumph. While it’s true that 87% of real estate agents fail in the first five years, there’s also an opportunity for you to stand out as the exception.

When you cultivate a winning attitude, obstacles cease to matter:

“Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions…The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.”

This quote from the Roman tactician, Marcus Aurelius, articulates the core philosophy of Ryan Holiday’s best-selling book, The Obstacle Is The Way.

Top 5 Common Obstacles That Hold Agents Back From Success


  1. Investing time and energy in a client who decides to switch agents.
  2. Spending too much time on leads who are not qualified, ready, or motivated.
  3. Listings are scarce because your farm is small with low neighborhood turnover.
  4. Your market is big with lots of competition from more experienced agents and brokerages.
  5. There’s never enough time to follow up with every lead.

So, how do you turn these common challenges into an opportunity?

Obstacle #1) When Clients Switch Agents

So you woo a client and they happily sign the listing agreement. After weeks of working together they suddenly stop calling you back or taking your calls. When you finally get in touch with them, they tell you they want to switch listing agents.

Naturally, you’re left wondering why this happened. What could you have done to prevent it? Some of the most common reasons buyers and sellers switch agents include:

  • Unprofessional behaviour
  • Dishonesty
  • Breach of contract
  • Overvaluation
  • Poor communication

Solution: Cultivate loyalty

You may not be able to alter your client’s decision, but you can resolve to be more attentive to clients by cultivating their loyalty.

Cultivate loyalty by regular and consistent communication. Evaluate where you went wrong by reviewing your previous emails and texts to your client:

  • How detailed or frequent was your communication?
  • How promptly did you respond?
  • Was the client happy with your response?
  • Is your website easy to navigate?
  • Do you offer tools or resources to help clients remotely?

A messenger bot is a great way for real estate agents to address clients in need. Messenger bots can be programmed to engage with clients online or by text in your absence.

Facebook offers developers and business owners tools to create their own messenger bot for engaging with visitors to your Facebook Business Page.

Email and social media notifications should go to your iPhone or android. Be sure to synchronize all your devices, so you don’t miss important calls, dates, or texts.

Provide clients with a means of accessing important documents online using a shared Google Drive.

Obstacle #2) Too much time qualifying/chasing leads.

Research suggests that many sales reps spend close to 40% of their time chasing leads.

They said they were interested in selling their home! That’s why you booked the listing appointment. After a few meetings, however, you realize your referral client isn’t ready to sell.

“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” -Mark Hunter

Real estate top performers are 250% better at qualifying leads than their peers. You can’t force homeowners to sell, but you can find ways to qualify clients before you book the listing appointment.

qualify leads

Solution: Qualify Leads

Create a comprehensive lead qualification process. The qualifying stage is your opportunity to probe your prospect for:

  • Need: Does the client want to buy or sell?
  • Urgency: What is the client’s deadline or timeline for buying or selling?
  • Pain points: are there obstacles your client is facing/will face to buying or selling their home?

lead qualification process

When you define a process for qualifying leads, you save valuable time. You can also probe each client for further opportunities (ie referrals). Add each prospect lead to your CRM with details that can be used to segment your contacts appropriately.

Realtor® Magazine offers some great qualifying questions for agents:

Prequalifying Questions For Buyers

Prequalifying Questions For Sellers


Obstacle #3) Low Inventory

Low inventory, low neighborhood turnover, or both, could be severely crippling your real estate career! Without enough available homes in your market, it will be impossible to grow your business.

When buyer demand outstrips supply, competition in the local market can get nasty. Research indicates that low inventory will continue to be an obstacle agents face in the future.


US housing inventory 2016 - 2017


Single family homes and first-time buyers, in particular, will face increasing difficulty qualifying and securing a mortgage for a home.

Solution: Diversify your business.

Real estate mentor Tom Ferry shares his own ideas to help agents succeed in a low inventory market:

Calculate the neighborhood turnover rate in your farm to determine an effective sales strategy for you or your team. You may need to consider adding another farm or partnering with other agents to find enough inventory.

Diversify the types of property you sell. Perhaps now would be a good time to expand into other property types that are more popular or successful in your city or state.

Research your local market to determine the most promising developments in your area. Luxury homes, commercial real estate, and rental properties could provide the additional inventory you need to meet your next sales target.

Obstacle #4) Competition from more experienced agents.

Successful agents in your farm will likely have a strong reputation and relationships they can draw on to cultivate referrals. If you’re just starting out, however, competing for brand recognition against more established agent can be expensive.

Solution: Make prospecting a top priority daily.

  • Relationships are the core of your business. Your success will happen one relationship at a time.
  • Commit more time to prospecting. Prospecting should be one of your top priorities every day.
  • Don’t rely on merely one form of prospecting. Cold calling, interview-prospecting, and door-to-door can all be effective if done the right way.

Obstacle #5) There’s not enough time.

Lack of time is one of the most common complaints lodged by new agents. A full-time career, child care, health issues, and transportation can absorb the little free time you do have for prospecting. Often, we find ourselves overextended, attempting to fill too many shoes at once.

Or, we spend too much time focused in the wrong areas of our business.

Solution: Set Priorities and use technology to your advantage.

Set priorities for each of your daily, weekly tasks. Plan a schedule with realistic goals for addressing each task. Avoid procrastination at all costs.

Log important notes immediately. Schedule appointments right away into your Google Calendar and respond promptly to your emails and texts to avoid clutter.

google calendar can improve your productivity

Even if you can’t add more time to your schedule, you can be more productive with the time you have. Review your current schedule. Identify tasks and activities that may absorbing your time and producing zero results.

Leverage technology to improve your productivity. Research online and ask other experienced agents for apps and software they’re using.

Your Google gmail account, in fact, provides you with a wide range of tools to help you save time.

You can also implement marketing automation tools that help you cultivate leads and follow up with clients in a timely manner. If you plan to invest in automation services or software, here is a comparison of cost:

marketing automation cost comparison



Lastly, consider your work environment and make changes as necessary to improve your productivity. Do you work well with distraction such as the TV or radio? Are you more productive in the office with others to socialize with, or do you work best solo?

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals


Obstacles and setbacks are inevitable in the course of your real estate career. A winning attitude, however, turns challenges into an opportunity.

Review your current practices and habits. Examine your current routine to identify where you could improve your productivity.

Strengthen your communication skills and leverage technology solutions that make cultivating relationships and client communications easier for you.

Above all, don’t worry about the things you can’t change. Everything you need to succeed in real estate is already within you!