Goal Setting Journey: Part 1

Follow real estate pro Mark Ferguson’s progress in this four-part series. Here, he outlines his 2015 business goals and offers tips for successfully setting goals.

April 14, 2015

I have been a licensed real estate agent since 2001, and admittedly, I struggled to sell houses and find my niche for the first five to six years of my career. But one simple action changed all that.

In 2006, I started setting goals to increase my sales volume and income. Since then, my career has taken off; I built a great team — the Ferguson Team at Pro Realty — and I still have free time for my family.

In this article, I will discuss why goals are important, and share my goals for 2015. In fact, I invite you to follow my goals throughout the rest of the year to see how I do.

How did I start setting goals?

When I started in real estate, I was one of those people who thought I didn’t need goals; I could make things happen myself. The problem was, “things” had not been happening for years. I was tired of being stuck. At the time, I was on a team with my father and I wanted to prove to him that I could outsell another agent. I came up with the number of houses I would have to sell: almost 100. I didn’t realize it at first, but I was already writing down my goals. Two years later, after diligently tracking this goal and setting supporting goals, I finally sold those 100 houses by myself.

Why are goals important? Setting goals, writing them down, and holding myself accountable has made me a better agent, a better investor, and improved my personal life as well.

Goals tell us where we want to go and how we plan to get there. Even if we veer off course, our goals are a road map for how to get back on track. You can’t drift through life — or real estate, as I did during my first few years — just hoping that things work out and that you make a lot of money.

For example, selling 100 houses seems like an impossible feat to many people. My approach was to break down 100 houses into weekly terms. It equates to less than two sales per week. I believe if a person creates a detailed plan of action, sets specific tasks he or she must complete every day, and works hard, selling two houses per week is within reach.

Over the last three years, my team has sold approximately 200 houses annually. In 2013, after being part of my father’s team for most of my real estate career, I bought him out and took over the business. Because my responsibilities have shifted, I no longer sell 100 houses myself; my team does most of the selling, and I concentrate on other income-producing activities, for which I set new goals.

What are my goals for 2015?

Not only do I have a residential real estate sales team, I also flip houses, own rental properties, and write a real estate blog. I write down goals for each part of my business. I enjoy setting big, challenging goals to push myself as far as I can. I don’t always reach them, but I get much further having big goals than I would with easy-to-accomplish ones that I know I can reach.

Here are a few examples of what I’m working on this year:

  1. Help my team sell at least 200 houses. Many of our sales have been REO or HUD homes over the past few years, but the number of distressed properties is on the decline in Colorado. Selling 200 homes in 2015 will require more work for my team.
  2. Add at least three agents to the team. In order to meet our sales goal, we need more great agents. We have very high standards on our team and it is not easy to find agents who meet those standards.
  3. Fix and flip 10 houses. I flipped 12 houses in 2014, but it took a lot of capital. Considering my time availability, as well as that of my contractors, I decided to slightly scale back on flips.
  4. Buy six new rental properties. I have a huge goal of owning 100 rental properties by 2023, and to meet that goal I have to start ramping up my purchases. With the market improving daily, it is tough to find good deals, but I am not buying rentals that won’t turn a profit.
  5. Average 300,000 monthly page views on investfourmore.com by the end of the year. I plan to introduce a new product to help agents start investing in rentals and to develop rental property software and create a discussion forum.

How have my 2015 goals progressed so far?

Some of my goals are on track and others need some work.

  1. We have sold only 27 houses so far. This is way below my goal. We had some major changes when we lost two agents and another two agents slated to come on board ended up not joining our team. Additionally, HUDs and REOs have been down even more than expected, and the overall inventory in our market is extremely low. The good news is our team has more than 20 houses under contract as of April 1.
  2. Two new agents are joining our team. I mentioned we lost a couple of agents and had two more decide not to join; however, we now have two more agents set to join us in the next few months. We have another established agent interviewing as well.
  3. I have already sold five flips. It looks like this goal will be fairly easy to reach. I may adjust this goal to be more aggressive.
  4. I have already purchased two new rental properties. I am ahead of schedule on this goal as well, but I will have to continue to work hard to find great deals.
  5. I topped 200,000 page views in January. This was much higher than expected; however, I completed a site redesign in March and our traffic went down slightly. I still think my goal is reachable. My agent product is almost ready, which I plan to introduce before the end of April. The rental property software is being developed by my nephew and will be ready in a couple months. I launched the discussion board and it has been a fantastic success so far.

As we start the second quarter of 2015, some of my business goals are progressing smoothly, but there is room for improvement. Our team has not sold nearly as many houses as I would have liked, but I am happy with the progress being made on my blog, rental property, and flipping goals.

It’s never too late to set business goals for the year. Don’t let day-to-day work activities replace the big picture. Start by writing down what you want and the steps you’ll need to take each month — and even each day — to get there. Then regularly track your progress. By checking in on your goals, you’ll learn how to balance and prioritize tasks as needed.

Check back in June when I offer more goal-setting tips and share my next progress report.

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