You’ve Got your NJ Real Estate License: What’s next, a Mentor or a Coach?


March 23, 2022

Hundreds of people come to New Jersey Real Estate Academy every month wanting real estate classes so they can earn a New Jersey real estate license. Our instructors are thrilled when we get their calls and emails saying, “I passed the New Jersey real estate licensing exam. Thank you so much for all your help!”

The question is: what comes next? When they join a real estate broker, what sort of help will they get to help them actually succeed in this profession? And one of the most frequently-asked questions during real estate classes is about having a mentor or a coach once they earn their NJ real estate license.

So what is the difference between a mentor and a coach?

Mentors are generally for long-term relationships.

A mentor is a person who is on your side, who wants to see you succeed, and to whom you can always go if you need a shoulder to cry on or advice on how to handle a situation that has you stumped.

My mentor was Ernie Bareuther, the friend who persuaded me to get my New Jersey real estate license 34 years ago. Ernie gave me advice on how to get started, what scripts to learn, how to win very competitive listing appointments, etc. He died a couple of years ago at the age of 92 and he was a mentor to me until his last days on this earth.

As you can see from that example, a mentor is a person who has a broad set of skills and experience. He or she is a person who can help you set goals, see the big picture, provide general insights that stem from their knowledge and tenure in the real estate industry. They are your champions; they want to see you succeed.

You should choose a mentor whom you would like to emulate—because he or she is the sort of person you would like to be when you have some years of experience under your belt. You should admire and respect your mentor and value them for the time they are giving to help you. There is a saying: “I am what I am today only because I stood on the shoulders of the giants who came before me.” When you say that many years from now as the superstar Realtor® you can be, it will be the mentor you choose today who is one of those persons upon whose shoulders you have stood.

In summary, your mentor will be the one who helps you start your real estate career by being your supporter in your quest to be the best you that you can be.

A coach will usually be hired for the short-term.

In contrast, you typically hire a coach for task-oriented assignments. When I began my professional speaking career, I hired a speaking coach for six months. Every week he would book me a speaking gig and would come and videotape my speech. A few days later, we would meet in his office to review the video. I thought I had done well. After all, I usually got a standing ovation! But Bill Thompson would point out how many times per minute I dropped my eyes to look at my notes, how often I say things like “Er” or “Like” and I felt like a real failure.

Then he would give me practical tips on how to avoid these mistakes commonly made by amateurs and would challenge me to reduce by 25% the number of “eye drops” and other distractions in the next week’s speech. By the time our contract was over, I could speak extemporaneously for 25 minutes with none of the “crutches” he had pointed out to me and I went on to speak to audiences of as many as 25,000 people all over the world.

That was a coach.

A coach in real estate could be one who:

  • Teaches you how to have the discipline to do the lead generation necessary to meet your goals.
  • Scripts for various scenarios.
  • Technology, such as how to write effective blogs or how to use social media marketing for maximum effectiveness.

Every successful real estate agent I know has a coach. Some are task-specific as described above. Others are coaches whom the agent has hired to give them the tools and encouragement they need to get to their targeted production level, to build their team, or various other goals.

A coach gives you a challenge, you accept the challenge, and you are then accountable to the coach (and really to yourself) for doing what you said you would do. It can be very uncomfortable to consistently fail to meet the goals you agreed with your coach that you would meet, and coaches will often end the relationship if that happens repeatedly.

That’s because the coach’s mission is to teach you the tasks and to help you get the results for which you hired him.

Should a new real estate agent have a mentor or a coach?

The flippant answer could well be “Yes.”

But coaches can easily cost $1,000 a month or more. One coach I know charges $1,500 per week, and he is not taking any new clients because his stable of agents is full.

When you start out with a new real estate license, you need to conserve your cash until you start making money. I therefore suggest that you find a person with whom you feel comfortable and ask them to be your mentor. Some brokerages have programs for new agents where they assign a “mentor” who will show you how to get started, especially on things such as open houses, contract preparation, listing appointments, and so on, and the mentor—who is also an agent who relies on her own commission to provide for her family—then gets typically 25% of your commission for your first three (or so) transactions.

That’s a great deal, so long as that person really does meet with you and proactively helps you. Too many agents acting as this sort of “mentor” will say “Call me if you have any questions” and then they disappear. The agent gets no advice—but still has to pay them their commission split.

When you interview with a real estate broker, ask them how they work it with new agents and mentors. Then ask to speak to three or so agents who have had that mentor and ask how their experience was.

Good luck!


Garden State Real Estate Academy offers live pre-licensing, broker licensing and Continuing Education classes  for aspiring and existing New Jersey real estate agents. We also provide the “Supplemental Course” for out-of-state licensees wishing to earn their NJ license and our popular “Across the River” class to prepare NJ agents to pass the Pennsylvania real estate licensing exam. These are all delivered by live instructors via Zoom.

We also offer online self-study real estate licensing classes in 21 states through our partnership with The CE Shop. New Jersey does NOT allow self-study pre-licensing classes.

For information on the real estate school’s upcoming New Jersey licensing classes, click here:

For real estate licensing classes in all other states, click here:

David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 33 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 500 homes in South Jersey.  He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents. His 20th book Zero to Hero: Winning strategies for new real estate agents to become SuperStars in their first year is being released this month.

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