I am a new Realtor that has decided to take the plunge into the crazy world of real estate sales this past spring and now 7 months in I would like to share my experiences and insight for what it’s worth. I specifically am hoping to provide information on what I have experienced to help those looking to get into the business or to educate the average consumer who has misconceptions of what it is we actually do.
First I will start off with a little information regarding myself to give you an idea of who I am and my background. I have been blessed in the past with great opportunities where jobs are concerned, I started off my first job at 14 and worked there for 10 years, during that time I had various other part time work I was doing and at points I was employed by 5 different companies at the same time, including the one that really got my career started which I will get to a bit later. The reason I have included this information is to give you an idea of my work ethic. Almost every night/weekend when I wasn’t in school growing up I was somewhere working to earn money. The biggest reason being is that I liked to enjoy a certain lifestyle (travel, attending sporting events, dinner and drinks with friends, etc…) and although I didn’t take a lot of time off (on average maybe just over a week a year vacation) I liked to enjoy and really appreciated the time I did get with my family and friends.
When I was in my first year of college I was lucky enough to get a co-op with a great company and worked my way up to a Director position by the time I was 26. After a couple years at this position and 10 years total at the company I decided it was time to move on and try my hand at something different in order to expand my skill set, and went on to run the marketing division at another software based company. While my career had been progressing I had been told by many people in the real estate industry that I should consider giving real estate sales a try and there had always been a little voice in the back of my mind telling me to go for it, however, it was never loud enough to replace the analytical side of my brain that kept shouting “DON’T BE STUPID!, you make a decent living and know when you are getting paid and exactly how much you will be receiving every month!”. For years the little voice lost the battle every time my mind raged the war on where I wanted to be and what was going to make me happy in the future. It wasn’t until this year that I decided the longer I waited to try something I have always wanted to try, the older I would be starting from the ground up in a completely different business model than I was accustomed to.
The hardest thing about getting into real estate was the fact that I was starting over in a field that I had some background knowledge of but after getting into it, I realized that I really knew barely anything about the way this industry works. It felt good to get a new start in something I have had a passion for a long time about, but it was also scary in that I had no clue when or IF I was ever going to get paid again. This problem was compounded by the fact I have a mortgage that comes out of my account on the same days every month whether I am getting paid or not. I didn’t have any kids or a wife (I have been to vegas a couple times and there were some black spots in my memory, but no one has come forth claiming either so I think I’m good) that I had to worry about providing for so that made the decision a little easier, although when I look back now the fact that I did only have my income to rely on and didn’t have a spouse contributing to the monthly bills it really made it that much harder. I just want to put in a side note, if you are the only working spouse and you have a kids or a significant other you are supporting alone it is much harder than the situation I was in, there are situations that are a lot tougher than mine and I realize that, whenever things are bad, someone can always be worse off.
I know I am rambling a bit but what I want to summarize out of all of the above is that it is incredibly hard to make the transition into real estate, it is not an entry-friendly process like it is in some industry’s as there is no guarantee of compensation when you first start and there are a lot of expenses you must incur in order to get your licence and actively sell before you even have the opportunity to TRY and make money. The real estate classes/exams you must pass are only the first hurdle, from there you have to pay CREA, OREA, your local board, insurance, gas, signs, marketing, gas, stationary, monthly board dues, gas, quarterly provincial and national dues, brand fees, gas and much more. Believe me when I say that there are waaaaaaaaaaay more expenses than I was expecting getting into this industry and that scares the majority of people off within the first year. I have heard a bunch of statistics regarding the entry into this field and I believe the last one someone told me was that 30% of people continue past their first year in real estate. The rest give up and move on because it’s not what they were expecting, or what they have heard other people say it should be and a vast majority just can’t afford to continue.
You see a decent amount of people that are part time in this industry to start out because they need to be able to pay their bills in order to be able to pursue and develop their business model in real estate. The only issue I see here is that there are a significant amount of people in this business that only do it part time and in dealing with a couple over the short time span I have been actively selling I don’t think they have the knowledge or the focus to properly service their customers. I am not saying that everyone that is part-time is like this but the ones I have dealt with certainly were. If you are part time to start that’s understandable but I truly believe this business is one that you need to focus your entire attention to in order to be successful and if you can make the jump to being able to devote all of your efforts to only real estate I think you will succeed beyond even your own expectations.
I had been around real estate in one capacity or another for years and had accumulated a vast amount of “high level” knowledge about how it works, but it wasn’t until I was licenced and standing in front of a customer on my own answering questions and providing information to them alone that I realized there was much more to being a real estate professional than I had envisioned. It wasn’t about working whenever you want, driving fancy cars, and making ridiculous sums of money every time you sell a house that everyone seems to be under the impression a real estate professional’s job entails. The perception between what we do and what we actually do is a larger divide than the Grand Canyon. No amount of studying and reading books on what to do, or how to do it can prepare you for the first time you are out with someone and they are looking to you for guidance on information regarding a property. When you first start out, the only information you have is basically the same information that the consumer has from MLS regarding the property. Yes, you get access to your local board intranet that will help you compile comparables and give a little more in-depth information regarding the house but it isn’t until you have used the site for a while or have actually been through, or helped buy or sell properties in the neighbourhood that you can comment on some of the information of value that a real estate agent can provide.
Beyond just information it is our duty to represent our clients best interests and we take upon us a great deal of liability in working to close each and every deal. This is something that goes very unnoticed by consumers and the majority of people of the public, but I think is a huge issue that should not be brushed under the rug. I have never worked for a company before where the outcome of something out of my control could lead to me getting legal action against me. That’s insane! I realize that this does not happen often and in many of the cases that it does happen in, it truly is someone’s fault (most of the time for being lazy or greedy), but it is still an incredible weight hanging over your head when your practicing as a real estate professional. In my prior employment the worst that would happen is I would get fired, which in itself is a bad thing, but not nearly as bad as being saddled with a fine from someone suing you AND you possibly losing your job. It’s a scary thing, and only part of what a real estate sales professional has to deal with on a daily basis. One of the best ways of minimizing this is through proper training and if you can get it, working with someone who knows what they are doing so you can gain insight and real world knowledge by tagging along to real world situations. I was lucky enough to join an organization that provided both of those opportunities to me and I truly believe that it has helped me in certain situations to do the right thing and stay out of the courtrooms. I believe that I am a very stand up person and would never knowingly withhold information or provide incorrect information for my personal gain. With this said, I am still new to this industry and have a lot to learn, so where my inexperience may lack, it has been aided by a great training and mentoring program that has helped me fill in the gaps, relieving the fear of me doing something incorrectly and possibly leading down a road nobody wants to go.
If your still reading and I haven’t scared you off of becoming a real estate professional yet, this is where it gets good. What I have said above is only a small part of what is scary about your first year in real estate, there is much more but without writing a really boring 10 pages essay on it, I want to give you some of the finer points of why I am still here. After years of extensive travelling through work and years of sitting behind a desk I have experienced a good mix of what the majority of industries offer in terms of corporate and small business environments. Working for someone can be rewarding if you work for the right company, or have a boss that cares about you and your advancement. The reality is this doesn’t happen everywhere, or even in MOST places so why not consider something that tips the scales in the favour of your own life/career. One of the best things about being a real estate professional is that you are running your own business, it’s not something that many people get to say they have tried. You can work for a company, brand, etc… in this industry but at the end of the day you are your own boss and you have the final say in what it is that you do. Who better to look out for yourself and your career than you? Being a real estate professional gives you the ability to run things the way you want them to be run, and also when you sacrifice your time, energy, and ability; the end goal in your efforts is to ultimately reward yourself. I chose this industry because I feel I can make a positive impact with my clients and their lives all while creating an enjoyable lifestyle for myself. I love to see the smiles on people’s faces when they get the keys to their new home, or the handshake or hug you receive when you are able to sell someone’s house to help them move on to the next chapter in their lives. At the end of the day being a real estate professional is about more than just paying the bills and doing your own thing, it’s about helping people during important phases in their lives. A house/apartment/condo will be the single largest purchase 90% of people will ever make in their lives and it’s something that they will never forget having. How often do we hear of stories from people about when they lived in a house and had a certain story based upon their experiences there? At the end of the day it’s an amazing feeling to help people, and if you strive to make customers happy in this industry you will never have to worry about yourself making that next mortgage payment again!
If you are just starting out in real estate and can add to this please feel free to share your experiences for all to see.
As always you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org