While I’ve been licensed for a few years, the first year was spent balancing my real estate experiences with taking care of personal and family matters. I didn’t dedicate as much time as I had planned to the business of real estate. However, a year ago I got serious and started my full time career in real estate. And as I was thinking back on how the last year has gone, I realized I have gained a ton of information through real-world experience. For example:
It takes a lot of work to develop a client base.
This is really one of the biggest surprises, along with the next one. When I was getting my license, I had the misconception that my broker, my office, lead systems, or some other magic process would provide me with clients and that the real challenge would be finding the right house and closing the deal. However, finding leads takes a lot of work. We have to talk to ~100 people to get 2 or 3 real clients. And we need to do a ton of activities to find those 100 people – send out marketing materials, build an online presence, make phone calls to everyone we know, volunteer at community events, talk to people in the grocery store, conduct open houses, work “floor” time and on and on. Meeting people at the exact moment when they are considering buying or selling a home is very tricky.
The pay isn’t great when starting out.
When I was in my license classes, there was a short discussion about commission, and the person talking was discussing how commissions are split between these people and those people, and I had a brief moment of consternation. But then I thought, ahhh, the average home price in my area is somewhere around $600K, so if I sell even one home a month, I’ll still do fine. Then I got my license, and shortly afterwards I moved to a place where average prices were around $275K. While the upper level of pay in real estate is basically limitless, it takes a long time to get there, and in my first full year, I made less than I would have as a starting employee at Walmart or McDonalds.
There is no such thing as a work day or a weekend day.
I list my official hours as 9-6, Monday-Saturday, but real estate is a seven day a week job, with a lot of the work happening on weekends and in the evenings. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve said, “What day is today?” because the days just all blend together. And holidays? There is no such thing.
Not every client is a good match
I believe I am very friendly, responsive, organized and proactive. I listen well, and respond accordingly. I like people. But I have found that twice during the last year, my relationship with clients simply wasn’t gelling properly. In both cases, their trust of real estate agents was the issue, and the issue was really insurmountable.
Every deal is cause for learning.
I’ve learned at LEAST one new thing with every deal. I’ve learned to check the flood zone map for every home, regardless of whether the home is near water. I’ve learned that if a home is in the village, the village offices need to be contacted to ensure accurate tax numbers are obtained – the county site is not always correct. I’ve learned there are professionals in the industry that I hope I don’t have to work with again, and there are those I can’t wait to do another deal with. And the list goes on, as I learn more every day.
I love this career path.
The one requirement to be successful in real estate is a love for what we do. There really is no other reason for anyone to stay in a job that requires working seven days a week, necessitates struggling to find clients, takes so much time to make any money, and on and on. There are many times in the last year where I thought of leaving this line of work, and going back to a corporate job where my weekly check is guaranteed, but I stayed because I enjoy what I’m doing. My goal is to make next year a much better year, financially, so that I can continue to do what I love for years to come.
I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!