I’m often asked the question of how I like being a realtor compared to being an attorney. (For those of you new to this site, I practiced law full-time for about 5 years before starting my real estate business.) The truth is, I LOVE IT! Like every profession, there are pros and cons to working in residential real estate. But for me and where I am in my career right now, the pros far outweigh the cons.
For anyone considering the real estate industry, here are a few things to consider…
Six Favorite Things
- I help people every day accomplish life-changing goals.
First and foremost, the sound of excitement when I tell a client their offer was accepted, or the smile on their face when I deliver them a new set of keys, is priceless. This might only happen once or twice in a person’s lifetime, and they may have been working years to accomplish such a goal. I love that I get to be a part of such a momentous occasion in people’s lives and share their joy.
2. I am constantly learning.
Every day presents a new set of challenges that I am constantly learning from. My services and systems are always improving based on each new experience and lesson. This constant state of learning and evolving keeps me engaged. When you stop learning, you stop growing.
3. I set my own hours.
Those who know me well know that I don’t like authority. I think most realtors share this sentiment, which is one of the many reasons they choose to start their own businesses. Although I work long hours by choice, and I need to be available for my clients (many of whom are only available evenings and weekends), my schedule is relatively flexible in a way that works for me and my family. I love that I don’t feel obligated to be behind a desk all day, and not having billable hours (as most attorneys do) was life-changing. It took a while, but I finally stopped thinking in 0.1-hour increments.
4. I am in direct control of the success (and failure) of my business.
Real estate is truly a “you get out what you put in” business. It’s very rewarding to set goals, plan discrete action steps, and see tangible results from the work I put in.
5. I tour beautiful homes and learn about them for a living.
I’ve always been intrigued by homes. As a child, my mother and I would take walks past the luxury homes in Kahala on the island of Oahu (Hawaii) where I grew up staring at the homes, comparing them against each other, wondering what they looked like inside, picking out which one we’d live in. I continued to do this as an adult when I moved to San Francisco, and to this day, love just driving around looking at homes. Now I get to step inside so many of them all the time. It’s truly a dream come true!
6. This website.
I’ve tried to start blogs so many times in the past, but was never inspired until I started a business. Working in real estate provides me the inspiration to create content, which besides being useful to my readers and clients, also acts as a creative outlet for me (I majored in journalism in college). I also create or curate all materials for the homes I market as well as my business. Some might say it’s not a productive use of time. I disagree. If it enriches my life, brings me joy, and brings others value, it is exactly why I’m in this business.
I look forward to continuing to improve the content featured on this site and elsewhere.
Six Not-So-Favorite Things
- It’s an emotional roller coaster.
Buying and selling a home is an emotional process. There are lots of highs but lots of lows. A family might be selling a home because of a divorce or losing a loved one. A homebuyer might not get the home of their dreams because they got outbid by five other offers (again). But on the flip side, a seller could make a hefty profit from a successful sale, allowing them to buy a home with more space for their growing family! A homebuyer could land the home they were hoping for, at less than the appraised value, gaining them instant equity!
But buying and selling a home is also an emotional business. I could get a message from a new potential client, find out my current client’s offer wasn’t accepted, learn that the lender is “clear to close,” and discover a roof needs to be replaced, all before having my morning coffee. These emotional ups and downs on a daily basis for weeks, months, and years can take a toll. It’s important to learn how to balance that in a way that works for you, and remember that the successes will make up for the failures tenfold.
2. No matter how many times you tell people to read the fine print, they don’t.
As an attorney, it drives me bananas when people sign things without reading them. You might be blamed for never telling someone something, even though it was in a document they supposedly reviewed and signed. But even if something is stated in an agreement or other document, it’s likely your client isn’t going to remember, or didn’t read it to begin with. Learn how to reasonably anticipate this early on to save yourself a lot of headaches and heart burn.
3. Everyone thinks you’re overpaid.
A lot of people have no idea what realtors do. People might think you just get a hefty check for opening doors, and may not realize there are weeks / months you might go without a single paycheck, or that almost half of that check goes to Uncle Sam. It’s up to you to bring value and show why you’re worth every penny.
Ironically, a lot of the value I believe I deliver lies in my clients never even seeing that I solved a problem for them, because I handled it before they even needed to know about it. It’s our job to make things look easy.
4. The line between business and personal is blurred.
When you’re dealing with something as inherently personal as someone’s home, it’s incredibly easy to let work slip into personal time. And because I’m so heavily invested in my business and my clients’ success, it’s really easy to take things personally. I’ve learned that setting boundaries and defending family/personal time is the key to sustainability (and sanity) in this business.
5. You’ll face constant rejection.
You need a thick skin in the real estate industry. I’ve been hung up on. I’ve been yelled at. My client’s offer has been declined. Clients or friends decided to use another agent (ouch!). It happens. Turn these so-called “failures” into lessons and focus on growing from it. They can’t reject you if they don’t know you.
6. It’s stressful.
Almost every job can be stressful, and it’s often not the source of stress itself but how you manage that stress that makes the difference. That said, I am handling someone’s biggest investment and probably their largest asset. So you can imagine the pressure to ensure everything goes smoothly 100% of the time, which by the way is a self-imposed and unrealistically high bar. When you’ve done all you can to be proactive and something still goes awry, it’s important to have the systems in place to respond, and know there will be some things you cannot control. At the end of the day, stress management is your best friend.
I could go on and on, but will spare my readers! If you’ve thought about starting a career in real estate, or making any career change, I’d be happy to share more about my experience.