So you’re thinking about getting into real estate or perhaps you’re already in the process of getting your license. In this blog we’re first going to talk about WHY agents get into the real estate business and then we’ll talk about what it takes to actually succeed in this industry. After doing this for a decade, I’ve developed a theory that there are 4 must haves to make it. The more you have, the easier it will be. If you’ve got none of the 4 elements, don’t quit your day job and I genuinely mean that.
There are over 49,000 realtors registered with the Toronto Real Estate Board. That’s a lot of real estate agents per household in Toronto and the influx of new agents is not slowing down. Think about it, how many realtors do you know already? It is the most competitive commission-based job out there, so why are so many people – men and women interested in the profession? Well there’s the obvious reasons – the assumption about the gobs of money being made, being your own boss and the “flexible hours”.
Shockingly however, those are not the number one reasons I hear when I interview new agents looking to join a brokerage. On a side bar, our brokerage tends to attract mostly women. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that we have only ever had women representatives or the fact that our brand has a feminine feel. For whatever reason, we’ve only ever had one male interview with us and I’m pretty sure he was just trying to get intel from his current boss.
So what is the reason most new female agents give for wanting to get into the industry? The houses. Yup, these women love real estate – they love design trends and they love making a house a home. They can’t wait to get to see so many houses. What many don’t realize, is that being a real estate agent, in actuality, has very little to do with the real estate itself. Sure you get to see some cool properties every once in awhile. But for the most part, it’s a little bit like ‘once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all’. The whole point of being a good real estate agent is to help STOP your buyer clients from being all googley eyed and emotional about a property. If you’re focusing on the emotional aspects of a home, you’re missing the point. You need to be focused on the functionality of a home – put your head on and take all the emotions out. So you should end up being more like a home inspector and it kind of takes the sexiness out of it.
But even the properties themselves have very little to do with the day in and day out job of being a real estate agent. I’d say that’s only roughly 10% of what it’s about. The rest of the time you’re a bookkeeper, an administrator, a consultant, a mediator, a customer service representative, a web developer, a decorator, a marketing specialist, a cleaner, an analyst and so much more. The bottom line, is that you need to be well rounded with some solid business skills to be successful in this industry.
If we circle back to the other reasons people are drawn to the profession, the flexible hours is a big one. But let’s be very clear, the hours are flexible in that they are not 9-5 Monday to Friday, but that is where the flexibility ends. There are no specific hours and clients expect (as they should) that you be available when it’s convenient for them, which is often evenings and weekends. So new realtors need to be prepared that they have no control over when they work. They need to set their lives up to accommodate this. If you have a young family, you have to have a partner that can be home in the evenings and on the weekends to take care of the kids or you have to have a nanny. I’m not suggesting it can’t work. I built a successful business over the last 10 years and raised 4 young children during that time. But make no mistake about it, I missed a lot of family dinners, baths & bedtime stories. I’m sure I’ll regret that one day.
The last reason people decide to pursue a real estate career is the money. I’ll be totally honest that it was a big driver behind my decision to get my license….well actually, it was a Luis Vuitton purse that I owe all the credit to. A friend of mine was a realtor (and co-founder of Page & Percival) and showed up to a dinner party glowing with a gorgeous new bag she’d bought herself after closing a deal and I thought to myself…..I am in the wrong business. Beyond the money, I love this job most because it allows me to be the CEO of a business. I love that I get to oversee everything – the marketing, operations, finances, the strategy and the vision for my company. For the most part, I get to work with amazing clients – many of who I have become great friends with. Those that I don’t see again very often, I’ve still thoroughly enjoyed their company for the time we spent together either looking for a home or selling their property. The laws of attraction are often at work in real estate and I frequently find myself working with like-minded clients. Even stranger, I will often find myself working with multiple clients, with the same name, at the same time! I know John is a popular name, but to have 4 of them in one month is a bit coincidental!
For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the fruits of my labour grow into a successful career. I work a lot, usually 7 days a week. But the vast majority of the time, I don’t feel like I’m working and I love that. The highs are really high, but the lows can be really low. I’ll save this topic for another podcast in the future, because trying to manage the emotional & financial roller coaster of real estate, is a skill worth honing.
While we’re on the topic of money, this is a good segue into the 4 Must Haves to succeed in Real Estate.