I recently renewed my Realtor’s license for another year and it got me in a reflective mood. Has it really been two years since I closed my eyes and dove into the deep end of the pool to pursue a new (and very different) career?
This is my third career and so far it has – in equal measures – surprised, delighted, infuriated and fulfilled me. Sounds like everybody else’s job, right?
When I was a journalist, I loved the variety of work, the pace and the constant intellectual challenge that came with informing and being informed. But to be blunt, it paid lousy. And given the current state of journalism, it was obvious to me that the model of newsgathering was changing – and not for the better.
As a corporate communicator in oil and gas, I found financially rewarding work and met some fantastic, uber-smart people. But job security was non-existent and I didn’t find most of the work particularly interesting or valued by the pay grades above. The hierarchical structure didn’t really work for me.
So why Real Estate? And why at the tail end of 2016 when the market was trending down, along with the Alberta economy? Great timing, dude. The attraction was simple: I wanted to help people and live a life that allowed me flexibility.
The financial and time commitment to get established as a Realtor took me by surprise. Luckily, I met Amie and she offered to take me on as a partner. She must have had too much cough syrup that day, because she saw something in me that she believed could work.
Anyway, two years in and I have learned a ton. And continue to learn. Realtors love to tell “war stories” and I don’t really have many yet. Well, other than the tenant who answered the door pantsless, or the gigantic lizard I came across in a terrarrium right beside a mattress on the floor, it’s been pretty steady-as-she-goes. I can offer however, some insights so far:
- Relationships – what it’s all about. It’s not purely transactional. People either like and trust you or they don’t. The only way forward is to be yourself, show empathy, integrity, knowledge and patience. People are different and motivated by various factors. Buying or selling a home is a big deal. It can be emotional. Give them time, space and data to make an informed decision. And never, ever pressure.
- Don’t take it personally – When emotions are involved, people can yell, say things they don’t mean or take out their feelings on you because you’re around. If it’s a client, I have learned to hear them out and find what’s really bothering them. If it’s another agent trying to bully or intimidate during negotiations I have one pat answer: ”Do you really think yelling makes you more right or helps bring a deal together?” Usually shuts them up.
- Evolve and continuously learn – there is so much to digest as a Realtor and having up to date knowledge of bylaws, right of ways, zoning, market conditions, etc. is a challenge. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I say so. But I’ll find one as quick as possible. I‘m also very open to adopting technology that can move our industry forward.
- People are allowed to change their minds – unless the conditions are waived and the deal final, they just can. See bullet #2.
- No snap judgments – Potential clients come in all ages, ethnicities and clothes. Everyone has the right to own property and get great representation. I’ve seen other Realtors dismiss people who don’t look “rich” enough. Their loss. That little old lady who drives the 2002 Ford Focus and wears the tattered coat full of cat hair might own 4 acres in Springbank.
- Do what you say and stay positive – if business is slow, who wants to hear you complain? And if markets are down, it can be an opportunity for some. It’s all in how you look at things. The only way out is to dig deeper, be responsive to prospective clients and follow through.
This has been two transformative years for me, as I get used to an unstructured work schedule. Evening and weekend work is normal and I’ve adjusted to that. Kind of nice to go to the grocery store on a Tuesday morning and not fight the weekend lineups.
I never picked this job to get rich. The feeling of helping somebody find a place that they love is incredible. That’s what motivates me. I have not regretted my choice for one minute. Thanks to those who believed in me, and to my fantastic clients!