You get your favorite nighttime gear and cozy up for a night of peaceful TV bliss, turn on the tube and happen upon the one and only HGTV. As you watch the agents on these shows you’ll notice they tour their clients with ease, spirits are always high & there’s never a whiff of tension or difficulty. Usually, the realtor asks which home they like the best (Spoiler Alert: they’ve already bought the damned house they are selecting which accounts for the terrible acting performance by these “buyers”), they make a selection, shake hands, roll credits, done. That was easy, right? Nothing to it… “Maybe I could become a realtor one day” you think to yourself.
Not so fast. While finding the perfect home and having them arrive at a decision is quite the accomplishment, what I just described above is just when things start to get interesting. How about deciding on what to offer, what contingencies and timelines, deposit amounts, settlement date? What about the loan? Are these strong buyers? Do they need an FHA, USDA or VA program in order to qualify? Do they need money from mom and dad (gift monies)? What about inspections? Have you worked with this lender before? Title has their act together, right? What if the house gets struck by lightning right before settlement (happened to me in Berwyn, PA in 2018). What if the 5 year old roof leaks a week from settlement? (happened to me this year) What if your buyer backs out?
Am I freaking you out yet? That’s not my intent. My point is this is a harder job than most realize and in reality, there’s more than meets the eye to most jobs. To be fair, this is not the hardest job in the world and would never claim that, but most, don’t see what happens behind the scenes. The sleepless nights, the elevated blood pressure, the late nights and early mornings… To make things worse, realtors are often included in lists of the least trusted occupations alongside car salespeople & lawyers. OUCH! Are we having fun yet?
But let’s get back to you. Do you think you have what it takes to sell real estate? If you’re not sure, let me go through a few of the things you need in order to succeed:
- The Ability to Self-Start: It’s sounds cliche but you need a “why” attached to the job. Believe it or not, I don’t roll out of bed at 5am just dying to deal with septic inspectors or process paperwork. I do this job because I get to help people navigate the largest investment of their lives and it has the potential to pay me the amount of money I need to make everything possible for my family and I. Keep in mind though, you won’t have a boss and need to take action on your own every day. 95% of agents fail in the first few years and inability to really understand this can torpedo a real estate career before it ever gets started.
- A Business Mindset: Congrats! When you’re a realtor, you’re a business owner! Don’t believe me? In real estate, you have ongoing fees, expenses, subscriptions, income, employees and you file taxes at the end of the year. In PA, realtors are treated as independent contractors but it’s still essentially a business. The agents I see fail the most are the ones who bring an employee mindset and hope to be fed business by their broker. They do little to no marketing and wait for business to come to them.
- Problem Solving Ninja – There is literally not one deal I have closed which didn’t have a few issues. Some, of course, prove perilous to the entire deal but most are just those little hiccups which can hijack an entire afternoon as you broker a solution. You must understand that you’re hired to get to the settlement table and that means putting out fires 7 days a week…even if it’s not necessarily your problem or you caused it.
- High Emotional IQ – Real estate can be super stressful. Much like being a problem solving ninja, you also must be an emotional ninja. Knowing when to back off and stop texting your client about an issue is just as useful as knowing when to tell them like it is and prevent them from making a mistake they’ll regret. This unfortunately is difficult to learn and is mostly gained via experience.
- Knowing Your Docs: The real estate documents are the backbone of any deal. Knowing them can keep you out of court and safe from the ire of dissatisfied real estate clients. When I got into this business, I endeavored to study the hell out of them. Many realtors only consult them when there’s an issue where I use them proactively in a transaction to keep things moving toward settlement.
Is real estate the most difficult profession on the face of the planet? Hardly. I personally find real estate extremely rewarding and wouldn’t have it any other way, but there are some days where it’ll drive you nuts. Getting the opportunity to help people, design my own business and having no ceiling in the income department makes all the septic tank failures and rejected loans worth it!