So, You Wanna Be A Realtor?

I was invited to lunch the other day by a friend of mine.  He was rather displeased by his corporate career at a place I obviously won’t mention the name of.  He wanted to pick my brain about starting a career in Real Estate in some facet.  When I first started in the industry my gut reaction to this question was always “no".  People that I know should not be in Real Estate because of the time and effort it takes, the lack of knowledge, and the thought that it would be a quick easy buck.  After a few years in the industry, I realized this gut reaction of trying to keep people away from Real Estate shouldn’t be the case.   As friends, acquaintances, and past clients have inquired about the industry I try to give a better insight to what exactly we do, our philosophy, and why we might be different than other teams in the area.  

After the third or so time talking to people about this subject, I figured it was time to write an article to try to explain the unseen side of Real Estate that most people will never see:  1.  Because we try to keep the difficult parts quiet and celebrate the wins and successes rather than the process.   2. The minor things that really add up that few people are willing to do to stay successful and meaningful to past, present and future clients.  In this article I hope to shed some light on what our day to day looks like as well as some fundamental must haves to survive and succeed in the Real Estate Industry.  

  • You are starting your own business.  

  • You work at all hours.  

  • It isn’t brain surgery, but it isn’t easy either.  

  • Your job isn’t to sell, it is to advise.

  • Admit you are wrong, and be happy to fix what you messed up.

  • This industry is a rollercoaster of emotions. 

YOU ARE STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS If you ask any small business owner the first few years are the hardest.  Profits go straight back into the business if you are lucky enough to turn a profit the first few years. Most businesses stay in the negative for the first two years and then break even the third.  I was lucky enough to have a great group of people that trusted me enough to buy and sell when I first started.  Even with this I still made just enough to cover my living expenses and barely cover my credit cards.  If Real Estate is in your future, make sure you have planned for hard times.  I have been told six months worth of a salary saved up is ample, but from what I have seen save at least a year's worth just to be safe.  

Most companies give you some help, but expect to be more or less on your own for the day to day business decisions.  Obviously the Broker is there to help with contracts, legal, and ethical advise, but rarely do they have a proven way to give you people who want to buy and sell a house.  Expect to do a ton of reading and learning before had to hit the ground running.  

When you work for yourself you get to pick which 80 hours a week you work.

For normal business owners this can be true, for us as Realtors, we can work 40 hours on our business, and then 40 hours to work with our clients.  In our market right now, if a house comes on the market, it could be under contract within the day, or the weekend.  Realtors have to be ready to drop what they are doing and make a showing happen, or if you have a client coming in for the weekend to try and find a house, you simply have to give them as much of the weekend as you can.  I have done showings at 7am in the morning and 10pm at night.  This kind of thing isn’t the norm, but when it happens, complaining doesn’t do anything.  It tends to not bother you after a while, when you have to see a house, you have to see a house.  Get your client the house, and everyone wins.  Later on you will learn how to finesse the late night calls and early morning meetings and learn from your past.  A good agent will try their best to mitigate these to only a few times a year.   This is where I will digress for a minute.  What I am stressing in this article are the qualities that make a good, hard working, no nonsense people to thrive in Real Estate.  I know for a fact that there are some agents that work 20 hours a week and do 5 times as much business as our team, but we weren’t born with silver spoons and only know houses in the million dollar range and up.  Good for them, I guess, but that isn’t us or the majority of people in our industry.  This article is to show what our team looks for in hiring new agents.  


This industry does not require a College degree.  Sometimes you can tell, some agents are not the sharpest tools in the shed; others are just plain tools, and yet others are some of the kindest, most intelligent people you will ever meet.  The industry has people from every walk of life, every socio-economic background, and every political and religious view.  Some agents know our industry front and back, some you wonder how they even tie their shoes.  Guess what? You have to deal with all of them at some point, so get ready.   Nothing in the industry is so advanced that a normal person couldn’t understand, in fact, it's pretty simple at the end of the day.  Step 1. Find Client.  Step 2. Educate Client Step 3. Find Client a Home/Sell Client’s home.  Step 4. Keep past clients happy by whatever means possible. Step 5. Repeat.  That is about it.  However, this is like saying to farm, you just need to dig a hole and drop in seeds.  There are about a thousand parts between start to finish in this industry that the client will almost never see.  

Why did we get into a house before it was listed? Because I have cultivated a great working relationship with the listing agent over the past 5 years and she/he knows that my clients are the clients that they want to buy the house.  Why did inspections go smoothly for us and not you? Because we spend an hour helping clients understand the general state of a house before they ever submit an offer.  Why did you sell that house for 15,000 over what anyone else in the neighborhood could? Because we spent 3 months helping the seller get the house in perfect condition and watched for another week to find the perfect time to list the house to get the most offers.   It isn’t technically or theoretically that hard to do well in this industry, but you have to put the work in. Day in and Day out.   YOUR JOB ISN'T TO SELL, IT'S TO ADVISE.  I absolutely cringe when friends say that they are sure I am a good salesmen.  That is the last thing I want to be is a good sales person.  I tell my clients not to buy a house 100 times more than I ever tell them to buy a house.  The second I break trust with a client, it is over, forever.  I want you to be happy, well represented, well coached, and well educated through the whole process.  It makes more sense to say we are Project Managers than anything else.  We make sure all the moving parts come together to help you at the end of the day.  From negotiation to closing, every part has another person, or group that is controlling an aspect of your closing.  Sometimes we have control over it and sometimes we do not.  Sometimes the best course of action is to simply tell everyone all the possible bad things that could happen.  Sometimes the best course of action is to see a problem before it happens and fix it from the beginning.  

This goes hand in hand with the next aspect of Real Estate.  With so many moving parts, it is easy to blame others.  And a lot of the time, when something goes wrong, it had nothing to do with you or your client.  WHEN YOU SCREW UP, TRUST ME YOU WILL. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY There is nothing more impressive to me, than to hear someone say. “I messed this up. I am sorry and I will fix it.” Sometimes that fix is as simple as an apology, or a call to reschedule.  Sometimes the fix requires you to pay for a repair on a house.  At the end of the day, it is doing the right thing to make the client experience as calm and pleasant as possible.   We should always think of ourselves as step down transformers.  We get highly volatile information from the opposing side.  We have to calm that angry or agitated person down, take in the information, and relay it in a calm manner to our clients.  They could be just as angry or agitated but we should never push that agitation and provide a sounding board for our clients and let them understand the situation in as calm a manor as possible.   With this, it is very difficult to not become emotionally tied to your clients, the contract, or the whole transaction.  The best part of my job is to call a client and let them know that their offer was accepted.  This is the highest of the high, but we don’t talk about the 3 other houses that they lost out on, the countless hours in the car driving and sitting in traffic, the hundreds of times we have trouble opening a lock because the key needs to be put in at just the right angle.  You have to really care about who and what you represent to make it in this industry.  The paycheck is great, but if that is all you are doing it for, get out now, please. The lows can be rough but at the end of the day you get to help a family, a friend, a teacher, a nurse, whomever it might be get one of the most important things in their entire lives.  This is an amazing and fulfilling aspect of Real Estate that makes everything else worth it.  That I cannot stress enough.  

If at the end of the day, you are still thinking about this career path, give us a shout.  We would love to hear from you and see if we can answer any other questions you might have about this crazy career path.   --- Scott, Co-founder of HomeSweetRVA

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