Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Fear and disappointment in real estate – back in the saddle



Everyone of us go through periods in life where we experience disappointments. It is during those times that we personally grow the most. The problem is, is that during the time we are growing through them we don’t see the growth. We only experience the emotions. It takes getting through them to be able to look back and see the A- Ha moment.

In December I tweaked my Buyer Agents contract. Yes, I said tweaked. Most of it changed very little. The big part was on the commission splits I had with my team members. It changed by 10%.

I changed my contract because as primarily the listing agent I was paying for and doing all the marketing of the homes. If you or your Broker is doing a good job, then there is a ton of expense getting the exposure the home needs, both in time and money.

With the price point in Ann Arbor going down the last few years, when my agents turned in the Commission Reporting Form, I was walking away with a huge deficit in what I was spending to market the home and what they were walking away with for listing the home.

My conversation was, “You can market the home and we can keep the same split, or you can refer it to me, or the split must go down by 10%.”

I wish I could say that ended well.

It did not.

Tearing Down To Build Again

I’ve always applied the principal that when a construction company is building a new bridge over the water, you have to build the new bridge first. Once it is complete, then you tear down the old one.

Oh, I could have said, “hey guys, I’m sorry…we will keep things the same.”

But, I knew in my heart I couldn’t continue to work at a loss.

I knew as a Small Business Owner that it was not financially profitable to do that, so I let the proverbial wall fall down. I have always had a team but over the last couple of years it had grown due to the amount of internet leads we were acquiring, so I added more buyer agents to handle them.

Before each buyer agent was/is hired for the TEAM, I administered the DISC test to see if it would be a good fit. I also gave a 3 month trial period to continue to see if it was a good fit.

Disclosure: I am not a detailed person, I am a visionary. I do not want to and hate to micro-manage. Perhaps that is one reason why my first two team members are still with me.

As Realtors we are Independent Contractors, and self employed. I believe one reason people are attracted to our profession is because we like independence and are for the most part self motivated. Successful agents are find the drive and motivation within themselves.


The first thing that hit me was fear. What am I going to do with all these leads ? How can the few of us left possibly take care of them in a time frame that potential buyers need to be responded to?

So I went to work, reviewing the production of each buyer agent that left. There were only two, that made any significant money. When I looked at my net for the last few years, I realized that I was netting the same amount of money whether I had a large team or small team. In fact, when it was just me and an Assistant I was netting more.

By looking at the raw data…numbers don’t lie, I realized I could do it. The fear left.

Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not an absence of fear.”


Yes, I was disappointed in how some of them handled it. I have never understood how in our profession, agents pack up in the middle of night and leave. When I left my first brokerage I refused to participate in this unprofessional (juvenile) way that I had observed my first year in the business.

I sat down had an intelligent conversation first with my manager and then the broker owner.  After they realized my mind was made up, and I was convinced I could make more money and work more independently elsewhere I gave them the keys. Can I say they didn’t speak to me for 5 years, but now we are very friendly?

Back in the Saddle

Shortly after the mass exodus, one of my former team members that went to work in a 9-5 job to provide benefits for her child, called and said she wanted to come back. I welcomed her with open arms.

Just this week, another agent who had left my Brokerage (not team) called to say, he would like to get back into Real Estate. He had been doing mortgages for the last year and realized he didn’t like it.

So after doing the DISC test, I welcomed him to my team.

Lesson Learned

There are many lessons to be learned from this, the most important to me was about change. People don’t like change. I should have anticipated that. What seemed like a little tweaking to me, turned out to be HUGE to them.

I also learned that you must be willing to accept the results of any changes you make.

For me it meant build the bridge before tearing down the old one.

I still question myself if I should have just let the current team members stay at the current split and when I hired new ones changed it for the new ones. However,  I’ve always felt one of the big mistakes Brokers make is when they give different splits to different agents it hurts everyone overall.

Maybe not?

I guess it is OK, to second guess yourself.

We talk a lot in the blogosphere about raising the bar in real estate. How we treat other agents when they decide to move on, or how they move on is one area that definitely needs that bar raised.

If I want to let someone go, I don’t send an email. If someone wants to move on to bigger or better shouldn’t we step up to the plate and have the discussion.

Fear and disappointment are a part of life. It is up to us in how we face it, deal with and move on. It is not fun going through it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and a bridge can be built to the other side.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. Must be the longest post I have ever written.

Flickr Photo Credit

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

Continue Reading


  1. mikecampagna

    March 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I appreciate your transparency. It is a people business, isn’t it? ~ both out and in. ;D

  2. Gwen Banta

    March 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Missy, this is a great post. Your honesty serves as a reminder that we are all vulnerable – even seemingly fearless leaders like you. Your wonderful advice on how to handle those difficult moments we often face is not only appreciated, but truly admired. Your choices were grounded in intelligence, honesty, class, dignity, maturity and professionalism – which is why you will always be a leader in our industry

  3. Vicky

    March 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Thanks Missy! Things change much quicker now so we have to be the type of person & business that can accommodate those changes.

  4. Jeff Brown

    March 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Hey Missy — You’ve touched on a common theme in our business. Of all the commission-only jobs, the buyer-agent working for a team, seems to have the mindset of entitlement more often than ‘regular’ agents, who must generate their own business.

    It appears there was a sign on your forehead saying ‘Not For Profit’ or ‘Buyer Agent ATM’.

    Though I’ve never employed them, the idea of paying them more than 40% is anathema to me. In fact, 35% seems about right.They show up, get fed leads, then get paid four figures even in a $150,000 median market. Wanna make 80-100%? Show the courage to risk failure that Missy has demonstrated. They work on a team cuz they can’t or won’t generate their own leads. They’re literally a dime a dozen, while you, Missy, are a perfectly cut diamond.

  5. Missy Caulk

    March 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Gwen, thank you so much, made me smile. I have been swamped which is why I am just now getting back to the post.

    Jeff, you are so right, and I researched buyer agency contracts from both local team leaders and 3 in other parts of the country. I was definitely paying too much, and when I looked at the numbers it just didn’t make sense from a business perspective. All of the ones I reviewed did do a 35 to 45% split as the leads were handed to them. Thank you for your kind words.

  6. elizabeth cooper-golden

    March 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Missy, Oh girl, you did the right thing and I feel your pain as we speak! I’m so thankful that you wrote this tonight. I’ve been beating my head against a wall lately, overworked, tired and frustrated.

    I too decided that I was overpaying for the leads I was busting my hump to get for my agents, so I started charging a referral fee for each one. When I announced it, most were very upset. I told them they didn’t have to take the leads, get their own, lol. They aren’t my buyers agents.

    I just let 3 agents go Dec. 31st, and I, like you, have been scrambling trying to find the perfect agents to help my handle all of these leads. I am back up to 6, but need 4 more. Ugh. I’m going to start giving the DISC test as well…you are a genius!

    Don’t second guess yourself. You did the right thing and your new team will be stronger than ever 🙂 I have so much respect for you! See you in Nashville?

  7. Missy Caulk

    March 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Elizabeth we will have to have a phone call soon. But, as for ReBarNash, I overbooked, speaking in Lansing that day and accepted too long ago to back out.

    Talk soon!

  8. MH for Movoto

    March 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Missy – really great post. All that you say is true. And it is certainly natural to second-guess yourself – but it sounds like you have no reason to do so. Thanks for sharing your story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?



Reuters checks facebook

So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.



shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.



better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!