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Realtors, how to know when to quit your real estate career

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Over the years, social networking has given rise to a new breed of Realtor, some call them conference junkies, others call them free conference speakers, others call them fake gurus, but they typically still call themselves “Realtors” to garner credibility.

Recently, I was talking to one of these types (who is actually a friend, but I digress) and he said, “I hate real estate. Clients always suck.” Ouch.

Another of the gurus said in a private conversation to me, “I hate Realtors” yet asks them to spend money with him at conferences and on products he’s selling.

I get it, the first guy is talking in general about nightmare clients and the second is talking about the big haired, cheetah tights wearin’ bimbos rollin’ in their hard earned Mary Kay pink Caddy. We all hate those types or we wouldn’t be here talking together about how to improve our businesses and the overall industry so that consumers have an improved experience.

But it got me to thinking– when I first met the people who now populate the conference circuit, they were regular Realtors curious about blogging and their recent shift in career (despite them telling you they’re Realtors although they’re on the road talking to you about Twitter 200 days a year) probably should have happened a couple of years ago.

Clearly, they sought more than just being a Realtor- for some it’s glory, the feeling of being a popular kid, for others there really is a sincere drive to help others with the knowledge they’ve gained but either way, they weren’t happy being Realtors or they still would be.

Knowing when to quit real estate

There are a million reasons to quit real estate, and there is no shame in moving on, really there isn’t. I would argue that the lack of happiness is the top reason to quit real estate whether you’re making money or not. If you’re not excited about your career and happy where you are, get the hell out because your consumers will know they’re part of your unhappy system and know you’re not giving them your all.

A recent psychological study showed that being in a bad career is more detrimental to your mental health than being in a career you hate. “Analyzing more than 7,000 working-age Australians across a great number of data points, the researchers found that people defined good jobs as ones that provided a defined social role and purpose, friendships, and structured time (among other things). Being hired into these kinds of jobs resulted in an overall improvement in mental health. Conversely, those in jobs that offered little control, were very demanding, and provided little support and reward lead to a general decrease in mental health.”

Signs that it is time to quit your real estate career:

  1. If you haven’t had a closing yet this year, closings get pulled last minute and nothing seems to be working out and you’re miserable, there’s no shame in moving on.
  2. If you dread your phone ringing because you know it’s one of your jerkface clients and you hate talking to people, maybe it’s time to hang your hat.
  3. You don’t want to go into the office because you hate everyone there because they wear the R pin. They’re obnoxious and they’re people and you hate them. Sayonara.
  4. If you want to be a guru because you signed up for Twitter, it may be time to quit real estate. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.
  5. If there is a dream you want to pursue and you’re already broke and frustrated, now may be the best time.
  6. If you already know everything and are an expert in all things real estate, marketing, physics and psychology, you should definitely get out- no challenge and an assumption that you’re done learning means you’re finished.
  7. If lead generation of any form is annoying to you, the phone sucks, Twitter is stupid and email goes unanswered, maybe a graceful exit is in order.

Tell us in comments what other signs may point to a decent time to quit a real estate career.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Susan Milner

    March 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    This is perfect. And partly what I was referring to when I commented on your post about Matt Ferrara and Mike Ferry’s controversial ‘fight’. Too many are NOT real estate agents anymore. But they still ‘think’ they are.

  2. Daniel Bates

    March 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I’m not a circuit junkie, but I do make more money teaching agents each year than I do from real estate and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I got into real estate just as the market began to crumble and I haven’t had a chance to advance my career before I had to go out and work as a carpenter for a year and now a blog trainer, quite a good one in my and my clients opinions at least. I’ve held my real estate license in tact through the years and recently formed my own brokerage. I spend about 30 hour a week as a blog / social media coach, 10 hours in real estate, and 10 hours as a rental manager. All are quite rewarding. I guess my point is that I’m working with the cards that I was dealt. I choose not to go full-time into real estate until things pick back up and honestly I quite enjoy the luxury of a regular paycheck and the ability to choose who I work with in real estate. I know that I am primed for success when the market picks back up, but while things remain incredibly slow (compare my 0 closings this year as a part -time agent to those 0-1 closings of full-time agents and I think I’m pretty smart) in my market, I have continued to build my real estate resources, while also putting food on the table and keeping the roof over my family. I don’t think that I’m one of the ones you’re talking about because I still enjoy selling real estate, I just also enjoy renting homes, and teaching other agents as well. I look forward to the day when I’m not juggling all 3 throughout the day, but if my family is happy, than so am I.

  3. MH for Movoto

    March 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Amen to this post. I would maybe add, “If you’ve got the word “guru” in yourTwitter bio, it’s time to find a day job.” Maybe that’s a little harsh, but it’s one of my major Twitter-peeves. (LOVE the Brokeback reference, btw.)

  4. Michelle DeRepentigny

    March 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I just wish there was a “like” button for Mary’s comment!

  5. Ralph Bell

    March 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Two giant thumbs up and a big ol teeth showing smile on this one Lani!

  6. Ken Montville

    March 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    How about, “When you find yourself attending conferences at least once a month (if not more), looking for the silver bullet or pretending that you’re involved in ‘lifelong learning.'”

    I figure I could go to two conferences a month virtually anywhere and never have to worry about actually selling any real estate. I often wonder how the conference groupies can afford to go the places they go as often as they go. Plane, hotel, food, drinks, product purchases.

    One thing about the post I don’t quite understand is this: “…being in a bad career is more detrimental to your mental health than being in a career you hate.” I’m not sure I understand the difference. But, sometimes, I’m a little slow. Maybe I need to go to more conferences.

    • Bobbie Foley

      September 25, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      Agreed. Love this post, but unsure about that statement. Perhaps intentional. 🙂

  7. Judy Graff

    March 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Loved this! Although I don’t mind the Mary Kay women as much as I mind the glad-handing-but-really-snakes men.

  8. monicaatherton

    March 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! “LIKE”

  9. Jonathan Dalton

    March 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    And thus why I don’t attend most conferences … I don’t need to hear real estate-agent-turned-guru tell me all the secrets they learned that did absolutely nothing for their careers. Especially when I’ve been doing to blogging and social media thing as long or longer than the “experts.”

    I sell real estate. Some days it frustrates me. Some days it pisses me off. Some days I want to throw in the towel.

    And some days it’s incredibly rewarding to know you made a difference in your client’s life.

    That’s why I’m still here.

  10. Andrea Geller

    November 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Mike Bowler just tweeted this post out. It's months later and if you have been following #NARAnnual the number of people you have written about has grown.

    You could have posted this today as new. Same story different day. Just more of them.

  11. Ann Cummings

    November 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    LOVE this post and as Michelle wrote, I wish there was a "Like" button for some of these comments! Mary's comment is spot on as is Ken's and Jonathan's.

  12. Mary

    May 22, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I have never liked real estate. 7 years now. Hate it with a passion. I have to quit

    • Witheld

      July 17, 2016 at 2:32 am

      I’m ashamed to say I’m in this business …

  13. Witheld

    July 17, 2016 at 2:30 am

    I started in 1999 when it was easier & less costly to get licensed, almost anything you showed sold, technology didn’t come in to screw up everything no constant changing passwords and yearly it much much le$$ costly to be a (gag) “realtor”. There were still some pleasant people in the biz as a 2nd careen or p/ters . Just re-entered after a break …Now the biz esp on LI in NY is littered with liars esp buyers brokers, greed mongers, snakes and crazy people. $1,000 up in smoke last month by a lame played out Chris Leader seminar…on the heals of a $499 “lap dues” then the renewal fees, pro photo for listing that don’t sell because of delusional narcissistic homeowners. A manager that’s looped on antidepressants and coworkers that are angry depressed and evil…..no thanks good bye cruel business

    • Witheld 2

      August 15, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      I started in ’93 when people weren’t total lunatics with a sense of entitlement. 90% of most buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants, were a pleasure to deal with.No cell phones, social media, email, etc. to bog me down. I made decent money, flipped a few houses, bought a couple of rentals. I have no regrets. However, the last few years have sucked the soul right out of me. The 90% became 5%. At first I thought it was just me…maybe I was becoming too intolerant, bored, disgusted, etc. and I was probably right, but it’s hard to miss the fact that people, and this country in general have changed beyond recognition. There ARE tons of liars and crazy people out there. You can’t make up the things that I’ve seen and heard in the property management side of the business. So,at the ripe old age of 54 I’m retiring. Yep, I’m 10 years premature but I couldn’t take another minute of the business. I commend you for “re-entering after a break” but I doubt that I will do that. Sure the money will be hard to resist, but I have to keep in mind that people aren’t going to get better if I take a break. They’ll just get worse. Good luck in the future…we’ll both be just fine!

  14. Witheld

    July 17, 2016 at 3:03 am

    Did I mention phonies too…if they smile at you they are lying to you

  15. Want to leave...but too scared

    October 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Everyone’s comments are as good or better than the article. Thanks, sincerely. I got into the business with the idea of using real estate to springboard my real passion….music. Ah yes…the starving artist mentality. But real estate kept me from the “starving” part. Then I got married and had kids. Its now 25 years in real estate, abandoned my true craft…music. i’ve never been hugely successful in real estate. I barely make it. My family needs more. We are paycheck to pay check and not getting anywhere. I’m 44 now a d dont know what do if I leave. Feeling totally stuck. Every Tom, Dick, & Hrry is an agent here in the DC area. Too many agents, so hard to get visibility, hard to prospect becuase its all real estate “white noise” anymore to people. The biz has gone cheesy…and it’s just not me. I need to figure this out. Can’t figure out how to stay or how to leave. Ugh! Thanks to all of you.

    • Alma

      May 23, 2017 at 3:07 am

      Love your comment and I am 44 also. Starting to feel the same way. Unfortunately it’s hard at our age to get in to something new.

      • Lani Rosales

        May 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        Alma, hang in there – the truth is that age is no limit. For example, many of our friends in their 50s are going to coding schools and entering the tech field. Others are switching from residential to commercial, and so forth.

        And of course, you may have a passion you’ve never followed and it’s time to examine – is there anything you’ve always said you’d do later on in life? Why wait???

        Lastly, real estate is an intensely rewarding field with many generous people, perhaps adopting a mentor would help you? Someone in another city that you could talk to monthly and go over your accomplishments and shortcomings? Someone that is willing to hold your hand? Many brokers pay it forward in that way!

        Good luck, Alma 🙂

  16. St.Paul

    November 14, 2018 at 4:27 am

    No real estate agent is perfect but trying to improve each day to move towards the perfection will be the key to success.

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Opinion Editorials

Idea: Color-coded face masks as the new social contract to combat COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) Americans must come together on a new social contract if we have any hope of permanently reopening the economy and saving lives.

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social contract: color coded wristbands covid-19

A church in Texas used a stoplight color-coded wristlet system to help churchgoers navigate the new social awkwardness of closeness. Those with green bands are comfortable with contact including high fives, yellow bands indicate someone who wants to talk but not touch, and red is for someone interested in keeping their distance altogether.

In pre-pandemic America, basic social cues were sufficient to communicate these feelings, and most violations of them were annoying but not harmful. We now live in a world where daily banalities like grocery shopping and shaking hands with a new acquaintance are now potentially dangerous – for you and those you care about.

So what is the way forward?

Humans are social beings, and much of our survival is reliant on our relationships to, and interactions with, other humans. A way forward is critical. But our brains are trained to find and read faces in an instant to assess emotion and whether that emotion indicates a presence of a threat.

Not only has this pandemic challenged our innate notions of community and safety, the scientifically healthy way forward is to cover most of our faces, which is staggeringly counter to our understanding of a threat. It is now impossible to tell whether a sunglassed-masked stranger walking into a restaurant is a robber or just a person who was walking in the sun.

But because we are humans with large brains, we are able to adapt. We are inherently compassionate and able to emotionally understand fear in others and ourselves. We are able to understand both science and social grace. In this case, the science is straightforward but the social grace is not.

Governor Abbott of Texas announced the second closure of bars and reduction of capacity in restaurants last Friday in response to the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases statewide. During the press conference he said: “Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can.”

It is this shared responsibility that we must first embrace before any meaningful reopening can proceed.

We must accept that for the indefinite future, we have a new normal. We have to adapt to these new social codes in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors. Color-coded bracelets, masks, hats, choose your accessory – this could be a way forward.

First, we must agree these measures are necessary. And we shouldn’t take them because a politician told us to or told us not to – many people feel that our government has failed to provide us with coherent guidance and leadership considering a broad social contract.

We should adapt them because if you are not free, I am not free. We can do this together.

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Opinion Editorials

What to do when you can’t find your passion and you’re feeling lost

(EDITORIAL) Global Pandemic or not, people struggle to search for job opportunities, their career, and find their purpose. Knowing yourself is the most important part.

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career choices

Feeling lost? Can you relate to this Reddit post in the Career Guidance forum?

Careers that aren’t boring?

I’m really lost right now. I just graduated high school and I really don’t know what I want to do with my life.

At the moment my only idea is to join the military (United States) and see how it goes. I really want to go to college on the side but I don’t know what I want to get into. I tried coding in high school and it didn’t make sense, making me feel like i won’t be successful in the technology field. Medical field costs too much+ time in school. Only other career field that’s on my mind is engineering but I don’t know if I’ll be successful?

Is it okay to feel like I’ll fail? Will college actually teach you unlike in high school? I feel like high school didn’t really prep me and I’ll be behind”

And then you have to love this response:

Is the grass really not greener on the other side?

I’ve been a trucker since I left school 10 years ago. Every post I come across are full of people dreading the office culture, politics, environment etc. and saying how they’d love to be outdoors.

I work outdoors and it’s shit, -5°C in winter and 40+°C in summer. Slogging 12-15 hour days behind the wheel, micro-sleeping and hallucinating just to make delivery times. Getting filthy and soaking wet when working outside.

The idea of being in a nice cooled office, not having to put my life on the line and actually working on a project with a team sounds so stimulating to me instead of being a monkey behind a wheel. But then I see so many people call themselves monkeys in other professions and hate the office.”

It’s alluring how the ego is meant to ensure our security and survival, and unless we learn how to work with it and the messages we tell ourselves, we can often feel alone, isolated and the only one with these feelings. It is when you start exploring others’ stories that you may feel an a-ha moment, or things may seem like they click.

One would venture to argue that many people are sometimes lost in a fog, and not sure what to do. Above was an example of a high schooler who is feeling like the military might be his only option, but if you read through the thread, it does appear that he has other ideas but just doesn’t know enough about them or doesn’t trust himself enough to look further in to them. And if the military is the right option for him, that is okay too.

“The ego is the human consciousness part of you. It was designed to ensure your security and survival. Unfortunately for many of us it has never relinquished its initial purpose. Instead, for many the ego became the master script writer and because of it, everything becomes a drama based on past happenings.” Beverly Blanchard

If you’re feeling in a fog, people may ask you:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What do you love doing that you can make money from?
  3. What company do you want to work for?
  4. Where do you want to live?
  5. Are you living for your resume, or for your obituary?

If there’s a screaming feeling inside that literally feels like you are going to BURST with all caps of “I DON’T KNOW”, then let’s take a breath and see what we can do to work with that. Here are some ideas that may be great activities for you to help move forward.

Kindly note, the first thing is to allow yourself TIME. You need some time to figure it out, do some research, look in to options, have conversations, possibly work experiences, maybe some inner soul searching and spiritual work. If you think you have to have this figured out right away, you may have already put a limit on yourself (sorry to be a buzzkill but you might need YEARS to figure out your purpose). You ideally need to figure out how to get from A to B, not A to Z right now.

  • Do some research on Design Thinking.
    Spend some time with a journal getting out some of your thoughts so you can move them from the emotional part of your brain to a more logical and rational place (usually once you’ve put something on paper or even said it out loud). You may like this Design Your Life workbook based on a Career Exploration class at Stanford where you explore your interests, and how they can align with work and your purpose. The workbook is great because it gives you writing prompts that help guide you (they also give ideas on how long to spend on an activity so it could be 10 minutes or 30 and you can decide if that is something you can do at that point in time). They also just released a book, Designing Your Work Life. How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work.
  • Make a simple list.
    Spend 5-10 minutes just writing out things you really like or love (no explanation, just the name of the item). There is no judgement to this list and nothing is too silly (Iced coffee, video games, tennis, music, dogs, photography, favorite subject(s) in school, friends, family, reading…) Walk away. Come back to it. Do any of these things give you clues on what type(s) of professions fascinate you? Then make a list of what you need to do from here (more school, internship, volunteering, pro-bono projects, part-time or full-time job). Stop and ask yourself how you can get more of these things in your day to day.
  • Consider yourself an Investigative Reporter, and talk to people about how they chose their areas of study and/or careers.
    The hope is that you are pleasantly surprised to hear many people have had this feeling and they moved forward anyway. They made decisions with the information they had, and their career and projects grew from there. This could help you recognize what is that next step you need to take.
    I would tell that high schooler to go meet with military recruiting offices and see what they have to say. I’d also suggest they reach out to mechanical engineers and learn about what they work on and what they had to do to get there. If they are unsure of how to find any, check out LinkedIn to start. Many people look at those that they consider to be successful and see where they ended up – often we miss the part of the story about what they had to do to get there. This is what we should be looking to uncover, and that may give us insights on what our next steps can be.
    In job searching, a great tool is conducting Informational Interviews and speaking with people that are in jobs that you think may interest you and they can tell you more real details. Whatever you find to be really intriguing and makes you want to know more about, that could be a good sign of a career/job you’re interested in. Ask them about education and skills requirements and take notes.
  • Consider your life like a flight of stairs.
    Each step is leading to the next one. You don’t have to know or see the entire staircase, and you may not even know what’s on the second floor.
  • Write your Eulogy.
    This sounds really morbid and maybe slightly is, but a plane doesn’t just take off on a flight plan without knowing where it’s going and landing. If you write out your eulogy, you may discover what you want to be remembered for, and start living a life that includes those types of efforts, endeavors, and projects. This also may take a little bit of pressure off of you that everything in your life will not be solely based on your job or career. Then, maybe hide it so your family doesn’t think you’ve lost your mind.

Whatever you do, please know you are not alone and the more you think everyone else has it all figured out, the better acting you are witnessing. Yes, there are people that have known what they wanted to do since they were little but even their job/career has had it’s twists and turns.

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Opinion Editorials

I was laid off, but then my position was filled, what can I do?

(EDITORIAL) Is it good form for your position to be replaced in the middle of a pandemic? No. Is it legal? Well, usually, but what can you do about it?

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position replaced

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being laid off, you might have found yourself revisiting your work place’s job posting to see what kind of ship they’re running in your absence–only to find that, instead of downsizing, your employer has filled your old position.

You would be well within your rights to question whether or not your employer screwed with you, and you might even consider contacting legal representation. Before you do, though, keep in mind that being laid off from a position due to budget cuts, and having that position cut entirely are two different things–and you might just be looking for a problem where there isn’t one.

After all, according to Evil HR Lady, this kind of process isn’t just legal–it’s actually pretty normal.

Yes, it’s normal to assume something sinister when you find yourself without a job that someone younger (and let’s not forget cheaper) than you is now doing.

But Evil HR Lady (a personality who, despite the title, seems absolutely benign) points out that seniority often plays a role in who stays and who pays: “[Imagine] there are five team leads, and the company decides to lay off one of the team leaders. This person has seniority over the people below him, so he takes the top remaining position and bumps that person out of their job…The position eliminated is Team Leader, but the person who loses his job is junior trainee.”

The above process is legitimate on paper, but the true take-away here should be that such a “replacement” might not be a replacement at all; downsizing is still downsizing, even if your position isn’t the one that is actually cut.

It is worth noting that the sheer volume of layoffs due to COVID-19 does leave some potential for system abuse. Under the cover of a global pandemic, it wouldn’t be unfeasible for a company to sneakily replace older employees with younger talent under the guise of downsizing, and even though the former employees would have a case for age-based discrimination, they might not think to make that case given the obvious context.

If nothing else, this phenomenon is a functional reminder to keep an eye on your workplace after you leave for a trial period–if for no other reason than to ensure that your employer isn’t trying to pull a fast one.

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