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

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.

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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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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Mary Pope-Handy via Facebook

    March 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Lani I loved this post. There could be a follow up on “when to quit speaking at Realtor conferences”. I’m so sick of the same people on stage every time…am now avoiding most venues (and am not convinced all of the experts are selling all that much)…

  2. Rob Nielsen via Facebook

    March 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

    And so many guru webinars are fun & educational until you’re prompted to buy x program for the low, low price of y . . .

  3. Fred Romano via Facebook

    March 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    For many of us it’s not so easy to just quit, even if we wanted to, where would we go?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.)

  7. Michelle DeRepentigny

    March 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

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

  8. Ralph Bell

    March 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm

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

  9. 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. 🙂

  10. 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.

  11. monicaatherton

    March 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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 …

  16. 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… 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!

  17. Witheld

    July 17, 2016 at 3:03 am

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

  18. 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 🙂

  19. 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.

  20. Flamingochick

    January 6, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    I recently turned 31 and have been a realtor now for about a year and half. I was able to close 7 deals my first 6 months and 17 my first calendar year. Within the last 2 months I had 5 deals I worked my butt off for fall through which kept me from reaching my goal of 20 closings for the year (don’t just care about numbers but I am very internally competitive and have a lot of expenses ..namely student loans-yes went to college and got a degree that I technically didn’t use and am paying for it tenfold). Basically ever since November 1st it became-what can go wrong will and then some…On top of the deals imploding for an assortment of reasons I also had two clients recently turn jerk and let me know they appreciated all my hard work 000..fired them. Can’t afford to deal with people who don’t respect or appreciate my time. All this to say..I am on the fence with real estate. Do I want a career where I can bust my ass for months everything I get going bust so no paychecks and ppl disrespecting me all the while? Feeling there are many more things I dislike about real estate than I can say I do like..I don’t know what else to do is the problem and don’t want to be a quiter. UGH Thanks for reading if you made it this far! <3

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