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The Real Estate Highway

Stop and go. Stop and go.

As I traveled down the 410 on my way home tonight, I got to thinking about the traffic. I make this ride every night with my wife after picking her up from work. Some days the traffic is good, some days its a nightmare. Its like any highway; construction, rush hour traffic, accidents, idiots, and smooth sailing. Yesterday we made it home in record time and the road was virtually empty. Today, the traffic backed up well beyond its usual slow spots and slowed us down considerably. Its never the same ride twice. Depending on how the traffic is performing, I occasional take slight variations of the route home. I adapt to the patterns around me and make decisions that affect our commute.

Before the drive, my day today was very busy. More so than normal. Calls, emails, a class in the morning, lots of searches for clients and potential clients, some statistical work for a client, stopping by the title company, thinking about what I would write in my post tonight, and just generally feeling good and busy. I like the idea of being busy. When I started in real estate, we were in that slow period everyone’s talking about. Combine that with a new agent with not much of a sphere of influence and you’ve got one broke agent. A frustrated agent at times. A questioning-his-place-in-the-real-estate-universe agent. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had doubts more than once. But when I do have them, I remember how I wanted this, how I thought about it for a year before diving in, and how I am determined to succeed. I’ve had some help along the way, but overall, I’m in the driver’s seat.

The real estate highway.

Real estate has been a lot like my commute home every night. Each day I start off on my way home, only to encounter obstacles, smooth sailing, or a bit of both. I never can predict which is coming at me. One minute I’m cruising along with out a single person to interrupt that smooth stretch of road, when suddenly, around the bend, there is mass of traffic waiting to impede my progress. The traffic comes in all different forms. An agent popping into my office, a frantic call from a seller, an email from a lender, calls for all types of information of various properties, and sometimes the jerk that cuts me off before I can get to where I need to be. Some of the traffic has positive affects – the guy who cuts in front of me, gives me an opportunity to switch to his lane (the lane I need to be in), the slower speeds allow me to focus on the road ahead and not just go with the flow, the construction that forces me onto a new road and tests my ability to think on my feet. By watching carefully, you can plan on how to deal with what’s up ahead and focus on the task at hand – all at the same time.

I had just read Bill Lublin’s most recent post when I started to come up with the idea for this post and his ties into it all as well. I’m seeing more happening than I did my first months as an agent. Business is picking up. I have new clients and new issues to deal with. I am learning more as I come across new aspects of the business I hadn’t seen before. As these changes occur, I am dealing with new aspects of driving down the real estate highway. A couch in the middle of the road, a man crossing 4 lanes of traffic on foot, a closed exit that I have had to adapt to. These are all new to me, but the goal for the day is still the same. Drive straight, stay within the boundaries of the law, don’t crash, and don’t let the little things distract me from the ultimate goal…selling houses and getting home safe.

When you’re first learning how to drive, little things can distract you from the mission at hand. The first time you pull to a corner and a pedestrian wants to cross the street, the guy behind you is honking at you, you want to make a right turn on red, and the oncoming traffic is taking wide left turns into the lane you want to be in – this is a tough time. When business is good, you have many times more than that going on at once. Learning to process all the data and make the right decisions on how to proceed through that light is what counts. You have learn to take a deep breath, evaluate, and make your next move. Its a learning process I’m still going through. I think I’ll just wait at the light for a moment and ignore the beeping and the oncoming traffic. I’ll know when its time to take the turn.

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photo courtesy of jparise

Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."



  1. Sherry Baker

    January 29, 2009 at 1:08 am

    What a great analogy, Matt! Actually, several analogies — as I read your post I was thinking of how I’m learning the short sale process and about REOs, and how when I first started the business how nervous I was writing my first contract and now it’s just one of those things I know how to do. Every week brings new things and surprises. No rubbish here. 🙂

  2. Missy Caulk

    January 29, 2009 at 6:50 am

    I think the highway is different every morning in real estate, that is what makes the drive so much fun and such a fun career to have.

    You never know what is around the bend. 🙂

  3. Paula Henry

    January 29, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Matt – I have never had so much fun dodging traffic as I have in the real estate business. I love it; the exhileration of a busy day, jam packed with “must dos” and the days whe I breeze through getting everything done.

    It’s a ride, and a great one!

  4. Kristin Moran

    January 30, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I think you related this very well to what goes on in a Realtors world everyday. Somedays you will look up (like I have felt lately) and think “what did I do today?…did I accomplish ANYTHING?”. But somehow, your day is gone and you look up and it’s 7pm. It’s insane, bewildering and a comple blast (most times). I do believe this was the best post I have read from you! Kristin

  5. Matt Stigliano

    January 31, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Sherry – It was a weird day that prompted the thoughts. Things had been so quiet for me for awhile and suddenly things started to move. Its great news and I love it, but when I was trying to do a few things and the phone kept ringing, I felt like there was too much “traffic.” I worked my way through it the same way I work through rush hour.

    Missy – I saw a video of Brian Buffini trying to explain the chaos that it is a typical day for an agent. His point was about realizing there is chaos, but learning to keep it in check and within pre-set boundries. It was funny, but I learned a lot from that two minutes blurb.

    Paula – I enjoy the adventure of it. Waking up and going to show different houses, talking to different people, learning different disciplines. Its an interesting career to say the least. As much as everyone thinks rock ‘n roll is probably full of interesting, it actually becomes quite robotic and monotonous at times.

    Kristin – Wow, thanks. Had you been driving the 410 that night when I started to think of the post, you’d know exactly why I came up with it. It was the oddest drive – so many different bits to it that I had to react differently to each time…just like our days.

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