If I Only Had a Time Machine, I Would Have A Lot More Money

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 0225085927

Life is full of "what ifs" and "if onlys"  and while I don't see the point in really dwelling too much on past mistakes, it is helpful to put them in perspective and learn from them. 

As far as my real estate career goes, there are a few things I would have done differently if I were to start over right now, but probably the biggest regret - which also serves as the biggest piece of advice for new agents who are just getting started in this career - is spending too much money on too many things before I knew what I not only needed but would actually use


I totally admit to being boisterous in my spending habits in the beginning;  I went to an industry trade event early in my career and got totally caught up in the hype, the pitch, the fun, the excitement.  

OF COURSE I need a CRM!  Sign me up!  Oh, do I need the mobile version?  Of course, only $10 extra a month. Here's my credit card.  

Never mind I had no clients at that moment to enter into the CRM, nor did I really know what they meant by a mobile version, because it was 2004 and the only "smartphone" I had ever heard of at that point was a Treo.

Regardless, I now had a rigorous way to set up campaigns, communicate with clients, sent out newsletters, you know, all that good stuff.

Yeah, probably should have waited on that until I actually had enough people with whom to communicate to make it worthwhile. 

As it was, it turned out it was a bit too rigorous for my needs and I logged into it once.  Yes, once.  But I paid for it for a year and never even used it.  

And that was just the first ill-advised purchase.  I came home with a bag full of goodies, many of which would still be - almost 12 years later - packed away somewhere, collecting dust had it not been for the fact I decluttered a few months ago and pitched a lot of things I had never used. 

Fortunately, I caught on early that most of these things were unnecessary for my success and I quickly stopped buying everything I came across.  And I'm glad I had the epiphany years ago, because today it seems as if we are being constantly bombarded with shiny new things - and admittedly, many of them look very tempting.

I think the cottage industries surrounding real estate make more money than many real estate agents do. 

And I've seen more than one agent fall into the trap of buying one lead generation program after another, convinced that the next one or the next one or the next one will be the key to great success.

I'm not going to advise anyone on how to get business in this arena;  after all, we are all different and what works for one won't work for all.  

My approach, for example, won't work for anyone who is not snarky or sarcastic or who lacks a dry wit. Not everyone can wear those attributes well.  Heck, sometimes it's not a good look for me, either, but there it is.

Before signing up for everything out there promising great leads and a quick road to riches, figure out who you are - find your voice.  Then find what works for your voice and your personality.  

There is no shortage of hawksters out there happy to sell you leads, advertising, products, apps, programs and technology...and not one of them cares if it works for you.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have delayed spending the money on things I really didn't need and spent more time figuring out how I wanted to work and what kind of agent I wanted to be, then deciding what was out there that would work for me, not just drain my bank account every month. 


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Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Susan Haughton ,

Well deserved featured post! Great advice for many new agents. Think carefully before getting roped in to the easy way to secure business..if it sounds to good to be true you can bet it is!

Jun 02, 2016 10:13 PM #27
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Excellent advice for us all! I have made the mistake before and probably will in the future...case in point, Zillow.

Jun 02, 2016 11:43 PM #28
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

There are so many different companies and individuals who want a piece of the commission pie; saying no (especially before commissions are flowing) is the way to go!

Jun 03, 2016 04:12 AM #29
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Great advice 'not one of them cares if it works for you'. Amen.

Just had a salesmen on my VM telling me this was my LAST CHANCE to buy my zip code before they present it at some RE conference. Yeah, right.

Jun 03, 2016 05:47 AM #30
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Absolutely, a great post. 

Jun 03, 2016 10:37 AM #31
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Susan Haughton some of the things are 'necessity' - like business cards, contact management system (could be Outlook!).

However, like you, I do have habits of signing up for almost everything - fees or no fees! Only to realize that I really do not use these resource for which I have been paying for years!

Know yourself - a great lesson for sure.

Jun 03, 2016 01:39 PM #32
Athina Boukas
Virginia Capital Realty - Richmond, VA
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)

Been there. I bought one of those huge brick cell phones in 1987 with my first commision check (yes it was $$$$$).  Back then no one had handheld cell phones...I didn't need it really, but it was cool. 

Jun 03, 2016 03:38 PM #33
Andrea Swiedler
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Very well deserved feature! I didn't purchase things, and still don't. But it was because I really coulnd't spare the money. I saw people buying all sorts of things they never used. I hate all those calls I get, I mean, I really, really hate them. It was actually one of those calls that led me here to ActiveRain. Long story, but true. I didn't buy their product but I did sign up here right away!

Jun 04, 2016 09:01 AM #34
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

You are not alone here Susan, I too have thrown tons of money away thinking it would be the answer. Now I know that it isn't what you spend in dollars it is what you spend in time that matters. Thank you for sharing your lesson learned.

Jun 04, 2016 01:07 PM #35
Diana Dahlberg
1 MONTH REALTY - Kenosha, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Wow!  What an excellent post!  I can identify ... I did the same things.  Definitely a Lesson Learned the hard way.

Jun 04, 2016 05:10 PM #36
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Having a time machine would work for me . . . . and yes we would have more money.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig


Jun 05, 2016 11:59 AM #37
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Congratulations on the gold star feature for an outstanding post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 05, 2016 12:01 PM #38
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Thanks for sharing some of your experience and congratulations on your feature recognition.

Jun 05, 2016 10:10 PM #39
Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
Sitterle Homes - Richmond, TX
Sitterle Homes


 I love this contest and I am learning so much from it, know yourself and your audience perfect advice!

Jun 06, 2016 09:06 AM #40
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi Susan -- very good advice, and yes, it costs just pennies a day and your first transaction commission will more than pay more than pay for fill-in-the-blank.

Jun 10, 2016 12:59 AM #41
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Hello Susan 

I am so sorry I missed this great post loaded to one of my groups 

Great write, give us another and congrats on the gold star from The Gods 

Jun 12, 2016 02:04 AM #42
Jeff Stevens
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Mexico Properties - Las Cruces, NM
Jeff Stevens REALTOR®/Associate Broker

Susan, I paid for a year of useless CRM as well. Well, it was more like a year and a half! I look at it as a learning experience. Hopefully I can pass on that wisdom to a newbie. But then again, I think someone tried to warn me, but I didn't listen. Good post.

Jun 13, 2016 12:01 AM #43
Tammy Adams ~ Realtor / Podcaster
Maricopa Real Estate Co - Maricopa, AZ
A Maricopa Agent who Works, Lives & Loves Maricopa

The part on the CRM made me thing of this:  Do it too early you waste money, do it too late and you feel overwhelmed with organizing it. 

Jun 14, 2016 09:56 AM #44
Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner - Anderson, SC
Selling the Upstate since 1989

Great advice for sure!! I remember in the beginning making a few "ill-advised" purchases too.. and I have been  on plenty of seminars/webinars where the "style" of the teacher just wasn't ME.... and no matter how I may try, I can't be someone else and do things "their" way!

Jun 18, 2016 12:52 PM #45
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Hi Susan Haughton ,  Congratulations on your Featured Blog.  I think we all got sucked in when we first started out, buying everything that was suggested to us.

Jun 20, 2016 11:55 AM #46
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Susan Haughton

Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.
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