The Real Estate Mystery

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Austin Texas Homes, LLC 453249

I've been selling homes full-time in Austin since 1997. I've trained dozens of local agents, and coached many others around the country. As a broker and owner of my own independent real estate firm, I've helped with hundreds of transactions. Through my online networking efforts and "in person" conferences, I'm thankful that I've met hundreds (maybe thousands) of agents. 

 Why do I mention this?

Well, it's pretty straightforward. Having encountered agents and clients of all types, I've noticed one trend:

Real estate is neither as easy as clients think, nor as hard as agents think.

Allow me to explain:By and large, I think the general perception from the public at large is that we real estate agents have it pretty easy. Show a home or two, help with some paperwork, then coast into commission town. I'm oversimplifying things, of course, but I know that I'm not far off here. I wish it were true that my job was that simple. It involves being really patient and diplomatic even in the face of major adversity, often from your own colleagues. Sometimes, clients aren't loyal. Often, lenders make mistakes that jeopardize sales. Frankly, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to real estate sales, and a lot of juggling has to occur.

Having said that, real estate isn't rocket science, either. When agents are struggling (I've been there), it's easy to blame outside factors:

"The economy is in the tank."

"Banks have tightened guidelines, so no one can get a loan anymore."

"The media won't quit talking about how bad things are."

Believe me, I've had the same thoughts myself at times, but the bottom line is this: In any given market on any given month, people are buying homes. They might be buying fewer homes than they were 5 years ago, but there is business to be had everywhere. 

If you're a consumer reading this post, know that most agents work hard and a solid number of us are good at what we do and conduct business in a professional manner. If you're an agent, grab your share of the pie. The pie may not be as large, but neither is the number of people who want a piece anymore. Too much analogy? 

There's the paradox as I see it, and of course it's just my opinion. I've always found it interesting how different the perspective is from the outside vs. the inside of our industry. In my own naive way, I think it's probably the opposite of how doctors are perceived by others ("Wow, being a brain surgeon has to be a really hard job.") compared with their self-perception ("Brain surgery ain't hard."). Alright, in fairness, they probably don't say "ain't".  

What are your thoughts? I welcome your feedback.

Photo: rrenzoo Creative Commons 2.0

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If you're looking for a home in the Austin area, you can also visit my primary website at  Thanks!

Comments (58)

Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Jason, I just had a conversation yesterday with a builder. He has been in the business since 1980. He said even back in the early 80's when interest rates were about 14% people were building homes. The interest rates now are hovering around 4.5% and people aren't builiding. He asked how I was doing. Like you said, the pie is smaller but I'm still getting my share of it.

Sep 29, 2011 02:59 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Ohhh...I love Missy's analogy!  Excellent post, Jason and I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly, as usual!  You get from this what you put into it.  Many aren't willing to put in the time and effort these days, leaving a good deal for those who are.  I don't think it's a 'hard' business but, these days, it's harder to get to the Closing table but, your Realtor®, if good at what they do, will take that burden on themselves, leaving the consumer with the same non-stressful transaction as 5 years ago.

Okay, I will disagree with you on one thing---neurosurgeons will tell you that what they do is hard!  The ones that I know have LARGE egos!!  LOL

Sep 29, 2011 03:12 AM
Daniel H. Fisher (704) 617-3544 - Charlotte, NC
MCRP - Charlotte Real Estate, NC or SC

For Sale By Owner real estate is generally not like "For Sale by Owner" of other assets.  Ask yourself: Why do banks use Realtors to dispose of their assets instead of selling themselves?  If maximizing the profit from the sale is the goal, all options should be explored, including discount, flat fee and other brokerages.

Sep 29, 2011 03:22 AM
Heather Littrell
Keller Williams - North Concord, NC
ABR,GRI,SRES Cabarrus County NC

This is a good and timely post that helps us all to be reminded we are so full of excuses.  I am upset with agents un our industry making our piece of the pie smaller by reducing their commissions to ridiculous levels that will only hurt all of us in the long run.

Sep 29, 2011 04:11 AM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

It is a business built around people and for people and if you like people, Real Estate just compliments the journey and delivers a paycheck as well. Helping people with large purchases remains hugely rewarding

Sep 29, 2011 04:18 AM
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

Even during the Great Depression people bought and sold homes. I remind myself of this during particularly nasty days in the business.

Sep 29, 2011 04:39 AM
Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production

Nice star.  Let's be honest.  Any of these potentially really rewarding fields are hard.  We all know the rules, but we can't control a lot.  All we can do is master it the best that we can and make sure that we create a good, honest, servant leader mentality when representing clients.  Good question!

Sep 29, 2011 05:45 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Jason, Pat Kennedy made a great quote on my blog the other day that I just have to share along this line, "What's that old saying, that real estate is the highest paid hard work and the lowest paid easy work?"

Sep 29, 2011 06:14 AM
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

Jason, such a delight to see your post on my blogroll this morning!  And you're right...  things are sometimes perceived in odd ways.  It has been tougher this year I've found though.  People seem to be more on edge... Or maybe it's just my attitude.  In any event, it is what it is.  Period. 


P. S. Don't stay away so long this time my friend...

Sep 29, 2011 06:58 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital
Jason, you make so many great points, it's hard to pick out the best of. If it was as easy as a lot of people think it is, we wouldn't get paid as much for doing it.
Sep 29, 2011 07:02 AM
Coleen DeGroff
Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors - Gainesville, FL
Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL
Hi Jason, Love your analogy. There may not be as much pie as there once was, but ther IS pie. We just have to work a lot harder for the slice we get. If whining were considered work, a lot more agents could have slices. But whining gets us nowhere. We need to work hard to find the business we get and just as hard to keep the business we have. Thanks for sharing!
Sep 29, 2011 07:29 AM
Charlie Dresen
The Group, Inc - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

As with most professions, some real estate agents make it look easier than others because they are buttoned up and professional on the outside no matter what is churning on the inside! I totally agree that there are still pie slices to be had, and always seeing the glass half empty is self fulfilling. Many people do think real estate agents don't work that hard...some of those people decide to try it (since it's so 'easy') and fall flat. Just keep positive, be conscientious and go with the flow...some transactions will always be easier than others and things have a way of balancing out over time...if you're in the game for the long haul!

Sep 29, 2011 07:51 AM
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hey jason,  Terrific reduction to simplest terms : Real estate is neither as easy as clients think, nor as hard as agents think.

Both sides need to walk a mile in the ...

Well done !

Sep 29, 2011 09:10 AM
John Cannata
214-728-0449 - Frisco, TX
Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance

I has to go back to read Missy's analogy since everyone liked it so much. :-)  And I have to say, I like it too. You make some great points Jason. There is a lot to be said about perception. Clients are going to think what they want before the transaction happens. Its up to you to show them why they hired you and why they should refer you to their family and friends.

Sep 29, 2011 11:14 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Glad to see this post featured. It is a bit like ice skating. The better the skater the easier it looks! Those that do not glide with ease make it look like a difficult task! There have been numerous people who have gotten into RE because it looked so easy...very few of them stayed.



Sep 30, 2011 02:34 PM
Conrad Allen
Re/Max Professional Associates - Webster, MA
Webster, Ma, Realtor

Hi Jason - The grass is not greener on the other side.

Sep 30, 2011 11:48 PM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Jason, Thanks for the latest post has a link back here....Jason Crouch's Real Estate Mystery.


Oct 01, 2011 12:00 PM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Jason, it's so ironic that I happened to read this right this very minute. I just got off the phone with a seller and it's been a complete nightmare. It just keeps comin', too. Anyway, thank you for the feeling that I'm not alone out here.

And this is one of those things I tell people ALL OF THE TIME. It's NOT like the "reality shows" where the client looks at 3 homes, chooses one and VOILA! six months later, they're all settled in with no apparent glitches.

Not so, folks!

Oct 04, 2011 07:12 AM
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

Looks like a beautiful home!  I wouldn't mind selling that....I'll let you know if I find a buyer moving to Texas, looking for a 4.2 million dollar home :-) Kasey

Oct 09, 2011 05:19 PM
Kim & Kristine Halverson
Compass - Santa Monica, CA
Sisters, Realtors

I think it's a great macro perspective.  Short sales and the banking fraud are throwing this macro view off quite a bit.  We are really skilled in short sales, and it still is A LOT of extra work whether you are representing sellers or buyers.  Otherwise you are spot on.  Kristine :)

Oct 16, 2011 01:20 PM