Leaving Real Estate...and need some advice!

Industry Observer

I'm leaving Real Estate...and need some advice.

Working 9-5

After four years in the business, and some major changes in my personal life, I will no longer be selling real estate. Since July, I have been back working 9-5(ish) and really do prefer this lifestyle. The steady paychecks (although not as big as I'd like, but that's for a different blog)...not worrying if the stranger on the other end of the phone is an ax murderer...sleeping in on weekends...a tank of gas lasting a whole month!!!

But seriously, there were many things about real estate that I loved, and I was good at it! I met and worked with some really wonderful people...agents and clients alike! And I'm confident most of my past clients would refer me, and some did use my services a 2nd time. But this career can be brutal, and I have found that I do my best work behind the scenes, making sure everything runs smoothly. And then I go home to my cats for the the rest of the evening. It's a much better fit for my personality.

Anyway, the dilemma is this: I still have my license in Active status, but need to decide before January what my next step will be. That's when my board dues need to be paid - $475. Yikes. I have three options:

  1. Pay the dues & MLS fees for another year..."just in case" I change my mind. Unlikely, because I really don't miss real estate at all. But still.
  2. Transfer my license to my broker's affiliated "Agent Referral" company. I'd keep my license active (CE classes), but pay no board or MLS fees...just a very small fee to the referral company. Any future business that might come my way, I'd refer to an agent of my choice and collect my percentage. The thing is, I only have about 50 past clients (not bad, but not a huge number), and what are the chances they'll refer me if I'm not regularly keeping in touch?
  3. Turn my license over completely, chalk up the past 4 years to a very interesting and many times fun & exciting time of my life, work towards paying off the debt I have incurred because of this career, and move on. Most days I just want to stop thinking about real estate completely (except for working with and reading Jennifer Allan's blogs, of course!)

I know which option I should choose, and I know which option I want to choose.

Your thoughts would be most appreciated!!!


Posted by




Does Your Real Estate Agent "Sell With Soul"?

The Golden Rule...it's that simple!


Comments (12)

Debbie Holmes
John L. Scott - Boise, ID
Gets the job done!

In Idaho you can let set up your license as inactive then you pay no fees and don't need to attend class.  To renew you need to get your CE credits up to date and renew.... This prevents your license from disappearing completely.  I sometimes also dream of working 9-5... Best of luck...  The problem with an inactive license is that you can't collect the referral fees.

Dec 03, 2011 03:56 AM
Cathy McAlister
Cathy Ashley McAlister, GRI CDPE - Broker / Sacramento - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento DRE#00648507

You do still have that bank of business that can/may produce for you.  Maybe keep the license active for one year and then, if nothing much comes of it, go to your second option.     You never know which client(s) come up and you might still like the flexibility to be nimble.   Best of luck to you.

Dec 03, 2011 04:12 AM
Peggy Chirico
Prudential CT Realty - Manchester, CT
REALTOR® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate

i know a lot of people who took other jobs during the past few years, but they kept their real estate licenses active.  The market has to turn around at some point, and only you can say if you would regret leaving the business when it does.  Best of luck.  

Dec 03, 2011 04:28 AM
John Wingate
EXIT Shore Realty - Salisbury, MD
Salisbury MD Real Estate, 302.339.5185, Salisbury, MD Homes

I came from an insurance background and I will say check out the insurance industry. YOu can make your own hours and also the money isn't bad at all. You already have clients from real estate and see if you can sit with those clients and let them know what you do know. This is a great start for you. 

Dec 03, 2011 04:32 AM
David Gibson CNE, 719-304-4684 ~ Colorado Springs Relocation
Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Relocation, Luxury & Lifestyle residential


Here is the pastoral counselor in me coming out. You need some time to “breathe” and heal.

Option # 2 seems like the best option for this next year. Whatever you do don’t let your license expire right away. Not to spook you but jobs can evaporate and you might need to get back into full time real estate if there weren’t a job.

If you keep your license but aren’t a member of your local board you can team with someone who is a board member. You may do more referral work than you realize and it would be a nice side income.

Wishing you the very, very best professionally and personally.

Dec 03, 2011 06:41 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate


That's what most people I know who have left the business do.

I remember when you got your license! You started on AR before you were licensed as I recall.

Dec 03, 2011 01:09 PM
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

Debbie ~ Exactly. But then I wonder, how many referrals am I likely to even have if I don't keep in touch with folks like I used to? Thanks for reply!

Cathy ~ Thank you, Cathy! I've thought about that. Laying low, and if something pops up that I feel real comfortable with I'd at least have that option. The thing is, I won't have my "hand on the pulse of the market", as they say, if I'm not working in it every day.

Peggy ~ That's one of my fears...that I'd regret the decision if I just let it go. I worked very hard to get that license, and I'd hate to see it *poof*...just go away. Thank you!

John ~ I had to laugh, John, because I sure do seem to be getting a lot of recruiting emails from the insurance industry. But truly, sales of any kind just isn't for me. Thanks for the thought, though!  : )

David ~ Breathing...what a novel concept! It seems as if I haven't exhaled - not once - in the past year. But I agree...and I'm definitely tending towards #2. Thank you for your thoughts and good wishes!!

Maureen ~ Good memory! Yes ma'am, I started at AR about a month before my classes began. It was so much fun back then!

Ok, if I choose option #2, do I make some kind of "announcement" to my SOI? I really don't have the time (or money) to keep in touch regularly like I have in the past. I will send Christmas cards, but that's about it. I was throwing around the possibility of mailing a letter to my past clients: "I'm no longer selling real estate, but have a network of wonderful folks who I can recommend" kinda thing.

Thank you again for taking the time to give me your thoughts!!



Dec 04, 2011 11:08 PM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Sue - I did Option 2 three times in my career and made quite a money doing it - probably more than you're making in your 9-5! How about considering referral-generating (notice I didn't say referral-begging!) your part-time job and commit to devoting a few hours a week to it? DO stay in touch with your SOI, but a little differently (I can help you with that) - you actually might find it more enjoyable since there's no self-imposed pressure to be doing it on a regular basis...

I've been out of the business almost three years now and I still get referrals that are NOT a result of my SWS efforts, but rather the little bits and pieces I put (and left) in place while I was actively selling and right after I left.

Hmmmm... my brain is spinning right now with the possibilities...

Dec 04, 2011 11:23 PM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Sue I have never realy seen anyone do that (try to keep up the marketing) but I think partnering with someone might be a good idea.  If they could use your past clients and the clients relationship with you .... and keep up the momentum I would think it could be win, win, win.  

I know there have to be licensing laws about advertising when you are in this position but I would think with social media it would be easier today to stay in touch with past clients and help them find an agent who is actively selling when they need one.  

Best of LUCK!!!  

Dec 04, 2011 11:23 PM
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

Thanks Maureen....I just may do that! There are several agents out there who I'd feel comfortable working with.


And Jennifer...my brain's spinning, too! Help!!!!! :-]



Dec 05, 2011 10:26 AM
Harley Wilcox
West Group Real Estate - Victor, ID
Harley Wilcox

Hey Sue, not sure what your 9-5 job is, I am thinking that as the market recovers there will be some highly talented Realtors that will be looking for people with real estate background that does not want to sell to help them set up a team. Have you considered working in the industry just not in sales? Then you are not too far from RE in case you want to try again when it is not the worst RE market in decades. I do not consider myself in sales, I am in the people and information business.

Jan 21, 2012 01:54 AM
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

Hi Harley! I've actually decided to keep my license active (as a referral agent only) and am now working for a company that is connected to employee relocation. We review the moving invoices, to make sure everyone's paying what they're supposed to be paying. It's pretty wonderful getting home by 6pm, throwing on my sweats, and relaxing for the rest of the evening. Real estate was just too fast-paced for me. And I'm thinking even as part of a team, in a BUSY market? I'd go insane! :)  But thank you so much for your comment. I agree, I wasn't in sales either. Just helping folks buy & sell houses! Continued success to you!

Jan 22, 2012 01:53 AM