My Own Brokerage? What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger!

Real Estate Agent with Associate Broker, Momentum Realty
Sometimes adversity sneaks up on us. We think that we have a plan and, suddenly, the world shifts and we are left scratching our head and wondering, 'what next?'
Over 10 years ago, I was coming off of 8 years of being a stay-at-home mom. Prior to making that choice, I had been in the high pressure world of software, first in development and later sales. When I decided to go back to work, I knew I would not go back into software. I had had my real estate license, although it was inactive, for a number of years. It seemed like an easy way to start back into the work world (ha!ha!).  I wasn't sure how it was all going to work. I still had 3 young children at home and a husband who traveled. There wasn't a clear picture in my mind of the road ahead.
I opted to join a small, privately-held firm. Things chugged along there very successfully while I defined how this new career was going to take shape. One day, however, the rug was pulled out from under me. I came to an office meeting only to be told that effective immediately, we were going to a lead generation system and we would be required to be 'on-call' to this system at all times. Hmmm, not being sure how this would work for me--and not really interested in running my business that way-- I soon let them know I would be leaving.
There weren't a lot of comparable firms in my area (small, privately held, but with good broker support), but I eventually found one. My Managing Broker at the previous company, also not interested in the new business model, came with me to the new firm in the same Managing Broker role. Once on board with this new firm, I noticed some things that seemed 'not quite right,' and for a little while, I let it go. When it became obvious that the Principal Broker was not running the business in a way that I thought supported my client's best interests (or mine), I decided I needed to leave and I began looking around. Again.
All along my managing Broker and I had been discussing the possibility of one day starting our own firm. When she also decided to leave the new firm, suddenly,  that day seemed to have arrived. I didn't want to change firms AGAIN, unless I knew it was going to work. I was already concerned about what my clients, and future clients, would think about so many changes in such a short time. Obviously, I knew that  starting your own firm is no guarantee of success, but I thought that if it didn't work out, it was a much better story than just jumping from firm to firm (although, honestly, I never really considered that option).
Seven years later, Momentum Realty is still serving the real estate needs of Northern Virginia. It has been a Momentum Realty, Northern Virginialearning experience, stressful at times, but a labor of love, too. I have learned a lot of things from this experience, but there are two big lessons that stand out in my mind:
  1. Problems arise, it is up to you to determine how you deal with them
  2. There is never a perfect time to take a risk; sometimes you just need to go for it!
When I hear people complaining about their situation, whatever it might be, I can't help but think that you either make a change or accept where you are. I have never understood the mentality of staying in an unhappy situation and complaining. There are always things that can be changed--and hopefully improved.  Sometimes all you can improve is your attitude, but it is the one thing that you always control. 
I like the saying, 'there are no such things as problems, just opportunities for improvements.' Starting my own firm, after several disappointments, was definitely an improvement for me!
This post is an entry in the Active Rain Challenge: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger. 
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Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Hi Holly. Great story and I remember meeting you in Philly. I am 5+ YEARS into my own brokerage and would never change a thing.

Sep 26, 2012 10:07 AM #1
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Hmm Did you find that the issues with the others would be the same issues that you have. I would have never opened my own knowing that I the issues are the same whether iy is yours or someone elses. My team and I would have stayed with the 100% group

Sep 26, 2012 10:43 AM #2
Holly Weatherwax
Associate Broker, Momentum Realty - Reston, VA
A Great Real Estate Experience

Erika, Congratualations! Getting it set up is the hard part, don't you think?


Charles, I am not sure what you mean.  I can be pretty certain about the ethics at my own firm. I also like having control of the money and the expenses.

Sep 26, 2012 09:51 PM #3
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I am taking my broker exam next month. My primary motive was a higher split in my company and the opportunity to manage an office. Not sure I would ever want to take on the complete responsibility! Good for you for knowing when the time was right and being successful during a slower economic time.
Sep 28, 2012 02:14 AM #4
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

Holly, your story is wonderful. So many people just let events roll over them and don't take charge of their lives. I want you to know you've personally inspired me. 

Thank you for your entry in the AR "Stronger" contest.

Sep 30, 2012 11:58 AM #5
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

You said "When it became obvious that the Principal Broker was not running the business in a way that I thought supported my client's best interests (or mine)" I mean't some as in my case feel that they can do a better job and leave only to find out they can't or the issues are the same just new surroundings. In Florida brokers are responsible for their agents actions and as a broker now I don't care for that part. How am I to know what a agent said and did all day.

Oct 01, 2012 10:12 PM #6
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Holly: When I went into real estate again 6 years ago, I was not happy with my broker for a number of reasons as well. Rather than move, I decided to stay until I could take my broker's exam, and did. Three years later I had it and I am now very happy running my own show. In fact, I love it! So far I don't have agents working for me, but, who knows what the future will hold.

Oct 12, 2012 06:43 AM #7
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Holly, Congratulations on being mentioned in this contest.  I love being a solo broker. Wishing you continued MOMENTUM in your business.


Oct 12, 2012 01:41 PM #8
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Holly, I also came into real estate after being a stay home mom. I, however, was out of the work force a lot longer than you. It has been a great journey. I have often thought of starting my own brokerage. I find your story helpful to those of us who have struggled with this issue. Congrats on the mention and best wishes for continued success.

Oct 12, 2012 02:29 PM #9
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Holly, what a great story. So many ups and downs in this business, but you decided to take a chance and go for it. Congratulations,

Oct 13, 2012 01:19 AM #10
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Holly,

Great story! You should definitely not accept a bad situation for the long term. If improving you attitude does not do the trick, find a different home, as you did.

Oct 14, 2012 11:18 AM #11
Susan& Charlie Ahern
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Coronado, CA
Owner & Broker, Coronado Real Estate 4 Sale 619-92
You are a courageous lady. I tried It But didn't succeed. Now am a franchisee again. A little less stress.
Oct 15, 2012 01:47 PM #12
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