Why Real Estate Agents Fail

Real Estate Agent with Davis R. Chant, REALTORS RS301772

One of my friends on G+, Annie Maloney, posted this Realty Times article, about why some agents fail and others do not "in today's economy."

The main point the author of the article made was that agents who fail, do so because they are in the grip of fear.

I respectfully disagree.  Some failure I attribute to lack of training. Some agents simply have no clue because their brokers do not train them. Yet, if they really wanted to succeed...they would get training.

My first broker did not train me. I was determined to succeed, so I turned to sources like Active Rain, Real Estate Tomato, Jennifer Allan's Sell With Soul, and several others to learn how to generate business online and through my SOI. I made friends here in the Rain who challenged me, who shared with me, who inspired me. I give them and ActiveRain credit, but ultimately, it was up to me to pursue it.

I now work for a broker who provides excellent training along with the most amazing support system you could imagine.  Our office is like a family (sometimes a bit wacky). Yet, some people come, and go...they float, they drift...they leave the business.  Why? 

I think that MANY (not all but a significant number) fail due to "stinkin' thinkin'" or excessive negativity.  Two examples that come immediately to mind are former colleagues of mine. Neither one of them ever saw the glass as half full. They not only saw it as half empty, but they also expected a hand to come from out of nowhere and dump their glass over.  

Both of these women spent a great deal of their time being negative. Oh, they said they were being "realistic" but their brand of realism generally did nothing but annoy the rest of us who wanted to succeed and do well. Common things heard from their lips:

"How are we expected to compete against her?" (referring to the top producer in the office who had spent years building her business systems and is to this day one of the top agents overall in our MLS and in our franchise)

Instead of using her for inspiration, they used her as an albatross about their necks. Other things they routinely spewed:

"This market sucks."

"Buyers are liars!"

"Sellers are unrealistic!"

"I can't afford to send out all those calendars" (or postcards, or expired mailings)

"Every time I try, someone knocks me down."

"Nothing sells around here."

"I have such rotten luck."

"I never get any good leads."

"The phone never rings when I have floor time."

"Nobody ever comes to my open houses."

"My client is an idiot."

"I can't believe I live in this hell hole!"  (At that, I was offended and suggested she go back to wherever it was she came from, if she thought so little of our town.)

"I don't know how to __________" (take good pictures, write blogs, talk to sellers...so...LEARN!)

"This business is too hard."  

Whine, whine, whine!


The part that aggravated me the most was when I or someone else in the office would get a sale, or a new listing, one or the other of them would sigh, roll their eyes, say I was so lucky, blah blah blah. No. Success came from working hard.

I didn't always know how to blog. I still am not an expert. I had to learn.  I didn't always know now to take great pictures.  I still am not a professional photographer. But it's not by LUCK, or even TALENT... it's an aquired skill.  I didn't always know how to make a website.  I figured, if an 11 year old kid can learn it, so can I.

I am not a whiny, glass-empty person.  I do not believe in pity parties..at least, not for long. Everyone gets down sometimes. Life has a way of beating you up.  You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.

If what you're doing isn't working, maybe you should look at yourself more closely. Listen to the stuff that comes out of your mouth.  If you spew negativity, it will come out in your life.  This is a tough business to be sure, but it's not for whiners.  Put your big girl panties on, learn how to generate business, and just DO it. 

UPDATE: Please be sure to go read Lenn Harley's EXCELLENT continuation and addendum to my blog - she brought up another important factor: MONEY. You can't start this business without it!  

Posted by

Karen E. Rice, REALTOR specializes in homes for sale & shares real estate info for Lake Wallenpaupack in Northeast PA: Hawley, Honesdale, Greentown, Lake Ariel, Lackawaxen, Tafton, and beyond.

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 Areas Served: Hawley, Honesdale, Lake Ariel, Lake Wallenpaupack, Lords Valley, Greeley, Greentown, Tafton, Waymart, Milford,  Shohola, and Lackawaxen. Planned Communities: The Hideout, Hemlock Farms, Wallenpaupack Lake Estates, Fawn Lake Forest, Pocono Springs, Masthope, Indian Rocks, Tink Wig, Woodland Hills, Rockledge, Walker Lake, and other communities in NEPA.

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. John Kreiss,REALTOR®,CBR®,SRES®,e-PRO® 02/14/2013 09:48 PM
  2. Ginger Harper 02/18/2013 11:19 AM
  3. Bob Crane 02/24/2013 01:05 PM
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Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

I also think you just have to show up. I have seen agents who say the ma ret sucks or months good leads come in yet they never stepn foot intonthe office. Part of success is sshowing up and working hard

Feb 15, 2013 11:48 AM #42
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Karen - Being positive and getting training along with hard work can make a huge difference in this business just as in many other endeavors.

Feb 15, 2013 12:18 PM #43
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Karen, our business (and for that matter, any activity) is a mindset - and if that's not right, any business will be tough. Very nice thoughts on those negative ideas - for one, I'd change ...sellers are yellers...

Feb 15, 2013 05:26 PM #44
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Karen, Very good read. It reminds me of a saying my father taught me early in my business career. Don't worry about the mule going blind, just load the wagon.

Feb 15, 2013 10:04 PM #45
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT
Karen, My firm requires new agents to go through an extensive training program followed by coaching. I felt well equipped. I also had two years of income set aside as I went into this business. I can't imagine starting out with no capital or training.
Feb 15, 2013 10:16 PM #46
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome
Thanks to Lenn for sharing this article. My comment on her blog... This should be mandatory reading for anyone asking about becoming an agent. Dozens of people have gotten their license after their own purchase because it looked so easy and they saw the big commission on the HUD. None of those dozens have survived. It is like ice skating..the smoothness on the ice reflects the level of skill.
Feb 15, 2013 11:15 PM #47
Jordon Wheeler
The Jordon Wheeler Group - Fairburn, GA
J W Group Real Estate Sales and Service

Hi Karen,

Great post!  Much of failure goes back to attitude.  Yes, an agent has to have money for office dues, MLS connection, etc., but a start in advertising can be as simple as going 'door to door' in a targeted neighborhood, talking to homeowners and passing out business cards.  Sometimes you have to step back and take inventory of what you have immediately available to help you generate business.

Have an excellent week and best of CONTINUED success to you this year!

Feb 16, 2013 12:59 AM #48
Jackie Hillen
Melson Realty - Porterville, CA
Tulare County ~ (559) 999-8088

Karen, you are so correct, "If you spew negativity, it will come out in your life."  Sometimes in sales, it's difficult to stay positive, but negativity does not sell homes.

Feb 16, 2013 01:52 AM #49
John Fauth
Coldwell Banker King Thompson - Grove City, OH
Turning your dreams into an address!

This is all to true in every aspect of life. Hopefully they leave the business quickly or move on to another broker.

Feb 16, 2013 02:53 AM #50
Paul Heim
New ViewReal Estate Team - Silvercreek Realty Group - Idaho City, ID

I remember my real estate trainging course years ago.  We had about 30 students in that class and the teacher said 'Statistically, only three of you will be practicing real estate full time successfully, within two years'.

Immediately I looked around the room and said to myself 'I wonder who the other two agents are'.  Funny enough I didn't even consider or appreciate the implications behind my thinking until I meditated on it some years later.  A positive attitude generally will gain you way more than you will ever get from a negative one.

Feb 16, 2013 05:29 AM #51
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Man, it's no wonder those two Negative Nancy's failed: they were determined to at all costs! They had already talked themselves oout of the possibility of ever being a success by using every excuse in the book, and a few I hadn't heard of. If you fail in real estate, you can generally find the cause of your failure by looking in the mirror. Not always, but I'd wager more often than not. Off to read Lenn's post now...

Feb 16, 2013 05:38 AM #52
Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

Attitude is everything especially in sales and a positive one at that always, so throw out those negative thoughts.

Feb 16, 2013 05:50 AM #53
Mark Horan
Resident Team Realty, LLC & Toni's Property Management LLC - Saint Cloud, FL
"The Resident Chef" - Resident Team Realty LLC &

Wow Karen, How do you really feel? I totally understand the point of this post. When I was in a large office of a National Brand I did a lot of training for new agents. The question always came up, Why are you sharing all of your knowledge, secrets and techniques? My answer, 95% of the agents I am training won't implement any of the things I am teaching because they are lazy, unmotivated, and unwilling to work hard. To do what it takes. One more phone call, get up earlier, work an hour later than the other Realtor. Keep up the good work and have a great year!

Feb 18, 2013 07:31 AM #54
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

Thanks for posting this for us that are needing help with FaceBook and what is important to us that blog. Your checklist is great and I will bookmark this for future reference..

Feb 18, 2013 11:20 AM #55
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Lot of good advice and insight.  It is important to take some smaller steps to get to the larger goals.

Feb 18, 2013 11:23 AM #56
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Thanks everyone for commenting and sharing your thoughts.  Keep positive! Positive!!  That seller that used to be so stubborn...well that person may very well be way more realistic now. Don't be a downer and say "that house will never sell' and instead, approach the seller and say "Still want to sell? Here's how!" and then just do it. I got about 100,000 in price reductions this week by being POSITIVE - not "Oh they'll never reduce, just let it expire".   It's going to be a GREAT YEAR!!! What say you?

Feb 18, 2013 11:27 AM #57
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

As the ole saying goes you become what you eat, think or live I suppose

Feb 20, 2013 08:42 AM #58
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Thanks Karen, Attitude is everything and negativity can be not only destructive but infectious as well.

Feb 24, 2013 09:11 AM #59
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Karen -- there's no place for negativity in our business or in life -- a postive approach will bring us better results plus that happiness(not Pollyanna but general happiness) will attract the right people as well. Congrats on the gold star.  

Mar 08, 2013 11:28 PM #60
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

What a GREAT post....sorry I missed it originally, but I'm glad I found it today!  Too often "being realistic" is used to defend what is ultimately a negative attitude.  

Apr 14, 2013 01:49 AM #61
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