Real Estate in Jammies (part two)

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

(To read Part One, Click Here)

... In retrospect, I realize that the ability to work from home changed my life. For the first time, I truly flourished and discovered a creative side to myself I'd never known existed. Being somewhat shy and a bit of a privacy freak, working in an office made me feel self-conscious and ‘on display' all the time. And it was so distracting! I need peace and quiet to focus. I need a sense of privacy to recharge my batteries. Surrounded by chatter, I feel myself getting anxious and frazzled. But that's just me.

The other thing that annoyed me about working in the office was sharing equipment with other agents. The copier was always jammed (and abandoned), the fax machine always in use (or jammed & abandoned), the printer was out of toner (and abandoned) or the central computer was frozen (and abandoned). Real estate agents can be a bit self-absorbed and technologically challenged which is a bad combination when you're sharing vital office equipment.

If you're Just Like Me, give some serious consideration to setting up a true home office, and not just a corner of the dining room for your computer desk. You'll need your own room, preferably away from any hustle and bustle of the living areas of your home. And not just to ensure your peace and quiet, but so that your family doesn't feel as if they live in a real estate office. In many of the homes I've lived in during my career, my office was set up in a central location in the home and when I was married, my husband deeply resented it.

The phone rang constantly and I was always working, right under his nose. He felt neglected and ignored - that my business was more important than he was, and that his home was not a sanctuary from his own busy work day. Had my office been separate from the main living area, he could have enjoyed his own solitude and peace, but the way I set it up, he could not. It seemed to him that the whole house was my office and not our home.

So anyway, if at all possible, find your own space that won't interfere with family life. Once you get busy, your phone will ring constantly and you will need to be able to escape from your office too! That's hard to do when your office is in the dining room.

You'll need a good working desk in addition to a computer desk. You'll need plenty of shelves and drawers. The more horizontal storage space you have, the happier you'll be. Storage is the secret to happiness in your home office! You'll need some good file cabinets, a fax machine, a telephone with speaker, desktop file storage, a fax machine, a postage meter, a 3-hole punch, a paper cutter, a paper shredder, a few reams of presentation paper, a box of regular copy paper, legal paper, labels, scotch tape... etc., etc., etc. A multi-function fax/copier/printer/scanner is a necessity.

One year, I got overly ambitious and purchased a $2000 color laser printer because I thought I was a big shot and needed it. Don't do it!! That monster cost me $1000/year in toner and other supplies and broke down at least twice a year. It was too heavy for me to move, even two feet across the room. I'd rather wear out a couple mid-quality multi-function machines every year than deal with that beast again.

Do not use your home phone as your business phone unless you are the only one who ever answers it AND you answer it professionally every time. Use your real estate office address on business cards. After I got to the point where I worked exclusively at home, I was comfortable meeting my clients there, especially when preparing purchase offers. You may or may not feel the same way. For me, it's just easier to put contracts together on my own computer, rather than figuring out how to work the computer and printer in an office I rarely visit. It's worth the half an hour I have to take to clean up my house! Perhaps it isn't as professional as meeting in a stuffy office, but it works just fine for me.

If you work from home 99% of the time and are willing to give up your desk at your real estate office, you may be able to negotiate a better commission split. After all, the broker can put another agent at your desk (more $$$ for him) and you aren't using the office resources to the extent that the other agents do. Many companies offer an alternative split for agents who work from home, although it may not be available to you until you've been selling real estate for a year or two. Working from home can be expensive - aside from the obvious costs of stocking your own supplies, you're also using your own electricity all day long! Don't underestimate this - my utility bills were twice what they "should" have been. But maybe you'll offset that by not eating out as much... after all, your refrigerator is just down the hall.

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

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Jeff Tomas
Accounting and Tax - Rockford, IL


I have had a home office for about 3 years now and love it. I keep my cost down since I am the one who is paying for everything. I keep my desk open at work though in case I need to meet with people. After the first year of having a home office I started looking for ways to keep my cost down and just on the phone bill alone, I found a way to take my phone bill from about 125/month down to 25/month.

Jan 27, 2007 01:56 PM #1
Matt Haze
Matt Haze Entertainment - New York, NY

That's a great blog entry as I read it in my dirty home office!  LOL  I came home early from the office today to get it organized around here so I can spend more time working here.  Being the "geek" of the office since I know something about computers, people will pull me aside constantly to try to fix their computer or answer questions.  Working from home will allow me time to work on the 20% of tasks I NEED to spend time on.

I found one interesting article about how to get your home office in shape:  It's pretty interesting and helpful.  I wanted to find pictures of different home office setups, but didn't have luck with that.  I'd love to see how everyone has theirs set up.

Thanks for the great post!

Jan 31, 2007 06:56 AM #2
Ron Lipscomb
EXIT Realty - Juno Beach, FL
Jennifer - awesome post (((what did you think i would say, huh....haaaaaaa))).... personally, i think i am mostly an office type, cuz i view the home being the castle type thing, etc.  good reading ;)  ron
May 01, 2007 09:47 AM #3
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Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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