I accidentally opened a brokerage and more frivolity from me

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Serene Living AZ

Twelve months ago (1/6/17) I accidentally started my own brokerage. Yes, accidentally.  It started when I was looking for an answer to something, and as usual, I wanted the black and white, solid answer, not the generic response I was used to getting. “Ask your broker”. One day, I was venting this frustration in front of my team and their response came back as… ‘why don’t you just become the broker?’  That was never my goal, but the seed was planted.

I went through the motions, asking questions, testing the waters, downloading paperwork, getting an LLC, but each night coming to the same conclusion… I’m not even sure I want that kind of pressure or liability… I just want to sleep in tomorrow and not have the world on my shoulders.

After staring at the same paperwork for weeks, I decided to just toss it into the wind and see what happened. If it's meant to be it'll be, and if it's not, they'll tell me I'm nuts, right? Heck, I was positive I’d get some email back stating that I had 50 things missing and I had no right running my own brokerage.  However…. The next morning I was sipping on my coffee, preparing myself to set up showings for a client, when I got an email…. it was from the ADRE (AZ Dept of Real Estate). What I read made my heart sink, my breathing stopped and I swear I may have had a small aneurysm…. One small sentence that changed everything.


“Everything looks good, we’ll have you set up before 3pm today”


WHAT!?  At this point, this was only an idea that I had tossed around … I wasn’t ready to jump in yet, especially not today, the day I’m supposed to be setting up 9 showings, in Prescott.  Now I’m being told that my level of adulting was going from 3-600 in the next couple of hours, like it or not!??

I went into a sudden fit of turrets, and I’ve never burned that many calories, pacing and thinking! (yes, I could smell the smoke, my brain was running a muck!) I hadn’t even told my broker, my colleagues or my clients that I was doing this! I thought I had time! I didn’t even think it would happen, much less on this day, a Friday of all days. The panic set in and I was terrified about the possibility that something could go wrong. What if I was left in limbo over the weekend. Unlicensed and unable to speak house for 48 hours. I wasn't sure I could survive such torture! I’ll spare you most of the boring details, but there’s a lot that goes in to setting up a brokerage in a few hours. There's no booklet or instruction manual. No one tells you what to expect. Every broker I asked had forgotten everything. It was like childbirth... once you get past the initial trauma, all details leave your brain and your body forgets what you went through. Over the next 48 hours I had to show 9 homes, write an offer, order business cards, change all my branding on 57,894 websites and sources... Then the hard stuff. Policy and procedure manuals, Employment agreements, Transaction Management programs. All those things that you see, use and sometimes ignore when you work for someone who took care of it for you. I was now responsible for files, my own and anyone that followed me. Every. Single. Detail. of everything they did... shit. Being responsible now meant knowing and NOTICING everything that was or could be wrong with every document. Along with all the additional things that would now be required of me.

My urge to know all the things has only multiplied since the realization that so many relied on me. The urge to know all the things has grown. I want to know all the things about all the things. Although, I'm still going to know them after 9am, in yoga pants, sipping wine.... and shit.

This year has been quite a whirlwind that I cannot even begin to describe. Somehow I managed to land on my feet, gain 5 agents that are absolutely amazing, manage 10 times the amount of transactions between me and my team. Manage meetings, social functions… and prior to knowing I was even starting this, I signed up for several local board committees, classes, agent masterminds etc. So, you know… all the time in the world.  All of which multiplied after I learned of all the Broker specific groups, committees and other avenues that suddenly opened up to me…. This year has been a phenomenal year of growth, and learning, which I’m still in shock and excitement with. Learning and investigating has become more than just an urge, it's an obsession. I don't want to be average, I want to be the best, and I want to lead and work along side the best.

Now that running a brokerage has become my daily normal…which still sounds strange in my own head. I can assure you, it’s going to stick! I have found a renewed passion for real estate as well as a passion for helping my agents and digging in to my own transactions with more freedom than before. I have been able to help clients at a whole new level and help my agents do the same. I entered the year feeling a little like I was juggling 50 flaming swords, while doing jumping jacks. Some days it was hard to breath. Some nights I worked till 2. Some days I fumbled through, solely utilizing the brain power of those near me. Some days I felt like breaking... just quiting before it 'got too real'.  Other days I'd see the wins, the happy faces and I'd feel on top of the world!

But this I know... I know who I am, I know what kind of company I want to run. I know what kind of agents I want to work with and the clients we will go to the moon for. I know I still have no desire to leave bed before 9. I will never be in bed before 10pm. I am still not the agent that will show up for inspections in a pant suit, but I do show up. I'm still the agent that enjoys wine, sarcasm and swearing.  I'm also the agent that spends 8-12 hours a week in class dedicated to being the best out there, soaks up knowledge from all agents around me, who is dedicated to always making improvements to my business, coaching agents to be their best and making a difference in my field. I'm also the agent that will read every book that any brilliant entrepreneur, salesman, negotiator or coach writes and will always learn how to better represent clients, in any way. I'm the agent that will make sure that I do everything to protect my clients, make sure that all parties in the deal are happy and go for the jugular (in every legal way possible) when someone tries to hurt someone near me, cause unfortunately I'm also the person that tends to speak her mind and protect those she loves. I'm the agent that doesn't count the homes I sell (most of the time I don't know my own stats), but rather the people I help. I'm the agent that plans on running a brokerage along side agents with these same beliefs and dedications, because I believe in order to grow, you surround yourself with the best people on the planet.

So, today, as I reflect on HOW I possibly managed to get to this point. I want to thank everyone. My agents, for not only pushing me into this juggling ring, but also helping me grow as an agent, and as a person. I thank my clients for believing in me and for knowing my value, especially on long days when I felt drained. I thank them all for knowing that not only am I human, but we all are.  And that's ok. I also thank my husband and my family for believing in me, or at least portraying the part during my waking hours. Especially my husband, who poured drinks while I pounded my keyboard, in a mission to win over the agent and get that fridge at 1am. And I thank myself for having enough self control to not end  up with multiple hangovers after every WTF moment.
Without a doubt, I want to say that I appreciate the number one lesson that I have learned through so MANY interactions this year.  Success is not in what you wear, how you act, how you speak.. success is within. There are no rules in real estate, that I've known. But there are no rules in life either. Life and business doesn't have to fit into a box. Live it, enjoy it and anything that doesn't sit well... serve yourself a glass of wine and tell it "bye Felicia".

Cheers! And Happy first Birthday Serene Living AZ... you sexy, real estate beast!

Photo by Rich Helmer on Unsplash

Posted by

Serena Jones ~ REALTOR®




Investor and Seller Specialist in the Phoenix and East Valley Area, AZ


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. James Dray 01/06/2018 03:15 AM
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Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Everyone has to walk in the real estate shoes that fit best for them....this sounds like a great fit !

Jan 06, 2018 05:00 AM #4
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Congratulations on your feature - and congratulations on your big step forward - a truly inspiring post that tells all of us we are capable of much more than we give ourselves the chance to discover

Jan 06, 2018 05:26 AM #5
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Serena Jones 

Happy 1st Birthday to Serene Living. I enjoyed your story. I liked this statement the best " I'm the agent that doesn't count the homes I sell (most of the time I don't know my own stats), but rather the people I help."


Jan 06, 2018 05:40 AM #6
Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC
Everything Pines Partners, LLC. - Whispering Pines, NC

Serena - I second Doug's highlight of your post statement - " I'm the agent that doesn't count the homes I sell (most of the time I don't know my own stats), but rather the people I help."

Jan 06, 2018 05:53 AM #7
Brenda J. Andrew
Professional Realtor in Corpus Christi, TX

Congratulations on the feature Serena Jones and Happy Birthday to your new adventure.  This is such great information for all of us who are contemplating this idea.  It sounds like you have done an amazing job and you have a team that respects you and loves you.  Those are things you have to learn and do and it sounds like you more than accomplished that.  Thanks for sharing and it is a well deserved feature!

Jan 06, 2018 06:02 AM #8
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
There's no place like home.

"unlicensed and unable to speak house"... love it, and love you.  I'd work for/with you.

Jan 06, 2018 06:05 AM #9
Chad Felter
Virginia Beach, VA
Providing service through out Hampton Roads

Running a business is like having a full time job for less pay and no days off!

What I like is the way you made me feel caught up in your struggle and passion in a whirlwind of emotion with this story...great read.

Overcoming the adversity is your strength and gaining knowledge is your power. I think you already had the drive to steer the brokerage wheel and now you found the passion. Helping others achieve their goals is the foundation of success your business is built on.

I wish you continued success in your endeavors.

Jan 06, 2018 06:06 AM #10
Ben DeHaven
Haven Realty & Investments - Winter Haven, FL
Proudly serving Winter Haven & Lakeland, Florida

This happened to me this year. I am a few months into running my own brokerage. Congrats on your 1 year milestone! 

Jan 06, 2018 06:28 AM #11
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Happy first!  I do not know why I took so long to realize there was only one way.... Wishing you a succesful 2018!

Jan 06, 2018 07:02 AM #12
Martin Kalisker
Greater Boston Association of REALTORS - Boston, MA
Professional Standards & Legal Assistant

Sounds like a whirlwind event and you were baptisted by the creation of your own brokerage. I hope things work out for you. But I have one question? Do you have an office manager? I have never seen a successful brokerage last when the broker/owner competes with her agents. The best example I can offer is when a listing agent asked her broker a question about her listing and the broker (correctly) said “I can’t help you because I may have a buyer for that property.”

Jan 06, 2018 07:24 AM #13
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Serena, what an inspiration!  Congratulations on making the jump into a thriving real estate brokerage and lots of success in the future!

Jan 06, 2018 07:38 AM #14
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

I love this post. This was definitely inspiring - I'm glad you accidently opened a brokerage - great job! And kudos for knowing success is within and that life doesn't have to fit in a box. 

Jan 06, 2018 08:02 AM #15
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

Dear Serena Jones ... I read your post with great interest, and loved every word of it. We are in about same market. I have 5 agents on my team and I have been toying with the same idea for the last 2 years. And I've been in business for the longest time, I'm no longer publishing how long...

I manage my team like a business within a business since I'm affiliated with a big name brokerage. I never made the switch to an independent brokerage because they leave me alone to manage the team as I see fit (as we have more experience than the brokers) and economically it makes more sense for the team and I (in other words, it's cheaper than operating your own brokerage). And I don't want the role as a 'managing broker', I want to be out there with clients. And we don't really identify ourselves with the brokerage - just enough to be compliant with state rules.

But the thought is constantly revolving in my mind. And I get solicited all the time by competing brokerages.

Jan 06, 2018 08:18 AM #16
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Great story - happy birthday - and I hope you have many, many years of success!

Jan 06, 2018 09:00 AM #17
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good afternoon Serena Jones -  I enjoyed the read and have bookmarked it.  It is much different managing others as opposed to being an individual performer, isn't it.

Jan 06, 2018 10:24 AM #18
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Happy Birthday, Serene Living! 

Jan 06, 2018 12:39 PM #19
Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate
Kelly Right Real Estate - Hood River, OR
Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs

It sounds like quite a year, congratulations and Happy Birthday!

Jan 06, 2018 06:16 PM #20
Serena Jones
Serene Living AZ - Tempe, AZ
REALTOR Extraordinaire ;-) ePro, ABR

Thank you, all! I didn't expect so many positive comments. It's been an amazing year. We're definitely not a typical brokerage. I'm so glad I made the leap

Jan 06, 2018 08:37 PM #21
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Nothing like jumping right in and learning how to swim all over again!  Sounds like it all worked out though.  Congratulations on your first birthday!

Jan 09, 2018 07:01 PM #22
Bill Dean
Haggerty Team St. Louis, Mo. - Fenton, MO
William Dean - Broker, Salesperson

 Hi Serena Jones ,

Well that was one happy accident!   Congrats on the 1st Birthday and well deserved Featured Post!!    btw I found your post due to the reblog of    James Dray

Jan 13, 2018 10:25 AM #23
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Serena Jones

REALTOR Extraordinaire ;-) ePro, ABR
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