Celebrating 14 years as a Door County Realtor:
Advice for New Agents
The year was 2004, and oh, how I remember it well. Two children going into middle school and a LOT of time on my hands. It was after the 2003 holiday season, and the decorations were put away and I was looking for something new to do with my life.
I took a regular spin class then, and one of the other cyclists was a Broker who seemed fascinating to me. I took regular walks through our neighborhood and her signage was EVERYWHERE. I loved houses...it seemed like such a good fit.
So, like so many others, I took my exam and passed. I joined that office for several months until I took my broker license exam and subsequently got a better offer to buy into a different company. However, my first nine months at that firm truly prepared me for the rest of my life in real estate. What advice can I give a new agent based on my own experiences?
I think my biggest regret is that I went with a salaried position with my first firm rather than truly striking it out on my own (that whole "no paycheck" thing is scary for EVERYONE). My first year in the business as an independent, I tripled the income I was making and I LOVED being my own boss. I was keenly aware of how much money was being made, and I regretting working as hard as I did and not having a bigger "piece of the pie". At the same time, however, the training I got was incredibly valuable. I learned the insides and out while being paid, and then I was ready to go on my own with confidence.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO TAKE THE LEAP AND BE YOUR OWN BOSS
I questioned my decision to become a full-time broker, as so many of us did, during the recession. I had to learn a whole new "normal". 2004-2006 were some of the best years in real estate nationally, and you really had to have true grit to stick out changing markets, learn about short sales and foreclosures, and that was such a disheartening time as people that I knew well lost their homes. I really had to keep my head down and stick it out, while many of my fellow Realtors started reading the "Help Wanted" ads. I remember walking a quarter mile in waist deep snow in January to help a family see a home that had come on market as bank-owned because I KNEW it was going to get multiple Offers immediately. Luckily, we got the house and I made some life-long friends. Advice: Stick it out. Learn the new normal. Adapt to your ever-changing market.
THREE THINGS THAT I CAN GIVE AS ADVICE TO NEW AGENTS (AND MORE):
1. LEARN YOUR MLS INSIDE AND OUT. I actually started my career as a salaried listing coordinator, and I spent hours learning the ins and outs of our MLS, as well as working with the Register of Deeds, surveyors, appraisers and others. I am currently working with two new agents on a team effort and I am surprised at how little time they spend looking in our MLS. This is far more important than checking your Facebook or Instagram posts! Know what is new, reduced, expired and more.
2. GET INVOLVED. Being really involved at my daughters' schools and in our local community helped me get established in the business quickly once I became an independent. I also served as a Director of our local Board of Realtors my second year, learning more about the industry from working with a variety of agents from other firms. Get involved and STAY involved.
3. LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES YOU WILL BE SERVICING--AND NEVER STOP LEARNING. When you work in a resort community as I do, people want to know what to do. They want to know where to eat, where to shop, what plumber to call, the best dentist, and so much more. Become your client's and customer's "go to" person. In 2014, I actually took a Certified Tourism Ambassador course for Door County to better know the southern communities. Go to Planning Commission meetings. Learn your local government entities. Enjoy the local events and festivals.
I try to look forward and never look back. If you don't love what you do, then find something else to do--immediately! Life is short, and it's often hard. Work at a place you enjoy, with people you enjoy. Often, the intensity of the summer and autumn markets here can actually be soul-sucking, so learn time management and remember--there is no such thing as a real estate emergency. Turn off your phone after 7 p.m., if you can (sometimes I can, sometimes I can't). Even if it's hard, remember to put your family first.
Join Active Rain. That's some of the BEST advice I can give an agent, old or new. I have learned SO MANY good things here--from website providers to tips and tricks of the trade that have increased my productivity annually.
Be Your Own Boss. Make Decent Money. Set Your Own Hours. It's hard work not for the faint of heart---but it might be the best decision you'll ever make.
DID I MENTION YOU'LL ALSO GET TO SEE
SOME INCREDIBLY COOL HOMES?
This post was for a January 2018 Active Rain Contest---and I really enjoyed the trip down Memory Lane!!