22 Things That I Learned in 22 Years Selling Real Estate

Real Estate Sales Representative with Remax Results

Between 1996 when I first started selling real estate, and today, the world has changed a lot. Technology has made us more capable, faster and smarter. My job description is the same, it's how we practice the craft that it is different. What doesn’t change is that real estate is a people business. Like an insurance ad that claims to have seen a thing or two, I’ve learned a thing or two.

  1. Stocks and bonds can disappear, real estate goes up-and-down, but it's always there. That’s why they call it R E A L estate.
  2. It is always about the client and their best interests. If you are good to them, their children will call you when they grow up.
  3. My opinion is just my opinion. Don't get stuck on it or let it get in the way.
  4. Moving is hard, it is really hard, but it is life-changing. Agents should move often so that they don’t forget.
  5. An easy transaction is an oxymoron.
  6. Buyers have no idea of what they want, they haven't done this before.
  7. Everyone wants ‘a deal’. Define what that means at the beginning, or everyone will wind up exhausted and disappointed.
  8. All clients need to be educated about the process. That is my job, not theirs. Don’t act like they are supposed to know.
  9. It’s not about the kitchen. We practice contract law all day, every day. Make friends with attorneys.
  10. Negotiation is a win/win. Everyone gets something they can live with or no one wins.
  11. Honesty not only is the best policy, it is the only policy. Honesty isn’t brutal or radical. It is simple clarity of what is.
  12. Your reputation follows you everywhere; it is your shadow.
  13. You can't talk yourself out of your own actions.
  14. Embrace change. The alternative leaves you covered in dust.
  15. Watch yourself on video. You will get outside yourself, and see what others see.
  16. There is too much to know, but every little bit helps.
  17. Opinions are like socks. They need to be washed often and discarded when they have holes.
  18. Be kind, and remember that everyone is doing that best that they can with what they know, and what they think is right for them.
  19. There is no ‘the one’. Find one with 80% of what you want and work with it.
  20. Don’t complain about your problems. 80% of people don’t care, the other 20% are glad that they aren’t you.
  21. Learn which rules are meant to be broken and which ones will come back to bite you. Keep copious notes on everything. You and the iRS will be grateful.
  22. The older I get the more I realize how little I know. Education is winding path of discovery. Learn something every day. 
Posted by

Mary Jo Quay

“That’s what I do: I move people—H O M E.”

 Phone: (612) 384-1360


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Will Hamm 03/27/2018 04:49 PM
Real Estate Best Practices
real estate agent
twin cities
real estate experience

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Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

You've amassed a good deal of wisdom - much of which can be applied to life in general.

Feb 25, 2018 12:29 PM #35
Greg Mona
Faira Homes Corp - Scottsdale, AZ
Real Estate in the 21st Century!

What an outstanding list Mary Jo Quay! I enjoyed your post very much and have a bunch of positive takeaways. ALL of your clients are very lucky to have you!

Feb 25, 2018 08:39 PM #36
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Thanks for sharing this great list, Mary Jo.

Feb 26, 2018 03:08 AM #37
Mark Davis-Cote
The HomesFinder Realty Group - Beaufort, SC
Broker-in-Charge, The HomesFinder Realty Group

Wonderful list of insights!  Good reminders for all of us, and an inspiration to me today.  

Feb 26, 2018 06:32 AM #38
Synthia Noble
RE/Max "10" New Lenox - Crete, IL

thanks for a great article. somedays I feel overwhelmed with what I should know and be doing - some people inply they know everything.  Refreshing to see your perspective. Reminds me that I am not alone in not knowing it all!  thanks 

Feb 26, 2018 09:51 AM #39
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So true!  Great list of 22 things in 22 years.  We all continue to learn, too.  It's amazing how much changes from day to day, month to month.  If we don't change, we will not be successful!   Great post!

Feb 26, 2018 11:13 AM #40
Marilyn Holda-Fleck
Coldwell Banker Residential Broker - Westfield, NJ
Personal service for each and every Customer

Great list -- all true!

Feb 26, 2018 11:54 AM #41
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great list that gives a good perspective.

I am not sure what you meant by find which rules can be broken.

I am not a proponent of breaking any rules.

Feb 26, 2018 06:29 PM #42
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

Totally awesome post with a wealth of wisdom and experience speaking from each line.

Feb 26, 2018 07:32 PM #43
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

#15 watch yourself on video--that would be difficult for me to do!!! I can cringe just seeing my photos!!

Feb 27, 2018 08:21 PM #44
Paul Uttermohlen

Thank you Mary Jo. This is one of the most useful and thought provoking lessons I've read on Active Rain. Your efforts and experience are greatly appreciated.

Feb 28, 2018 12:06 PM #45
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

Mary Jo Quay - I especially agree with your #14 "embrace change". I feel badly for those agents who haven't realized that once the "genie is out of the bottle" it's too late. We are in that situation in real estate right now. If you want longevity in this business, you need to keep up with what works "now".  And I'm not talking about agents who are in this as a retirement supplement income, but those of us whose livelyhood it is.

Mar 01, 2018 08:10 AM #46
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

I love this list of things you've learned. I laughed at #20 - 80% don't care and 20% are glad they aren't you. Those are good reasons not to complain!

Mar 03, 2018 03:03 AM #47
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Your reputation follows you everyday  Mary Jo Quay  words to live by - so glad Carol Williams  featured this  

Mar 03, 2018 05:20 AM #48
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

All of these resonate with me.  The biggest is getting buyers to understand there is no ONE.  

Mar 03, 2018 10:11 AM #49
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ

Mary Kay - love it! Smiled all the way through it! My favorite is the last one:

The older I get the more I realize how little I know. Education is winding path of discovery. Learn something every day.

Mar 03, 2018 10:24 AM #50
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Mary Jo, I love the first one for sure and it is so true.  Can I reblog this sometime in March?


Mar 04, 2018 10:14 AM #51
Michelle Cherie CarrCrowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Yes, I learn new things every day in real estate whether I like it or not!

Mar 27, 2018 09:47 PM #52
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Mary Jo. This is wonderful and I hope it gets featured. Well done!

Mar 28, 2018 07:14 AM #53
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Mary Jo

I came back to read this because it was such a delight. I'm surprised it didn't get the gold star as it's certainly deserving of one. But look at all the comments! Thanks for your thoughts!


Mar 28, 2018 08:18 AM #54
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Mary Jo Quay

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