Seriously, is it time to hit PAUSE on your real estate career?

By
Education & Training with Sell with Soul

While I don't advertise it, I do some one-on-one consulting for Very Special People. By VSP, I mean, people who buy into the Sell with Soul philosophy (yeah, I discriminate) and who are intelligent and self-aware enough to 1) be willing to play outside the box and forego traditional wisdom most of the time and 2) are willing, even eager to ask "How did I contribute to this problem" rather than simply whine about how everyone else on the planet sucks.

Anyway, wanna guess what the most common consultation I'm doing these days is? Seducing a Sphere of Influence? Nope. Writing a Non-Dorky Announcement or Reconnection letter? Nope. Getting a difficult listing sold? No again.

"I'm thinking of quitting. Can you help me decide?"

Sounds kind of grim, doesn't it? And yeah, most agents who contact me with this question are, frankly, out of time. Either something has to happen RIGHT NOW or they're in deep doo-doo. Or, rather, deeper doo-doo.

What I'm about to say here may not be popular but the answer many of these consultees have gotten from me is: "Yes, I suspect you need to quit, at least for now. Maybe not forever, but for now, it's probably the right thing."

Are you asking yourself this question, or some version of it? You don't have to answer me out loud, but if you're at this point in your career, please don't be afraid to explore your options. There is NO SHAME in redirecting your career if that career is putting you and your family at risk of financial ruin. THIS IS A TOUGH BUSINESS! Yeah, we all know that, but sometimes we forget the reality of that statement. When something is "tough" that means a whole lot of people aren't going to make a go of it - maybe even you or me!

I'm not saying that giving up is the only option; of course it isn't. But it IS an option. Don't let your pride, ego or fantasies get in the way of making the right decision for you.

I'll probably write some more on this topic - stay tuned.

ja

 

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Rainmaker
582,875
Gordon Sloan
Group1 Real Estate, selling houses in Salt Lake City Utah - Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake Homes For Sale, Salt Lake Real Estate

Jennifer:

Good advise in many cases.

A high percentage of agents today have not seen a down market nor even a normal one.

It will be almost like starting over. New techniques, new work habits new tools may be needed.

We have a way to go before this market turns around. If someone cant afford a long hard slog, now may be the time to find something else to do to put bread on the table.

Dues have increased, prices for services have gone up and overall the cost of doing business is not reflective of the climate of the Industry.

Having done this all my life, I have no choice, I don't know how to do anything else. Probably wouldn't if I could.

Gordon/forcorie

 

Dec 12, 2008 01:04 AM #4
Rainer
100,122
Heather Oberhau
Prudential Fox & Roach - Newtown, PA
Bucks County Real Estate, e-PRO

As someone who's "career" has been de-railed several times by being a stay at home Mom (sometimes because I wanted to, sometimes because something with my kids necessitated it), I just want to say that there is nothing wrong with rolling with the punches.  Life happens, things change, circumstances arise, and it's silly to stick your head in the sand and blind yourself to opportunities.  It doesn't mean you're a failure, or that you suck as an agent.  It means that circumstances have changed, and you need to figure out if what you are doing is still working for you.  If not, you have to make it work - whatever decisions that entails.

I'm lucky enough to have a DH with a steady income and benefits, so we have some breathing room and flexibility.  But, if I *needed* the income, I'd have to find a way to get it, and if that means working part time at the mall, or picking up some administrative assistant work, or going back to a 9 to 5, well, there's nothing wrong with that.  It's not a failure, it's an adjustment.  And, if you approach it right, it can be just as exciting as when you ventured into Real Estate. 

Dec 12, 2008 03:49 AM #5
Ambassador
686,448
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

When I look at our local MLS roster and see the empty mail slots at my office I can see that a lot of people have quit or at least gone inactive......and our market is not suffering nearly as bad as many!

Dec 12, 2008 05:16 AM #6
Rainmaker
747,325
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

It often becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. If they are thinking it... it has already happened.  You are either all in this business or all out (if you are to be sucessful).  I have actually sent a book to one person in particular. "the little engine that could"  of course I was going for the laugh with that one :)

 

Dec 12, 2008 05:38 AM #8
Ambassador
3,784,782
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jennifer, you have to pay the bills and you need to do what you have to do to do that (do I have enough to do's in there or what),  and if that means finding something else to do to put food on the table until things change, than that is what needs to be done.

Dec 12, 2008 09:26 AM #9
Ambassador
769,886
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA
Real People. Real Dreams. Real Estate.

As a consultant, I would think it is critical to give honest advice.  I have fired people from my team in the past and recommened the office to let people go who were not doing any production.  I know it is harder when people come to you and ask that question.  I guess if they are asking it they also probably already know the answer as well.   On the flip side, the cleansing of the industry is good for the seasoned agents and the hungry new agents as well.  It is what it is on that note. 

Dec 12, 2008 11:42 AM #10
Rainer
5,536
Katrina Dangleman
Bob Davis Team First Mortgage - Ventura, CA

Success doesn't come easy.  There will always be obstacles and the winners are the ones who refuse to quit and let circumstances get in the way of their goals.  If something isn't working then change your strategy, never quit!

Dec 12, 2008 11:55 AM #11
Rainer
229,238
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - www.preasignaturerealty.com - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

I spoke with a broker of a large office of a national franchised brokerage (180 agents).  He lost 20% of his agents at license renewal and anticipates losing another 10-15% when NAR dues are due.  He indicated 70% of his agents have taken substitute teaching or retail jobs.  Plus, he indicated his office has 0 closings scheduled in January and February.  There are a number of people who have stuck it out and are calling it quits now.  Luckily, we have had a steady flow of closings and operate on a very lean, low overhead budget.

Dec 12, 2008 12:20 PM #12
Rainer
20,346
Christopher Johnston
The Johnston Team - Metairie, LA

I think you bring up a valid point. Many people were riding the real estate wave and when it broke they were left bruised and possibly with a broken surfboard. To continue the analogy, they don't have the courage, fortitude, resources, or most importantly skill to go back out and the good sets may already be gone.

I think when business is booming you can do well in spite if your skill level. I also think that many people don't treat this career like a business and they spend what they earn and don't set aside resources for a rainy day. If you can't pay the tuition, mortgage, or car note it might be time to look at supplemental income. It may also be time to reevaluate and decide that if this is what you really want to do then spend the hours working to improve your skill so that when the waves come back you can ride the big ones.

Dec 12, 2008 01:14 PM #13
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thanks for all the great comments! I must respectfully disagree with the idea that one should "never quit." As Seth Godin so eloquently explains in his book "The Dip" - very successful people quit all the time so they can move onto better things and/or stop throwing good money after bad. The trick is in knowing when you're in a "dip" (and should stick it out) or if you're just flat out failing. There's honor in calling it quits when the situation isn't right for you!

I'll also argue a bit with the idea that in "good times," anyone can succeed selling real estate. I started selling real estate in 1996 during an incredible boom time, and new agents still failed every day - not in the numbers they do today, but certainly the majority still did. I think what we do is hard in any market or economy, but being in a recessionary economy certainly makes it harder! And there simply is not room for everyone right now. Some very good people, some very smart people, some very hard-working people are going to be weeded out, or, frankly decide that they can do better elsewhere with their time, energy, money and skills.

There's no shame in saying "Life's too short for this brain damage" and moving onto something that pays better and allows you to sleep sounder at night! In fact, one might call it admirable!

Dec 12, 2008 11:32 PM #14
Rainmaker
122,939
Glenn S. Phillips
Lake Homes Realty - Birmingham, AL
CEO, Lake Homes Realty / LakeHomes.com

Again, a great, great post Jennifer!   This is such a timely topic yet one that people tend to avoid or whisper.

So many see a change as a sign of personal failure.  I submit that the failure would be a resisting appropriate and logical personal change when all around is changing.

Folks, it is okay to move along.  Really.  Most of the world is moving along.  The choice is this.  Will you move by your own choice in your own direction... or just be swept along a path the world chooses. 

 

 

Dec 13, 2008 12:23 AM #15
Rainmaker
716,233
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Jennifer,

I think this is a very refreshing take on a (potentially) very poisonous issue.

There are a lot of long-time agents and a few newer luck boxes that want to THINK "Yeah, I could do it as a rookie in ANY MARKET - no matter WHAT!! Anyone who can't is either incompetent or not dedicated enough."

Well - not necessarily.  We spoke and you were very honest.  I've been in this business about three years.  I have always supplemented with work that was flexible because our market has very low volume even when the bulls are running.

First, every market is DIFFERENT!  What someone is experiencing where there are short sales and reos all over the place (which at least may bring out some buyers) is utterly different from an area where prices have barely budged since their 2006 highs and where sellers are holding pat against price decreases and buyers are on the fence refusing to budge.

In my city - I looked at total sales for the month.  We had 31. There are over 1000 agents trying to get a piece of that pie.  75% were low-end coopertives.  To meet the bills even the most frugal agent needs about 3 of these a month to stay afloat.  This is a market that is so slow - it takes ones breath away. Long-time agents will always gobble up the lions share of this largesse.  So what is left for someone relatively new?  For a rookie - how realistic is a career in that area? These figures cover a population of about 60,000. 

Yet I hear people giving very dangerous advice to agents in this situation. "You've gotta be TOUGH! Are you prospecting enough???"  I have to ask prospecting WHAT? In order to be effective prosepecting I would have to prospect half a million people at this rate! HEY!!! Maybe I could be the first to create a farm of 100,000 residences!  That's wildly expensive or insanely time consuming and near physically impossible. The only way to deal with that is spend on ton of money on saturation bombing advertising.  That has worked for one or two...but if you have to have the money and given how unbelievably slow this market is -  there are no guarantees that this would actually work.

This type of advice is  dangerous thing. Just because you are surviving in your market - doesn't mean you could in mine.  I think successful agents play these games out of fear. If they feel they can't go wrong because they are "gifted" and "hard working" then they have to face the possibility that they might fail as well should things get worse.  This is the worst form of denial - because it is dangerous to the agent and dangerous to those they advise.

I have never seen a bull market  - so don't lecture me about how I should have saved my pennies. By the time I walked through the door - sales were already slowing.  They have been slowing ever since.  Little did I know - my first year would be my BEST year.  I was complaining back then and now would KILL for that much activity.  But for three agonizing years buyers and sellers have been undergoing a stare-down in my area.

When the market finally shifts back there will be a gush of buyers and sellers. There is so much pent up need on both sides that the agnets who are left will get a gyser of activity...but I can no longer wait this out.  Too many things need to happen. Prices really MUST come down significantly  (that's finally starting), lenders have to start to lend to more than 0.1% of the population. Coop and condo boards can't tighten while lenders are tighteneing - because they are now squeezing out more than half of the 0.1% that can actually get a loan.  Appraisers and lenders have to appraise at what something is currently  worth and not "anticipate" big drops.  Appraisals have gone from being "anything goes" to total tyranny in the last five months.  Also, we need the agent population to drop - significantly.  So far it hasn't.  Everyone is looking to the gold mine when the "gush" finally comes.

Too many puzzle pieces need to fit together before this thing will turn around. So what I am doing is searching for any work that I can get (that won't be easy in this economy) and hopefully find something that offers enough flexibility for me to continue.  When the gush comes, I'll hopefully be there to catch the wave and in that way I may be able to build a reputation and a business.  But I simply can't afford to throw thousands of dollars at something with nothing coming in and "hope" that the gush comes soon. It might come this spring. We are getting to a point where people won't be able to wait much longer to make deciisons about their lives - but if it doesn't - I need to be protected!

Dec 13, 2008 03:46 AM #16
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Very well said, Ruthmarie. In fact, I have a follow-up blog to this one that references our earlier conversation about your market. Thanks for stealing my thunder (said with a smile)!

Dec 13, 2008 06:25 AM #17
Rainer
139,927
Kelly Sibilsky
Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD. - Lake Zurich, IL

I completely agree. Why anyone would think that someone is a quitter who moves on - to what may be for them bigger and better things - is beyond comprehension. Life is a journey...not a destination!

Dec 13, 2008 08:17 AM #18
Rainmaker
716,233
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Whoops! I didn't mean to steal your thunder....thought you were finished.  Actually, volume is down about 47% from the peak. But this was never a market that had huge volume in it.  Prices are only starting to move down - even with all that reduction in volume and its only now that I'm seeing enough volume in listings to create downward pressure on prices.

What I do worry about are the "talking heads" who try to convince agents to spend more, do more and "make it work."  Um - I don't think so.... you can't manufacture urgency and you can't manufacture a housing market.  These are not ipods.  The advice being given to "just dig in and WORK!" is very irresponsible. People taking that advice to heart might just work themselves into their own foreclosure.

Thank you sooooo much for the reality check and the breath of fresh air.

Dec 13, 2008 09:14 AM #19
Rainmaker
600,032
John Marshall - FORE!
LoKation Real Estate - Cherry Hills Village, CO
Specializing in Golf Course Properties

This is exactly why My Green Parachute was created, to help agents exit the business or better yet "Retire with Royalty". We help agents gracefuuly leave the business with the option of returniing if they wish, all the while referring business to other agents and collecting referral fees. With the number of agents currently leaving, this is a viable solution for many agents, and the agents that are staying can get more and better qualified leads as well from the retiring agents.

Dec 15, 2008 04:37 AM #21
Rainmaker
230,480
Karen Ann Martin
Safe Harbor Realty - Westport, MA
Realtor Fall River Westport MA Real Estate Agent

 Jennifer  finally someone willing to write the truth.  We have MLS dues & Realtor dues. It may not be smart for some to stay in the business and hurt themselves & their family.  

I am very very fortunate I have income from a sale of a former business & rental property ( a little in the same boat as you with an eviction right now.

Dec 15, 2008 07:01 AM #22
Rainmaker
234,362
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty

If an agent is struggling and does not have another source of income, getting out of the business temporarily is probably a wise decision.  Let's hope things pick up this next year for all of us.

Dec 16, 2008 02:50 AM #23
Rainmaker
291,815
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Yay, Jennifer! Thanks for being such a good friend and confidante to those VSP. You're a VSP, too!

Cheers,

Robin

Dec 26, 2008 11:28 AM #24
Rainer
75,153
Kathy Honeycutt
Carolina Moon Realty LLC - Travelers Rest, SC
Realtor/ Neighborhood Specialist

Jennifer, with the economy we do have to help ourself, even if it means taking a 2nd job, Realtor is in my blood, but when IT bleeds you to death you sometimes need a bandied.  I think a 2nd job is a way to keep a float!1 Great post.

Jan 03, 2009 06:15 AM #25
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Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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