“Real estate sales was perfect training for the experience to go into public life because you learn to accept rejection, to meet new people, learn to work with people and find common ground. That’s the way you sell houses…that’s also the way you win over constituency.” – Johnny Isakson
When I planned to move to San Diego in August of 2014 to be closer to my fiancé, I also saw it as an opportunity to change careers and start fresh. Prior to moving to California, I was a single mom for six years, where I was the only parent in the picture. After getting my associates degree, I learned as much as I could about web design and building web sites. I also became pretty savvy at many aspects of social media. I have a love for photography and the outdoors, and my media business also gave me an opportunity to express my creativity in those ways as well. It was a good business while my son was younger because I could work from home, but I always wanted more from my career, both in terms of fulfillment and earning potential. With my son in school full time this last year, I thought real estate could be my true professional focus and career.
I had many discussions with my fiancé about careers, and he would always say, “You’re young, smart, driven, savvy, outgoing, and you can do anything.” It made me feel empowered, and it renewed my drive for success. We discussed my skills, abilities, and passions. As a result of these discussions, I felt that I had what it takes to be a successful real estate professional. The thought of helping someone find their “forever home” has always inspired me, so I finally decided take a leap of faith into this new business atmosphere, and I’m so glad I did!
After just over four months of being licensed real estate agent, I am reflecting about all of the things I have learned, how far I have come, and how far I still have to go to be a top performer in this career. It has been a wild journey, and I’m glad to finally be at a point in my knowledge base to where I can wrap my mind around most of the conversations that are occurring around me. Before getting my license, I had no prior experience in residential home sales, so the acronyms, terminology, contracts, rules, and generally how business gets conducted was totally new to me. However, being a real estate agent gives me the right balance of creativity and structure and I love to bring my creativity when it comes to showing a potential buyer a home, or pricing and marketing a home to sell. Like any sales position, you need to become an expert in the product, the market, and the selling process. It is also critical to understand how to conduct business, including the contracts, in this highly structured and regulated environment. Buying a home is the biggest financial decision that most people ever make, and it is important as their agent to be helpful and to get it right.
I recall preparing for the interview process of finding the right company and broker while I was still taking the required classes for being a real estate agent in California. When I was studying for my state exam, I found two pages in my Practices of Real Estate book that explained that an interview with any prospective broker/employer is really a two-way interview, where I was selecting them as much as they were selecting me. Not being from the corporate world, this was a new concept for me. The book said that I have to get to know the people in the office, and explore their work ethic, personality and drive, so that I got a good idea of how I will feel working there. It showed a list of questions to ask on one page, so I ripped it out, highlighted all of the important questions that were most relevant to me at the time, and started to prepare for interviews with the five companies that I thought would be a potentially good fit for me as a new agent.
At my first interview, I still had no idea which questions were the most important, and because I had never been around a real estate agent, much less bought or sold a home myself, I really didn’t know how to ask any follow up questions either. I felt I could work well with everyone in the office, even though, looking back, I really had no idea what it took to get along with anyone in a working environment. Regardless, at the end of this first interview with the first company, I felt completely empowered and ready to take my state test and “hang my contract” (a term real estate agents use meaning that I will be working for the broker in that office) with them. I thought I was on top of the world and if by some mysterious magic they gave me the opportunity to join this office, I would be on the road to becoming a top sales associate. I felt as though the second I signed my contract, the world would be at my fingertips. My love for photography could finally have a creative outlet and my curiosity with interior design could flourish! Everything was going perfect!
After the interview, I shared my exuberance with my fiancé, who has been in the corporate world and business for a long time, and he laughed and said I should still at least talk to the other companies on my list. It would either confirm my decision to join that first company, or give me some food for thought about the pros and cons of each potential employer. I went on a few more interviews and finally started to get a grip on how the sales environment feels. Everybody is selling everybody. Companies share the statistics in a way that makes them look like the best. My fiancé calls this “cutting the lead tables”. He said that every investment banker he has ever engaged with is the leader is “something”, and they will show the data that puts them at the top. I guess real estate isn’t much different.
From those first interview appointments until now, I have learned a lot more about what it means to really get to know people, and see if you could work well with them. I have discovered that the world IS at my fingertips, but being a top sales producer is a long road and a steep one. It is definitely a marathon and not a sprint, yet I am still thrilled to be coming into this career at such a great time in my life and in the market. I’m learning more about every day about finding & getting to know the right people to be around, and it makes all the difference in real estate. I love working with people who understand the value that I bring to the company, and want me to succeed.
I passed my state exam on the first try this past December, and I hung my license in January with a company that I really love, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties. My excitement grows every day, and I envision having a long-term business relationship with BHHS. I am giggling now thinking about how I must have sounded in those first interviews, wide-eyed and brand new, ready to take on any challenge.
One of the big things in sales is lead generation, and one way to get to know potential buyers is to hold open houses for other agents. I remember the very first open house that I hosted for another agent in our office where I was trying to put an open house sign in the ground, and having to push my whole weight against it to get it to move even a centimeter further in the dirt. I was so determined that I pushed on it for minutes straight getting it to stay in the ground. I never thought lead generation would require so much physical labor! I still do and find things every day that make me laugh and smile, and I have even more passion and enthusiasm now than ever before about my chosen career!
I like to think about my very first days as an agent to keep myself motivated. There is a lot of work to do, and I can never stop learning. I know it has only been a little over four months, but I have learned so much about homes, the market, selling, customer service, pricing, marketing, schools, and other differentiating aspects about the areas in Coastal North County San Diego. My passion and love for this business grows every single day and I feel like a true professional in this career! I can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes me!
My questions for you are: Have you ever stopped by an open house where a new agent was working? How could you tell they were new? Comment below to share your story!
If you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, please send them my way! I know that I’m new, but I have the resources of a big company, and no one will work harder for you and with more passion for real estate!