Real Estate and Self Deception – Agents

a tired man sitting at his desk rubbing his eyes
Photo by Yan Krukov on

Getting my license – I started out as an agent. That CDROM course I bought was supposed to be a 75-hour course. It was not. I spent  40 hours a week on it for about 3 weeks. Now I am not that slow but the course was designed to keep you from being fast. There were minimum times required for each question and you were not able to go any faster than they wanted you to. I finally got the coveted ‘certificate of completion’ and was eligible to go to the ‘cram course’. 

That was a two-day class held at the Georgia MLS school and its purpose was to teach you to pass the test. After all, it is a CRAM course. Two days, 8 hours each of questions, answers, and drills. I was locked in a room with about 40 other agent wanna-bees (at least I thought they were all agents) and we were pretty attentive. Most were engaged and asked good questions.

Some questions were not so good. 

One person there was asking some of the goofiest questions. Things we all should have known if you did the material and even the instructor was getting frustrated. Finally, it came down to a battle between this person and the instructor. In the battle, the student finally said ‘How am I supposed to pass the broker test if you won’t help me?’. Broker test?? I was dumbfounded. This person was going to be a broker?? That meant she had been an agent for at least 3 years and had completed over 60 hours of additional education before even getting into the class. 

I got her name and made sure I did not ever go to work for a company that would have her as a broker. The truth is she probably went out on her own but that’s for a different post. We’ll come back to that later.

I passed the MLS test the next week and then took the state test. I scored almost a perfect score (I guess the CDROM course was pretty good) on both and got my license. Now that meant I had to pick a brokerage to go to because I can’t have a license on my own yet. That is what a broker is. Someone who can work on their own and have others work as agents for them.

My friend and the one who helped me buy my house in Georgia was still an agent. She and I had talked a lot about being an agent and it was just a given that I would join Keller Williams Realty. I met with the team leader of the office I wanted to join and after a few minutes of an ‘interview’ I was offered ‘the job’.

That was my first lesson about being an agent.

There is a big difference between getting a job and having a business. I now had a job but what I needed was a business. I began to see the difference right away. Before I left that day I was writing checks to the company and it was probably 3 months before they wrote me a check. You have expenses in a business before you see any income.

Having a business means you are responsible for EVERYTHING. You can hire people to help if you have the money but most agents don’t. They are getting into the business because they want to. It looks like fun or they lost their job and real estate looks like something they want to try out. One of my coaches said to me “you don’t try out real estate. It tries you out”. He was right.

You have to find the people to help, list the houses, find the buyers the houses they want, do the marketing, make the phone calls, write the contracts, attend inspections and appraisals, and if you’re lucky you get to go to closing. Lucky because that is where you get paid.

Most of this is about the business of real estate. Sometimes it is about the job. The job means things like writing contracts, showing houses, attending inspections, and all the things you do to get to a closing. Generally all the things from the time you list a house or sign a buyer up to help them to the closing. It is the easy part of the business. 

The hard part is making the calls, staying positive in a lousy market, and focusing on others when it is not easy. For me, it is writing on my blog when you are not even sure anyone is reading it or stuffing envelopes with something every month to stay in front of your relationships, or writing checks out with nothing coming in. It’s focusing on the important while being distracted by the urgent. It’s running ads on Facebook to generate interest in your listings and maybe find a buyer you can help. Mostly it is doing all those things consistently that works. Day in and day out doing it when you don’t feel like it. Doing it every day and having faith that it will produce some income sometime in the future. A job usually has one thing that comes on a regular basis. A paycheck. Your business does not have that. 

I tell folks I am gainfully unemployed. I have not had a job since August 31, 2001, and that is the truth. It’s been years since I have gotten a paycheck from anyone else. I have learned a lot since then and hopefully, I can share some of that experience with you.

One key thing I’ve learned recently is we need to focus on profit, not wages. This is not a job where you trade time for wages. It ought to provide a profit. Thanks to Gary Keller for that little gem.

I’ve gotten a little long-winded here so I’ll cut if off. Stay tuned for more Real Estate and Self Deception.

Thanks for listening,