Each year, 50% of all new real estate agents will quit the business. And nearly two-thirds of all new agents will not renew their license at the end of their first licensing cycle.
It’s a hard business, far harder than it looks on HGTV or at a Sunday open house. The average income for a Realtor in 2014 was $45,800 but the median was $38,747, which means 50% of licensed agents earned less than this, before expenses. Most serious agents are working 60 or more hours a week.
It’s a business that features huge momentum swings and surprising twists. There are big victories and demoralizing setbacks. There is competition everywhere you look and never-ending pressure to perform.
It’s a stage that few can master, which is why NAR reports that the top 10% of agents do approximately 80% of the business. (Your goal, obviously, is to do whatever it takes to firmly entrench yourself in that top 10%!)
A few years ago, I made the easiest $12,000 of my life. I was holding an expensive horse property open on a Saturday afternoon. A young couple showed up, new to the area but in love with the idea of owning some land with a view of the Rocky Mountains.
But because an elderly parent was coming with them, they had to have a main floor master, which my property did not have. But… because I had been tracking the inventory around my listing… I knew that there was a new ranch home that had come on the market around the corner just one day earlier. It had many of the same features… almost a half-acre of land, mountain views, zoned for horses… and so I pulled the blinds, shut down my open house for 20 minutes and took them to what turned out be the home of their dreams.
Less than 24 hours later we were under contract, and 21 days later we closed. Like that, I had a $12,000 commission check.
That is a home run, and it makes for a great story. But for every home run, there is a strike out. Or three. Or an occasional fastball off your helmet.
A few weeks ago, I lost three listing clients in the same week. One was an older couple looking to downsize out of a half-million dollar home they had owned for 30 years. The second was a long-time landlord renovating a rental property. The third was a past client looking to sell and move up. Total value for the three homes was roughly $1.4 million. All three sellers were loyal and firmly committed to me.
I had invested significant time and money into each. I had coordinated with vendors to repaint and replace carpet. I had brought my stager into one and spent significant time and money coming up with a staging plan for the other. I had scheduled photographers and built my schedule around our targeted launch dates.
And then, with three phone calls two days apart, all three sellers froze up. One was dealing with job uncertainty, one lost her nerve over finding a suitable replacement home, and one decided to refinance, pull cash out and hold on to the house.
The world doesn’t care about your sob stories, and you can’t dwell on what goes wrong. All you can do is pick yourself up, immediately, and get on to another productive task.
But defeat is hard to process and it can hang on you like a millstone, if you let it. It’s been said that if you can’t handle failure, you won’t know success.
Paper cuts are part of the business, as are sleepless nights and occasional wipeouts. So are triumphant paydays and the periodic serendipity of being in the right place at the right time.
The only things you can control are your preparation, your actions and your responses. Focus on doing the things you can control well, and the impact of random flameouts is minimized.
But it’s easier said than done. It takes courage to step up to the plate and swing hard. It takes courage to compete and risk failure. It takes courage to get out of the car and walk up to the front door of a house you have never seen at 7 o’clock at night, not knowing for sure who or what stands on the other side.
Master your fear and you will master your future. You can think about the home runs or think about the strikeouts. I can tell you what the home run hitters think about, and it isn’t walking back to the dugout with the bat still perched on their shoulder.