While the industry has experienced some difficulty during the recession, agents should remember real estate remains filled with rewarding experiences, fast-paced lifestyles and close relationships.
By Meghan Boyer
Every industry has its ups and downs, and while the real estate market of late has seen more downs than ups, it is still an industry filled with rewarding experiences, fast-paced lifestyles and, most importantly, fun. From meeting new people and creating individual workday schedules to networking with peers and discovering satisfying client interactions, there are an abundance of reasons for Realtors to embrace their industry.
“I just love what I do. I love talking to people. I love assisting them in the process, assisting them with what their life’s plan is going to be,” says Dympna Fay-Hart, broker associate with Century 21 McMullen Inc.
Genie Birch, broker associate at Koenig & Strey GMAC and president of Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) also is enthusiastic about the business. “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would continue to do exactly what I do because I love my work,” she says.
Many agents share Fay-Hart’s and Birch’s enthusiasm, but unfortunately there are others who are more focused on some of the negative elements of the industry. As the market strengthens and evolves, it’s important for everyone to remember why they entered this ever-changing industry and what they love about it.
Not only can clients bring agents great success and sales, they also can provide rewarding experiences, note industry experts. In fact, many Realtors cite helping clients as the best element of real estate. “My favorite aspect is helping clients, buyers and sellers, achieve whatever goal they are trying to achieve,” says Alice Chin, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “It’s part of the reason I got into it,” she says.
Working closely with clients at a momentous time in their lives is “the most rewarding thing about my profession,” agrees Marc Perlove, broker associate with RE/MAX Villager. “I’m grateful I got into a business where I have developed relationships with my clients,” he says. Perlove has worked with a myriad of client types, and the exchange of ideas between different cultures, genders, age groups and economic levels is gratifying for him to experience.
Even in situations that are difficult, such as when people must sell their homes because of death, foreclosure or divorce, working closely with them and assisting them through the tough circumstances can be rewarding. “You feel their pain,” says Fay-Hart, noting that working closely with clients is something she enjoys immensely.
The bonds Realtors create with clients when working to purchase or sell homes often do not stop when the transaction concludes. Many Realtors retain fruitful relationships with past clients. “You stay in touch with those clients because you have a connection to them and they to you,” says Perlove. “I enjoy it from a personal standpoint – talking to them, talking about their kids.” In addition to being personally rewarding, maintaining contact with past clients also is a good source of future business, he notes.
Some client interactions also help remind agents why they entered the real estate market. Roughly three years ago Chin helped a soldier who was stationed in Iraq purchase a house. He was unable to view the properties, so he entrusted a close friend to view the properties with Chin, who only spoke to her client via e-mail or phone. After they found a house the client liked, the friend handled closing procedures for him as well. “I will never forget that,” she says. “He came back six months later for a short visit. He saw the house, and he was ecstatic.”
The relationships real estate professionals develop with peers through business interactions and networking events is another aspect of the industry many find beneficial. There are numerous industry networking opportunities available, such as happy hours, professional groups, association meetings and conventions, note professionals.
Birch remains active in the industry with her position at CAR, and she also attends at least four industry events each month. Attendance at events is a way of showing industry support, she says.
“I’m actually friends with a lot of people after five years,” says Chin, who attends roughly one networking event each month. “We give each other business and actually business advice. I can consult with them,” she says.
Likewise, Perlove frequently calls colleagues to “pick their brains” about specific situations. “I utilize contacts to learn and grow, and I reciprocate to them when they call,” he says.
Sometimes it is difficult to meet up with peers again after a social or networking event, which is why Fay-Hart prefers staying active in philanthropic groups, such as her neighborhood chamber of commerce or school organizations. The people she volunteers with often want to work with her as an agent and frequently will recommend her to others, she says. “One of the most important things is for the agent to serve the community they are working in,” says Fay-Hart.
Few agents have typical “nine-to-five” desk jobs, an aspect many professionals appreciate. “I’m a go-go-go type of person. I like being on the run,” says Fay-Hart. She splits her time between a home office and a professional space where she meets clients. Her days are “diverse” in terms of responsibilities and projects. “It has me running in many directions,” says Fay-Hart. “It’s not for everybody.”
Similarly, no two days are alike for Chin. “Some people find it irritating, but it keeps things exciting,” she says, noting she can fit her schedule to her lifestyle. She tries to balance work and personal time. “It’s not a desk job, so [the work schedule] can get out of hand,” says Chin. She sets aside personal time and tries to stay organized to avoid working 24/7.
Birch agrees: “Everyday is different, as is every deal, every buyer, every seller. It is almost like recreating the business every day.”
The industry also allows agents to express their personal styles. “Style is fairly important,” says Chin. Clients have told Fay-Hart they chose her for an agent because her style matched theirs. “Matching to the clients is very important. They can see qualities of themselves in you,” she says.
Indeed, “our image is reflective of who we are. I think that’s what makes each one of us different and unique,” notes Birch.
The changes in the market and decreased housing costs have created an opportunity for many consumers who previously were unable to purchase a home to now afford one, and it’s rewarding to help them find an affordable home, notes Perlove, who believes working with first-time homebuyers is fun.
“When the market goes down, people look at it as negative, but the positive is that it opens the market up to more people at certain income levels,” he says. “I have found satisfaction and enjoyment from developing an expertise in helping people buy or sell with the biggest amount of money they ever will spend.”
In a time where many focus on the negativity and the difficulties of the market, it’s encouraging to talk to motivated, enthusiastic agents who easily remember why they entered this industry in the first place. A flexible schedule, tons of networking opportunities and helping clients find the home of their dreams are a few reasons for these Realtors to love their work, but it doesn’t mean that this is the right career for everyone. If this is still the right path for you, then never forget the ways you can benefit from the joys of real estate. CA
Koenig & Strey GMAC
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Century 21 McMullen Inc.