Highlights and Lowlights: Beware this business causes gray hair

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Being just four months shy of celebrating my 25th anniversary in the real estate business, I thought it was a good time to share some recollections that I still carry with me.

As I was completing my licensing course in March 1989,  my teacher explained hot sheets to us.  He talked about new listings, conditional and firm sales but skimmed over expiries.  He said don’t worry about that, nothing expires.

Fast forward to September 1989 and the market had taken a nosedive. I plugged away over the next two years finishing my three articling courses and having a fourth child.  I told myself this was not going to be a get rich quick profession and that I had to think of it as a long term career.

Another agent in my brokerage lived in my neighbourhood and she blatantly told me that she farmed the area and that it was HERS, so hands off.  When I did get my first listing it was my parents’ home.  She told me that didn’t count.  My next listing was in my neighbourhood.  I had all of the builder’s plans and got to know the models inside out.  I learned the product in the area intimately and went to see new listings at Agent Open Houses religiously, often with kids in tow.  This was long before virtual tours and multi photos online.

I remember my first Broker/Owner telling us that sometimes you just have to “treat” yourself.  At the time I couldn’t comprehend that there would be anyone that I wouldn’t be able to work with and would have to fire. I now know that I can probably work with 90% of the population. And that’s OK.

One lesson I learned from a colleague who brought an offer on one of my listings.  We were sitting in the board room in my brokerage, my seller, myself and my colleague.  My seller was contemplating and I kept talking away.  I could see the other agent discreetly moving his hand up and down, basically telling me to put a lid on it.  I had said my piece and learned that sometimes you just have to stop talking and let your client make the next move. As I recall that experience, I also remember that client was referred to me from another colleague who had decided to leave the business.  I learned that it is important to get to know your colleagues.  Make new agents feel comfortable, answer their questions, offer advice.  We’ve all been there.

There have been lots of ups and downs over the years.  I’ve seen every type of market and mortgage rates in the double digits.  I learned target marketing and social networking long before they became buzzwords in the industry. I volunteered in the community and at my Board and OREA. Could I have done some things better?  Absolutely.  I wish I’d gone after more referral and relocation business right at the beginning.   I should have done a better job following up with past clients.  I could be better organized and I was never a list maker.

There is so much advice out there today for new agents.  All I can say is if you are passionate about this business, stick with it.  Yes it takes time and money and there are peaks and valleys. There are also many rewards, both personally and professionally.

I’m not finished yet, and I know I can do better.  My first (almost) 25 years have been quite a journey.


Jennifer Kotulak, YPN Committee Member and OREA YPN Guest Blogger

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