Have you ever thought about working with your spouse?
Many couples find that working together at the same real estate brokerage strengthens both their marriage and their business, as well as drawing on complementary skills. Having a spouse who understands real estate is a huge advantage, they say. However, they note that it is also important to set boundaries and play to the strengths of each spouse.
Five years after Michael Loewith began his career as a REALTOR® in Toronto, his wife, Jennifer Greenberg, joined him on the job. A former pastry chef, she was looking for a career with more flexible hours because they had young children. After completing all courses, she earned her real estate registration. Her initial plan was to assist her husband with his administrative tasks and free him up for sales. Once on the job, though, it turned out that Greenberg was also talented at sales, so the plans were revised. Today, the husband and wife work as real estate partners.
“It’s a good fit for us and our family,” said Greenberg. “We can balance the workload between the two of us so that at the very least one of us can be with the kids.”
As a team, Greenberg and Loewith complement each other. “Each of us has different strengths in the real estate cycle,” said Greenberg. “I prepare the sale and do the open house; Michael is good with negotiations and contracts.
“We always go to see the client together, discuss our team and services and highlight our effectiveness. Often the client has a natural affinity for one of us, so that will determine who takes the lead.”
Since many of their clients are couples, Greenberg and Loewith find that the buyers relate well to them. “They can identify with a husband-and-wife wife team,” says Greenberg. “We’ve been through many similar experiences ourselves. Moving a family is a big thing, and we speak their language on safety, schools and transportation. Newly married couples sometimes view us as tour guides.”
Loewith finds that working together as a couple makes the transaction more personal. “They’re hiring our family,” he says, “so it’s a commitment that our family makes with their family. Their success comes home with us.”
When Jeff McVeigh, an Ottawa REALTOR®, stepped away from the long hours necessitated by his real estate business for a year, his wife, Kathy McVeigh, who had been staying home with their children, began working at the brokerage. Jeff later rejoined the business, and the two have been working together for 15 years, half of their married life.
“It took us a couple of years to figure out our roles and sort out our egos, but now we work like a well-oiled machine,” says Kathy. “We made the decision not to spend all day together. We have separate offices and we don’t travel together; we meet at appointments.”
Nonetheless, family issues sometimes bleed into the workday. “If an issue with one of the kids comes up, sometimes we just have to deal with it,” says Jeff. However, their goal is to try to draw distinct boundaries between family life and work.
“We had to learn to take off our work hats when we got home,” says Jeff. “Now we understand that once we get home, that’s our own time.”
They tackle their listing calls together, and like their Toronto counterparts, the McVeighs find that working as a couple can be an advantage when working with consumers. “Because there are two of us, it’s nice for our clients to have an option,” says Jeff. “They can choose to deal more with whichever one of us they’re most comfortable with.”
A common bond
Both couples say that working together is a plus on their career balance sheets.
“When you work with a spouse in the same industry, you have the opportunity to walk a mile in their shoes each day,” says Greenberg, while Loewith notes, “The reason we work so well as a real estate team is that we’re working towards the same goal. It’s fun being able to share.”
Jeff McVeigh says he wouldn’t work by himself again. “If anything, working together has strengthened our personal relationship,” he says. “We respect each other more because of it.”