It’s time. Pull the Plug

Posted: August 11, 2013 in McTrip posts
Tags: , , , ,

From www.thebankingsecret.comThe things you have to do to get fired as a real estate agent are pretty extreme. Co-mingle funds, discriminate, forge signatures, nasty stuff like that. So understand I wasn’t fired. In real estate speak, it’s called being “severed.”

Being severed isn’t the end of the world. When my previous employer released me in March of this year I could have simply walked down the street into another brokerage house and been back in business by nightfall.

But it gave me a chance to stop and think about what it was I was doing. Did I really want to continue being a real estate agent? If I was going to be honest with myself there was only one answer … an emphatic and resounding NO.

Sixteen years was enough. I had developed such animosity for the business that when a new client came my way it seemed more of a curse than a blessing. I saw it as a colossal waste of time because it had become so incredibly difficult to get deals closed in the new economy. As much as I tried to change my attitude about the business, I couldn’t. I had fallen out of love and hard! I hated being a real estate agent.

It’s amazing to me how, in this information age, many “lay” people don’t understand how real estate companies are structured. As a public service, I’ll offer a brief explanation. Once you’ve passed your state test and get a real estate license, you start interviewing with companies. Nine times out of 10 it’s actually you interviewing the company, not the other way around. Most firms are more than happy to bring you on board once you have a license in your hot little hands.

Brokerage firms exist to make money but each one does so in its own unique structure. Some will charge agents a monthly fee to be on their roster. In that scenario, unlike a normal job, it’s not unusual for the employee to pay the employer in a given month, if the agent hasn’t made a commission. Companies with those models will let you stick around as long as you’d like, whether you’re selling homes or not. Some companies don’t charge a monthly fee but take a larger cut of each commission (called a split – the agent and the company each take a percentage.) Many of those companies end up nickel-and-diming their agents for incidentals (phone calls, faxes, photocopies, etc.) to the point that it no longer seems like a “fee-free” agency.

The broker who severed me prided himself on keeping a lean, productive staff of seasoned agents without charging a monthly fee. He offered commission splits that were very reasonable and covered most of the incidental costs. But in return, he wanted a certain degree of production.

Well, needless to say, my production fell short of expectations.

I was released in the nicest way possible. The branch manager, a wonderful guy whom I consider a friend, suggested I think of it as putting my license on hold. Should I find a deal to put together, I could reactivate with the company to get it closed. He invited me to keep coming to office meetings and social gatherings. “We like you … you’re good energy around here,” he told me.

A fringe benefit to being a real estate agent is that you can hide behind the title and your company and appear to be having some degree of success. The truth is it’s very possible to go months or even years without ever closing a deal. You can put in countless hours of work that never pay off, all the while making no money and yet appearing (or claiming) that you are.

For me, I had other revenue sources so I didn’t rely on closing transactions in order to pay my bills. The difference was that when I was closing deals, and still had passive income, I was living very comfortably. Taking vacations. Eating at nice restaurants. Buying nice clothing. Buying flowers for the kitchen table just because I could.

But my production started dropping off in 2008, just as the Great Recession started taking its victims. In the ensuing years the real estate business changed so drastically it barely resembled the same line of work. Short sales, trustee sales, deeds in lieu, HAFA – the crash changed everything about the business. But I didn’t change with it. I expected that things would someday return to normal. And before I realized it, I had a real estate license and a company to call home but no actual business.

So, at the age of 50, I allowed myself to accept some realities: First, I no longer wanted to live the charade of being a real estate agent. Second, I had no idea what I wanted to do instead. And third, I was powerless to reorganize my life without help. I didn’t trust myself to make logical decisions any more.
I needed guidance.
(to be continued …)

  1. […] It’s time. Pull the Plug […]

  2. Ginny says:

    As Elvis once crooned.. “it’s now or never…” Chins up and motor onward!

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