Tracking miles, paying out-of-pocket marketing expenses, answering the phone when a client’s on the other end after hours and keeping up with an ever-changing market — it’s all in a day’s work for a real estate agent.

  • The majority of respondents to an informal social media poll are happy right where they are, but depending on different factors, some agents and brokers could be enticed away.

Tracking miles, paying out-of-pocket marketing expenses, answering the phone when a client’s on the other end after hours and keeping up with an ever-changing market — it’s all in a day’s work for a real estate agent.

The rewards can be significant, but it’s a balancing act with your existing time and energy, and when you live in a society that supports (to some extent) eight-hour jobs that don’t involve evenings and weekends, it’s hard not to wonder: What’s life like on the “other side” — and would I want to go there?

‘Heck no, we won’t go’

For the most part, real estate agents and brokers seem pretty happy with the gig they’ve got. According to a Facebook poll on the Inman Coast to Coast group page, 51 out of 71 respondents said they “wouldn’t even consider” leaving real estate for a more regular job.

And five people on Inman’s poll chose this respondent-written poll option: “Real estate has ruined me. I’m unemployable and sassy now.”

Leslie Ebersole

“For one thing, 9 is awfully early to do work,” noted Chicago-based team leader Leslie Ebersole.

Broker-owner Steve Weiss from San Luis Obispo didn’t think he would want to start over again somewhere else after 32 years.

Steve Weiss

“Couldn’t even begin to think about scheduled lunch breaks and/or vacations, approved overtime, etc.,” he said. “No way!”

A similar discussion on the Raise the Bar in Real Estate Facebook group elicited similar responses from people who’ve found the perfect fit in real estate.

“I get mornings and afternoons with my kids, which is huge. And field trips and doctors appointments and on and on,” noted Hillsboro, Oregon-based Andrea Roediger. “I could probably handle a supervisor if I had to, but not a set schedule.”

Owasso, Oklahoma, agent Kathy King agreed that flexibility is a huge perk of the real estate business. “I will never again ask permission to attend school events or take a day off just because I want to,” she said.

Elizabeth Gray

“Definitely not,” said broker-owner Elizabeth Gray. “I’m an admitted control freak and want to be in charge of my income, time and success.”

Some respondents discussed the flexibility of the job beyond the hours — including the ability to be somewhere different every single day and the freedom to choose your clients and colleagues.

“No way do I want to sit in an office and see the same view and same people, day in and day out,” noted associate broker Kelly Normand of Chantilly, Virginia.

“My definition of ‘freedom’ is the ability to choose the when/where/what of my work — and (most importantly) whom I get to work with,” said Annapolis, Maryland-based Curt Hess. “When a person has that kind of freedom, it’s damn near impossible to be subject to ‘regular’ jobs/bosses.”

Curt Hess

California broker-owner Stephanie Moreno said that her job is about long-term security — it’s all well and good to have a 9-to-5 job until you get laid off.

“After being laid off by two different homebuilders in the crash, I’ll never let someone decide my future but me,” she declared. “Enough said.”

Andereson, South Carolina, team leader Wanda Hardee said she takes daily inspiration from her disinclination to go back to a 9-to-5 gig. “The very idea is what forces me to get up every morning and do what needs to be done,” she explained.

Opportunity knocks

Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones, the Denver-based CEO at Bamboo Realty, thinks “you should always keep an open mind to opportunity” — and plenty of her colleagues agree with her.

“I think as with most thing[s], it depends on what the opportunity truly is,” noted Nikki Beauchamp, a New York-based broker. “Nine might feel like starting late some days, and five might feel like an early day.”

“By 9 a.m. most days, it feels like my day is half over,” explained Chicago broker Andrea Geller. “By the time 5 p.m. rolls around, it feels like I am still halfway there. For me to do the 9-to-5 thing, it would depend on the whole compensation package. If the numbers work, it may be nice to be in the world of vacation and holiday days off.” And health care options are also a nice full-time employment perk.

However, she added — do those jobs really exist anymore? “It seems like unless you are a government worker or in a handful of other

Andrea Geller

places, the 9-to-5 gig is a thing of the past.”

Some people felt like they could work with either the set hours or the supervisor or the set location to work — but all three might be a lot to ask.

Red Bank, New Jersey-based agent Deborah Madey thinks that she could return to full-time employment with some caveats — “if the hours were not 9 to 5, and if my job performance was assessed on accomplishments.

“I could not report to an office and stay there all day. I get claustrophobic thinking about it,” she added.

The grass is greener

Patty Laforte

Salt Lake City agent Patty Laforte thinks that a 9-to-5 gig sounds pretty good. “If I could make the same amount of money, get vacations without phone calls or worries and have weekends off? You bet I would do it!

“But I don’t know anyone that would hire me,” she added (tongue-in-cheek).

Greg Fox, a broker in Wichita, Kansas, wouldn’t necessarily leave real estate for a more “regular” job, but he’d reconsider his decision to move up the food chain, so to speak.

“Knowing what I know now, I think I would stay an agent rather than broker/owner,” he said.

Greg Fox

Dallas associate broker J. D’Ann Faught says that she loves her job, but she also considers herself “very adaptable” — and points out that sometimes a break from real estate can be good for business.

“I went back into the sports world for four years because I missed the excitement of it, and moved to a city where I knew zero people and didn’t know the geography, either,” she noted. “It was a nice change for a few years and allowed me to get to know and love Dallas.”

John MacArthur

Washington, D.C.-based Realtor John MacArthur thinks that due to his experience and longevity in the industry, starting over could be tough. “I am over 70 years old,” MacArthur explained. “I now know I don’t know it all, and I am pretty sure a supervisor won’t be aware of that fact regarding their knowledge.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s averse to the idea of a change. He’s amenable to the idea of “a job at a golf course” for two or three days a week. “I could cope” with that kind of job offer, he said.

And there are those who can relate to Matthew Slutsky, an agent in Toronto, Ontario, who thinks transitioning to a more “regular” job sounds pretty ideal.

“Eight-hour work day! Breaks!! Turning off. No worries. Count me in,” he said.

Email Amber Taufen

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