Happy Halloween. As the real estate market improves it seems like there are a lot more people interested in becoming real estate agents. The most popular post on my real estate blog during the past several months has been one that I wrote about how to get a real estate license in Minnesota.
I don’t think most people really understand how scary being a real estate agent is. Which is why people want to be real estate agents, and why it is a good topic for Halloween.
Sure, we make it look fun, and maybe we make it look easy. But it is also scary and addictive, in the same way that gambling is addictive.
Being a real estate agent is a kind of thrill ride. With all of the highs and lows, it’s just about impossible to ever be bored.
We get hooked on the high we get when we get a commission. There are amazing days and there are the scary days, but there is rarely a typical day.
One of the things I have learned from selling real estate is that people are unpredictable. They will behave very differently in a real estate transaction than they behave in other situations. Which is understandable, considering that buying or selling a home is the largest financial transaction most of us ever have.
As an agent, I meet nice people and some crazy people. Learning how to sort them out and stay away from those who are truly deranged is a skill that I am still perfecting. Occasionally I read people wrong and end up in a scary situation.
Real estate agents go into vacant houses in the dark. We are sometimes robbed during open houses.
Other scary occupational hazards include listing a haunted house or paying for your own health insurance. We are exposed to bad MLS photos and property descriptions written in all capitals letters. For-sale signs with your name on them may be placed in front of the wrong house.
It is OK to be scared sometimes. We just cannot let it get the best of us.
We hear the word “no” a lot, too. No doesn’t scare me at all, because it just means that I need to rephrase the question or ask a different question. No can also mean “not this time” or “not this way.” Or sometimes it just means “not today.” Sometimes it means I need to move on and find someone who will say “yes.”
One of the most important things I have learned as an agent is that failure is part of the job. So is taking risks and trying new things.
Failure is a great teacher, and I am proud to admit I have had some spectacular failures. It seems like I have made every mistake that can be made. But I am fairly confident that I will make more mistakes before I am done.
When I first started in real estate sales, I felt as though I was way outside of my comfort zone. Today I can’t remember what it was like to have a comfort zone.
In the long run I think I am better off in my scary occupation, where nothing is certain and there are no guarantees, than I ever was in my predictable and fairly safe 9-to-5 job with benefits.
I think I like being a real estate agent for the same reasons I like to watch scary movies: I get a kind of thrill from it that I did not get when I worked for a corporation. Somehow I feel like I am more alive when I am just a little scared than when I am not scared.
Being a real estate agent probably isn’t a good career choice for most. But I think everyone should do something that’s scary now and then, even if it is just a little scary, and even when it isn’t Halloween.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.