Welcome to “Letters from,” my new column that examines the intimate thoughts of members of the real estate industry.
We will explore why they got into the business, what they wish they would have known when they started, their challenges, who their mentors are and why — and, lastly, the knowledge they can pass on from their former mistakes.
Learning from our mistakes creates a more powerful version of ourselves moving forward.
1. Why did you get into this business?
I was in the broadcasting industry as an on-air radio talent in Indianapolis. Part of my duties involved being an airborne traffic reporter.
While I was doing that, I had begun to acquire rental properties that had greatly familiarized me with the business and process of buying and selling.
Over a six month period, I crashed in a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter and then a second time in a fixed-wing aircraft. As I was climbing out of the Cessna 182 after the second crash, I said to myself: all right God — I get it. I’m out.
Thus began my formal full-time real estate career.
2. What is the biggest challenge you face right now in your business?
I hate to say it but incompetence and drama — from both agents and vendor partners. I’m almost too quick to hold my hand up and accept responsibility if I make a mistake.
When an agent or vendor makes one and then compounds it by trying to make it about how “you just don’t understand,” a lot of time and emotional energy gets wasted. About 90 percent of the time things work, but when they don’t, there is far too much confrontation instead of resolution.
3. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started the business?
I wish I knew how thick my skin needed to be. There are so many challenges not only in the time spent working but also in the level of difficulty in resolving problems.
We all revel in the successful agent who does X amount of millions of production, but we sometimes forget how hard it was to get that much business done.
4. Who has made the biggest positive impact on your business?
My partner Dick Richwine at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Indianapolis. He has an incredible level of people skills that have helped him do well over a billion dollars worth of production in his career.
(He’s) honest, kind, cares about others and gets things done. I sometimes sit and listen to him talk to people and am amazed at his ability to relate.
5. What is one thing someone could do to help you in your business?
That’s a tough one. Perhaps it’s just about being there. I think far too often brokerages have seasoned agents of all skill levels and forget that they still need brokerage support.
The truth is, this business can wear you down. As a manager and broker, I am trying to encourage agents loosely to partner up with like-minded individuals in their offices for nothing more than support during a tough transaction.
As a manager, I want agents to know they can always call on me to help them through those issues and to not be afraid to reach out.
As a recruiter, so many agents I talk to are looking to leave where they are because they feel isolated and without help from their management. It doesn’t surprise me that agents jump from company to company.
6 What tool has made the biggest positive impact on your business?
No. 1: my smartphone. Apps and platforms will come and go, but the tool in my hand that can get me almost any type of information day or night has — and will — endure. Never underestimate the power of mobile, as simple as that seems.
7. What do you think is going to be the biggest change in real estate in the next five years?
Helping agents advance their real-world skills to keep them in the business. A 35-year-old is not going to have any issue using their mobile platform.
A 50-year-old agent, in a business where so many agents are over 50, has got to work harder at understanding and using the tools available to them. If you aren’t efficient on mobile, you are a career change waiting to happen.