Throughout 2016 and beyond, a common theme among professionals is working from home.
According to research from Global Workplace Analytics, between 20 and 25 percent of the workforce works remotely at some frequency.
The growth in the number of people who work regularly from home has grown by 103 percent since 2005, and 50 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that’s compatible with at least partial telecommuting, according to the same source.
And 80 percent to 90 percent would like to have a job that allows them to work from home — it’s clear telecommuting could be the future for the majority of workers.
One line of work that’s widely regarded as a potential work-at-home job is selling real estate.
As a free agent or even an agent who contracts with a franchise, you may have the power to choose your hours, and much of your responsibilities can be carried out from your home.
But does that mean you can also be the primary care provider for your children while you maintain a career? The answer to this question isn’t a simple yes or no.
Some people have clearly done it and been successful, but they also had to make some major sacrifices. Others tried it and found they experienced an imbalance of focus that made them both an inattentive parent and a poor real estate agent.
If you’re considering the possibility of entering real estate as a professional while staying at home to care for your kids, here are some of the essential considerations you’ll want to address.
1. Only people with the right personality can succeed at both.
If you’re the kind of person who needs a solid and predetermined structure to perform well, you probably won’t cut it as a work-from-home real estate parent.
On the other hand, if you are highly motivated by personal goals, you’re more likely to make the professional appointments and manage the work demands and appointments during the periods your kids are occupied.
Balancing the two will involve unique challenges and hurdles, but if you have the right personality, it’s definitely possible.
2. You can’t do it alone, no matter what.
In many cases, it’s not professional to bring your children to a client meeting, especially if your kids are small.
As a consequence, you’ll likely require child care of some kind — for at least part of the time — to pursue your work.
It’s a lot easier if you have a spouse or significant other who can be with the kids while you do showings sometimes on nights and weekends. If you’re a single parent, you’ll need daycare for meetings.
You can still make sure you’re home for most of the time your kids are, though. If they’re in school or have an early bedtime, you can schedule showings during school hours, or hire a babysitter and go out after they’re asleep.
Most homebuyers are happy to view potential homes in the evenings after work, though they won’t appreciate any evident inflexibility on your part.
3. You’ll have to make a lot of sacrifices.
It’s possible to stay at home with your kids and work as a real estate agent, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be terribly good at either job. When you try to multitask this way, odds are you may end up failing at both missions.
Productivity can drop up to 40 percent when people try to multitask. Chances are your kids won’t get as much attention as they would (and should) otherwise, and neither will your business.
You have to make sacrifices to make it work. It might mean letting the TV babysit your kids for a few hours of the day, which child psychologists do not highly recommend.
You may also have to work really odd hours to get things done, such as during afternoon nap times as well as late in the evening. Again, it’s possible, but it won’t be easy.
4. Most Realtors will tell you not to try it.
When a City-Data forum user asked whether it’s possible to be a real estate agent while staying at home with kids, here was one forum user’s response:
“Just being honest, but no. It was extremely difficult when my son was 10, 11, 12…. I could not imagine doing this job with a very small child. Being a Realtor means being available when your client needs you, not when it’s convenient for you. I’ve gotten several buyers who got tired of working with other agents who were always tending to their kids and could not commit the time they needed. It’s harsh, but it’s the reality of the business.”
In conclusion, it’s not out of the question to be a stay-at-home parent while working as a real estate professional, and some have traveled the route out of necessity. But it’s hardly ideal.
If you’re looking for true success as an agent, it’s almost always best to arrange for childcare and pursue your career during regular working hours.