If you read Facebook posts from frustrated agents debating whether they should find another job, you’ll often see a pile-on of positive advice: Keep going! Don’t give up yet! Success will come if you just switch offices, try harder, or buy this new lead gen product!

  • It is very hard to succeed In real estate if you don't learn to prospect and generate your own business.

If you read Facebook posts from frustrated agents debating whether they should find another job, you’ll often see a pile-on of positive advice: Keep going! Don’t give up yet! Success will come if you just switch offices, try harder, or buy this new lead gen product!

Sometimes it’s good advice.

And other times it’s just smarter to move on to a different career path. Here’s nine signs it’s time to hand in that Realtor’s lapel pin.

1. The pipeline is dry

You haven’t had a closing in ages, and you’re draining your savings account.

According to NAR statistics, the typical real estate agent closed 12 transactions in 2016. How do you compare to that?

Are you closing at least one deal a month? Do you have a steady flow of buyer and/or seller clients to keep that pipeline flowing, or are you struggling to find clients?

2. Deals fall apart more often than they stay together

We all hit slumps, but sometimes you are so down that it seems every deal you put together falls apart just as quickly.

Buyer offers aren’t accepted, or the accepted ones fail at the inspection or mortgage stage. It happens to everyone, but more should be making it to closing than don’t.

If you’re putting them together just to watch them implode later over and over again, something is wrong.

3. You’re broke

See above. Without a regular flow of closings, you’re going to have to live off savings (unless you have a partner who has a steady paycheck).

If you’re the household’s breadwinner, how long can you go without a paycheck?

Agents wake up every day unemployed. If you cannot live with the uncertainty of when your next check will arrive, this business is not for you.

4. You’re dangerously stressed

Real estate is a stressful career. Sellers who are angry that the buyer just walked away from the deal will blame you. Buyers who just spent $1,000 on inspections only to have the seller refuse to negotiate repairs will blame you.

See a pattern? The real estate agent is in the middle of what may be an emotional transaction involving many moving parts.

You need to learn coping mechanisms and skills to calm and soothe the parties involved. If you’re a bundle of nerves, and your health is suffering, it’s time to quit.

5. You need control

Your success depends on how good you are at your job — yes. But it also depends on how well other people in the deal do their own jobs (lender, appraiser, inspector, etc.).

You can do everything perfectly and still not make it to closing. Sorry.

6. You cannot be flexible

Clients change appointments at the last minute. They show up late or not at all. They want you to list their home at 8 a.m. Sunday morning when you planned on going to church or 7 p.m. Monday when you were going to watch the football game.

Yes, this business allows you to create your own schedule, but it also requires you to bend to your clients’ plans.

7. You hate talking on the phone

Agents are notorious for not picking up the phone, and many of us have a reputation for not returning calls (not just promptly, but at all).

If you don’t want to answer your phone when an unknown number comes in, you’re going to miss valuable leads.

If you dread calling a seller to tell him or her the house had zero calls on it this week or you cannot make yourself take one more Zillow call, your chances of success just went way down.

This also follows for talking to strangers at open houses, door knocking FSBOs and other lead gen strategies. It is very hard to succeed here if you don’t learn to prospect and generate your own business.

8. You think you know it all

Most agents who wash out quit in the first two years, not in years three through five. But after year two, there’s a dangerous time period where I see agents struggle.

They’ve made it through the most dangerous beginning stage of the game, and they’ve closed some deals. They’re feeling good about what they know, but make the mistake of thinking they know it all.

No agent worth his or her salt ever knows “enough.” You’ve got to keep learning to keep earning; good agents use continuing education and constantly “sharpen the saw.”

There is so much to learn in this business. Those who make it to year two and think they know “enough” risk failing due to this hubris.

9. You’ve given it all, and it’s not enough

If you have truly worked your hardest and given your best effort, and you’re not making enough money to pay the bills, perhaps it’s just time to move on.

There is no shame in admitting you want a regular paycheck with predictable hours and maybe even benefits. This is a difficult business. It involves more than just opening a door and selling a house.

The real estate pre-licensing courses teach you how many square feet are in an acre and what the different types of property ownership involve.

What they should also teach is the basic skills required to make it in a (normally) commission-based independent contractor situation. They should prepare future agents for a career where they are never guaranteed a paycheck.

They should teach you how to operate your own small business under your broker’s umbrella because that’s what you’re really doing.

Most of us may be good employees when given direction but bad bosses when we are in charge of ourselves and not held accountable to someone else.

Take heed of these warning signs, and don’t allow yourself to fail.

Erica Ramus, MRE, is the broker/owner of RAMUS Real Estate. You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Email Erica Ramus

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