The Big Why

I work for an organization, Keller Williams Realty, that is always asking “why” do we do what we do? This business is exciting and dynamic and very challenging, especially on a psychological level. As a Realtor, you must be prepared to be really good at your job and still not get everyone’s business. You can be confident in your ability to best represent your clients, of all price points and personalities, but in reality (and in realty), there is a really big pond and a lot of really big fishes – especially in Northern VA, DC, and Maryland.

Real estate is one of the few careers where people of all different ages can have different strengths that produce equal talent. If you lack experience, for example, you can be an expert in contracts. For a long time, the business models across different brokers were the same and the fight to recruit new agents was simply over commission splits. Today, we have brokerages with technology that is head and shoulders above other brokerages, we have brokerages giving money back at closing as their business model, and we have discount brokerages. Personally, I think it’s great that consumers have a menu of choices for a different investment of time and money when it comes to buying and selling real estate. And honestly, I love hearing why a consumer has chosen one agent or brokerage over another. How else can we learn to either carve out a niche, be firm in our business model, or possibly even decide to have more flexibility in our approach to meeting our clients’ needs?

The great news is that even if we cannot control what every consumer is looking for in their real estate experience, as an agent, we have a lot of choices for where to hang our license and what kind of culture we want to be part of. I chose Keller Williams Realty by way of The Dwellus Group in 2013 and have never had any interest in looking elsewhere. A lot of it has to do with the people on my team, a lot of it has to do with the culture within our office, and a lot of it has to do with our global reputation as an innovative leader in this industry.

My goal has always been to build my business on referrals so that the clients I am working with can feel confident that someone they know has had first-hand experience with my expertise and trusted my professionalism. My “big why” in this business is truly to be an influential leader in my community and to grow my business large enough so that I have the flexibility to be innovative in my decision making and to disrupt the market with new ways of doing real estate that meet consumers where they are, rather than fitting them into outdated models. I’ve had a few different jobs over the last 15 years, and I’ve never worked with an organization that challenged me to really answer “why”. Yes, you like your job. Yes, you’re good at what you do. But “why” are you doing “it”? On my team, it’s a question we as ask a few times a year.

Two weeks ago, Dwellus had two fun and focused days of answering that question. As you can imagine in this business, there aren’t many wallflowers on our team and everyone really opened up about their reasons for being a Realtor. It would be easy to label some of the answers as “profound” and others are more “routine” but the truth is all the answers were really big. Since it’s a 7 day a week profession, the investment of time and energy alone would mean that you’d have to be motivated by something other than the income. Because the truth is, a lot of agents make very average incomes and never clock out at the end of the day. And the other truth is, you can show someone 100 homes, write a contract after months of working with them, and a week before closing the deal can fall through. As an agent, your only safety nets at that point are your savings account or a steady enough business that you can absorb that time without any monetary benefit. On our team, we call it “alligator skin”.

It takes resilience and positivity to stay in a career with so many unknowns. As you gain experience and expertise, you stop sweating so much and you start relishing in the challenges that come with different personalities and different needs. You can more readily come from a place of contribution knowing you can answer someone’s questions and they may decide to list their house on their own or choose another agent. I gain immense satisfaction from helping someone in a tricky situation think through how to get over the hurdle. And yes, I hope to make an income off that expertise and, yet, at this point I also know that will not always be the case.

If you’re a consumer, ask your agent why they are in the business. And if you’re an agent who is new to the industry or a veteran of many decades, please always ask yourself the same question. Not only will it focus your perspective, but it will ignite your true passion for choosing one of the least definable job descriptions on the planet. Once you have answered the question, you will have really defined what “success” will mean to you.


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