Is a stress-free real estate career even possible?
Well… no. But if you learn to set the right rules and expectations, you can make it much MORE stress-free.
Where does stress in a real estate career originate?
It comes from work, family, and friends. It originates from pressure that you allow to be heaped on your head because you haven’t effectively set rules for clients, family members, and friends.
You say yes far too often.
Let’s start with family and friends.
They know that you are not glued to a desk every day and that you have no supervisor watching to see that you’re working at all times. They know that sometimes you really can take off for a long lunch, attend your child’s soccer game, or chat on the phone.
The problem is, sometimes they think that any time you aren’t physically with a prospect, client, lender, inspector, etc. you’re “not doing anything” so you should be free to chat, go shopping, or run errands for them.
All those extra demands on your time create stress – especially if you care about the people and don’t want to take the chance of hurting their feelings by saying no.
If you want a stress-free real estate career, you’ll have to teach them…
Unless you’ve schooled them otherwise, they won’t understand that you need plenty of quiet and alone time in order to write property descriptions, write ads, and plan or execute your marketing activities.
Some of them don’t even understand that when you’re on the telephone, you’re busy. I had an elderly friend years ago who would come to the office and sit at my desk when I was on the phone. One day he got tired of waiting and started showing me pictures in a magazine of airplanes he’d built when he was working at McDonald-Douglas. Huh??
Did I ever manage to teach him better manners? Nope. I didn’t have the heart to tell him to go away, so I just lived with the stress. That’s a decision you may sometimes have to make as well.
Hopefully, you can take steps toward a stress-free real estate career by showing your family all the things you do behind the scenes.
Recruiting them to help with things like database management, keeping flyer boxes full, putting up and taking down signs, or stuffing envelopes for mailings might help them understand. If you have teen children, they might be the perfect assistants to keep your social media accounts active.
Letting them participate has other advantages – like more time spent together.
Family members and old friends can become jealous.
If your career in real estate is new, some people will be jealous of the time it takes. They’ll try to make you feel guilty over it, but don’t let them!
If this is your livelihood, explain to your family in advance that it’s simply part of the job. There will be times when you have to work or at least take phone calls in the evening – and you may work quite often on the weekends.
My Advice: Don’t begin a career in real estate without discussing this aspect of the career with those closest to you. I’ve known many people (usually ladies) who dropped out because of complaints and demands from family. Working evenings and weekends became an insurmountable problem.
Good communication will help you toward a stress-free real estate career.
Communicate with your family about what you’re doing, AND what they’re doing. If you know ahead of time when it will be important for you to be there for an event or be available to take a child somewhere, you can put dates and times in your calendar.
Do put family time in your day planner. I know, some clients are demanding, but you would have no problem with saying “I’m not available on Tuesday at 3:00” if you had an appointment with a client. Give your family appointments the same importance. And remember – you have no obligation to tell anyone where or with whom you’re meeting. You simply already have an appointment.
Be careful of what you say to friends about your work day.
if you worked at a 9 to 5 job for someone else, your friends wouldn’t think of interrupting your day. They’d know you were working and expected to be working. If you want a stress-free real estate career, don’t ever give them the idea that you “aren’t doing anything,” so they should feel free to drop by during working hours.
I have no idea why, but some people think of real estate as a “hobby career.” Perhaps that isn’t outrageous, because I’ve known agents who treated it as such.
It falls on you to make sure none of your friends have that idea about your career.
And then there are the clients…
Once again, if you want a relatively stress-free real estate career, you’ll have to set some rules – and stick to them.
I don’t necessarily mean rules you tell to clients or prospects, but rules you set for yourself. If you’ve set the rules and require yourself to follow them, it will be far easier to say “No” when the situation calls for it.
For instance, you can make rules regarding:
- Pricing: When you take a listing, how far will you go above the number on your own market analysis?
- Showing homes: Will you run out to meet someone at a moment’s notice, or will you require prospective buyers to meet with you first?
- Buyers: Will you require buyers to become pre-approved or show proof of funds before you’ll show them homes? Will you show once and then require the pre-approval? Will you require prospective buyers to sign a buyer-brokerage agreement?
- Your car: Will you take prospects in your car or require them to follow you?
- Your territory: How far will you go from home or office to take a listing or show a home?
- Listings: How much / what will you put up with before you cancel a listing? You’ll explain to sellers that the house must be kept in show condition and they must vacate during showings. What if they refuse to follow those directions?
- Evenings and weekends: You and your family will be happier if you set rules. For instance, only so many evenings per week and only one day on the weekend for showings. There could be times you’ll have to bend that rule, but make those times the exceptions.
- Answering the phone: It really is OK to let your answering machine take calls while you’re having dinner with your family. It really is OK to stop answering the phone after a set hour in the evening, and to ignore it until a set time in the morning.
- Abusive language or behavior: Will you put up with a client yelling at you? Will you put up with people who don’t show up for appointments, or show up an hour late? How about if they show up drunk?
You never know what will happen.
One agent on Active Rain wrote a post about a couple who wanted to look at rural properties. They were riding with him and it promised to be a long, hot day. They brought along a cooler that turned out to be full of beer. Then they proceeded to get drunk while on the tour.
What would you have done when you realized what was happening?
When it comes to setting rules for prospects and clients, we’ll call it “setting expectations.”
Let your prospects and clients know up front that you have set working hours. If you take calls up until 8 p.m. explain that you’ll return their late calls in the morning after whatever hour you’ve specified. If you don’t work on Saturday or Sunday, tell them so from the beginning of your relationship.
If you take calls and reply to email and texts all day except when you’re with other clients, explain that to them.
Do give instructions to home sellers about keeping the house show-ready and about getting themselves and their pets out of the house during showings. Never assume that they’ll think of it themselves.
If you require pre-approvals, do let buyers know that it is a requirement.
You can’t completely avoid stress in real estate.
Too many things can happen – like buyers’ loans falling through, unexpected problems unearthed by inspections, sticky title issues, sellers who remove fixtures that were supposed to stay with the house, and on and on.
However, if you set rules and expectations, you’ll remove a good percentage of the problems that cause stress.
Stressed lady Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Planner book Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Do and don’t do Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net