Two Vastly Different Approaches… Two Successful Real Estate Careers


posted by on Especially for Rookies


I have a new soapbox that has fired up my blogging energy… doncha’ love it when that happens? Off we go…

I had an interesting meeting last summer with a real estate agent who started in the business the same year I did, in the same company. That year, he was the Rookie of the Year … and I was runner-up to him. Neither of us recall who was third, of course!

Anyway, we literally hadn’t run into each other since that awards ceremony in the mid-90’s. Oh, I’ve seen his name around and he’s seen mine, but we’ve never actually talked. We both went on to have successful careers and to set our individual worlds on fire (in our own minds anyway) and are still alive and kicking, almost 13 years later. Good thing.

So, last summer, we had the opportunity to chat about our respective careers. Since his dad had been a mega-producing broker at the time this guy (let’s call him Skip) entered the business, I always assumed that his success had been handed to him. Au Contraire!

Skip explained that his dad wouldn’t even let him in the door of his real estate office until he had, get this, worked for a year as a copier salesman. After that, he had to get his appraiser’s license. Only then did Dad allow him to hang his new real estate license. But that was only the beginning – the boot camp then begun. Skip had to call all 600 of his dad’s past clients, had to knock on 20 FSBO doors and call 20 expired listings per week. He had to hold two open houses every single Saturday. I’m sure there was mass-mailing and advertising tossed in there, too, but he didn’t mention it.

And, voila! Skip was Rookie of the Year!

At the same time, I was taking my friends to lunch and attending social events with my future-ex-husband. I did some open houses and returned phone calls in nano-seconds. That was about it for my prospecting efforts.

And voila! I was the Rookie of the Year Runner-up!

Truth be told, Skip blew me away in production. He sold something like 70 houses that first year to my 25. But I was pretty darn happy with my 25 and I was enjoying the heck out of my new real estate career. So, for me, it worked. Had I been forced thru Skip’s boot camp, I wouldn’t have made it past my first month.

Fast forward to today.

Both Skip and I have had successful careers. We’ve made a lot of money and have consistently been top producers in our offices. I’m sure he has a lot of plaques on his “me wall,” as do I.

But our approaches are still vastly different. He said he has to sell AT LEAST 100 houses a year to be profitable – that is, to support the systems and staff he’s put in place. He HAS to cold call, he HAS to door knock, he HAS to prospect, prospect, prospect to stay afloat. He said that if he only has 5 closings in a month, he’s in deep financial doo-doo. 

Me? Well, my “best” year was in 2001 when I sold something like 70 houses. But you know what? That year, I brought home less than 40% of my gross commissions (not counting taxes) because the cost of maintaining that level of production was astronomical. A few years later, I sold “only” 35 houses and netted exactly the same amount, working half as hard and taking on only half the risk. Hmmmmmm.

Today, my business is very simple (and cheap) to run. It’s just me, myself and I. No assistants, no buyer agents, not even a free-lance transaction coordinator. I don’t advertise, farm or SEO. Due to my strong sphere of influence and past client database, I have a steady stream of good business. Will I sell 100 houses this year? Uh, no. But do I work 60 hours a week? Nope. Haven’t done that in years.

I imagine Skip’s annual income is close to a million, if not more. Mine? Nowhere close to a million! But do I feel as if I’m been blown away by my fellow Rookie? Not really.

I don’t ever want to be in the position of having to be a mega-producer in order to survive. I just want to take on the amount of business I can handle all by myself, the amount of business that I can easily attract using the soulful methods and philosophies that have always worked for me.

I must be getting old…