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How to balance a relationship and a career in real estate

Working in the real estate industry is hard on a relationship. The odd hours, unreliable financial income and constantly ringing phone can put a strain on even the healthiest marriages. How do you keep a relationship intact when you work in real estate?

Sherry Rioux

Sherry Rioux

Sherry Rioux, a broker with Clairwood Real Estate Corporation in Collingwood, Ont., strives to keep her 30-year marriage strong “I try to keep my husband involved in my work. He is friends with the other agents in my office and their spouses, so he understands how the business works. This has helped him to understand the demands and deadlines that we come up against. We also try to get two to three nights per week where we can watch some of our favourite TV shows or movies, or go out to dinner, even if it is just a quick meal in between appointments.”

Ron Stettner

Ron Stettner

Ron Stettner, a real estate consultant with Premier Canadian Properties in Kelowna, B.C. has also been married for 30 years. Stettner and his wife have found a way to make it work, “My wife happens to be my best friend. She supports me 100 per cent, especially in busy times like we are having in Kelowna right now. It is vital. Because it is sometimes hard to set a schedule as I am hands on and offer quick responses for my clients, I (jokingly) tell my wife, Lise, that I am like a doctor on call and sometimes have to go in a moment’s notice. Her job is very demanding as a computer programmer but she can be flexible and when time allows, we always try to have at least one or two spontaneous date nights per week.” The couple also has a standing dinner date every Sunday with their extended family.

You’ve probably heard this suggestion but actually give it a try. Schedule dates or blocks of time for your partner directly into your calendar (iPhone app, paper day-timer, whatever you use.) Once your personal times are scheduled in your calendar, your real estate career can work around them. Treat the level of importance of appointments with your spouse as you would any real estate client. If a buyer or a work meeting comes knocking, stand strong and keep that time sacred for your partner. Tell the person you have a previous appointment and leave it at that.

Things that have worked for other agents:

  • Use the flexibility of the hours to your advantage, taking into account your partner’s schedule.
  • If you are having communication problems with your significant other, a third party such as a professional marriage counsellor can help get things back on track.
  • Consider working with a real estate partner to give you more time at home, if you need it. You’ll be giving up some of your earnings but you’ll be gaining quality relationship time.
  • To get more time together, involve your partner in some of the work chores that you can do together such as previewing houses, cruising around looking for FSBO homes or putting up signs.
  • Encourage your spouse to share concerns and ask questions so your loved one feels like he or she has a voice in your career.
Darcy Powlik

Darcy Powlik

Darcy Powlik, a real estate agent with Re/Max Real Estate in Leduc, Alta., has been married since 1988. “Our marriage has been solid throughout my career and I am very fortunate for that. It has allowed me to work hard and be successful. In order to make our life work, I have to work hard to make everything stay together. I try my best to pick work times that will not interfere with family and other planned events. I go to work early (even on weekends) so I can be available when everyone wants to do something. My wife and children have been very accommodating and have put up with lots of phone calls when we are together as a family, at home and on vacation. They understand that if I don’t take care of my career, it would be hard to keep a solid income stream that makes our family life work.”

Powlik continues, “There have been many stressful days when I should be at home or with my family and I am out working. My wife and kids have stuck with me and understand that in most cases I have no choice. I reward my family when I can for their understanding ways, both with my time and by providing activities and vacations together. I take my job very seriously and customer service is very important but I recognize my family is everything to me.

“I have seen many cases where real estate agents have gone through breakups and it is hard on them. I try anything I can to avoid that type of problem. My advice to anyone would be to pick what is the most important thing to you. Then try everything you can to keep that one thing going.”

Rioux offers some final advice, “Stop and smell the roses. You have to take time to realize when the demands of the career are overtaking your family life. You don’t have to take every listing or work with every buyer. If you are that busy, it may be worth it to refer some of your business to another colleague. If you find the hours are too long, consider teaming up with someone or joining a team so that the time commitments can be spread out. Don’t take your spouse for granted. Take the time to have meals together so you can hear about their day. Remember…it’s not ‘all about me’.”

Being in real estate can take over your life financially and emotionally and that will impact your significant other. But doing whatever it takes to have a strong relationship that embraces your career will be a win/win for everyone.