Think of any kind of work you could be doing. Construction, clerical, food service, anything. If you make mistakes in any business due to indifference to your job or a lackadaisical attitude, you could probably get by, maybe for a long time. Just putting in the hours, taking a lot of time off, especially Mondays. A lot of people do that.
In a lot of jobs, when someone makes a glaring mistake it is covered up, the person is moved along and everybody forgets about it, except the people who were damaged by it. It is not uncommon for us to hear about someone who is breaking the rules of their job, who then demands that they speak to their labour representative before they respond to any suggestion of wrongdoing. There is always a department or “internal affairs” looking into it. After many months and a slap on the wrist, the person is generally back at work.
Real estate isn’t like that. It is a lot simpler. This is the only career that I know of where the spotlight goes full on if a blatant mistake is made. That mistake is put right out front in the shop window for all to see. Your reputation is everything in real estate. It cannot be covered up. It cannot be brushed aside. When it is damaged, it is done.
In any other line of work there is a stipend. An hourly rate. You get a base salary and then a commission or bonus on top. When you do any kind of work, you don’t put out anything. Your employer provides the car, the lunch room, the uniform or whatever tools you need to do your job. It’s on them, not you.
Real estate isn’t like that either. It is easier to understand. With only rare exceptions, this job is all commission. If you don’t make a sale, you don’t get paid. It’s that simple. Tools? What are you talking about? You must present yourself well. If that takes a suit or good work outfit, it’s on you, literally. Transportation? You provide your own car. You must have a computer and good communication technology going in, you don’t get it on the job. You invest in yourself around here.
So why go into this business? The answer is obvious. The rewards can be huge. First, going in you must have a genuine interest in people and helping them achieve their goals. It may be a building or a retail operation or even both. You could be an integral part of someone achieving their dreams in business. For about 90 per cent of those in the real estate business, that dream is helping people buy a house. A place where pictures can be placed in their living rooms, where meals are served and emotions are poured out on kitchen tables, where there will be markers on door frames showing the growth of children over years of family living. You can be a part of creating this incredible dream. You can also be part of the transition of this dream to another level or another place. You can be a part of this family for generations.
There are also financial rewards. They are important, but always remember they are secondary because without the first you cannot achieve the second.
Don’t think for a moment that this is the kind of thing you can do and expect an hourly wage. You must put out in this business. Your own car, your own computer, your own really expensive cell phone plan, all of it. It’s all on you. Don’t like it? Here’s a quarter, call some one who cares. You probably must go a long time, a real long time, before you make a dime. And you must sacrifice a lot in this business. Your evenings, your weekends, your energy and your emotions. You have to show up every single day. There is no such thing in real estate as taking Monday off because you’re tired from the weekend.
You can and you will be able to make a lot of money in this business but guard your integrity or you will fail. I implore you, do not sacrifice these two things: your family and your reputation. With good planning and preparation, you can achieve all your dreams without risking either one. You can do it and you can achieve success beyond your dreams. All you must do is work hard, every day. You will win a lot more than any hourly wage.
Hard work is such an easy thing to say and yet it is the toughest thing to do in this business. It is as simple as that.
Heino Molls has been the Publisher of REM, Real Estate Magazine (formerly Real Estate Marketing), since 1989. Previous to REM, he worked as an executive at the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), and at the Toronto Star. Contact Heino by email or call 416-425-3504 x2.