Someone told me a few days ago that she was thinking of becoming a real estate broker part-time.
“Don’t,” I said unhesitatingly.
Even if she has a wide social network, there is no way she can succeed. That’s because becoming a broker means working not just full time but all the time. Although many people think of brokers working on weekends, what they don’t know is that brokers also work most other days as well.
In the case of the aspiring part-timer, either she will have little or no business and fail to have an income. Or she will have so much business that she will have no rest. Certainly, it’s damn difficult to turn away any business when the insecurity of commission income is a burden virtually all of us brokers bear.
When I started my real estate business in the Washington, D.C. region seven or eight years ago, I found myself giving over literally 70, 80 and 90 hours a week to marketing, building systems that eventually saved time, fielding random calls at the office and taking many extra classes in order to excel and acquire important credentials.
After a year or so, I didn’t have to work so many hours – likely about 60 a week as I recall.
Do you remember “American Beauty?” I can relate to that movie, having frequently over time engaged in such activities as trimming hedges, discarding garbage, making beds, watering plants, hiding unmentionables and stripping my own home of lamps, rugs and chairs. Fun!
Moving back to Manhattan to begin my business all over again four years ago also meant countless hours of building, marketing, stroking potential customers and learning a new market. It also meant the expenditure of not insignificant amounts of money at a time early on when little or none was coming in. (I still spend, but it doesn’t hurt so much.)
Last week, I worked seven days from 8 or 9 in the morning to as late as 1:30 at night most nights, skipping on two or three occasions my visits to the gym and often “dining” in front of my computer. (Friday, it was a bagel in the morning and, for dinner, mozzarella and pignoli cookies purchased with my clients at the end of our having checked out one-bedroom co-ops and condos in Chelsea and the East Village.)
My days and nights were been consumed with looking at apartments on the market, showing apartments, putting an offer together and seeing a co-op board package to its completion.
A former long-time mainstream journalist, I also spent an enormous amount of time reading daily periodicals and blogs about real estate. I additionally dedicated hours every days writing my newsletter, blog and now tweets. Sometimes, the time writing feels like a self-indulgence since I enjoy it so much. In truth, though, I believe it is the best way for me to reach the market.
Last week – which I hoped might be exceptional – already is proving not to be so: I must have devoted at least 80 hours to my business. I’m not whining about the hours, though they are probably longer than many brokers customarily work. As far as I’m concerned, the results are demonstrable: My customer base has expanded exponentially.
My own experience and the experience of other brokers whom I have observed tells me that real estate is unquestionably not a business for part-timers – not, anyway, for successful ones.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022