It’s not an easy ride. I can attest to that. I have had many friends and family say over the years how easy making a healthy living in real estate must be. My reply is usually something along the lines of “obtain the necessary qualifications and go for it”.
Strangely I am not often taken up on this challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I think I am very lucky to be involved in the job and often think of my father and brothers who need to be out in any weather on the farm growing good food for us to consume while I put on a suit and tie. There are definitely opportunities in real estate but they too don’t come without cost.
Imagine walking into a car yard for your first day on the job only to be told that you must go out and find people who are looking at upgrading their vehicles so you can sell them to a new owner. This is essentially what we do when selling houses. We can’t just order more houses to sell when the stocks are running low like you can with cars and many other products. As I was told early on in my career by the late Ian Paterson “you are unemployed in real estate until you have something to sell”.
Having received my real estate qualifications in 2007, I was 24 and raring to go. I felt like real estate would be a good fit, I love property and I had the skills to do a great job, it was just a matter of convincing others of the same thing.
I only moved to Wellington in 2005/2006 which meant I had no contact base. I didn’t go to school here, I didn’t play in rugby or other sports teams here, I didn’t know many people at all. So how was I going to get the word out? Where do you start?
I didn’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on fancy marketing to help get my name out there. I can even remember borrowing money from my parents when my bath split around that time! Mum ensured that I was kept accountable and that was paid back.
I couldn’t afford fancy color fliers, I didn’t have a database of emails to send out to people, I didn’t have access to phone numbers. So I decided to go door-knocking. One of my first doors I knocked on was of a lady who had her home on the market for a while by the airport in Miramar. The trouble was, I was too keen and I knocked on her door in the dark during wintertime. I swear she thought I was eyeing up her place to ransack. Definitely not the look I was going for!
While plodding the streets door knocking, meeting people and doing the hard yards, I decided to go for my next approach. I decided I would attempt to make my own flyers. Being young and fit I would deliver them. I still cringe when I think about the flyers being designed by myself on Microsoft Word. They were printed in black and white of course, as I didn’t really have the marketing budget for color. What was I thinking? I remember one week driving around the areas I was delivering in my car to see how much distance was being covered. I realized that 3-4 kilometers were being clocked up per day! I still have vivid memories about parking up at one end of Breaker Bay. Houses were only on one side of the road and I ran out flyers for what must be at least a couple of kilometers only to run back to my car afterward. As all these flyers were being delivered I was waiting on all the phone calls I was going to get. Days would pass, then weeks. I was lucky to get one call off my flyers every second month let alone converting that into a listing! For a while there I was wondering how long my real estate career would last. People would say “don’t worry you will be fine once we hit the upturn of the next real estate cycle” but I was more worried about paying my mortgage for the next month!
Door knocking with the addition of cold calling people on their landlines (which are now almost extinct) after hours was what saved me in those early years. Watch out if you showed even a hint of wanting to sell 😉 I was lucky the previous part-time job I did while taking a sport seriously was selling American Express credit cards to people who were walking through the airport. Now, most of you have probably not tried to stop someone while they are on a beeline to their airplane and sell them a credit card but it is soul-sucking. I didn’t even own a credit card myself at the time! Door knocking and cold calling was a breeze after that. I can remember hours of sitting in my little one-bedroom flat at night calling people asking whether they had thoughts of selling in the foreseeable future. I was still doing this when I met my now wife, she was wondering what she had signed up for!
There were many “what was I thinking” moments. These include not keeping many of my open home contact numbers and emails for the first 6 years of selling real estate. I obviously thought my grunt work would suffice. Lucky I wasn’t afraid to put in the hours!
Fast forward 12 years and it is a lot nicer nowadays to be able to spend nearly all of my time working on the owner’s behalf selling the property instead of 60-70% of my time prospecting for listings and worrying about where the next house was going to come from. That can be attributed to time in the career meeting a lot of people and a smarter way of doing things. A lot of learning over the years. Being with a great company like Ray White Wellington doesn’t hurt either. I now have clients selling their homes again with me and people recommending me to their friends, which is very humbling.
So 12 years down and hopefully many more than 12 years to go. I still love the real estate career as much as I did when I started in 2007, probably more in fact. There are always changes and new challenges to overcome.