Why I'm not a real estate agent

Posted July 4, 2013

I originally wrote this on November 9, 2009. It will be in my future book, and I decided it might make a good blog post as well. It's typical of what I experience far too often. (Don't you love that I don't have to go digging for stories for my book? They just keep showing up in my life.)


In 2009 I took the two Pennsylvania real estate courses in order to educate myself before I did battle with a real estate firm in Canada. One Friday I saw an ad on my local CraigsList from a real estate broker in Erie looking for new agents. I decided to see how good my chances were of associating myself with the agency either as a home stager to help her agents sell properties faster, or a licensed agent.

We met and I shared with her some of my own property selling experience that I could bring to her agency: hosting a real estate radio show, writing a
book on selling homes, working with an author on a book about buying condos, owning a real estate advertising service (which I later sold); selling 3 homes, raw land of my own and a timeshare of my Dad's; studying housing construction, and being a home stager. I not only have a degree in Family and Consumer Science, but also a degree in Business and Marketing and owned my own successful public relations and marketing consulting firm for 30 years. I hoped all this would demonstrate my business skills, what a go-getter I am and how much I could bring to her agency and her company's bank account.

She went on and on about the benefits of
home staging - Great, I thought! She'll ask me to stage her listed homes for bigger profits - and I asked if she would refer me so I could help her agents sell their listed homes faster so I could increase her revenues and at the same time earn enough to cover my licensing exam fees and professional real estate fees (about $2,000).She said NO.


Did you get that?
She wasn't willing to let me bring her income faster that would also allow me to cover the expenses required to work for her and earn her even more income.

Instead she told me I should stop writing, consulting, speaking, selling books, and home staging, and go get a $7 an hour retail job working full-time as a
shop girl for a florist or department store. "What?," I thought to myself, "Is she insane?" I was speechless. I simply looked at her and smiled, a frozen smile, but a smile nonetheless. In a store I would earn in one day ($45 after deductions) less than I can earn in 15 minutes as a consultant or a day as a home stager ($450). I was incredulous.

I suspected that her intention was to crush my spirit, but for what purpose I couldn't guess. I haven't worked for that low a wage since I worked to put myself through 6 years of university. That was 4 decades ago. I do far better as an entrepreneur and consultant than as an employee.

Why anyone would want to demean or demoralize a person willing to work hard to share half her (my) earnings is incomprehensible to me. (Real estate agents get 25% of their commissions, as do their brokers.) I can't work for anyone who enjoys crushing the spirit of any human, and certainly not for someone who is blind to the prospect of additional income I could bring her agency.

I didn't tell her - and she obviously didn't take any time to check my former web site as I had suggested - that my PR firm had created high profiles for realtors, among other professionals and specialists, so listings and home buyers would come in faster and in greater volume. So, I may yet decide to re-open the
Personal Public Relations firm I closed a few years ago, and see if any of her competitors would like me to bring them tons of business.

(I understand the highest paid realtors in Erie are earning about $100,000 a year. My clients were earning $500,000 and more as a result of my marketing efforts.)

Here's a little more insight: That day was a warm, sunny Saturday, perfect for prospective buyers to see homes for sale. The agency's phones should have been ringing off the hook, but they were silent; there was no staff working at 11 AM, the lights were off throughout the office, and the large parking lot was empty of all cars but mine and my interviewer. What does that tell you? Nobody was signing contracts. And what does it tell you when a firm advertises for new sales people on Craigslist.org? Desperation, maybe? I just don't understand why that broker was working against her own best interests.

What would have a been better scenario? The broker could have given me a trial staging assignment on one of her agency's most shockingly ugly and hard-to-sell homes. No cost to anyone but me. If I helped the agent and broker sell the home fast and for a better-than-asking-price, then I could have expected future referrals and payment until I could afford the fees to become an agent.

Sure, an agent could stage a home herself, but is that wise? Let's say an agent gets a gross commission (before expenses) of $1250 on a $100,000 home. Net might be closer to $850 after paying for office costs, materials and advertising, not to mention auto expenses. Is she really going to provide additional labor (staging/painting, furniture storage, etc.) of $1000 or more to earn that $850 commission? She'd be a fool; that's not profitable. It would have been better to have hired me to do the work, have the seller pay me at the closing, and let the agent enjoy the benefits of my expertise and effort.

I just don't understand why Erie realtors don't get that homes I've worked on sell within no more than 3 weeks at about $10,000 more than expected. Why would any realtor or broker say no? Ironically, I now have the money to become an agent, but can't imagine why I'd want to.

Today's blog post is brought to you by my booklet,
Sell Your Mobile Home in 60 Days. (In 2000 I sold mine in 6 days.)
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Why do I post my experiences? It's not to vent so much as it is to teach professionals what is acceptable and what is not. I want future clients to be aware that not all people they hire have maturity and integrity.... and to stay away from this kind of "professional."

For a list of proper behavior, have a look at my own
Code of Conduct on this site.