Real estate was, for years, considered to be a man’s world. It was a difficult occupation for women to break into initially. Thankfully, over time the field has become wide open and developed into more of a woman’s domain. Females aspiring to be realtors had to work hard to prove themselves, but finally, we have evolved into a force with which to be reckoned.
I spent years in the corporate world, working as an administrative assistant for a demanding executive and being treated as less than. Finally, I decided, after many tears and much frustration, to make an attempt to become my own boss. It sounded like a good plan at the time.
As I was struggling with the desire for a new career, I noticed that there were several houses for sale in the area that I would pass through on my way to work each day. I have always enjoyed working with numbers, and I had only enough knowledge of legalese so as not to be afraid of learning more. So a dream was conceived. This was, incidentally, before the housing market went south.
After completing the rigorous courses, and finally passing the exam, I earned my credentials. At that point, and after chewing off all my fingernails, I knew it was time to give birth to the dream. So with major butterflies, I resigned from the nine-to-five world. My life as a work-at-home real estate agent, while not exactly what I pictured as I waited on the boss hand and foot, has not been bad at all. I quickly realized that self-employment has a whole different set of problems from public work.
There are many business expenses that have to come off the top of my paycheck, which is calculated from a percentage of the sale price of the home or property, which I am handling. Among these are insurances and self-employment taxes. Occasionally, I may purchase some decorative items to display in an empty house or office, which adds to the ambiance and may encourage the buyer to see the potential there. I try to save these items for reuse, although I have had to sacrifice some to establish goodwill when the buyer fell in love with them.
Working Weekends and Nights
Many times I spend Saturdays re-cleaning an empty house or building, which has already been cleaned, just not to my liking. Many potential buyers only have nights and weekends to tour the property. So naturally, that puts me working some nights and a lot of weekends. When they are looking, I am there on the job.
On the nights that I am at home and able to enjoy dinner with my family, the phone usually rings at least once or twice with an interested or just curious potential customer on the other end. When you are self-employed and work-from-home, you always answer your phone.
No Sales, No Money
Then there are the weeks, and sometimes a couple of months at a time, when I don’t sell anything. Of course, that means no paycheck for me.
So why do I continue to be a real estate agent? I do it because it gives me a freedom that my “real job” never did. If I have a serious conflict, or if I just need a play date really badly, I can re-schedule my appointments. Once in a while, a client may get snarky, but usually, they are happy to re-schedule if I can offer them an immediate and convenient option.
I love that feeling I get from helping a couple or a family to find their dream home, whether it is the first time or the second or third time they have found their dream. Sometimes a family may be relocating out of necessity and under stress. That is when I try to provide that extra touch of helpfulness and compassion of which we are all in need at some point in our lives. I also like to assemble packets of useful information about the area for newcomers. I just believe it pays to be nice and go the extra mile. With a little planning and budgeting, and some doing without, I have been able to make it through the downtimes, which leaves me feeling very thankful.
At the end of the day, I have to admit; I think I’m living my dream.
Samantha Ricks is a 30-year-old real estate agent based in Florida. She spends her extra time writing blog posts and editorials or does web content writing for Mortgage Loan. You can reach her at [email protected]