Real estate professionals suffer elevated rates of substance abuse, divorce, and suicide. Why? Because we are taught to sell at all costs, and if it gets the job done we have been known to leverage our souls. At our core we are good people–natural helpers, many of us–which is why the dissonance between our actions and our hearts causes so much pain. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

I believe that real estate can be the happiest industry in North America. Agents will honor the real estate transaction for the sacred event that it is. Clients will hold us in the company of their wedding officiant and midwife. And to each other, agents will be brothers and sisters. This isn’t a fantasy; it is my reality and that of many of my like-minded colleagues.

Let the excuses flow:

“My market is different”

“Not at this price point”

“Touchy feely isn’t my thing”

Not one of these holds water. The principles of a real estate business that fills your pockets and your heart in equal measure can be applied under any circumstance. But what is also true is that not all people are cut out for commission-based (service-based) work. For all the opportunity for income and growth potential, a price is paid in unpredictability. In my observation it’s the folks who crave stability and a clear ‘If this, then that’ compensation structure who are the first to burn out in this work. So the first step toward this utopian scene is to know yourself.

Step Two: Know your customer. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but you might somebody else’s tequila shot. Let’s back into this one:

  • Customer: It’s never been easier to target your marketing, so old school ‘spray and pray’ tactics just underscore your laziness. Treat people like a commodity and they will return the favor. But if you are connecting with people who actually need/want your help, now in their eyes you have value.
  • Your: What are your customer personas? Who do you work with well? What have been your most gratifying transactions? Who are your cheerleaders? These people are your audience. Do everything with them in mind.
  • Know: What are your personas’ pain points, hopes, and dreams? Ask questions and then listen. As I heard from Joe Niego, “The person who comes out of a conversation having spoken the most has the higher opinion of how that conversation went.” I would add that the person who comes out of a conversation having spoken the least comes out with the most information.

Step Three:, Serve every person you interact with. Not just your customers and clients. I mean co-brokes, vendors, attorneys, managers, etc. Everybody. “But Katie, what if they’re AWFUL?” Let me ask you this: Have you ever met a newborn baby and thought: What a little asshole! (By the way, if you have then you are awful.). Every person you meet was that newborn baby once. Is there a wedding band on their finger? Are they a parent? You might not get everyone on their best day, but consider the fact that to somebody, they are the most important person in their world. You can honor that without paying a personal price. Or as I like to say, ‘Be nobody’s bitch; be their blessing.’

The biggest opportunity I see here is the magic that happens when independent agents collaborate. There is an outdated mindset which dictates that sharing is risky because another agent could ‘steal’ an idea from you, at some sort of expense to you. This is totally wrong, and purely a function of ego. The most successful real estate professionals I know are open books. They share their ‘secrets’ all over the place. For free! They mastermind with each other and everyone does better. My favorite example was when Nicole Nicolay published 26 blog post ideas for 2014. Her sharing made such an impression on me, I still hold her as an example of how happy this business can be. When I saw it I thought OMG is she crazy? Why would she do this? Everyone is going to use her ideas and she’s not going to have anything original on her own blog. But she knew that most people wouldn’t even post blog #1 from her ideas, and that others who started would eventually fizzle out. And she was right–even I didn’t make it through April. Furthermore, the thing that makes Nicole successful is Nicole. People may use the same tactics as her, but they’ll never have her secret sauce, and the same is true for you.

Finally, work your face off. You can pray to make the bus, but you still have to run. Everything starts with the right mindset, so take the time to thoroughly internalize the steps I’ve outlined above. But all of it is nothing without relentless action, and honestly that’s the easy part (If that’s the hard part for you, read this book).

Katie Clancy is the Chief House Hawker for The Cape House Team on Cape Cod, MA, and Regional Director of Business Development at William Raveis Real Estate. She helps real estate professionals grow their business without selling their souls. She is the mom of 4 girls, an Elite Producer at William Raveis RE, winner of Placester’s 2018 Battle of the Brands, a 2018 RIS Media Newsmaker, and an enthusiastic, if somewhat decrepit, CrossFit athlete. Follow her here or on Insta at @thecapehouse and @hellyeahbacon.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.