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Taking a day off

being a professional rants Jan 04, 2022

New Year's Day - a holiday, a time for family, friends, reflection, celebration.

January 1, 2022, fell on a Saturday. That day, an agent put a house on the MLS for sale, with showings to start Sunday. The copy in the MLS implied that they were hoping to have offers either Sunday afternoon or Monday.

What the f@#! is wrong with people?

There is so much wrong with this situation (IMHO).

  • Why are you (the agent) working on New Year's Day to put a house on the MLS?
  • Are you not able to take a day off?
  • Even in spite of the crazy market we are in, how many buyers and other agents are actively looking and working that day?
  • How can you properly prep the house coming on market on a holiday?

AND...most importantly, it perpetuates this "always-on" mentality. Do you know who works lots of hours? People who have jobs, who get paid by the hour. Do you know who doesn't get paid per hour? Real estate agents. Yet, they work lots and lots and lots of hours.

When you ask them, "How many hours do you work?", they can't answer. Why? Because they are always on-duty, they are essentially always working. But that is not how it occurs to them. They only think of the time they are actually doing something - like showing a house, writing a contract, etc. They forget all the time spent looking at their phones, responding to messages and other inquiries that don't require their attention at that moment.


Why is this happening?

Amateurs. Our business is full of amateurs who propagate scarcity with the following thinking.

  • I can't take a moment off or I will lose business. (Notice I said "moment" off - I didn't even say "1/2 a day" let alone a whole day.)
  • I can't afford to lose business because it is so hard to come by and...
  • ...I need business.

In all fairness, they don't know any better.

Let's be clear, real estate agents are the only "profession" that has almost no barrier of entry - that is one reason why so few real estate agents are actually professionals. It's also noteworthy that in the U.S. there are more realtors than physicians - way more (1.4 million to 985,000).

Real estate education, i.e. licensing, spends little to no effort training licensees to be professionals. Although many states say they protect the public from licensees' bad behavior, they don't actually train for professionalism.


Barrier To Entry

There is no real barrier to entry for becoming a real estate agent. Back to the physician analogy. You may be wondering why use physicians? Because many real estate agents act as if they are as important - or more important - than physicians. Which, by the way, is the most ridiculous comparison because houses don't bleed to death.

Anyway, what is the barrier to entry for becoming a physician? Four years of medical school and at least four more years of residency. And that is if you can actually get accepted to a medical school - about 50,000 people apply, and around 20,000 are accepted (~40%). How many people get accepted to real estate school? All of them. Simply pay your nominal fee.

So as I said, there is no barrier to entry. The real test in being a real estate agent is after you get your license - which is why most real estate agents fail. The statistic varies, but generally, it is between 75%-85% of real estate agents who get their license don't make it to year 5. One could say there is no barrier to entry, but there is a "barrier to success." Anyone can get their license - very few actually excel in this business.


A Hot Market Rewards Undisciplined Behavior

When we have a record run - like we have had since 2012 - the market helps under-performing agents hang on. The agent who put the house on the market on New Year's Day - she likely has no idea what it's like in a "normal" market. Putting a home on the MLS on New Year's Day, or any holiday is practically a breach of fiduciary duty. But in an extraordinary, possibly once-in-a-lifetime seller's market, this seems perfectly normal. So, maybe I am the one who isn't "getting it" right now.

However, I suspect not. Because I see what this "always-on" does to people. It's like every day, slowly taking a little poison. Every day, you feel a little more off, but not sure why. You know something isn't quite right, but not enough to stop what you are doing. Then one day you wake up and realize you are dying. But it's too late. The damage has been done. You have slowly killed your life by ignoring it for the last {fill in the blank} months or years. Always being on, always being in a stressed out, high alert state. Congratulations. You, your relationships, and the quality of your health and life: toast.

Now, some people reading this are going to say, "Hey, I love working. I love being on-duty. This is why my clients hired me!" Well, if this is you, congratulations, you self-absorbed piece of shit. Seriously, get over yourself. YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT! If you believe that your value proposition is being "on-duty", you are nothing more than a lowly paid security guard. On second thought, the security guard may make more than you per hour.

Okay, that's a little harsh. But I am literally trying to shake people, and wake them up, that we are not that important. Our business isn't that serious. This is not life and death, however, you might be literally killing yourself and what you cherish most around you.

Burnout is a real thing, yet there are no real good statistics on the subject. Suffice to say that I have watched many agents come and go. They build a business, then burn themselves out running in it (yes, I specifically worded it that way). Being always-on is simply not sustainable. Ask yourself, how much longer do you want to go at this pace?

That's my rant. If you are offended, then I did my job, but notice why you are offended? It could only be because you are running yourself 24/7. I am asking you to question why that is a good strategy, which means you would have to confront the very essence of how you have been running your business. What you have done so far has worked - otherwise, you wouldn't be where you are. I am merely suggesting it isn't a long-term strategy. Thanks for considering.