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Four years ago, just around this time (remember the 2016 blizzard?), the Sun Gazette checked in with real-estate professionals across the area, and asked if they would advise family members and friends to join their profession, and what advice and tips would they pass along to help get them started.

With the industry changing so quickly, we thought it a good time to check back in. Here are some of the new-for-2020 responses:

Jack Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: Real estate can be fun, profitable and a rewarding business. But you will work harder than you have ever worked in your life. Have some money saved, because the path to success can be slow. You have to be patient. You are dictated to by everyone else and you have to be willing to succumb to a client’s timetable.”

Betsy Twigg, McEnearney Associates: “It depends totally on the person. In real estate, 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. The rest are backup singers who underestimate the hard work it takes and think it’s about showing pretty houses. As an agent, you can have no negative energy, you can’t get snitty about things, you have to have some level of intelligence, you have to be willing to work very hard, have a lot of perseverance, accept rejection and a lot of the nonsense that goes on, roll with the punches and remain calm.”

Casey Samson, Samson Properties: “Considering both my daughters and my nephew are on my team, I would say yes, and yes more than ever. Technology is changing the way we market properties and prospect for clients. Having their energy and knowledge base to complement mine makes us a much more powerful team. I handle the listings, while they help with the listings and work with buyers. This is no business for people who think it is an easy buck. They need to be professional and have a solid work ethic to make it.”

Lilian Jorgenson, Long & Foster: “I would always encourage someone to join the ranks of Realtors. If it is your passion, it is a very rewarding job, with the ability to help your clients to make very important decisions at a time they are embarking on the largest purchase or sale in their lives. If you wish to become a true professional, this job is the best in the world. The answer would be the same today as before and as in the future, because you will always be needed.”

Dean Yeonas, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “I would. In fact, my two sons are getting their real estate licenses. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to create your own business. With proper teaching and mentoring, it is still possible to have a thriving career if you are doing things right, right from the start.”

Bill Groom, Buchanan & Groom: “No, I would not encourage friends or family members to start a real-estate career. This business was so much easier when I was first licensed back 32 years ago. The sales contract back then was the front and back of a legal size sheet of paper. Now I believe it is 28-plus pages. Although many legal updates have improved the contracts since then. This is a tough business.”

Micah Corder, Washington Fine Properties: “Absolutely. It is a great career and can be extremely rewarding. Our advice would be to work for someone that has been in the business for some time, is really productive and has a good reputation. That way, they could learn how to become an excellent agent and jump-start their own business or grow into a more significant role with that agent. In our experience, this can be a difficult business to start from scratch.”

John Mentis, Long & Foster: “This is not an easy business. People are often misinformed about the amount of time and training it takes to become not only licensed, but, more importantly, an educated, valuable asset to a buyer or seller. For someone to become a new agent in this environment, more than ever they need to have money set aside to cover bills for at least a year, enough time to get clients and knowing the contract and market, and the stamina to keep at it every day, even if they have nothing to show for it.”

Derrick Swaak, TTR Sotheby’s: “I would absolutely recommend friends and family become real-estate agents. It’s a fantastic career in an exciting market. Before jumping in, I’d recommend new agents do the following: Speak to as many other agents and brokers as they can and pick their brains. Become experts in the local market: Preview listings, visit open houses and study transactions. They need to understand the local real-estate landscape like the back of their hand. Choose a good mentor, whether it is a managing broker or an experienced agent in the office. Find someone to help them get up to speed as quickly as possible.”

Eli Tucker, Eli Residential Group: “As long as they have proper expectations on income, ramp-up period and variable schedule. Too many people join the industry because they know one or two people ready to buy or sell and think it’s easy money, without an actual plan to establish a long-term, sustainable business. I would always advise against that approach. With the right expectations and business plan, this industry can be very rewarding for the right type of person.”

Craig Mastrangelo, Compass: “I would suggest that self-employment carries many advantages. But also comes with its own unique set of challenges. There is no pension nor retirement matching contributions. One needs to be driven, detail-oriented and fiscally responsible to allow for the ups and downs, while also taking care of your short-term financial needs and paying attention to paving the way for your own retirement. Reflect on your personality and your needs as an individual and decide if autonomy (from an employer) and flexibility of schedule are important enough that certain seven-day work weeks and the need to be attuned to your immediate financial needs and retirement needs are challenges you want to face on your own.”

Fouad Talout, Long & Foster: “Family members make great team members, because they are known, trusted and can bring their individual skills to the team’s business. Discipline, dedication and perseverance are required, as is the ability to overcome obstacles, resolve conflicts and disagreements, and communicate/interact in a timely and diplomatic manner. Income is not guaranteed, and expenses are continual. It is just about a literal 24/7 job. Do your homework and understand what it entails, what the drop-out rate is (approximately 87 percent), what fees/memberships/insurance are required, what training is required, what are the local/state laws, how to get and work leads/clients, etc.”

Mark Middendorf, Long & Foster: “Yes, yes, if they have a passion to work, willingness to commit, and the desire to truly help others understand real estate and help people transition into what might be their biggest business decision. You have to be able to deal with multiple personalities and understand all of the challenges and different components.”

Natalie Roy, Keller Williams: “Depends on the friend or family member. This profession is not for everyone. It is rewarding, challenging and never boring, which are some of the reasons I love it. You need to be able to multi-task and work hard. My advice is to be prepared for the inevitable, stressful hiccups along the way. Every sale is different, yet challenging. While it is critical to be tech-savvy, you still need good old-fashioned people and communication skills in order to excel in the real-estate business in 2020 and beyond.”

Barbara Lewis, Washington Fine Properties: “Yes, I would encourage real estate as a career. However, if someone thinks they will enter the industry because they will have a lot of flexibility, they will soon find that is not the case. It is a very demanding industry with long hours, and it is very important to have supportive family and friends. It is good to talk with successful agents and learn how they spend their days. It is very important to learn the inventory, so they should preview houses that are on the market. Open houses are a good way to meet buyers, so that is an important activity in getting started. I would encourage them to buy real estate, at least one condo, townhome or house every few years. They should not plan to flip it, just buy and keep it. In 15 to 20 years, those real estate purchases will have a nice market value and will most likely be a valuable part of their portfolio of investments.”

Casey Margenau, Casey Margenau Fine Homes & Estates: “First, I would educate them about the business. It is a hard job, made harder now by the Internet. The consumer now believes they don’t need an agent. So to start, an agent has to be better than everyone else. Most new agents don’t make it. It’s a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. job seven days a week, then there is overtime too. But it is a very rewarding business if you get in and do things right. You get to help people with the biggest assets of their life.”

Gloria Adams, TTR Sotheby’s International: “I would definitely encourage my friends and family members to join the real-estate profession. I would want them to attend classes for proper training, ask relevant questions and, if possible, have a mentor for a little while until they felt confident. It is a great profession.”

Tracy Williams, TTR Sotheby’s International: “I would be supportive of family members and friends joining the real estate profession, and the greatest advice I could offer is to be authentic and genuine in all that they do.”

Jean Beatty, McEnearney Associates: “Yes, especially if they possess the type of qualities which have helped me to become successful. A person must truly enjoy helping people with solving their problems. A person has to be disciplined in order to manage multiple transactions at once; a self-starter in order to bring in new clients; hard-working, as sometimes the fruits of your labor take time to grow; selfless, because this job requires giving up your evenings and weekends; able to set their own ego aside; have the ability to overcome challenges because every transaction is unique and something will go wrong; and, finally, communicative, because this is a service field and clients expect responsiveness.”

Karen Briscoe, Huckaby, Briscoe, Conroy Realty Group, Keller Williams: “Absolutely yes. That’s how I got in, because Sue Huckaby asked me, and my husband works with us and is so good at customer service. There are so many facets and aspects of real estate someone can perform. They don’t have to be just an agent. There are staging and marketing people. Most important, you have to have a curiosity for the business. If it doesn’t come from inside, it doesn’t work out.”

Steve Wydler, Wydler Brothers of Compass: “I speak to a lot of people about this and try to scare them away. You need to be passionate about helping people and have a willingness to put yourself out there and blend your personal life with your professional life. Today, real estate is more competitive than ever. We are competing with technology and other agents.”

Diane Lewis, Washington Fine Properties: “Yes, absolutely. If you are willing to work hard and treat it like a real business. Many people think they can get into the business part-time, which is very difficult. There is a lot of competition, so becoming an expert in the market you want to sell and providing world-class service will set you apart and help you succeed.”

Carol Ellickson, TTR Sotheby’s International: “It is a lot harder than it looks and is more than just sales. To me, it is solving problems and preventing them. It takes a deep commitment to make sure your clients are best served. A Realtor has to have the background and knowledge, and needs to keep on top of the market, as well as the legal aspects.  It is the backbone of the transaction.  Every transaction is different ,because you are working with different personalities and different properties every time. A win-win attitude can make all the difference. The Realtor should be the glue that keeps it all together.”

Dawn Wilson, TTR Sotheby’s International: “If someone is very self-motivated, outgoing and willing to constantly learn, it could be a good fit. However, many underestimate the time and amount of work it takes to service clients well and the amount of monetary investment it takes to get started. The most common reason I have heard from people as to why they want to be a Realtor is that they like looking at houses or going to open houses. That is a small part of what is involved to provide a great experience to a client. My advice would be to make sure you understand what is involved in the day-to-day process of being a Realtor, and that you are committed to constantly learning and working long and often non-traditional, hours. It would be helpful to shadow a practicing Realtor for a week or even a month.”

Lori Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: I think it is an excellent idea. Since real estate is a business that is relationship-based and relies heavily on reputation, it makes sense that family members who join their parents or siblings in making real estate a career will often have an added advantage of name recognition and reputation. Family members growing up with parents in the industry may also have a better understanding of the demands of the job. My advice to anyone starting out in real estate – family member or not – would be to actively listen, observe and be patient.”

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