Real estate is an attractive career path for people of all ages and backgrounds, but what do newbies in the industry think of it as a whole? What surprises did they stumble across this year?

One of the things I love most about owning a brokerage is hearing the perspectives of new agents. My head was filled with ideas when I started as a solo agent years ago (and it still is). Now, I get to hear the wide range of impressions from the dozens of agents who have joined us over the last year through our Real Estate Scholarship Program. 

I decided to put those fresh eyes and brains to work by asking them to share their thoughts on what drew them to real estate and what has surprised them about their experiences so far. I’ll share their observations in their own words, then add my broader insights from talking to all of our newest hires over the past several months. 

Where agents come from

“I’ve worked in property management, insurance, roofing and siding, appliance repair, mold/asbestos removal and even in restaurants. I pondered being a Realtor for years before I finally took the plunge.”

“I just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture, and I’m currently working toward a master’s in public affairs as I also build my real estate business.”

“I spent the last 30 years as an educator in a variety of different teaching roles, from early childhood and high school English, to ESL for service workers in Guatemala and pediatric HIV/AIDS care training for doctors and nurses in Tanzania.”

Insight: Real estate is drawing people from an amazingly wide variety of careers and experiences. It’s seen as an attractive and thriving profession — especially during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Unlike our last economic crisis, this one didn’t start in real estate, and our industry has been one of the most resilient over the last nine months. 

Why real estate?

“For me, getting into real estate was a spontaneous decision. The pandemic definitely changed my post-college career plans, and now here I am. I’m sure I’m not the only one.” 

“For me, joining real estate was about getting myself out of a professional rut. I’m a hard-working person, but I had hit a glass ceiling in my old career path. I got restless and needed something more.” 

“What drew me to real estate was seeing how many brokers offered to train new agents. I was drawn here because there was little talk about making money and lots of talk about helping people.”

Insight: People are turning to real estate for a sense of excitement, stability and growth potential. The financial opportunities are important, but even more critical is the fact that real estate is seen as a profession where you can genuinely help people. 

What surprises them the most

“What surprised me is how much emotion people have when negotiating a home purchase. I might need to take some psychology classes to be better prepared!”

“I’ve been surprised to learn how much I love it when you walk into a home with a client, and their face just lights up. Helping people make changes in their life on such a huge purchase is thrilling.” 

Insight: Many agents get into real estate because they feel an emotional attachment to it, but they’re really blown away when they see that kind of emotion from their clients. Since I started in real estate, the idea of “home” has never been important than it is right now. We should never forget that we work in an emotional space.

The perception problem

“I’ve found most agents to be very helpful as opposed to cutthroat and devious, which is what I was told by some to expect.”  

“A friend who’s a real estate agent told me that it’s a very dog-eat-dog industry. Luckily, my experience hasn’t been that way. We have wonderful people in our office.” 

Insight: From a reputation standpoint, the biggest thing holding real estate back from attracting more and higher-quality agents is the perception that it’s a cutthroat environment. Real estate has work to do in rebranding itself as a supportive culture. 

The bottom line? Real estate remains an attractive career path for people of all ages and backgrounds — not only for the financial opportunities, but also because it’s seen as a place where you can serve others for the greater good. To keep thriving, we need to build on the positive aspects of the profession and show greater engagement with the communities we work and live in. 

Kris Lindahl is the founder and CEO of Kris Lindahl Real Estate, the #1 team-owned independent real estate brokerage in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and #12 nationwide.

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