Is a Chicago Real Estate Career Right For You?

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“Is a career in real estate going to be the right fit for me?”

As the Designated Managing Broker for Baird & Warner – Lincoln Park, I get this question a lot — both from people who are considering real estate as their first career, and people who are looking to transition from another field. 

Residential real estate is a career that exemplifies the old adage, “you get from it what you put into it.” There is no one right way to be a successful real estate broker, and all kinds of people will be able to achieve incredible things in this field. It doesn’t matter whether you’re introverted or outgoing, or whether or not you already have a large professional sphere in place. Whatever point you’re starting from, there are opportunities for you to learn and grow, as long as you commit to training and developing a plan that will allow you to work toward your goals.

I believe in an individualized approach that encourages every broker to maximize his or her own natural style, strengths, and opportunities with my support and the support of our office as a whole. It is important that we formulate a custom business plan for each broker, and provide support that is ongoing and constantly evolving as the broker’s career path and goals change.

Wondering whether you’re the right match for a career in Chicago real estate? In my experience, here are some things you may want to ask yourself as you consider launching a real estate career: 

Are You Ready to Explore All Aspects of the Business? 

From my perspective, one of the biggest things for anyone considering this path is to fully understand that real estate truly is a career. This is a business, and if you’re starting as a broker, you need to commit to the concept of opening a business, and all that it entails.  

Lots of us watch home shows on HGTV and see the side of real estate that’s all about helping clients choose the right property or start thinking about possible renovations. While that is of course a piece of it, there’s much more to consider. 

When you’re deciding whether or not real estate is a career that you want to pursue, I think it’s important that people understand that there are two very distinct sides to the business, and you need to be very strong in both. In my experience, the two biggest parts of a real estate career are servicing clients and giving them an incredible experience, while also generating business opportunities. 

Oftentimes, people don’t spend enough time thinking about where they’re going to find their business opportunities. Ultimately, successful real estate agents get their business and build their “pipeline” from many sources, after taking time to develop a plan and sticking to it consistently over time. 

Are You a Self-Starter? Can You Develop a Plan, and Commit to It? 

I would say one of the number one traits that I’ve seen in successful brokers is that they are self-starters. To be successful in real estate long-term, you have to have the ability to hold yourself accountable to a plan. 

The other full-time managers in the Lincoln Park office and I are here to push you, and help develop, refine, and implement the right strategy for you. But at the same time, we can’t pull you along every step of the way. You have to want it, as well. 

My father had a quote in his real estate office: “deeds not words.” That simple statement is incredibly true in real estate. 

Real estate can be an industry with a fairly low barrier to entry, but you have to be ready to invest the time and commitment it takes to succeed. Together, we can lay out a powerful business plan — but it’s your responsibility to execute it.

If you truly consider residential real estate as a business opportunity, understand the potential upsides, and treat it like a business day in and day out, you may be amazed at how quickly our leadership, tools, and resources can help you become profitable and productive.

Will Real Estate Be Your Full-Time Career? 

Ideally, people who are considering real estate as a career need to be ready to transition into it full-time.

While things are operating a bit differently right now due to social distancing, I believe in the value of being present in order to learn, collaborate, and develop relationships. Right now, this can include attending sales meetings over Zoom, or staying in touch with colleagues and clients via video updates. 

Even more importantly, committing to real estate full-time is the best way to make sure you’re actually working toward your goals. 

Among new-to-the-business brokers, there is often hesitancy to dive in headfirst. Some individuals say that they will eventually make the transition to being a full-time broker, usually once they have an income level that makes them feel confident that they can replace their previous career. 

However, if you only put part-time hours into a career, then you are always inevitably going to have part-time income. Without investing fully, it can be tough to ever build up enough momentum to reach the point where you feel like real estate is a full replacement for another line of work, or get to a level where you can start seeing the upside. Instead, people who keep one foot out the door usually get a little disappointed, because they’re not getting the level of income that they were before. 

There are exceptions, of course, but it is my experience that the people that tend to do the best are those who have the willingness and ability to commit to real estate full-time

Are You Open to New Technology? 

To truly be competitive and successful in real estate in this day and age, you have to be someone who is open to learning about and embracing new technology. 

We still are a relationship-first business, in my opinion, but we do have fantastic resources and technology tools that support what we do and make us more efficient — and which can allow you to run a more profitable business. 

Are You Able to Be Patient? 

One of the traits that unites successful new brokers is patience. And that’s not only referring to having patience with the development of your business, but also having what I sometimes call “the heart of a teacher.” 

Rather than being short-tempered or short-sighted, it’s important to adopt the long view, and take time to build lasting relationships. Oftentimes, building meaningful relationships will come from taking the time to truly educate people on opportunities and aspects of the marketplace, or even about the ins and outs of the process. This builds a foundation of trust, and dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll have a referral source for opportunities going forward. 

Ready to Keep the Conversation Going? 

I was lucky enough to grow up in a real estate family. From an early age, I had a front row seat to the endless opportunity provided by a real estate license.

I chose real estate for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it allowed me the freedom to build something truly special. I started my career in a corporate sales role. After a short time in that role, I knew I wanted more — more control of my income, more control of my day, and most importantly, more control of my future.

Today, as Designated Managing Broker of Baird & Warner’s Lincoln Park office, I take pride in helping to create and maintain an office culture that I can be proud of. We provide industry leading training, coaching, and mentoring for brokers at every stage of their careers.  We invest more time and money into the success of every one of our brokers than our competitors. And we take the time to develop individual business plans and goals with each and every individual who joins our office.Have any more questions?  I’m always here and happy to discuss life in real estate, and what sets us apart at Baird & Warner – Lincoln Park. Whether you are considering a career change or looking for a new partner in your existing business, I truly look forward to connecting!


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