I sat alone in a room with the clock. Just me and the clock. For hours each day. Its loud ticking reminded me of every mind-numbing second that slipped by as I recovered from hip surgery.
If you’ve never had hip surgery, recovery basically involves one simple instruction: whatever you do, DON’T BEND! A 90 degree bend – even to just sit on a chair – could pop that thing out of its socket and next you’d be blinded and howling by the searing pain. Or so I imagined. I didn’t want to find out, so I didn’t bend.
(Think for a moment of how many times you bend in a day, by the way. To sit on the couch. Use the toilet. Get in a vehicle. Even eat a bowl of soup. Even with some handy-dandy tricks and tools at my disposal, it was a challenge, folks!)
So I lived in our living room, laid back in our recliner or on the hospital bed we had brought in special for me. Once I got over the weird feeling of living in the main room, it was actually pleasant to be surrounded by our walls of windows and enjoy our gorgeous country view anytime.
There was a problem though.
I had to be still and quiet and alone for most of every day for weeks.
Sitting by myself unable to work nearly drove me plumb insane that first month. I wished more people would visit. I desperately wanted to climb into the car and grab a coffee with someone. Or show someone a house. Or do… something. With anyone. The walls seemed like they were closing in on me some days and I felt like life was passing me by. It was difficult. Uncomfortable. I started to hate the sound of that clock announcing every second I was missing out on.
After a couple of weeks though, something weird happened.
I began to enjoy the quiet. Solitude grew on me. The joy I discovered in that peace and calm was beautiful, but it also frightened me. Was this the new me? I was turning into a hermit, and I liked it. Would I even be able to enjoy the bustle of my work and the busy social calendar once I returned to work? When I would think about work, I could somehow only remember the long hours and stress I would return to. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go back.
Over a few months, I returned to work. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my love of my work and people remained intact. In fact, I think the whole hip surgery and recovery deepened my enjoyment of work and my appreciation of people.
The blessing of hip surgery for me was the gift of time to rest and refresh – something I didn’t realize I needed so badly and didn’t know how to do. Recovery forced me to stop and smell the daisies.
The blessing of surgery also was to remind me what I love about my work – the people.
When a person is in a great deal of constant pain, it’s difficult to remain positive. Heck, it’s difficult to even SEE the positive. Now that the pain is gone (thank you, Lord!), I have eyes to see the good stuff again – and that good stuff is always the people I get to work with.
There’s something deeply moving and intimate about helping that young married couple find a home. She’ll have a tummy round with expectation, and their eyes will also be wide with expectation as they search for the home they will grow their family in. Create memories in. Make love in. It will be their own little nest, and I adore being welcomed into that very personal experience. It feeds my soul.
They say we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. I would agree. My hip replacement journey helped me appreciate my health, my career, and the people I get to serve every day. Thankfully, it wasn’t gone for too long, and I get to return to the health and work and people I love.
Name a time you’ve been pushed out of your comfort zone. Did it help grow your appreciation?
(Yes, there are people who choose such and can even survive like that.)
Then I decided to make a major mid-life shift and venture into the great big career of real estate, which meant having to do all of those things every day. Eek!
I knew going in, my number one weakness was that I had zero tech skills. Like, none. I remember those first weeks learning how to use a computer. We’re talking about learning simple things like where to find the on switch. How to send an email. How to Google search something.
One day, at the first office I worked at, two people came back from a conference saying Facebook would be key to our industry in the coming years. So I started an account. I never realized how important it would be all these years later.
I smile when I think about how little I knew because now, people actually seek me out for tech help. Peers ask me how to market online, how to use social media, and how to use apps for business like I do. Funny. Just eight short years ago I didn’t have a clue.
But I’m stimulated by personal growth and energized by trying new things, so it was a joy to chase down knowledge. I took courses, pursued knowledge, and practiced what I’d learned and became good at it.
When I confided in a friend about my desire to shift careers, she said “Do it before you’re fifty. In your forties people see you as experienced. After your fifties, starting on a new path is more difficult. People see you differently.” I took her advice and started looking for new opportunities.
Drawn to careers in which I could help others in need, I sought out social work type vocations. Things like working as a health proctor or in a women’s crisis center. I even looked into becoming a social worker.
Employers said the weirdest thing when I applied though, “We know what you would have been making in your past profession. You won’t be satisfied with what we pay.”
Stunned, I thanked them and left office after office. How could they possibly know what would satisfy me? I was seeking work with meaning – something that satisfied my soul – not some dollar amount. I wanted to pour myself out to help people; whatever it paid was secondary.
Then I came upon the profession of real estate – a unique way I could help people with an important need and connect with them in a meaningful way. (Little did I know the work would involve a lot of the emotional elements of social work I’d initially sought.) It helped, too, that my main concern wasn’t money because that first year was a rough ride!
Here’s the funny thing you might not believe.
8 years ago, I’d never sent an email.
Or turned on a computer.
I’d never sold a home and had no clue how to market online.
Now, after years of learning and trying to keep at the front of new trends, I have a reputation for being tech savvy. People seek me out to ask me how to use an ipad for business or how to leverage a blog or social media to connect with new clients. Amazing what can happen in 8 short years!
I have to stop right there and encourage you
If there is a step you’re afraid to take or a change you’re afraid to make, I’ll be the first to tell you – it’s possible. Do it! Take a risk! If I can become tech savvy when my starting point was looking for a computer’s on/off switch, I’m telling you – you’re more capable than you think.
Since I’m celebrating the 8 year mark, can I just spend a minute with you sharing my gratitude?
I’m so thankful for the opportunity to meet people from so many different countries and circumstances. This month I sold a home to a couple who moved here from Mexico City. To be on that journey with them – to witness all the excitement and joy of starting their new life in a new country – was an honor.
The newlyweds, empty-nesters, and growing families – many of the people I’ve connected with – have been a blessing to me. It’s hard to express the joy one feels, being invited into the personal, sometimes even intimate experience of selecting a home. I can tell you though, it’s the people and relationships that fill me up and satisfy me and are my driving reason for what I do.
I look at my thick binder full of legal documents, and I’m grateful I know what they’re all for. That first year, boy, I’ll tell you… If anyone had handed me this stack of paper and said, “Here. Know this. All of it. Know what they do, when to use them, and what every legal line means,” I might have run screaming for the hills.
Thankfully, no one did that. I learned in steps and pieces, like we all do, and now I’m so glad I don’t have to wonder anymore, “What the heck is THAT paper for?” Knowledge IS power!
As my business grew and I became super busy, I began to lose my personal life to real estate. Weekends, days off didn’t exist for me in those years. It took over my life and I was starting to feel burned out. My friends and family were getting lost in the chaos. Something needed to change.
I needed help. Really, I needed a day off!
That’s when God directed me to agents Wes and Clare, who helped me immensely, providing trustworthy staff to take my workload one day a week. I began to enjoy the thrill and joy of a regular weekly day off.
More than that, I also learned a lot about leadership from them, and was greatly encouraged. It can be a lonely business and sometimes you need more support than you can muster on your own. Self-motivation is necessary for this line of work, but we’re also created for relationship and we need each other.
For the help of Wes, Clare, Yvette, Eniko, and many others who have contributed to the success of my career and family life, I am deeply grateful.
Returning from Surgery
Oh – and then there was my hip surgery! For several years, hip pain made my work difficult. I clenched my jaw and carried on though, because what else am I going to do? That’s life.
After surgery, as I healed at home, my life became quiet. I wasn’t dashing all around the province all day like I was used to, and I wasn’t talking to fifty or more people every day either. Life became quiet and still.
At first, it drove me nuts. I like to be busy and be with people. Then after a few weeks, the quiet grew on me and I savored the peace and solitude. I started to worry. Was this the new me? Would I be able to enjoy bustle of work when I came back?
Now, recovered from surgery and back in the swing of things (and feeling awesome, by the way!) I’m connecting with people every day again, and I LOVE it. Every time I connect with someone, I get that jolt of joy and love my work all over again.
A lot can happen in the small space of a decade!
I hope you’re encouraged by some of this. You’re not too old, to post-surgery, to unknowledgeable, or too alone to make a change. I was all of those things and then some.
The only thing that might hold you back is if you’re too afraid.
At the risk of sounding cliché, don’t let fear keep you from the good stuff on the other side.
-Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
In my years as a real estate professional in Steinbach and much of SouthEastern Manitoba, I’ve helped many people navigate the myriad of confusing things that come up while shopping for their next home.
One of the most common questions is, “What’s the difference between a deposit and a down payment?”
Allow me to help clear that up.
What is a Deposit (and Why should I Make One?)
A deposit is money that accompanies the Offer to Purchase. Basically, it’s trust money, the point of which is to show that you are serious about offering to buy the house, and can be trusted not to waste the seller’s time or somehow torpedo their efforts to sell their house to others. Your money says you will not change your mind and, if you do, you’re willing to compensate them for their wasted time.
What Happens to the Deposit If Your Offer is NOT Accepted?
Nothing. The cheque will not be cashed. It will be returned to you.
What Happens to the Deposit If Your Offer IS Accepted?
If your offer to purchase is accepted, the Cheque will be deposited into the listing broker’s trust account. Later, when the deal goes through and the purchase becomes official, the funds are forwarded to the lawyer’s office and distributed toward the purchase price according to standard practice.
TIP: Bigger deposits give you an advantage. The bigger your deposit, the more seriously the Seller will take you and your offer.
What happens if they deposit our check and then we can’t meet the conditions on the offer? (What if we don’t get financing? What if the home inspection fails? What if…?)
We will fill out a simple form requesting the deposit to be released and the funds will be returned to you.
What is a Down Payment?
The down payment is what your lender will require of you before approving your mortgage. This is between you and the lender and does not involve the real estate agent or seller.
For a traditional mortgage you will need 5% of the sale price for a down payment.
When arranging your down payment, if you can manage to put down 20% of the purchase price (or more), you will avoid the cost of paying an insurer like CMHC or Genworth.
If you do not have sufficient down payment available and you have a steady job, stable income, and a good credit rating, I can hook you up with a mobile specialist who has different products available and you may possibly be eligible to buy without a full down payment.
There are LOADS of other questions that crop up in real estate.
Good news – I have some awesome resources to set you up for a successful and pleasant buying experience.
Talking to Real Estate agents about commissions can be kind of… uncomfortable.
To discuss commissions with an agent can feel like asking them to hand over their paycheck for inspection and approval. It’s much easier to just swallow the questions and go with whatever the agent says, isn’t it?
But I know you still have those questions. And I care about helping you make informed decisions. I hate seeing people get manipulated or taken advantage of just because they don’t know the facts.
So let’s do it. Let’s talk about some of those burning questions about REALTOR® commissions.
What is the going rate for commissions? You won’t like this answer. It’s negotiable. One of the considerations is what competing sellers are offering as a commission to competing agents who may have a buyer for their property. In areas where properties frequently sell in a week, the commission my be lower than in an area where it frequently takes months. The main reason for this is that the longer a property is listed, the more it will cost the agent to market it. Those costs need to be reflected in the commission. I have personally charged as low as 3% for a family member (we still offer 2.5% to the selling agent) and as high as 7%. For the record, if I did not give birth to you, I will absolutely not list as low as three percent for you regardless of where or what you are selling!
Why do commissions vary so much?
There are a few reasons for the variation. One is local market. Other considerations are:
-What the agent offers. If no marketing is planned, the commission may be less. More marketing will cost the agent and need to be paid for out of their commission.
-Greed. Whether it’s wanting the high dollar (through a higher commission) or to get the most listings (perhaps through a lower commission), it’s a factor sometimes.
-Negotiation. Sometimes a client can negotiate a commission up or down to get the services they want. -There may be more than one person being paid to work for you. Some teams have administrative staff working behind the scenes that also get paid.
How much do Realtors Make?
Not as much as you think. The commission charged is shared between broker of the listing agent and the broker of the selling agent. Often it is shared 50/50. (At 5% that would leave the broker with 2.5%) The broker then pays the sales staff a percentage of that amount. That percentage varies depending on the office policies and agreements between office and agent. Most work on a commission split which can be as high as 50% of their paycheck! Subtract all the advertising and marketing expenses (professional photography, advertising, signage, etc.) incurred to sell the property. (This can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars)
Out of what’s left, the agent must pay mandatory licensing fees, franchise fees and, very often, they are also required to pay rent and fees to their broker. You know – office space, etc. Then there is just the everyday business expenses like vehicle insurance, car payments, phone bill, internet, fuel, office supplies, etc. Do the math. These kinds of numbers are why it’s a dog-eat-dog business. This is the stuff that sends a lot of newbies packing in their first year.
When all is said and done the Real Estate Professional may only net approximately 20%-30% of the gross commission collected at the end of the year. Hopefully that will be enough to cover the income tax payable to the government.
Are Commissions negotiable? Yes, but if you’re going to negotiate, I have three words for you. Do it carefully.
It can be risky to demand of and stomp on someone who you expect to work for you.
Not unlike offending the dentist with all the sharp tools in your mouth, or blasting the restaurant cook and demanding a new meal, making huffy demands is risky. What you don’t know about commissions – and the message they send to other agents – is dangerous to your deal.
Basically, if you’re going to negotiate, basically be respectful. Real estate agents are people too. And some of them really do have your best interests at heart.
Why should I pay that much just to have them sell it in a week? Review the answer to “How much do REALTORS® make?” Those numbers all apply whether the property sells in a week or 10months. The only difference is that the 10 months didn’t come by and eat up all the agent’s profits. Good for them. They got paid.
So did you. Go celebrate!
HINT, HINT, NUDGE, NUDGE…Perhaps it may be important to ask the question, “What services do you offer at that commission?” There is a vast difference in what services different agents offer at the same commission. You can pay the same commission to many agents but you won’t get 5 star service from all of them.
Don’t make the mistake of being so focused on how to get the lowest commission just to find out that you got no VALUE for the commission.
In conclusion, most Real Estate Professionals will charge you the same Commissions as the competitors. You can hire a rookie or an experienced agent for the same commission. It would seem more logical to look for the agent who will do the most work for their commissions.
Of course you will want to be sure that their work results in sales.
I especially love the way weeds pull right out sometimes, root and all.
Recently, when I was down on my hands and knees digging in the dirt, my little dog joined me. At first, she supervised nearby for a few minutes, possibly to see what treasure I would unearth. As I continued pressing my hands and tools into the soil, pulling out weeds, and humming, she decided to dive in right next to me.
She claimed a patch of weeds right beside me and set her paws to furiously digging. Dirt and leaves flew everywhere, even onto me. I paused my weeding to watch (while guarding my eyes from flinging flecks of dirt). She worked and worked, finally digging a little pit for herself. Then she stood in the middle of it and plunked herself down, nestling as deeply as she could into the cool earth.
I smiled, petted her, and returned to pulling weeds.
In the quiet, I thought about how she and I were both digging in the garden but for different reasons. I want the flowers to be visible and not crowded out by weeds, and she wants a cool place to sit.
We all have different motivations for doing what we do.
Many people can do the same thing, but for different reasons.
I’m a real estate agent, but my why might surprise you.
I LOVE my job – It’s got adventure, variety, and the deep satisfaction of helping people find their perfect-for-them home.
Last month put that love to the test though, I’ve gotta say. From every angle, side, and corner, various Boogiemen leapt from the shadows.
Here are a couple of general examples of conversations that may or may not have happened recently.
Client: “Hi, Tina?”
Me: “Hi, how are you?”
Client: “Hurry!!! I NEED to see this house RIGHT NOW!!!!”
Me: “Umm… you know people still live in it and need some notice, right? They might have babies napping or–”
Client: “–I don’t care! I’m parked outside of their house right now! Get over here!”
Me: *bangs head on desk*
Me: “Hi. My client would like to make an offer on your listing”
Agent: “We already have someone else interested.”
Me: “Uh… it’s for sale, is it not?”
Agent: “Yes, but they don’t want offers.”
Me: (I wonder if the agent is blocking offers from other buyers so they can double end the deal… His clients wouldn’t appreciate that. Too bad they’ll never know. Man, I can’t wait until they make that illegal (like they are about to in Ontario.) In the meantime…
Me: “Okay, I’ll bring an offer. My buyer will pay every dollar the seller is asking and then some.”
Agent: “Go ahead, but they’re not going to take it.”
Me: *bangs head on desk*
But then there was the buyer who said something shocking to me this week.
We’d been working together to find them a house, and it was… difficult. They did not have access to internet and that felt crippling. They’d had a nightmarish, stressful relationship with the builder of their home right from day one. For years, that stress robbed them of the joy of living in their custom built home. Now they just wanted out.
Because of their worn-down, stressful state, they were not only deeply sad and exhausted, but also in a desperate hurry. Not a good combination. They had three weeks to find a new house.
That’s like giving yourself ten minutes for a 1-hour grocery shop. It’s insane. Like, reality TV, run through the aisles like a madman, plowing down women and children kind of crazy.
So here we were. Dashing like madmen.
Whose hair was on fire.
The hardest part for me was seeing how the anxiety had pulled their faces into hard lines over the years. They weren’t the most expressive people, and I’d never seen them smile. Not once. Years of annoyance can make a person cranky and it made me sad that their home-owning experience had done that.
Plus, knowing they would probably settle, desperate for a new house, I was sad they would likely repeat the disappointing experience of owning a home they didn’t want.
When we finally came across the one that struck them as home, I was excited because I knew something about it they didn’t.
“Ah, I know the guy who built that house. He’s a new, young builder trying hard to please people. He does quality work and treats people well.” I said.
That was all they needed to know – that they’d be treated well for once.
The buying process was difficult – sometimes it seems like agents don’t want to sell their listings, and this was one of those times. After working and working at it though, we did manage to get the house.
* * *
One week after the couple moved into their new home, I was walking up their sidewalk to check in. (They appreciated the personal face-to-face approach.) As I neared the front door, I wondered if this stressed out, anxious, desperate couple with their faces pulled in hard lines would have anything good to say about our working together. Had it been pleasant at all? Would they feel they had been treated well or that the whole thing was worth it?
With all these thoughts swirling in my mind, I rang the bell. The door opened, and there stood before me a woman I almost didn’t recognize. Where before a permanent frown had been carved into her face now shone a relaxed, upturned smile. Her eyes that had looked dead and empty now seemed to shine, almost laugh.
I mentally willed my mouth not to gape open in shock. “How’s the new house?” I asked.
That’s when she said what I never thought I’d hear from her.
Her smile expanded into a full out grin. “It feels like home.” She sighed and her eyes went dreamy, “I’m happy.”
I nearly cried on the spot. “Wow – after a week it’s feeling like home already?”
“From the first day it felt like home.” She raised a palm to her chest as though speaking of a loved one, “Tina, the chains have come off and we are free. … I’m happy. So happy. The grandchildren love it here too!”
I almost burst into tears. She was happy?
That moment was worth every difficult, head-banging, hair-pulling moment before it.
THIS. This is why I do what I do. This is why I love working as a real estate agent.
I floated back to my car and through the rest of my week, grateful for the reminder, blessed by the satisfaction of having helped someone and then being able to see that dramatic transformation.
These are the moments that fuel us through the hard days, aren’t they?
What one memory or thought keeps you going through your hair-pulling days?
A controlling parent, a cheating colleague, lying clients, or a bullying boss.
When you’re in it, especially if stress and difficulty come from multiple sides, it can feel like the most miserable isolation. But the truth is that none of us is alone. We all struggle.
So what do you do when the pressure becomes relentless and you start to feel like you’re drowning in negativity?
You don’t drown in water by being in it. You drown in water by staying in it.
-Edwin Louis Cole
Many years ago, I was in just such a place – drenched in deep, extreme negativity. The enormous personal stress resulted in my losing 50lbs in a month. I couldn’t eat – my body wouldn’t allow it. My insides felt shaky – like I’d swallowed a phone stuck on vibrate. And all I could think about was the very difficult circumstance that was turning my heart inside out.
Then something happened that changed my life.
A friend noticed and did something. She saw what a mess I was and how it was damaging my body.
“You need to go to a doctor!” she said.
I insisted that I didn’t – that I could handle it. She insisted more though, and made me go. She drove me to the doctor’s office. She sat with me in the room. She forced me to get help.
And it rescued me.
Most of the stress and difficulty we face in our work and relationships isn’t that extreme. But it’s critical to recognize when we’re maxed out on stress and negativity, and to take action before we make things worse – for others and for ourselves.
We can’t wait for a masked hero to arrive though. Most of the time we have to be our own friend, noticing that we are a mess and that something has to give.
Give Yourself Permission
I don’t know why we find it so hard to give ourselves permission to be wounded; to feel hurt. I’ve got news for you: humans hurt, hearts break, and we’re not robots who can flick a switch to make it all stop.
Healing can only happen when we realize we need it.
Needing help does not mean you’re weak. In fact, it’s what’s going to strengthen you. Admitting your wounds is itself an act of strength and the next step to progress – no guilt required. Give yourself permission to need help.
There is a time to take a break. When you’re slammed from all different sides, it’s tough to pull out a smile. We have to recognize when our bodies, emotions, thoughts need a break.
When we are in a bad mental state, we’re probably not the most effective in our work and relationships anyway. We need to invest in our own well being with the gift of a rest.
Let It Look Different
Know that your rest and recharge time doesn’t have to look like sunbathing on a beach in Cancun.
It doesn’t have to be two weeks long. Do and be what refreshes you.
For some, it’s going to be retreating to a cabin with a stack of romance novels. Or others it looks like camping out in a recliner for a few days, refusing to cook or clean, so their body can heal.
Recently, I took a break to recharge, and spent that time attending classes, learning online, brainstorming my brand positioning, and product development. That – especially the brand positioning and marketing – is what revives my motivation. It refreshes my confidence in my abilities to excel, and fires me up to work with renewed gusto.
What refreshes you will be different than what works for others and that’s okay.
I’m curious – how to you recharge when facing obstacles?
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