A Day in the Life of a Realtor

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When I walked into a real estate office, I had the mistaken first impression that realty is easy and fun. I visited Keller Williams Realty in Georgetown, Texas, to speak with one agent, Kameren Kuhn, about her experiences. I saw a huge wall map with all the city’s neighborhoods color-coded. The desks looked like they were used more for storage than for work, because they were covered in cases of Girl Scout cookies! But as I spoke to the Realtors who worked in the office, I learned the true stories behind what I was seeing.

It turns out the office is usually quiet because everyone works from home (hence the little-used desks), but on the day of my visit, the whole team of agents was in attendance for a training. I looked around the roomful of Realtors, all well-groomed, eager women with notebooks in hand. I was surprised at what happened when I asked them to describe a typical day; everyone laughed. There is no normal, they explained, because most of the real estate business is about building relationships. A Realtor’s day can look as diverse as the schedules of all her contacts in her network or as chaotic as any of the steps in the buying/selling process.

Case in point: on the day I followed Kameren around, she had an adventure before she even got to the office. As usual, she got up early in the morning and selected a specific yard sign from the dozens hanging in her garage. She loaded it up in her car and drove to a house she is in the process of listing, where she met the owner and a team photographer who was taking interior and exterior shots of the house for the listing. The photographer pulled her “Coming Soon” sign out of the ground and set it to the side so it wouldn’t show in photos. Then a garbage truck came by and accidentally removed her sign, thinking it was out for trash pickup!

Despite the unpredictability of daily schedules, several agents admitted to me that they do have vaguely defined routines. Many of them use a block scheduling system to organize their time. For example, Jamie Fisher, also on the 12 Points Group team at Keller Williams Realty, goes to her home office every morning, logs into her customer relationship management software and catches up on emails. She takes a break to drop off her kids at school. When she comes back home, she spends the rest of the morning, from about 9:00 a.m. to noon, working on lead generation. She holds afternoons open for meetings with clients who are in the buying or selling process. In the evenings, when most of her contacts and clients are off work, she gets many phone calls that determine her schedule of meetings for the following days. She said it’s important for Realtors to set their own boundaries and schedules.

A Realtor’s weekly schedule can be just as variable as her daily routine. The agents I met typically work from their office one day a week for training and coaching. The rest of the week, they have to be available during “banker’s hours” to help clients work with financial institutions, but they also have to be free on evenings and weekends to host open houses or meet clients who are busy with full-time jobs during the week. A single sale can take anywhere from 20 to 40 hours of activity over a few months to complete.

Between sales, Realtors spend several hours a day on lead generation, which can take many forms. The goal is to maintain a large network of personal contacts who will remember them and refer friends and family who are thinking of buying or selling a home. Realtors constantly juggle the contacts in their database, trying to stay fresh in everyone’s minds. They go through cycles of sending personal notes, making phone calls, distributing useful information in mailings or emails and doing “pop-bys,” which are a time-consuming but fun aspect of the job. In a pop-by, a Realtor labels a small gift with her contact information and drops it off to her top contacts. For example, some Realtors attach a tag to a box of Girl Scout cookies that says something cute such as “Know someone scouting for a Realtor? Send them my way!” Now I understand all those cases of Girl Scout cookies represent hours of labeling, driving and face-to-face interaction, not just hours of sitting around eating cookies.

Real estate is not for the faint of heart. It takes extreme self-motivation, organizational skills and initiative. But for those who love to maintain relationships and coach friends through the biggest financial decision of their lives, it can be a very rewarding profession. ■