Hi. So I’ve been a little strange lately. I wouldn’t say out of sorts but kind of like, what do I do with myself now? Don’t get me wrong, I love selling houses still. But now that I’ve hit my initial big goal of paying off my student loans (WOOOHOOO!!!!), it feels like I need something bigger to work towards than just selling X amount of houses each year. I think part of my current feeling of floating around with no direction is that we have had a TON of excitement in the last few years (moving too many times, getting married, having a baby, starting school, etc. etc) and now we are kind of “settled” at the moment. There are no fires to put out and we have a little bit of a routine and plenty of free time. So things are good and there is really nothing to complain about, but at the same time I feel like I have a little space to grow and explore now that I haven’t really had in the last few years. And with that, I need to decide what I would like to grow and explore, keeping in mind my sweet kiddos who need lots of attention still.
Here are the ideas I’m considering:
- Getting my brokers license and becoming a broker, either just on my own or possibly taking very few agents.
- Investing in real estate, buying houses to fix up and rent out or flip.
- Staying where I am and figuring out how to grow and scale my current business (adding help? starting a team?) so that I can run around slightly less, but do more business and continue to serve the people I help really, really well.
While it is certainly possible to do all of these things, and I suppose I could do them all at once, I just don’t know what is most interesting to me. They all seem initially a bit exciting but then upon further investigation pretty scary and/or more of a pain than they may be worth. I’m not sure if this is just a fear of change/growth thing since I am currently very comfortable or if I actually don’t want to do these things.
Am I “afraid” to pick one because I don’t want to fail? Because the stakes are a bit higher than they have been before? Because I actually have something to protect now where before I had less than zero so if I failed I wasn’t any worse off?
I think on paper those things all sound like real possibilities, but but in real life it feels like they sound like a good idea for a moment and then life happens and I don’t feel that excited about them anymore. And so I just keep doing what I do and that is totally okay. But maybe a little wishy washy.
Historically, I have not kept a job for a very long time with the exception of nutrition (6 years). Now that I’m wrapping up on my third year in real estate, part of me is ready for a change. And when I listen to others I hear a lot of talk about jack-of-all, master-of-none and this is presented as a bad thing. And I suppose I can understand that, but at the same time, I REALLY like trying new things and figuring out how to do something. That is exciting to me. And while I know I still have plenty to learn as a real estate sales person, I also feel like, for the most part, I’ve got a pretty good system, so it’s a tiny bit less exciting than it used to be. Do I really want to be “the BEST” realtor in town? I don’t think so. I’m not a competitive person and honestly there are enough houses to go around and I’ve been very lucky to get to work with pretty much ONLY fun people so I’m not sure I want to compete for those not-so-fun clients. But would I like to do more business? Of course!
Which is why I feel like exploring other avenues in the same neighborhood.
So here are my thoughts on the three items listed above:
Getting my brokers license. This seems like a good idea. And then I talk to other brokers about it and they just tell me to start a team. To me, it seems like the natural progression from salesperson to broker but when I crunch the numbers it really doesn’t sound that great. I have an awesome broker at the moment, very supportive and helpful, and an honest and good person, which is rare in real estate. I do not pay any monthly fees so it is cheap to maintain my license. If I got my brokers license, not only would I have to pay for that education and maintain it w/ CEU’s, I would have to carry my own insurance, and deal with the other hassles and legal fees of running a brokerage, even if it is just for me. If I had a few agents, those hassles would only multiply. The only perks I can see of this are having it be “my company” and not having to drive to Bloomington so often.
On the good days, when I’m really interested in doing this, I feel like I have a lot I could offer to a new real estate agent in terms of training, showing them the ropes, getting them setup w/ marketing, and helping them to take really good care of the people they work with and make sure everything runs smoothly. But then I also feel that part of my success has been figuring this all out, reading the books, trying and failing, asking the questions and learning by doing. So if I’m just giving this to an agent I might hire, I’m not sure if I’m actually doing them a service or making their life (and possibly mine!) harder in the long run. As far as serving clients goes, I can’t imagine I would be able to do anything better or worse if it was my own company vs. my current company. As I said, I’m very happy with Bridge. =)
Investing in Real Estate. This is probably my favorite option and probably also the scariest. There are a lot of moving parts and my experience is limited to my own houses. I got my general contractors license last winter (well, took the test but haven’t yet applied for the license because I don’t need it just yet…) because I REALLY wanted to do this. This year, I’ve made about 6 or 7 offers so far and haven’t gotten anything to stick. It’s a very competitive market and I’m pretty conservative since I won’t be DIYing this whole project and my experience with hiring others and guesstimating repairs is limited. I am not expecting to make a pile of money on my first flip, but I would like to not lose a pile of money either. I’ve explored quite a few different financing options available and been saving up some cash too. I am currently shopping and offering, but haven’t gotten the right deal yet.
So flipping is really more like getting a second job. This would be really labor intensive and a place I would need to go every day, which brings me back to my kiddos. Hazel is in school so daytime is easy, but Henry is little still and he shouldn’t be hanging out in the middle of a construction zone so that brings up a little challenge. I know I would be good at this as far as offering a fantastic finished product, but my dear husband has reminded me many times that I don’t know when to stop…I disagree, but I also have a different standard than many of the examples I’ve read. Everyone talks about having a system, these cabinets, this paint color, that flooring, etc. While I understand the necessity of this as a business, I have the experience with buyers from showing houses to know that something a little unique would be appealing to most. If a buyer has only a choice between a crappy old house they will need to update, or a flipped old house that looks like every other flipped house, they usually pick the flipped one, because most people don’t have the desire or time to do these kinds of projects. But ever so often a beautifully updated (truly, not just the words of realtors..) comes up and it is unique and charming and artfully done and offers modern amenities but you can tell it’s been thought out and considerations of light and space and finishes have been made, and these are the houses that I still think about. And these are the houses that sell so fast with more offers than you can imagine and this is the kind of product I would like to put out if I am going to flip a house. So there is a challenge =)
If I’m buying something to rent out, then I have a certain amount of work at the front end, but once it’s rented it would be relatively hands-off for the term of the lease. For the long run, this is certainly the most interesting to me, but again, finding that first deal and getting it to fit into my budget seems to be a challenge for me. And of course, even if I find something that is pretty much rent-ready, I’ll want to put my own little touches on it because, honestly, I think it will attract the kinds of people that I would really want to rent my houses. Maybe that is a little zen or crunchy or whatever, but I think if I’m the landlady and I want people to respect my house as their own, I need to offer them something they can be proud to live in.
Growing a team. This is the option that really turns me off the most. If I “know thyself” then I know that I’m really not a “team player”. But I wonder if that is just semantics. I currently have a “team” in that I have my favorite mortgage people, title company, inspectors, radon guy, plumber, etc, but indirectly I do not have a team. This seems to be the number one recommendation I get when I chat with other people in the industry: start a team. And while their end results sound quite appealing “get your nights and weekends back, build wealth, provide jobs and experience to others” I can’t put my finger on why this doesn’t sound like the best idea for me. It really sounds like a safe bet.
I think my past experience with being on a team and feeling completely and utterly ripped off is probably at the root of my thinking this is a bad idea, and maybe I need to speak with more people who are on a team and happy about it. Or maybe I just need to give it a shot, because there really isn’t anything to lose. This is the place that I feel like I don’t have enough information and guidance as far as how to structure a team and how to build and grow it, and maybe that means this is the right place to start. Maybe because my feelings are so strongly against it, this is what I need to do. If my current and long term goal is to be able to spend more time playing with my family and eventually start traveling and achieve financial independence and early retirement, this really seems like the route to go. Now how do I get more excited about it?
So that is kind of what’s going on in my brain these days. And I really didn’t come to any conclusions by writing this but it feels good to have it outlined and now I feel like I’ve got some new things to look into.
More house project posts coming soon.
Please send me feedback or leave comments if you have input and/or experience.