By Heino Molls

A real estate agent doesn’t automatically get paid because they qualified for their real estate licence. They must sell their services to those who wish to buy or sell property. If they do that well, then they must work to make a few more real estate deals and then work to make even more real estate deals. Most of their achievements are based on customer recommendations and referral networks. It takes years for most real estate agents to be successful. There are lots of get-rich-quick stories in this business but for the clear majority, it is years of hard work.

How long do you think you might be in the real estate business? Ten years, maybe more? If you ask me, you should be thinking in terms of 20 years. I can tell you over these many decades of watching the business, a couple of things seem to ring true. The first one is always time.

Whenever I speak to an agent who is considered successful and has made a great deal of money, I find that they have been in the business for a minimum of 10 years and far more often, 20. It just seems that simple. How many times have you heard that old line; “90 per cent of life is showing up every day”? If you do just that for 10 years, chances are you will be successful. If you make the investment of time you will succeed. You can do things along the way that might speed things up, but your greatest investment is time itself and showing up every day.

Another thing that rings true when I speak to successful agents is that most are involved in their community in a volunteer capacity. It may be coaching sports teams, community theatre or attending meetings of committees and associations. There are many things you can do to invest your time. Perhaps you have thought of community help that is unique to you. Time costs you nothing but the impact you have, if it is sincere, can be extraordinary and meaningful. Your good character costs nothing either, but its value is a treasure that cannot be measured. You must work on it always and that takes time.

I remember three or four firefighters who volunteered their Saturday mornings when I was a kid to show a group of us how to operate a fire extinguisher and learn safety tips. After a couple of those Saturday mornings, we got a little letter-size document, made out in a certificate style, to say we had completed a course on fire safety. We were pretty proud of that. It was important to me and I still recall what I learned back then. I also remember a hockey coach who picked me up a couple of times when my dad was working. He wasn’t picking me up because I was the best player on the team. He also picked up other players whose parents couldn’t get them to the game. There were fantastic people in my community who I still remember after over 50 years. What’s it worth to you to have somebody remember you after 50 years? Does that have value for you?

If I was a real estate agent today, I would organize a Saturday morning or a week-night evening to teach people, especially young people, how to manage a home. I don’t know any school that teaches kids what a hydro bill is. I would explain efficient use of water and even simple savings like running the dishwasher at night and a host of other things like electrical safety and tips on energy savings. I would also review simple condominium law. I would show the fundamentals of etiquette to run a condo board of directors meeting. I would bring in experts and make up a little certificate for those who attend.

Today people say time is money but that is not really true. Time is still free and you can give it away to people who need it, if you are willing. You can give it in your community, in your neighbourhood and even in your job. The trick to “investing time” is to do it freely, give it sincerely and make it meaningful without any expectation of return. If you do that, I promise, it does come back, sometimes 10-fold when you least expect it.

The more years you put in, the more you get back. It’s as simple as that. Time is the best investment you can make in your job, in your community and in your life. And it doesn’t cost you a thing.

Heino Molls has been the Publisher of REM, Real Estate Magazine (formerly Real Estate Marketing), since 1989. Previous to REM, he worked as an executive at the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), and at the Toronto Star. Contact Heino by email or call 416-425-3504 x2.


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