By Romana King

Nearly half of Realtors love the independence their chosen career provides, says a new survey by Zolo Realty that measured the career success and challenges of the real estate profession. The survey was developed to determine why people choose real estate as a profession and to examine the challenges faced when building a real estate career.



“A career in real estate offers a work environment and diversity of opportunity that attracts all types of people,” says Zolo president Mustafa Abbasi. “To help each individual to succeed in this chosen profession, we wanted to identify the largest obstacles and biggest motivations. This way, we can create programs and tools to help our agents succeed.”

In the survey, 41 per cent of Realtors ranked independence as the “best part” of their profession – with 34 per cent of these respondents aged 50 or older and 29 per cent between age 40 and 49.

To offer insights into the findings, Zolo consulted with Dr. Michael Woodworth, a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus.

Woodworth confirmed that in today’s rapidly shifting job market, having more freedom and flexibility can lead to unlimited potential for the right type of motivated individual.

These findings support prior research in the areas of workplace motivation and success. According to a study published in the academic journal Health Promotion International, job autonomy is essential to job satisfaction. Autonomy and independence are terms to describe how much a person believes they can direct and control their own choices and actions.

“The degree of independence can have a dramatic impact on a person’s job satisfaction.”

Still, independence was not the only factor that was important for job satisfaction.

“It’s remarkable how many workers are increasingly looking for a job where there is a greater sense of purpose and the potential for personal fulfilment by both helping and connecting with others,” says Woodworth.

Not surprisingly, the second “best part” of being a Realtor, according to the Zolo survey, was the ability to help others (38 per cent); only 13 per cent of the respondents saw the potential for financial success as the “best part.”

As Woodworth observed, growing numbers of employees appear to be measuring their success in more ways than just financial achievement.

To help assess what motivates and inspires Realtors to pursue and succeed in a career in real estate, the Zolo survey measured the most important goals as identified by agents ranging in age from 18 to 65.

The four primary goals identified were:

  • 34 per cent believed that a real estate career offered the ability to earn a good living
  • 21 per cent highlighted the ability to succeed as an attractive aspect of this career path
  • 12 per cent appreciated the ability to put family first, as a professional working in the real estate industry
  • 10 per cent were enthusiastic with the career for allowing them to take care of their health and their family’s health.

Perhaps this is why 44 per cent of agents, when asked what other careers they would choose, opted to continue being a Realtor. Other potential career selections included: entrepreneur (nine per cent); a creative job, such as an actor (eight per cent); and a designer (four per cent).

Challenges of real estate as a career

The report also found that real estate agents faced several identifiable common problems in their profession. In particular, 24 per cent struggled with time management, while 20 per cent found that growing their business is the biggest challenge. Balancing work-life balance is a challenge for 12 per cent of Realtors, while 11 per cent struggle to deal with health issues while trying to achieve career success.

“Realtors face many of the same challenges as other occupations but must do so often while having to perform under highly intense and irregular markets,” says Woodworth. “Then they must add to this the demand to consistently maintain an upbeat and positive attitude – regardless of how they are feeling that day – while supporting individuals through one of the most emotional and expensive transactions of their whole life.”

In his practice, Woodworth sees first-hand the need for proper self-care and work environments that genuinely support emotional wellness and balance in an employee’s life.

“Workplaces that support their employees by creating an environment of trust and communication will be the ones that really have the potential to thrive,” he says.

It turns out survey respondents did identify the benefits of help. More than half (59 per cent) wanted to work with a coach to help them overcome the biggest obstacles to their career growth and the achievement of their personal values.

The data used to determine these results came from the findings of the Zolo Realtor Survey 2019, an online survey conducted between July and August 2019. The survey asked more than 100 Realtors in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia a series of long-form questions to identify obstacles, challenges and successes in their careers. The estimated margin of error is +/- 8 percentage points, 18 times out of 20.

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