Rejections, odd hours and the grind: The life of a new realtor is anything but easy
Paul Kieraszewicz initially got a real estate licence as something of a hobby, nothing more than a part-time gig separate from his main career in pharmaceuticals. But last December, he and everyone else at his Apotex Inc. clinic were laid off, and real estate became his full-time focus.
He has been with Century 21 Real Estate in Brampton, Ont., since January, and while there have been successes, he has also experienced a steep learning curve after 25 years in a completely different industry.
“Perseverance is huge. You’ve got to be able to weather and not take anything personally when people say no. That’s a tough one, especially for people like me who aren’t used to sales,” Kieraszewicz said. “You have to be able to handle rejection, because you’re going to get a lot of it.”
Not being able to handle rejection is just one of the many things that can discourage people from even taking the leap into real estate. Getting the right certifications and dealing with irregular hours, low success rate and sometimes cranky clients all play a role in becoming successful at selling houses.
You have to be able to handle rejection, because you’re going to get a lot of it
Kieraszewicz acquired his licence through online courses with the Ontario Real Estate Association. As of May, the courses are done through Humber College and the Real Estate Council of Ontario, though, functionally, the process is the same.
Aspiring realtors must take five online courses (with exams), which the program estimates will take around 200 hours, but exactly how much time is up to the student since the courses are self-directed. They must then take a mandatory compliance course and choose two of five electives in specialized areas of real estate. A minimum score of 75 per cent on the exams is required in order to pass.
“I’m 54 right now and I was never a huge networker,” he said. “I know the younger generation is way better at it with social media. Just having your name out there, reaching out to contacts, getting the word out I think is important.”
Anecdotally, Kieraszewicz notes that realtors who are known to live in the same neighbourhood they work in are typically more successful.
“The best thing is being out there, being honest with people, trying to get the best thing for them,” he said. “You should consider where they work, if they have kids, how old they are. You have to tailor your service to match these things and not just finding them a place to live.”
Nada came by his interest in real estate from his father, who was also a realtor, and he’s been licensed since January. He started off with rental deals that others in the brokerage passed on, and his big breakthrough only came when he was able to help a friend find a location for a new business.
It turns out, the life of a realtor is not that different from anyone who is self-employed: there’s a lot of hustle and often a low success rate.
“In my case, a 40-per-cent success rate (on closing deals) doesn’t seem a lot, seems pretty low actually, but in the grand scheme, it is what it is and you have to be able to do better to get where you want to go,” Nada said.
The grind is something Natasha Sanca, a realtor with Royal LePage Signature Realty, also espouses.
“If you get yourself in a routine and you say, ‘I have a nine-to-five or a 10-to-six (job),’ you don’t allow yourself to stop and that’s how you’re able to establish yourself,” she said.
Sanca has been a realtor for seven years, but she kept her part-time hostess job for the first couple of years to sustain herself. Like Nada, she took on the rental deals that no one else in the brokerage wanted and was able to network as a hostess in order to acquire some clients.
You can really get down on yourself if nothing is happening … You have to be patient and consistent
Both Kieraszewicz and Sanca stress the importance of having a mentor available in order to learn the tricks of the trade that are not spelled out in the online courses, such as choosing a brokerage to work for.
“Don’t necessarily go to the brokerage that’s giving you the most commissions,” Sanca said. “Think of it as a long-term thing, what is this brokerage going to offer me once I’m making money? Good programs for education, learning, training. Are there people in the office that are able to guide you?”
One year into his new career, Kieraszewicz is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“You can really get down on yourself if nothing is happening. Its been 10 months, and over the last three to four months we’re starting to see some of the fruits of our labour pay off,” he said. “I’m confident that it’ll just get better and better for me personally, but that’s where you have to be patient and consistent.”