For the first three of the last five years, I was an active Realtor®. For the most part, I really enjoyed being a Realtor®. I learned so much…so much. I am so lucky to have landed under the leadership of Todd Long. Todd is very technologically gifted and he taught all of his agents, who were willing, how to use technology to our greatest advantage. I’m surprised my brain didn’t explode with all the knowledge that I shoved into it!

I came to real estate from a retail background. The things I had going for me were that I was always a hard worker and I love learning. I’ve taken classes regularly throughout my lifetime just for the sake of learning something new.

Good grades had always come easily to me, so I was shocked when I failed my first quiz in class. Well, I couldn’t believe it! What happened?! As the instructor went over the quiz with us, we realized we were all fooled by trick questions. The class was indignant! “Why would you trick us, don’t you want us to pass?!” someone cried out. The instructor let us know that this was for our own good because in real estate people will try to trick you. If they succeed, you may be liable. OOOhhhhh!

After that first quiz, I really buckled down. I studied for 10 hrs a day and six days a week. I really was determined to pass this class and my state exam on the first try. I couldn’t afford to retake them; they were costly.

Well, thankfully I passed the class and my state exam on the first try. (From what I understand, it is not uncommon to have to retake one or the other or even both.) I worked very hard and I am proud of this accomplishment.

In class, the instructor told us to negotiate our commission percentage. He used examples of 75%. (If only I knew then what I know now.) Basically, you start out at 50%. Not so bad, I thought, I’m knew…gotta learn the ropes…it’s fair. What you don’t realize is that you get 50% after everyone has taken their cut of the commission. The other realty office gets 50% and your office gets 50%. Then your company takes a 6% franchise fee, then your company splits whats left with you 50/50. You pay for all of your own advertising and marketing; including but not limited to…signs, business cards, flyers, periodicals, postage, lock boxes, flyer boxes, gas, photography, etc,etc. You pay for mandatory continuing education update classes and all necessary licenses. You pay to belong to the National Association of Realtors®, the Multiple Listing Services, the Regional Realtors Association®, the state’s Realtors® association.

Not to mention the fact that I got into real estate in 2007. The economy had started into a downward spiral. The housing market even tanked to a degree that had never happened before in U.S. history.

Long story short, my best year in real estate, I earned $15,000. Going into my third year, I found out the average agent earns $22,000/year. Not good! I worked every single day until at least 6pm. Most times until 9 pm and many times working well into the wee hours of the morning. I even showed a house once on Christmas! (I know, I’m a shmuck!) You get to the point when you’re scared to say no to a buyer, because you really need a paycheck. (You don’t get a paycheck unless you sell something.)

My third year in real estate, I found the best office for me. Keller Williams Realty Lake Norman/Mooresville. I liked everything about this office and it’s personnel. They gave back to the community regularly. They have profit sharing with the agents. (The only company that I know of that has profit sharing is Keller Williams.) The people running the company and office are honorable. Keller believes that God comes first, your family next, then work. (Until you can be strong enough to say “NO” to a would-be buyer, this is not really how the order goes. In fact, there’s a big joke in real estate about how everyone is divorced or soon will be.)

After my first year real estate anniversary, my husband lost his job. The company went out of business. He was out of work for a year and on unemployment. It was a great acheivement in the denial department. But it was an unbelievable struggle, financially, draining our life’s savings. I put our house up for sale as we neared the first anniversary of his unemployment. Two weeks later, he found a job. (Why didn’t I put the house up for sale a year ago?!! I kept believing that the economy would get better, that hubby would find a job, that I would have a sale…shmuck!) He worked at the new job for about a year and a half when they decided to close all the U.S. branches of the company and just keep production in their China branch! WTF!

This time I put the house up for sale straight away, but at a price that was what I wanted, not what I could get. But that’s ok, I didn’t really want to sell…I love my house. Then I got a call from my sister. “You need to come see Mom.” My Mom had suffered from breast cancer for the past five years. It seemed that the doctors believed that she wouldn’t be suffering much longer. My sister said to take a plane. I did.

Mom looked tired in the hospital bed. But she was still feisty. That’s what made it so unbelieveable…she was still Mom, still feisty and full of personality. The doctors were telling us that she probably wouldn’t last through the night, but that there was no way to know for sure. Her organs were turning to liquid and they didn’t understand how she could have been working all this time, let alone walk into the hospital on her own two feet. They urged us to put her into Hospice, but said that they could have a nurse visit once a week and teach us how to administer the medicine if we wanted to take her home.

I’ll never forget the look in her eyes when we told her we were putting her in hospice. I don’t even know if I can describe it…hurt, betrayal, fear and something that made me feel like she thought she was being discarded. I quickly went to her bedside and told her the option of having the nurse come to the house. She looked at my father and said with acceptance, “Whatever you think is best.” 

The hospice rooms were actually very attractive…like small apartments, not as stark and sterile-looking as the hospital room. It had faux maple wood cabinets and a big window with curtains and a shiny wood floor. I stayed with her the first niight because I didn’t want her to awaken in the night and be scared and alone. She did awaken and I was glad to be there. But she wasn’t scared. She was the bravest person I’ve ever known. That was the last time she was fully awake and alert.

The next couple of days I helped my dad make all the necessary arrangements. My plane home was due to leave on Friday. I thought I should cancel my flight because I didn’t think my Mom would make it through the weekend. But my uncle assured me that he’d get me back here when the time came. My Mom died Saturday evening.