So You Wanna Be a Real Estate Star?



When I was young, I never knew anyone who dreamed of becoming a Realtor. Back then, those aspirational occupations were still limited to stuff you could also dress up for on Halloween. The kids I went to school with generally wanted to be astronauts, quarterbacks and pirates when they grew up.

But these days– thanks I assume to a show called HGTV or something– young people actually point and say ‘I should do that’. I guess it’s hard to fault them. The actors are attractive with current hairstyles & fashionable wardrobes. They drive expensive cars and can’t be seen doing anything that looks all that impossible: mostly just a bunch of winking & nodding, gliding from room-to-room caressing plumbing fixtures and stainless steel appliances.

How hard could it be?

Well, having been in the business for 17 years I can tell you the answer to that question is not that fucking hard. That’s right– on most days being a Realtor is actually as easy as it looks on the internet.

Not every day, of course. Some days you pray for a merciful death just like in any television job. But relative to the educational requirements & hard expenses—from a risk/value standpoint—selling real estate aint none that too hard.

Still, most people do end up with a real estate license by accident. The so-called Dreamers make up a very small percentage of agents in any market. Most Realtors are there, nodding and winking, because their former job was outsourced or automated. They’re there because they can no longer carry full kegs or 60 lb. bags of cement more than a few steps. Or sometimes people just retire from another desky job only to discover they’d forgotten to develop any hobbies or other interests during their careers– so they re-enter the workforce just to have someone to talk to.

And all those paths are equally fine. Whether you’ve never been able to picture yourself doing anything different, or if you just ran out of other working links—welcome. Kindly slip off your shoes and let me give you a little tour…

So, how does it work? The path to a real estate license is clearly paved with these five easy steps:

  • Destroy patronizingly simple pre-license education—CHECK!
  • Destroy patronizingly simple DOL test—CHECK!
  • Interview brokerages and choose a shop—CHECK!
  • Secure headshots, business cards, website, sphere hump—CHECK!
  • Vacuum car and sharpen pencils—CHECK!

Now what?

I am fully aware that only three paragraphs ago I said that earning a real estate license was easy and that the subsequent selling of real estate was also not difficult. Why then, you might logically ask with slightly arched eyebrows, are you spending more monthly on BMW lease payments and trade dues than you are earning via the mysterious puzzle piece known as the commission check?

 Yes, I might have been more clear. My apologies. Becoming a Realtor is easy. But surviving as one—actually driving live business to yourself (what we refer  unselfconsciously to in the business as getting them in the car) is among the most dehumanizing and ego scabbing things you will ever be expected do in this or any other lifetime. The notion of succeeding or failing at it becomes that much more confounding when you recognize it is your livelihood—that success or failure could very literally mean the difference between not only Lexus & Hyundi, but also salmon & beans or even roof & tent.

There are plenty of resources available across all known formats that address specifically how to accomplish this nearly impossible feat. I won’t waste the rest of the class’s discretionary column inches here, rehashing the actual technical techniques. I will, however, offer a few tips that I don’t think can be found elsewhere. Think of them as Real Estate Tips for Real People, or even an Episiotomy for the Soul.

  • Get a nice car and some new socks. More than any other profession, a Realtor’s perceived value is linked to the automobile she/he drives. But it doesn’t matter what you park in the driveway if you don’t have clean, matching socks without holes. You will be expected to unshoe most of the time
  • Don’t drive your car or wear socks unless it’s necessary. You want your clients—and competition, incidentally—to know you have a nice car. But showing up on your bike or on-foot can be a very powerful statement. ‘She has a rad car, yet she still walks!’ or ‘He has killer socks, but sometimes goes barefoot!’ are very powerful testimonials
  • Get the worst website you can. In the early part of this era, something called a website was very important and the most-successful agents spent tens of thousands of dollars on development and in search engine wars. No one cares about that anymore. Now the only thing consumers believe are social media testimonials and reviews. Go to Russia and hire a teenaged troll. It’s easier than accumulating points domestically
  • You’re Fucking Barretta. When I was just starting out, I put a note in my Nokia that told me I was fucking Barretta every time I opened the phone. Just like Mr. Orange. I didn’t really know what I was talking about most of the time, but visitors to my open houses believed every word ‘cause I was supercool
  • Don’t hang out with other Realtors. If you want to engage in activity in which there is true strength in numbers, then do it on your own time. Push a boulder to the top of the mountain or storm the castle. But when you’re ‘working,’ get as far away from other Realtors as you can. There’s lots of opportunity for networking in the real estate business—avoid as much of it as possible. Your goal should be to be the only real estate professional in any bar you are in. I for one have never sold a home to another Realtor
  • Re-define the concept of your ‘own time.’ There will no longer be any such thing as your own time. That doesn’t have to mean you work all the time. In fact, it can mean that you frequently don’t work any of the time. But just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you’re on your own time. When you have the opportunity to work, then work. When you’re new, you won’t have the chance to work almost at all, so enjoy that. Go to the gym, go to a neighborhood meeting, go to the bar. That’s where you’re going to meet your clients


That’s probably enough for today. Again, I welcome you to The Institute and wish you all the best– unless you happen to be planning on hanging your new-car-smell license in the bustling fishing village one hundred miles north of Seattle where I am already established [ed: Bellingham] in which case I will eat your beating heart before your dying eyes if you so much as share a four-way stop with anyone already working with me. Nothing personal– but this town’s already not big enough to support the Realtor factory in operation here.

Feel free to phone me for advice, though. I’ll take your call whereas most of your ‘clients’ won’t– at least for a while. It’s going to suck at first, I hope I’ve been clear about that. With patience, smart work and a lot of manifestation, however, you’ll eventually realize your real estate dreams. You’ll rescue the kitten from the tree, breath fire from 151 and yes—you’ll even be offered that handjob in the kitchen while Mr. Buyer is on the deck admiring the view. But in the beginning you’re much more likely to slide down a muddy, ferny slope or have a knife waived at you by a naked renter whose landlord failed to notify him of your showing. It’s OK. Get some shuteye and get up the next day and do it again. You’re a Realtor. You’re fucking Barretta…

(Re-printed without permission from PMA Magazine from Seattle. Check them out: )