The first thing that grabbed my attention this morning on my MSN home page (and unfortunately, before a cup of coffee) was the headline Deal breaker 6 signs of a crummy real estate agent. Turns out I agreed with 5 of the 6, but just can't go along wholeheartedly with #4:
4. Part-time gig. Just because a real-estate agent has a license doesn't mean it's his or her full-time job. And while some part-time agents are certainly capable, "when you put food on the table for your family selling real estate, you approach things differently," says Mike Sannes of Keller Williams-Big Bear Real Estate in Big Bear Lake, Calif. "If your real-estate agent is actually a waiter, waitress or [another profession], then you are probably not going to be happy with where their priorities are."
The author acknowledges that some part-timers can be capable, but pretty much lumps the majority together as not having their priorities in order. Priorities is the key word for me. I am a part-time agent and the top priority in my real estate business is to not take on more business than I can handle comfortably, so that I can give each client full value of my time.
I do have the luxury of an established software support business that I handle strictly over the phone and internet. I'm on call 40 hrs per week, but most projects are scheduled so I can block out my time accordingly. The "hotline" calls generally last no more than 15 minutes; many days I get no calls. So this business gave me the opportunity to find something new to do that I find interesting and satisfying - real estate fit the bill and offered self control over hours spent working.
I have 9 listings right now; 4 of them are vacant land so they often "get shown" without me ever knowing about it. I'm actively working with 4 buyers, but they're all from out of the area, so when they plan to look at places, I'm warned well in advance for scheduling. I have a good number of clients/customers getting automatic notifications from my MLS database when listings pop up meeting their criteria. Most of my clients are aware of my other business; I usually mention it sometime in getting to know one another process. So I have a part-time income from part-time hours and that's just fine for now. My clients are pretty happy, based on the feedback and referrals I've gotten!
The author of the article claims an agent approaches business differently when "putting food on the table." Perhaps so, but the question that popped into my mind when I first read it was what kind of service is provided to clients if an agent is worried about putting food on the table? As a buyer or seller, do I get a feeling of panic from my agent, a sense of worry over the commission, the impression of being pushed to make a decision to "settle?" If I am that buyer or seller, then I'd choose to have a part-time agent dedicated to helping only a few clients than a full-time agent scrambing to to make ends meet.