Real Estate by Debbie Reynolds: A Reality Check- Treat It Like a Real Job

A Reality Check- Treat It Like a Real Job

Advice to New Agents Getting into the Business

Pot of gold

Many members of the public look at a real estate agent's job as glamorous with days of looking at pretty houses and taking clients to lunch and dinner. The fancy cars and expense accounts allow agents to play golf, take frequent vacations and wear high fashion wardrobes. WRONG!

The reality is we get paid based on commissions and having real estate closings that really happen. If the closing doesn't take place, all the hard work goes down the drain without being paid. Nobody stands over you and makes you work each day. It is up to you to set your goals, be innovative and to accomplish the tasks of the workday. You start each day unemployed and must make things happen to further your career. Each day is a learning experience and a building block in your business.

What the public doesn't see is the money invested, the hard work and long hours that are required to put the face of success on our careers. There is a pot of gold to be had but it comes with working long work weeks, very little time off, some disappointments along the way, no expense accounts for sure, and learning to win the business over your competition. It takes a well executed plan and your investment in it.

The work starts at the very beginning, the first day of licensure. You can never let up and you have to treat it like a real job and work it. When agents give up and leave the business, many say they are going to go get a Real Job. They had one but didn't know how to make it work for them, establish good work habits or to define their careers. Much of what a successful agent does is self generated and executed. It comes from the gut.

  • What do you wish you had known the very first year you were in the business that cost you lost business or income?

    I wish I had known to keep a good database of everyone I worked with. Even those that may not have bought right then or had moved away were potential business. If  I had just stayed in touch and thought about building a business for the future and not just the present I would have made money. I never gave a thought about the referral side of the business of who they knew. Meantime I lost tens of thousands of dollars in income and connections for a lifetime.
  • Was there ever a time you questioned whether you had made the right choice of being a real estate agent? What events caused you to stick with it and succeed?

    About my fifth year in the business I hit a rough spot. It seemed like everything I was working on fell through. I kept pressing forward but doors were slammed in my face. After a series of discouragements I went home at the end of the day and told my husband it was clear that I needed to leave the business. I took the door slamming as clear signs I needed to do something else. What the something else was, I had no idea.

    Just as I had gained my husband's support to do whatever I thought I needed to do and to quit first thing the next morning, the phone rang. It was a young military couple that had just arrived in town that I had been corresponding with for a couple of months. They said they needed to buy a home and asked how early could we start looking in the morning? I set the appointment for 8:30 to get an early start and to make sure we could find them a home before the day was finished.

    I was smiling and exhilarated as I hung up the phone. My husband looked at me strangely and asked how I was going to meet them when I had a first thing appointment to quit the business. I told him I had to help this young family and that was my priority. I never looked back. 

    I love helping others and don't focus on any discouragements or doors slamming. I have my eyes set on looking for the open windows.
  • What are 3 things you have learned along the way that have positively affected you and helped improve your real estate business? 

    1. Treat everyone you meet as a prospect. There have been agents that got out of the business that I was able to represent them.  Treat other agents with respect. I have worked with family members of other agents. I don't consider them off limits. I am never afraid to ask for the business and do not get scared off by hearing a no. A no means, not now but maybe later.

    2. It takes working long hours and working smarter than your competition. I am not afraid to learn something new nor take risks or chances. If I am not moving forward I am losing traction and falling behind.

    3. You should never stop learning. Education in this business is abundant and readily available. Take classes and continually learn. Don't settle for the minimums required to keep your license. Be aggressive in your learning and become a leader in your business community. Be involved and give back to your REALTOR body and gain their respect. It will win you additional business and make your job more satisfying.


If a career is real estate is calling you, research it and go into it with your eyes wide open. It can be a dream job but that doesn't mean you won't work your hard or make personal sacrifices to service a client. The job satisfaction you gain is some of the highest of any career. It cannot be measured in dollars.


 Centruy 21 Platinum Properties2130 Wilma Rudolph Blvd.

Clarksville, TN 37040

When you need Real Estate services in Clarksville TN

                  it would be my pleasure to assist you!                             

Debbie Reynolds
"The Real Debbie Reynolds"

Check out all Clarksville TN Real Estate on My Website

931-771-9070 Office | 931-320-6730 Cell

Clarksville TN Homes 


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Comment balloon 39 commentsDebbie Reynolds • January 23 2018 03:39AM


Good morning Debbie. Thanks for the hints! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 2 years ago

Good morning, Debbie... great post, but I would take  issue just on one item and that is calling what we do a job. Here's why:

A job is something one does to earn money, typically without much concern for the long term... a job is simply a means to an end... that of earning money. And it more often than not puts one in a position of being an employee. As Realtors®, while we do make money, we are neither  employees nor working without concern for the long term or simply to make money. 

I consider what I do a profession and a career: a profession is a paid occupation that typically involved prolonged training and formal qualification. A career is a long term commitment to one's work requiring motivation, forward thinking, systematic building of skills, experience, and knowledge.

One reason I think many agents fail in the business is because they do think of it as a job and not as a profession and a career.

Now that I've done this... I think maybe I'll write a post about it!


Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 2 years ago

This is good reading for new agents. Many will encounter times of great discouragement in the business.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) over 2 years ago

So true, Debbie.  Way too many people think that they will have all sorts of free time when they get into this business.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) over 2 years ago

Thank you for the post. I hope all new agents should read it.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 2 years ago

Excellent telling of your experiences as a real estate professional, Debbie.  I will never forget standing in the check-out line at a grocery store, while listening to a couple women talking.  One mentioned to the other that she was thinking about getting into real estate.  She had been to an Open House, and said, "How difficult can it be."  I thought, this won't last long.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 2 years ago

Debbie, isn't it amazing how your true love for the business - helping people,  is what kept you in real estate. Or maybe it's not amazing. I'm just happy you stayed the course. The industry needs more agents like you. 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) over 2 years ago

What a great post Debbie. a lot of what you say is applicable to lending as well. We also have the additional frustration of prequalifying people, helping them get their offer accepted just to see them leave for a lower rate on the Internet. I think we need to find a way to put them under contract.

Posted by Matt Brady, The Mortgage Answer Man (Finance Of America) over 2 years ago

A serious subject this Real Estate be. It demands respect & gives back quite a bit

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 2 years ago

You are right about that, a career in real estate isn't anywhere near as glamorous as people think it is, haha.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) over 2 years ago

We get back out of this business what we're willing to put into it.  To get results we've got to be willing to learn, work, adapt and keep reexamining what works and doesn't work.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 over 2 years ago

Debbie, that is so true, there are days (like yesterday) where I was installing the CO detector, using porcelain paint on the stove, replacing light bulbs and got the handyman informed on what he needed to do.   Sellers do not live close and we do what we need to for them!  

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) over 2 years ago

I loved this, Debbie!  Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by MaryKay Shumway, Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert (The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948)) over 2 years ago

Good morning Debbie. This is excellent and in my view should be given to every new agent.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 2 years ago

Great post.  Many folks get in the business and think they can just sit back and wait for the clients to come to them.  You have to work it - like a real job!

Posted by Belinda Spillman, Colorado Living! (Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado) over 2 years ago

Hi, Debbie!

Excellent advice to those thinking of entering the real estate business.  Some feel that a career in real estate is a get rich quick job where not much work is involved.  Quite the contrary.  There are times we have to work on our "time off" in order to get the transaction to close.


Posted by Brigita McKelvie, Associate Broker, The Broker with horse sense and no horsing around (Cindy Stys Equestrian and Country Properties, Ltd.) over 2 years ago

Good morning Debbie - there are some people that are licensed that treat it like a hobby.  Right you are.  You don't dabble; you get real!

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) over 2 years ago

This is so true!   It's why soooo many people fail in the first year or two!    It reminds me of my first job while still in school, I worked at a machine shop and got paid only "piece rate".   You got paid only for the work you produced.    I have been amazed how many people thought we get a salary plus commissions.

Posted by Bill Dean, William Dean - Broker, Salesperson (Haggerty Team St. Louis, Mo.) over 2 years ago

I find whether an agent or an LO that mindset has so much to do with the level of success found, Debbie Reynolds ... 

Those that view it as a profession that calls for hard work, consistent effort, setting of goals, a business plan, and a willingness to go above and beyond will find success.  They will allow themselves nothing less.  Obviously that description fits you to a T ...


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) over 2 years ago

Everybody is a potential to make money, that's for sure. I've sold homes for my electrician and contractors, referred out of state clients to other out of state Realtors; I pick up commissions from my buyer's agents, and it just comes in from all areas when you focus on helping people. I just do what I do and the money appears.

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) over 2 years ago

Love your story about getting out of the business. It doesn't take much to encourage us to keep going when it is rough going, we just need to keep going. Every season passes.

Posted by Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) over 2 years ago

Great advice. Thanks! I think it takes 100% buy-in and dedication to be the best.

Posted by Paul McFadden, Pest Control, Seattle, WA. (Paratex) over 2 years ago

Hi Debbie- I love your thoughts and I hope that anyone getting into the business or needing a boost will read this. One common thread I've been seeing in these posts is doing a better job at keeping track of former clients or leads. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 2 years ago

Debbie, your post is something every new agent or soon to be new agent needs to read. I may have to print this out and give it to new agents, you did such a great job and I can tell it's from your heart. "Nobody stands over you and makes you work each day." I think this is so important for new agents to understand. You get out what you put in. 

Posted by Amanda S. Davidson, Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale (Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group Brokered By eXp Realty) over 2 years ago

Debbie, you are so right about all your points. It is true, people tend to see the rewards only - and especially when they watch the HGTV shows - but there is a lot of hard work and long hours to get those rewards. 

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) over 2 years ago

Your post speaks true words to us newbies but even more the phrase “you start each day unemployed” even if you have a closing on the calendar. I researched and stalked “ActiveRain Alumni” here and prepared as best I could for my transition into real estate but until you are here, words of wisdom are just tidbits in your day ~ walk the line and the daily routine and be prepared to be rocked no matter the preparation you THINK you’ve done :-) Thank you for your current post and the many before and cheers to continuing to strive for your best each day!
Respectfully, :-) Katie

Posted by Katie B. Cullum over 2 years ago

I do that I have to treat even the most fun job I do like a real job! It’s just never a bad idea because it makes me really good at what I love!

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 2 years ago

Spot on! Great post and reminder that it's not all glamour. Hard work, dedication, goals, and tenacity are all a must. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Joseph Arce over 2 years ago

I too laugh when people say they are thinking about getting a real job.  Makes me wonder if they have enjoyed their year long vacation.  Working in the real estate industry is hard work and requires dedication.  

Thank you for a great post!

Posted by Anna Hatridge, Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC (R Gilliam Real Estate LLC) over 2 years ago

What a great post for new agents. A reality check would be helpful before they get licensed. 

When you run your own business it takes work and knowing what to do.

Keeping up with the changes in laws and contracts as well as the trends is your job, no one else is going to do it for you.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA over 2 years ago

Great advice, especially to build that database ASAP.

I heard this saying once, "if you treat your business like a business, it will pay you like a business. If you treat it like a hobby... well, hobbies cost money, they don't make money"

Posted by Anthony Kirlew, Helping You Make Fiscally Sound Choices (Group 46:10 Network @ eXp Realty) over 2 years ago

"Treat it like a job" is always my advice to anyone getting into business for themselves.  Being self-employed is a huge responsibility with tremendous rewards. You have to put in the time and hard work.  It's not a hobby, it's a career.  It doesn't matter how much you know.  Management can make or break you.

Posted by Pamela Cendejas, Second Self Virtual Assistance (928) 692-3235 (Second Self Virtual Assistance) over 2 years ago

Good evening Debbie Reynolds ,

Some how I missed this but caught it when Amanda S. Davidson re-blogged it! Real Estate is more than a job it is owning a business and it it's up to you to sink or swim. So many agents just don't look at it in the same way!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.  We have to be positive and know what needs to be done to provide excellent service.

Posted by Dorothy Liu, Broker Associate, Silicon Valley Area,650-492-0859 (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 2 years ago

The difference IMO is that a job has a supervisor or boss and the business owner is the boss, so, is only accountable to himself and therein lies the challenge, doesn't it? That's the challenge and without specific plans to achieve your goals and objectives, many agents IMO will need a job. Great post regardless. 

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 2 years ago

Debbie Reynolds - I can certainly appreciate all that you are and all that you did to become such a really good Real Estate Agent. I have been on a very similar journey without a spouse but everything else was pretty much the same. To have the right support and believe in yourself is very important. You certainly deserve many blessings, happiness, good health, and prosperity, 

Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) over 2 years ago

As always Debbie Reynolds I am moved by your posts. I am glad you took that appointment to help the military couple find a home and not the one to quit the business! Your priority for a database is often something new agents are never told to do or value or nuture. And support is key whether from spouse, partner, friend or many of us in the rain. Stay in touch.

Posted by Emily Medvec, Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM (eXp Realty LLC) over 2 years ago

Dear Debbie,

Great advice. Don't go too fancy with your clothes & shoes; you never know, where you might have to step or crawl.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 2 years ago

Good morning Debbie Reynolds - you have shared some important information for those wondering about Real Estate.  I am happy to boost your posts in the month's AR contest.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 6 months ago