How I Started My Residential Real Estate Career

In December of 1998, after a successful 14 year career in commercial real estate, I locked the door of my executive suite and walked away from the business. I didn’t leave because I wasn’t making money. In fact I was doing very well financially, I just didn’t enjoy it.

I liked the money in commercial, but it was never anything more than a job to me. My personality just wasn’t suited to it. I’ll explain more about the differences in commercial and residential but I’m 21 years into residential now and I still am passionate about it. Anyway, on with the story.

I’d made enough in commercial to take a year off and consider my options. I finally came to the conclusion since I already had my broker’s license I might as well give residential real estate a try. I assumed there had to be at least some shared learning between the two disciplines, but was I ever wrong. They’re as different as night and day.

I decided to teach myself the residential side rather than joining a residential company. I had three things going for me, confidence I could figure things out myself, my willingness to work hard and most importantly, there was nothing else for me to fall back on. It was sink or swim and I had a family to support. That’s the greatest motivator of all.

I didn’t know where to find contract forms, run a comparative marketing analysis, or access the MLS. I hadn’t even come up with a company name and had no marketing material. I didn’t know how to find buyers or sellers. Looking back now, it’s a miracle I survived even a year in the business but sometimes ignorance is bliss.

It took me 21 years to achieve my current level of production but there’s no doubt in my mind I could have done it in a third of time if I hadn’t been so stubborn about joining a good company early on. I had to rely on my own instincts and decision making rather than having someone tell me how things are supposed to be done. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise but I made a lot of tactical errors from the start.

I’m definitely not advising anyone to follow the route I took but I’m confident you’ll be able to learn from some of the mistakes and successes I’ve had along the way. I don’t have all the answers and there are many ways to build a solid, self sustaining real estate business. This is simply how I did it and it worked for me.

By the way, all of the pictures of the homes you’ll see in this blog were our sales and most are within my area of specialization within the MLS. I’ll discuss the importance of specializing by area in my blog.

My 2019 Personal Production
  • My GCI (Gross Commission Income) was $1.05 Million
  • #1 in sales volume for my area of the MLS for the past 20 years
  • Captured 3.8% of total agent market share in this MLS area
  • Sold volume of $78.5 Million ($72 million was within my MLS area)