A story by Kim,
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) only 2% of real estate agents are under 30 years of age.* At the ripe age of 25, this mostly explains why I get the comments about how young I look or why a “friend” of mine looked me straight in the eye and told me that no one will want to buy a home from someone as young as I am says Kim. People seem to have an image in their mind of what they expect a real estate broker to look like. With the median age of professionals in my industry being 57 years, I can easily see that I stick out. But what I don’t quite understand is how age directly relates to willingness to work with someone. How often do people just assume that the gray-haired agent has loads of experience? Perhaps they just joined in the fun because they’re empty nesters for the first time in 20 years. Alternatively, there’s a 16 year old who spends his summer in the office that intimidates the heck out of me with his plethora of knowledge about the local market. The role of a realtor is 2 parts: knowledge and service.
Ask any agent who has been working in the field for a while and they’ll tell you that even though they’ve been in the game for a long time, rules are always changing and they’re constantly put in a position of figuring out what the next best move is given the information they have. Transactions in this industry are rarely cookie-cutter and variables always arise. But that’s what’s so fun about it!
So, how does a young gun like me handle the experience factor? I knew that this would be a hurdle that could only be passed with time so I decided to tap into a well of knowledge coming in the form of a mentor. Sheryl Knowles is our team leader and personal coach. She has been in the industry for as long as I have been alive and is eager to share what she has learned over the years. For situations that cannot be explained by a little bit of online research, I’ve got her on my speed dial.
Studying helps, too. A lot. Though so far I’ve opted out of the graduate school route, I haven’t evaded the act of research. I spend hours reading, analyzing, visiting, talking and processing all things real estate. I’ve gained a lot of ground on the old farts who have been in the game for a while just by taking the time to learn.
More than anything though, I’m in the service industry. To provide the best service I can, I have to be available and proactive. I am accessible through various forms of social media (follow me!) and by nature am glued to my smartphone. The vast majority of my work is done online and being part of the first generation to grow up with computers, I have an innate advantage. I’m part of the millennial rush who sees that to be successful you can’t just slip through, you have to own your future, you have to work your butt off. I’m plugged in and can see how the industry is shifting. Anyone can find out the median income or sale price for any given neighborhood. I’ve got to be innovative and learn to fill all the other gaps that contribute to home ownership. The game has changed significantly and I’m part of the change. Older realtors won’t be able to adjust as quickly because they really do tend to stay stuck in their ways. I mean, look at how tacky their marketing materials are!
My age also means I have tons of energy. I don’t have children so my time is devoted to my clients. I spend my free time building new relationships because I’m young and I want to know as many awesome people as possible. I also find that a lot of people who have been in the industry for a long time get tired of it. Each client blends into the next. They don’t take the time to really understand the needs of their clients because they’re on auto-pilot. Often, they’ve lost their passion for their work. For me, the novelty hasn’t even begun to wear off a little bit. Everything is new, exciting and I’m eager for more!
I don’t believe that the qualities a young agent can provide are exclusively meaningful to young buyers. These are attributes that everyone is getting accustomed to and should now expect. There are a lot of really great older agents and some less-than-steller young agents. Age is irrelevant, actions are not. So now when someone gives me a hard time for being young the only thing I can think is, “what, should I wait 10 years before I start doing what I love?” Oh, no.