5 Pros and 5 Cons of Working in Real Estate

Her Mind Magazine reached out to me back in the fall to ask about real estate as a career for their December 2015/January 2016 issue. You can read the article here: http://hermindmagazine.com/wp/grow-your-career-work-force-development/

It’s hard to talk about real estate without laughing, crying and cursing but I managed to keep it professional during the interview. The author cut all but one or two sentences so that helped make me look better. 

Since most of what we discussed did not make the article, I thought I’d highlight a few Pros and Cons, followed by some advice for anyone thinking about getting into real estate: 

Pros:

1 - the barrier to entry is low

2 - the idea that you can create your own schedule is appealing

3 - you have some control over your income and your brand

4 - this is a career where you can be entrepreneurial and creative

5 - you own your business

Cons: 

1 - it can take several years to build your business (3-5 years)

2 - the market is very competitive: our Baltimore/DC community is saturated with agents

3 - it is expensive to be in this business

4 - the work can require evenings and weekends

5 - you are “on” 24/7 and it takes a lot of practice to shut it down and really rest

And bonus #6 (because who doesn’t want more “cons”): it’s getting harder to compete with big teams

Advice:

1 - join a team for faster learning and enjoy a compressed learning curve so that in 1 year, you’ll learn what normally takes an agent 3 years to learn

2 - give it time and commit to this adventure for several years

3 - at a minimum, hook up with a mentor for the first few years

Again, our local Central Maryland market is saturated with agents. It can take 3-5 years to really make the money you want, especially if you are a solo agent.

I am grateful that I get to do work that I love, but it’s not easy work. It takes commitment, stamina and patience. However, as someone who has built a successful and rewarding real estate business, I’m glad I jumped on the bandwagon 10 years ago. If you’re thinking about getting into real estate, shoot me an email and I’d be happy to share my experiences and advice.

- Wendy Slaughter

"Old School" real estate vs “New School" real estate

My buyer wrote an offer 4 days ago and we still don’t have it signed by the sellers.  

The listing agent’s sellers are on vacation and because the agent doesn’t know how to use electronic signing systems, he is taking much more time than is necessary to get this deal in place.

This delay impacts my buyer, the lender, the title company, contract time frames and of course, our confidence in getting the deal done. The seller could have been in jeopardy of losing these buyers due to frustrations and concerns.

 Let’s look at a real life example of the "old school" vs the "new school" way of working.

Imagine that your home is listed for sale and you’re on a vacation you planned months ago. You’re sitting under an umbrella by the ocean, your feet in the sand and a cold drink in your hand. You’re watching your friends and family have fun and it makes you feel happy. You deserve this down time. You glance at your phone and see that you received an email from your agent with paperwork needing your signature. Is your agent “old school” or “new school?"

 The next 3-4 hours of your vacation can play out in two ways:

#1 “Old School" 

The email says you have to print the attachment and sign and then scan back to the agent. Your blood pressure climbs. There is no printer in the vacation house you rented. You’re finally on vacation…one that you more than deserve…and you have to go back to the house, do some research about local Kinkos or UPS stores, call to make sure they are open and get directions, get their email address, send the document to them, go to the store to sign, have them scan back to you and then email it back to your agent. You’re mad. Your family is mad. You missed a great beach day. Tomorrow it will rain and you’ll be even madder.  

#2 “New School”

You gently place your drink in the sand, then click on the link in the email. The link takes you to Dot Loop and it says “click here to start signing.” You click once for each initial and signature and when you’re done, click “confirm signing.” You turn your phone off and pick your drink back up. You realize you’ve been outside for a while and it’s time to reapply your sunscreen.

 “New School” agents help their clients by using the latest technology so that deals are done faster and your life is easier. When you choose your realtor, ask about the systems, processes and technology that your agent is using. Enjoy your vacation and let your “new school” agent do the work for you.

-Wendy Slaughter

Sometimes you learn things, even when you don’t want to.....

Real Estate - Lessons Learned

Life lessons after a decade in real estate

Today is my 10 year anniversary of being in real estate. I truly can’t believe it. I was 35 when I earned my license and the year was 2006 - probably the worst year ever to get into real estate. I started out on my own and after about 3 years, I decided it was time to grow. That’s when I started The Wendy Slaughter Team. 

Over the past 10 years, real estate has taught me a ton about myself and life.

Here are my top 5 takeaways:

1 - Your values are clarified.

Do you really value your family or are you just saying that? Your health? Your home? Your friends? Look around you. What do you see? You made this life with your choices. Your priorities are reflected by what is physically around you and by the relationships you have with people you love.

Real estate asks a lot of you. You have to be firm in setting boundaries.

2 - Thicker skin is a must.

I came into this business as a “pleaser.” I had a hard time with the hard conversations. I wanted everyone to like me. I know it sounds immature and, at the same time, it rings true for many people, no matter what your age. No one wants to be disliked. 

This quality made real estate difficult for me in the beginning. It took a lot of work in the early years but I’m a much better realtor because I pressed on, learned, and grew into my thicker skin. I’m still caring and kind but I’m much better at having the hard conversations. You learn fast that you owe it to yourself and your clients. 

3 - Buddhists are right: nothing is permanent.

Change is a standard in this industry and in life. Regulations, technology, processes and forms change all the time. Contracts have grown to 70+ pages and we learn something new every day.

You have two choices: complain and try to fight the changes….or learn what the changes mean to your clients and the process and then adjust your systems to address the changes. Don’t waste your precious time and energy acting crazy about things that change and are out of our hands. 

4 - Life is better if you are a Lifelong Learner.

I love learning. I was a good student and I still love reading and listening to good books, attending webinars, watching TED Talks and documentaries. It sounds nerdy and I don’t care. Learning is fun. It keeps life fresh. 

One of my favorite TED Talks is about changing your body position in order to positively affect your body chemistry. This is great information for all us, especially teens.

https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en

5 - You can’t do this alone.

I spent 3 years as an independent agent: 2 years at Long & Foster and then my first year at RE/MAX. 

I realized that if I wanted to increase my production and still take great care of my clients - AND take vacations (and stay as sane as possible), I needed to build a team. I am forever grateful that Debbie Gottwals took that plunge with me when we started the Team back in 2009. 

#5 has been the best thing that I’ve learned.

Working with a Team allows me to live my work life with wonderful human beings. They are smart, funny, kind, supportive, energetic, motivated and their smiles and laughter make this work richer. My life is much more fun because I work with a really great team.

Support comes from home too. My husband, Jason, is committed to my work. He and the kids are the best squad I could ask for. 

This list could be 150 items long. I tried to stick to the important stuff. I’ll check back in when I’m 55 and let you know what else I’ve learned.

-Wendy Slaughter

Divorce and real estate: first steps

Past-Present-Future-Sign-566x198.jpg

This blog is the first in a series of 3 focused on Divorce and Real Estate

Going through a divorce is one of the toughest life experiences to navigate. During that time, it’s important to lean on your “village” for support. You’ll be entering into new territory and relying on people you may have never met including mediators, lawyers, financial planners, CPAs, family therapists and realtors.

Relying on friends and family to refer you to various professionals in the community is the best way to find trustworthy advocates and advisors. Our best advice: seek strong support from people you trust. Gathering information can reduce stress.

Real estate is usually one of the more important pieces in a divorce. Making decisions about real estate can be very difficult. In addition to the financial impact, the emotional impact is high and a move can be exhausting. Your separation agreement will dictate what will happen with your marital home. Be sure it includes language about the decision making process for hiring a Realtor.

When it comes to real estate, your first step should be to reach out to an experienced agent. Consulting with a realtor is free and you can tap into our knowledge about market conditions, the value of your home, and strategies for increasing the value. We can also help you by referring contractors for painting, flooring, and anything else you need as you prepare to sell.

Our Team has helped many families work through the real estate side of the divorce process and we are sensitive to the needs of the families. It’s never easy but we understand the unique nature of the process and help you get to the settlement table, providing support and reducing stress for all parties involved. 

The National Family Resiliency Center provides support for families going through divorce. They are doing important work for adults and children and we’re proud to be sponsoring their 5K, coming up on September 19th at the Lakefront. It’s going to be a great day, filled with good energy and celebration. Come see Tree House School of Music, Mike John, Drama Learning Center, B.Funk Dance Studio and more perform on the stage!

More info: http://nfrchelp.org/index.php/project/5k-for-families/
Register to run: http://www.active.com/columbia-md/running/distance-running-races/5k-for-families-2015?int
To sponsor the 5K or make a donation: http://nfrchelp.org/index.php/event-sponsors/

If you, a friend or a family member needs a free real estate consult, shoot Wendy an email at Wendy@thewendyslaughterteam.com.
 

Singing in the Shower!

The fan in my bathroom stopped working. When I went to Lowes to check out options, I saw a bluetooth speaker/fan combination that looked super cool and it didn’t cost more than the other fans.

We all love music in my family. My kids play instruments and they’re in a band. My husband plays drums. My son plays drums and guitar. My daughter plays bass and guitar and she sings. This summer, my kids are working as “interns” at Treehouse School of Music and they are helping them run their summer camps (great camps BTW).

Music plays constantly in our house. We have different tastes but we like hearing each other’s playlists to mix things up a little. 

So this is where I didn’t think things through. 

Everyone uses my bathroom now. Everyone. All 4 of them. All the time. 

My advice: If you decide to buy this fan, you might want to pick up more than one.

Here is link to the fan if you want to check it out: 

http://www.lowes.com/pd_379193-69305-7130-01-BT_0__

- Wendy

 

 

Conscious Capitalism Central Maryland Chapter Lift Off!

Conscious Capitalism MD Chapter

The Central Maryland Chapter of Conscious Capitalism officially lifted off earlier this week. The room was packed with good people. We gathered at the newly remodeled (and gorgeous!) Coho Grill.

[Important side note: The Coho Grill has a great beer selection including options from Heavy Seas, Evolution, Flying Dog and Jailbreak.]

The Conscious Capitalism movement is not new. Businesses have proven that when you act from your heart, profits are a natural consequence. Costco, Whole Foods, The Container Store and Apple are a just a few of the companies that have put people before profits.

I was asked to speak at the event and talk about how we’re putting some of the Conscious Capitalism concepts into practice.

My Team has been “unconsciously conscious” since we first formed back in 2009. We are realtors but we believe that “what" we do is less important than "how and why" we do our work. Our Team culture has created a foundation for everything that we have been able to accomplish over the past few years. Our culture affects how we engage with our stakeholders: our clients, our vendors, our realtor colleagues and the community. 

The “how and why” both add meaning to our work and it changes the experience for everyone.

For more information about Conscious Capitalism, check out these resources:

Facebook:     https://www.facebook.com/cccentralmaryland?fref=ts

Book:            Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

Website:       http://www.consciouscapitalism.org

- Wendy 

Happy National Chili Day! Check out these recipes!

Chili Image

In honor of National Chili Day (whether you celebrate on the 25th or the 28th of February, it's an awesome holiday), we'd like to share two of Debbie Gottwals' famous chili recipes. A white chicken chili and a 3 bean vegetarian chili recipe. Enjoy!

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili (all in one pot)
3 TBL olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 medium green pepper chopped
1 (29 oz) can tomato puree
1 can garbonzo beans
1 can black beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
3 bay leaves
3 TBL chili powder
1 TBL cumin
½ tsp each salt and pepper
½ tsp red pepper (more if you like it spicy)

Garnishes (optional)
Chopped scallions
Shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
Sour cream
Chopped tomatoes

In a soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onions and peppers and sauté until tender. Add tomoto puree and all 3 cans of beans, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add remaining ingredients and cover and simmer for 30 min on low (stirring occasionally).

Add garnishes and serve over corn chips or corn bread if you like.

White Chicken Chili
1 TBL oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tsp ground cumin
2 chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 (16-19 oz) can cannellini beans drained
1 (16-19 oz) can chick peas beans drained
1 (12 oz) can white corn
2 (4 oz) can of mild green chilies
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1.5 cups water

Garnishes
Chopped cilantro
¼ lb Monterey Jack shredded cheese
Hot pepper sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, heat oil and cook onion, garlic, cumin until onion is tender.

In a 2.5 qt casserole, combine onion mixture with chicken, beans, corn, chilies, bouillon cubes and water. Cover and bake 50-60 min until chicken is cooked.

Add garnishes to taste.

Serve with rice or pasta.

There's always something fun to do in maple lawn!

In 2008, I became a homeowner in a neighborhood called Maple Lawn located in Fulton, MD. While some may not be fond of the lifestyle, where neighbors live practically within touching distance of one another, others can't seem to imagine living anywhere else!

The opening of the Midtown West and Westside Districts this spring will bring plenty of new homeowners. Some residents such as myself, will just be moving from one part of the neighborhood to another, reinforcing the fact that once you live here you never want to be anywhere else. Why would you? With great restaurants and shopping located within the community, easy access to major highways and a great location right between Baltimore and the Nations Capital, what more could you ask for??  Well how about a great fitness center, yoga and Zumba classes, kids art classes, summer camps for kids, a beautiful pool, basketball and tennis courts and year round social events?

Maple Lawn is surely the place to be. Condos, townhomes, single family homes and estate homes offer a wide range of choices and price points for buyers in all ranges of the spectrum. Whether it's a lazy afternoon at the community pool, happy hour at one of the several neighborhood restaurants or Wednesday night book club, there's never a lack of things to do.

It's been 4 1/2 years and I can't imagine a place I'd rather call home. In a few months, my family will pack up our belongings and move down the road to another house with a little different layout….but in the same wonderful neighborhood called Maple Lawn!

- Beth

Maple Lawn Community Center

What is the deal with real estate teams?

I’ve shared my life with my athletic, sports-loving husband for over 23 years. Speaking as a person who is not athletic (that’s putting it mildly) and not sport savvy at all (I once asked Jason “What does the quarterback do when he isn’t throwing the ball?” I did not realize that there is an offense and defense and they come on and off the field during a football game), I have come to love teams.

Teams are awesome. You wear purple (or red…or maybe even gold and black! ) when you’re supporting your favorite football team. You cheer for your child at their soccer game. You might be on a team at work. Even your family is a team.

Real estate teams started forming years ago and each team has a very different feel. Most real estate teams only feature the team leader. It’s hard to figure out how many agents are on the team and who they are. That’s part of the mystery of teams. What’s really going on behind the curtain?

We’re a different kind of team. We don’t have a curtain.

You can learn about each of us on our website or on facebook. We all post on our team facebook page, we all write blogs and attend community events. Each agent is actively promoted and you’ll even see their names on our “for sale” signs (shocking!). We’re a highly collaborative team and you’ll sense that in our service to you. It’s just a different model.

From a buyer or seller perspective, working with our team is great. You have your individual realtor who works with you daily. But our team also has a full time Project Manager/COO (Creator of Order). She manages the files, our paperwork, keeps us reminded about important deadlines and even manages some of our marketing efforts. This frees up our time to devote to our clients. If one of us goes on vacation or is sick, we’re all here to assist you in her absence. So even though you have one main contact, we’re all here to help you get to settlement.

When you hire us, we take that very seriously. We feel grateful that you chose us to be on your team during one of the most important times in your life.

Go TEAM! (I sound sporty, right?)

~Wendy

Slaughter Team Helmet


Why do we have a pumpkin carving contest?

                                                                    "Jane-O-Lantern"

                                                                    "Jane-O-Lantern"

As I sat at my dining room table carving pumpkins with my family, I realized that having a pumpkin carving contest is a great way to foster connections within our family and our community.

For so many of us, screens are a constant presence. We’re on them all day: the computer, the phones, the ipads. The kids watch TV or playing video games. We half listen to each other as our phones ping letting us know that a new email came in or someone commented on our photo on Facebook.

Sitting around the table together with knives and gourds might sound like a strange way to connect yet, it was a fabulous experience. We exchanged suggestions for how to best carve a little mustache or how to make my peace sign glow brighter. I was even happy when the kids fought over a carving instrument because it resulted in a negotiated agreement and two semi-satisfied kids.

As a team, it was so fun to watch the entries roll in from our clients, friends and family. Some were created with Aunts and Uncles, others with siblings, some from adults and others from little kids (you can see our entries here). One of our favorites is above: The “Jane” O’Lantern! We also had a great time judging them in the office.

In my family, we are very aware of our screen time and do a lot to limit it in our house (I’m sure many of you would still say we have way too much of it but we’re really trying!). I’ve read the research and talked to enough of the “experts” to know the issues that too much screen time can cause. But even with great awareness, I know we can do better. The pumpkins remind me that simple things are so important and our connections to the people we love are strengthened through attention. Real attention.

The irony of it all? Our pumpkin carving contest is held on Facebook!

- Wendy