Melanie Stone is a sales associate with Coldwell Banker in Chicago and a member of REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30 class of 2017. Learn more about her at MelanieStoneChicago.com.
5 Things to Remember When You Fail
For new agents, it can feel like a personal defeat when a real estate deal falls apart. Here’s how one practitioner learned to pick herself up and move on after her first summer in the business was a wash.
July 5, 2017
One night in June 2015, I had three transactions fall apart in one evening. I remember laying on the floor of my Chicago apartment, trying to pull myself together. What did I do wrong? Why is this happening to me? Up until that point, almost every transaction I’d worked on had closed seamlessly. Granted, I’d had only eight sales at that point in my career, between January and June 2015. But it stung all the same.
So that was how my first summer in real estate started. After that night, I took my foot off the proverbial pedal and lost my motivation. I am a perfectionist, and the mere thought of failure made me want to run away from this career and do something safer. I was 21 years old at the time, and to me, my world was crashing down. If I couldn’t always succeed, then I didn’t want to try.
As it happens in life, time passed and things got better. I took almost two months off that summer, but by late August, I was back in the game. I’d gotten an out-of-the-blue phone call from a seller asking me to list her gorgeous condo. I leapt out of bed and didn’t look back.
That fall ended up being my most fruitful sales season yet, and by the end of the year, I received Coldwell Banker’s Rookie of the Year title for my 2015 sales volume. It was a complete gift from God, and I couldn’t believe how much had changed since that sticky night in June. Here are a few life lessons I learned about staying strong through rough patches in real estate.
- Enjoy the wins, but don’t take the losses personally. When I decided to try real estate, I was focused on the glamour: the showings, the branding, the opportunity to design my life and business. I didn’t realize that sales can also be hard and full of rejection. I’ve learned to remind myself every single day not to take it personally. It’s difficult because I want people to like me, but I’ve got to remember that most leads and potential clients don’t truly know me. To them, I’m just another real estate agent. First, I’ve got to make peace with that, and then I have to try to change their minds.
- Strive for something more than awards. It feels really, really good to be recognized for your hard work, especially when you’re new to the industry. In 2015, I wanted so badly to receive that coveted Rookie of the Year title. But as soon as I stopped focusing on the acclaim, my motivation shifted. I focused more on how I could provide the best possible service to my clients rather than how I could get my name on the map. Ultimately, this mental shift came down to my faith. I realized that my identity in God was what really mattered; the awards did not. He already saw me as an award-winner, no matter what I did, so it was senseless for me to let earthly recognition control my emotional well-being.
- Recognize when things are beyond your control. I want every single client to make it to the closing table, but in reality, transactions fall apart all the time. I had to learn to step back from each situation and understand that a sale will work out in the end if it is meant to. By now, I’ve had plenty of buyers and sellers whose deals didn’t come together, either because the buyer got cold feet or the seller had a change of heart about selling. There’s nothing I can do about that. It hurts a lot less these days, because I know that time will pass and things will eventually fall into place for them.
- Take a break. Though I probably wouldn’t take two months off from real estate again, it ended up being really healthy for me to step back from my business during that initial rough patch and surround myself with friends and family. At the time, I was graduating from college, and there were plenty of parties to attend. It helped to take my mind off my business for a season. Now that I’m 100 percent committed to my business, I make sure to take a day to myself when I really, really need it.
- It’s not about you. Ultimately, a career in real estate is a career in customer service. It’s about putting another person’s needs ahead of your own. Sometimes, I get wrapped up in my brand and my sales volume and my blah blah blah. I’ll scroll through Instagram, envying other agents’ new listings. But when I stop thinking about me and focus on truly serving my clients, the negativity goes away. There is no better feeling than calling one of my first-time buyers to say their offer was accepted on their first home. That is why I do what I do. And it’s why you do what you do, too.