When Real Estate Becomes Your Family Business

On the one hand, you’re flattered that your son or daughter wants to follow in your real estate industry footsteps; on the other hand, you’re terrified. You know the hard work necessary to succeed. You have been there for the highs and the lows and lots of in between. You know the time commitment, the unpredictability of market conditions, the hours spent on the phone, online, and in your car. You know about the seemingly endless and redundant paperwork. Ultimately, you know the challenges and the advantages of having 100% autonomy in your business: everything depends on you, and as soon as one deal closes, you are off pursuing the next one. You have done it well and kept it all together enough for your offspring to consider real estate as a viable career opportunity that can provide them with a desirable lifestyle.

Still, you cannot help but worry about them. Are they up for the challenge? Do they understand the realities, or are they only focusing on the benefits of the deal, the joys of commissions and the apparent freedom and flexibly of being your own boss?

Whether they are just thinking about jumping into real estate or are already swimming in the property pond, here are three tips for smoothing the waters for them and for you:

No. 1: Help them test the waters.

Don’t jump into the deep end from the start. While I am all for encouraging everyone to study, take the real estate agent exam, and get their license, I do not think it is wise for anyone to quit their “day job” until they have thoroughly vetted the reality – and I mean the real reality, not the make-believe real estate world popularized by the Bravo Network.

Due diligence should be done before any major move. Within the licensing requirements of your state, get your son or daughter working in and around you as soon and as frequently as possible. Even if all they can do is answer your phone, expose them to the lingo, the relationships, and the dynamics of the business. This exposure will either reinforce their desires or quickly repel them – either way, they are making progress.

No. 2: Have them attend and take notes on everything from office meetings to listing appointments, offer presentations, and final walk-thrus.

If you are there, they should be there too. Tell your clients or colleagues that they are shadowing you and taking notes for you. Schedule some time – ten to fifteen minutes in the car after the meeting will suffice – to debrief, answer their questions, and explain your actions and goals for each meeting. Be honest about how things went and how you, and they, can do better in the future.

No. 3: Utilize their fresh eyes, fresh energy, and new perspective. 

Having a new member of the family joining the business can be a win-win for everyone if you allow them to give you input, especially regarding marketing, technology, and processes. We tend to do things the way we do for no better reason than that is the way we have always done them.

The next generation will want to make their own mark and have their own approach, which can represent a boon to your business. Put your ego aside, and listen to their input and ideas. What part of the business appeals to them? What do they consider to be clunky, outdated, or redundant? What technology do they think would make things faster, easier, and more efficient for you, your clients, and your colleagues? Empower your protégé to do some homework and come back with three to five suggestions for making your business more profitable, productive, and fun!

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