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Relocate Your Real Estate Career

Relocate Your Real Estate Career

Photo courtesy flickr user "[Sheila Steele]" under a Creative Commons 2.0 attribution license.

Dona DeZube, Monster Finance Careers Expert

Real estate is a people business. So what happens when a real estate agent moves to a new city as a trailing spouse or because the weather is better? The bad news: You start over again. The good news: It’s easier the second time around.

Just ask Mark Riley, a high-end property specialist in Cincinnati. Several years ago, he decided to pursue business in Sarasota, Florida, where he owned a second home.

Riley launched his new business by seeking referrals from his Cincinnati clients and going after Sarasota-area homeowners who also owned homes in Cincinnati. A property records search in Sarasota turned up 500 such families. Riley mailed each a postcard saying, “From the banks of the Ohio to the beaches of Florida, I can service your needs.”

Two Places at Once

How does Riley do business in two places? With a personal assistant in Cincinnati and a cell phone that works in both locations. He cautions, however, that his business plan is not for everyone. “If you are the major breadwinner in your household, you have to be careful,” he says. “People will say, ‘Why don’t you pick up and go?’ I had to do it a little at a time. You’ve got to keep your pace by looking for referrals and working hard in the new location.”

Trailing Spouse

Riley’s story is atypical. It’s more common for an agent to change locations because a spouse is transferred. Teresa Barthol, a former agent with Keller Williams Realty in Bellevue, Washington, moved to Davenport, Iowa, when her husband was offered a job there. As a first-time homebuyer specialist with three years of experience, Barthol knew the transition to a slower market where she had no personal contacts would be challenging. She adjusted her expectations accordingly. “I didn’t come expecting grand things,” she says. While she once earned $50,000 to $80,000 a year, she expected to earn only about $20,000 starting out in her new location.

Barthol hung her shingle at Mel Foster Company and rebuilt a client network. She got to know her landlord and sold her a house. She’s passing out cards and taking less-desirable listings, including repossessions.

Leslie Amaya, a relocation specialist whose niche was helping medical professionals moving to Louisville, followed her husband to Grand Rapids. She took seven years off to raise children before returning to real estate at Greenridge Realty. “Starting out again new, I did a lot of floor time and open houses, and I got business that way,” she says.