September 15, 2013

How I Became a Real Estate Broker

I had thought about getting into real estate a few years ago since as many of you know I have a huge passion for looking at homes. I've always loved driving around and discovering new areas. It just makes me happy to unwind, listen to music and just drive. Exploring my surrounding communities really helped me get through my loneliness during my first year living in Washington. I couldn't adjust to the Seattle overcasts, and clouds of winter. I was very unhappy with everything but my jewelry, and blogs. Driving around and looking at beautiful homes was my motivation to work harder and grow my business. At that time, my business was growing incredibly fast, it took up all my time. I was doing very well for myself and lucky for a 2009 college graduate. I created my own career path as an entrepreneur and had more disposable income than I knew what to do!
DSK Jewelry Everything Bracelet, "Kaylynn." This is one of my favorite bracelets I've made in 2013. I love the colors combination. Please contact me if you have "Everything Bracelet" ideas for me! :) I'll be more than happy to name the bracelet after you. :D
I can tell you I did not manage money wisely in my early twenties. Designer bags, designer shoes, yikes! I clearly fell into that trap of thinking material things could buy me happiness. It didn't! lol Surprise, surprise. My dreams were beyond large, and my expectations were extremely high for myself and for those around me. I knew I was changing and I thought it was for the better, but really I needed a reality check and focus on the relationships with those around me. I don't regret any of the frivolous spending decisions I've made in the past because I learned and grew from them.

I have a different appreciation for money today than I did 4 years ago. I also treasure the relationships I do have with family and friends. At the time, I thought I was set for life and assumed my business can only go up from here. Well, I was wrong because another "DSK," French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn made headline news with his you know what kind of scandal. Don't quote me, but I believe he was potentially on his ways toward becoming the next President of France prior to scandal. Talk about big time. o_o

After that scandal broke out, when you would google "DSK" he was all over the searches. Whereas, prior my jewelry or face (lol) would show up. A popular French magazine contacted me to comment and I declined. I didn't want to get involved with anything political, but the reason they contacted me was to ask if it affected my business since I was also a "DSK," with a strong web presence. At the time the scandal broke out, it didn't affect the business, my sales were still consistent. But overtime, I saw how it hurt the brand I spent years to build. My online presence got overshadowed by his political scandal. To find me you need to search in more detail, "DSK Jewelry" for me to appear on the web searches. I have thought about rebranding, but my brand is my baby and it's me. I just happen to share initials with someone who is much more popular. lol Like the saying goes, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." I am now putting an egg in the real estate basket, and keeping an egg in my small online jewelry business basket. :D

It just goes to show you that anything can happen in business and in life. Yesterday, (Friday the 13th) a car came crashing into one of my friend's stores! Luckily, the business wasn't open yet at the time and thank goodness no one was hurt. I heard that the driver had spilled her coffee and panicked and crashed into the store. It was a crazy accident, and it just goes to show that anything can happen in business!

Now this is all my take on real estate, and everything is from my paradigm. I may see things differently because I'm new at this game, but I think I figured out how to do the job.

About a year ago, my now fiance encouraged me to get pursue real estate again. I thought about, and dismissed the idea because hey, I'm an artist, a crafty jewelry artist with incredible motor skills, owner, and operator of the steadiest jewelry making hands ever! lol (I probably would have made a mighty fine dentist or dental hygienist if I didn't have blood phobias. jkjk). Anyhow, I prefer creative over structured, form filling, paper pushing jobs. I already have enough exposure of that structure from the law firm. It wasn't until this past year where one of my girl friends got me excited about real estate. I saw it from her point of view.  She's into investing, developing, and flipping homes (or Cinderella transformations ;)) She opened my eyes to the world of real estate I've never seen before. She's such a savvy business woman, she has multiple businesses in all different fields. It's like damn, you're good!! I don't think she has a lazy gene in her. 

She has taught me about creating short term and long term goals, and again, not focusing all my energy (and hope) on one project or business. Teachers have always taught,"Don't put all your eggs in one basket" in every accounting and finance class in high school and college. Why is it now that I realize it applies to more things than just stocks and dividends? lol It's all about balance, even with relationships. If you give someone your all, you forget or sacrifice time yourself, and lose relationships with others. Balance is what I now strive to perfect.

In WA, all real estate agents are now referred to as real estate broker (in case anyone gets confused because I switch back and forth.)

Real estate agents are a dime a dozen (meaning they're everywhere!!) so to find a niche is vital in your success. There's really are no special skills required to fill out forms or browse the MLS. The hard part is getting clients in the door and to get clients to sign with you. I've learned the importance of referrals and building relationships. If you were born a salesperson, you may make an excellent real estate broker. You might have an added advantage if you have awesome personality, whit, and charisma (it's sales after all) to do the job well. No one has magical powers, even though most real estate brokers will tell you that they do lol. Just remember everyone has their own bottom line. The "not so savvy" agents will try to get a quick commission any way possible, the smarter ones, build relationships with clients to get future business and wait for the referrals to come rolling in. Relationships are important so cherish the ones you have built whether it's personal or in business.
Real estate agents wear watches so here's a picture of a watch! lol This watch is my favorite, it's a white ceramic Marc by Marc Jacobs watch I found at Nordstrom. I don't often wear watches, but if I do, I wear this one!
Real estate appears to me to be all about marketing, networking, and building relationships with you guessed it, people. You must be likeable, and you must be able to talk with excitement, enthusiasm, and emotions. Earlier this week, I went with my mentor to a listing appointment and I was just so amazed at how well he was able to communicate with our client. There's nothing glamorous about real estate, and every business opportunity is different. Each client is a personality and I feel to be a good broker, you must understand personality types to figure them out and communicate with them to reach goals.
I don't really know what pictures to share with this post to make it more interesting, so here's a photo of a Michael Kors watch I need to take to Norstrom to see if they can fix it for me. I don't often wear I've always kept this in a box. It's a movement watch so it stopped ticking because I never really wore the watch.
Now, let me tell you the story of how I became a licensed WA real estate broker. :)

I talked to two real estate brokers and asked them for advice on what school to complete my real estate education requirements. I learned back in the day, you had to go to actual in person classes, but now-a-days, you can get all of your education hours done online if you prefer. I highly recommend the online option if you have self discipline to take the time out of your day to log on and do the class, otherwise in person class might be more rewarding for you.  I enrolled into a real estate school (there are a ton to pick from, go to your state real estate licensing website to find a credited school). I clocked my required 90 hours of education. It's very much like power point slides of information and videos, then you take quizzes and exams through the real estate school online. The purpose of the courses is so you learn the laws, and the rules of real estate. Many people will say you don't even apply the information you learn to the actual work you will be doing as a broker.  But I think it's very important to take the class seriously and learn the vocabulary. I knew what an "easement" was after talking with a client about the easement to get to his house on my first day "on the job."

I believe 70% is the requirement for passing the real estate school, trust me, it's not hard at all as long as you read and understand the material. So once you pass your real estate school exams, and have your required hours you can submit that to qualify to take the official real estate licensing exam. The education course costs between $350-500. I highly recommend buying a study guide to take practice exams. I suggest Rockwell's study guide for real estate. The actual exam questions are variations of practice exams in the study guide *huge tip there for all you future real estate brokers* ;). The exam cost around $138, and it allows you 3.5 hours to complete both the state portion and the national portion, roughly 140 questions total. You sign up online and go to your choice of testing center to take the exam. Once you pass, you are given a finger print card and instructions. I went and got finger printed right after I passed my exam, same day! Finger printing cost me around $15, but I know you can get it done at any police station (usually appointment only) for around $5-10. I went with a private service because it was convenient and walk in friendly.

After you get your finger print card, you need to find a brokerage or real estate firm to take you in and sign as a broker under their wing. Each brokerage have different terms, commission splits, and/or desk fees. Do your research and find a firm that is a good fit for you. You need to earn your keep by making sales and bringing in money for your brokerage to cover their costs. You as a real estate broker must bring in your own buyers and get your own listings. The brokerage does not really give them to you. What they can do for you is market their name under which you are affiliated. I got pretty lucky because we have worked with the owner of a brokerage for 2 years at the law office. I signed with their brokerage, but actually they signed for me and they submitted my information to MLS and the state to get my license. The cost for the license was around $180 if I remember correctly. 

Each real estate broker is tied to a brokerage and work under a designated or managing broker. For example, money of a sale from a house never goes directly to the real estate broker. It goes to the brokerage, and then the brokerage pays the real estate broker after taking out their share. Account for costs of getting started with your new brokerage, each one is different. They'll need to set you up, print your business cards, etc. Normally, the deal is a commission split with your brokerage until you meet your quota for the year. Some brokerages require you bring in a certain amount of money for the office through your commission when you sell or help a buyer buy a home.

My mentor is the managing broker with nearly 50 real estate brokers reporting to our office. Real estate brokers really are working on the field. The only time they need to be at the brokerage is to drop off listing agreements, etc, within 48 hours of signing up a client. There are a lot of rules for agents to follow and you will learn in while studying for the exam. It's not everyday you meet someone who is willing to teach you their trade. I am very grateful to my mentor for sharing his wisdom and experience with me. He's been in the industry for over 15 years. We are all thinking of a long term work relationship. I think it is why the brokerage has invested their time in me. I have a lot of referrals and I have already started to bring in clients. I got my very first house listing already, and I have another one on the way. :D 

I took my first MLS (Multiple Listing Service) class in person yesterday. It was 3.5 hours and I paid $15 and get clocked hour credit for the class. It was an introduction class to using the online tools through MLS. I made a new friend in class too! We had a lot of fun chatting before class about our lives before real estate, and telling each other how we got into real estate. We traded business cards too. :) I have signed up for two more classes for next week. I'm already looking forward to meeting new future classmates. From what I remember, after the first year of having your real estate license you're required a certain number of clocked education hours to be able to renew the license. I think continuing education is awesome and should be options in all fields of work!

I'm looking forward to getting my MLS key (to be able to show homes!). The key is going to cost me around $180. Overall, it costs around $1000-1500 to become a real estate broker in Washington State. It's not too bad of a start up cost for a business! Now I just need to think of a name for my new blog or website for real estate related goodness. Any suggestions from you guys would be great! I'm planning on posting the homes and condos I will be listing for sale. I really want to grow a strong social media presence for myself as a Seattle area real estate broker (specializing in short sales). :) That is the goal! I'm really happy I'm able to pursue two of my favorite past times as careers. I absolutely love with with sparkly gems (I knew I wanted to work with jewelry ever since I was a little girl watching Aladdin walk through the Cave of Wonders!) lol Everyone who knows me pretty well, knows that I love looking and homes and researching them! I really get a kick out of following the real estate market to see how prices fluctuate. 

My mentor sold a house with the help of the fiance's law firm as the short sale negotiator for a $1,055,000 in Mercer Island, WA in 2011. Today, the fair market value of that house is between 1.4-2.2 million dollars. Isn't that insane? Talk about an excellent, instant equity buy for the buyers. I hope to get a million dollar listing one day. :D I want to be able to help connect my clients with these amazing short sale deals because they exist! Right now, the start of my real estate career isn't as dreamy as driving around well manicured neighborhoods. Ideally, I would love to help everyone find their dream homes! I know it will take time for me to build up my reputation and get out there to meet and find my dream clients. I'm willing to work hard for it through creative marketing (social media too!) and community involvement. Remember, if you live in Washington State, I would be beyond thrilled to help you buy or sell your home!! ;) 

I think I'm very well acquainted with the greater Seattle area these days! I'm going to update you all on my predictions for the real estate market from time to time on this blog. I think the Snoqualmie Ridge area (Exit 25 off of I-90 East) is a great community and perfect place to raise a family. My friends opened their 7th or 8th Cherry de Pon Frozen Yogurt at Snoqualmie Ridge because of me. :) I took them out there and they fell in love with the area and now the community. Their yogurt shop is very successful too! Snoqualmie is around 30-40 minutes from Downtown Bellevue, and Downtown Seattle depending on traffic. It's just one of the cutest communities ever with home prices that are more reasonable. There's so much nature (mountain views) and wildlife surrounding the Snoqualmie Ridge. It's similar to the dreamy Issaquah Highlands (Exit 18), which is slightly closer to the city. 

You always will find young married couples with baby strollers and dogs out in these East Side communities. They're both such ideal places to start a family! Anyhow! I'm getting carried away. I just get so excited when I think about dreamy neighborhoods. I'm really looking forward to finding the house, neighborhood, and community to raise my own future little family. :D These type of things I day dream about more so than a wedding or honeymoon! If you're looking to buy a home in either Issaquah Highlands or Snoqualmie Ridge, please contact me because right now I can only dream about being your real estate broker. I would love to go look at houses with you! Take me with you!! Pretty pleaseeeeee!! :D lol, I would go browse myself, but I think it's just more fun to have others to share the homes with on a beautiful sunny day. ;D
My dog Wally when he was a puppy! I figure I would add some cute pictures since this post is kind of long. lol xD
More calmly, another passion of mine has always been animals. Every since I was 4 years old, I have been obsessed with dogs. I love dogs, cats, and pretty much any furry critter in existence. :) I would love to take part in an animal shelter, and/or have a farm where I can enjoy my old age with a plethora of puppies! lol (Think the ending of 101 Dalmatians (the one with the real actors version). :D
I'll always be passionate about nail polish too! This is "First Date at the Golden Gate" by OPI
I will always love nail polish and I hope to continue to share with you my picks from new nail polish collections here on the blog. :) "First Date at the Golden Gate" is one of my favorites from the OPI San Fransisco Collection. I really can't wait to visit SF to look at all the habor seals!


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey! I am looking into this field as well, This post inspires me even more!! xo

    1. I think you should pursue it! I'm learning so much about real estate. I enjoy it so much!

  2. This was a great post! You live and you learn.

  3. Wow Steph, congrats! When I moved to Alaska I spent months driving around exploring my city it was so fun. I can't believe a "dsk" scandal overtook your google hits!


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