Officially Retired (I quit real estate career)

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-24-1997
Officially Retired (I quit real estate career)
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Sun, 07-20-2014 - 9:54am

First - Nora congrats on selling your house!!  What timing considering I just finished my 1st yr. in real estate and decided not to conitnue.  Well guys here's the low down:

1.  Plus side (I like to start with good news) - in my 1st yr. I managed to get a 2 family house and a condo under contract (I represented the buyers).  I also had a condo listing (representing the seller - no contract signed).  I will get paid for these deals.

2.  Expenses - a real estate career is expensive.  Costs involved MLS fees ($500.), lockbox card ($100.), legal fee ($500.), business cards ($45.), signs ($40.), printer ink, paper, training ($500.), advertising, and the list goes on.  Yes, all expenses are tax deductible as business costs incurred and the IRS did refund me in April for my expenses in 2013.  BUT in the interim you still have to pay the credit card every month.  In reality, a realtor doesn't collect a commission check every week or month until you're established or experienced.  So your first 2 years in real estate is your expenses will be more than your income unless you're one of the lucky few who knows several people ready and qualified to buy or sell immediately.  Obviously, I didn't know anybody qualified or ready to buy or sell after I got my New York State license.  I happen to be a pro at cold calling, hard selling, marketing, etc. but just because I can connect with strangers doesn't mean these strangers are qualified to buy or will list their home at a competitive price.  

3.  Internet - main reason I chose to quit.  In our age group, we all remember the days when buyers and sellers would call or come into the office and talk with ONE realtor and that one realtor would do everything to represent that buyer or seller.  Back then realtors would still work with several buyers and sellers but it would be reasonable. Also until recently, realtors had all the data (comparables - what was sold when, expireds, active, etc. plus all information about their communities.)  These days, everything is online.  Yes, you can find out what your neighbor's house sold for and date, if it's under contract, HOA fees, neighborhood information, property taxes, school information, even who the buyer is (after the deed is recorded).  The question is what value do I bring as a realtor?  Answer - excellent customer service - that's it.  There is a line between the computer generation (our children's ages - approx. 45 - 50) and our generation 50+.  Everybody in the computer generation knows how to get all the data they want online and their attitude is to use multiple real estate agents to work with them until they find the house they want to buy or put their home on the market.  Nobody wants to sign exclusive agreements until it's time to commit.  So I was spending plenty of time opening doors for buyers, giving them the paperwork and they would go home and I would never hear from them again.  Yes, I followed up and I was told they found something with another agent.  When asked if they were working with somebody else, they all said, "No."  Also buyers have the attitude that they are the only client a realtor should be working with.  That's not realistic because agents have no guarantee that buyer will make it to closing.  If I explain this to buyers, they immediately jump to the next agent.  As for sellers, they want to work with realtors who have 4+ yrs. experience or have sold homes recently.  That excludes new agents like myself.  Bottom line - I was spending time assisting everyone while trying to ascertain which buyers would qualify and explaining options incase their expectations had to be lowered.  Of course, the buyers disagreed with me because they knew their finances better than I did.  That may be true until they sit down with a mortgage loan representative.

Mortgage Loans - The other issue is I spoke to a few mortgage brokers and was told many buyers are coming in to get pre-approved BUT due to debts, income and credit history, these buyers are getting denied or told to lower their price point of what they can afford.  Since I was working in the NYC suburbs where housing is very expensive, these buyers are not happy having to buy something they had no intention of buying.  They are also shocked at what you get in specific price ranges, taxes, HOA fees, etc.  Yes, for example, a $300,000. house in many parts of the U.S. will be move in ready, updated, etc. BUT $300,000. in a NYC suburb will only buy you a 2 bedroom condo.  If it's a house, it will need major work involved.

My wonderful husband - yes he officially retired after 30 yrs. of teaching high school Math. And to think I hated Math - one of those students who wondered when will I ever use algebra or geometry in my life and why is it necessary to suffer thru high school geometry just to take some stupid test.  By the way, I excelled in history.  As a retired teacher, will be secure financially until our deaths, so we can travel, etc.  Read:  I've never been to San Diego, Midwest and some other towns where our Board members live.  Hint, hint.  We've been to Canada (Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver)

So it looks like it's take the money and run.  I would like your opinions.  If given the choice, would you prefer working trying to build a business at 60 yrs. or retire comfortably.  What about us volunteering at a non profit?  I'm also thinking about this i.e. my husband & I helping disadvantaged students do better in school, single parents struggling, non profits for cancer, other health issues, any other suggestions?

Kathy

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 11:41am

Would I try and build a business at 60?   Not unless I was a glutton for punishment, it was a hobby and not my support, I could afford to lose money on it, and it was a field I ABSOLUTLY knew in and out.  75% of all start-ups fail.  Most business don’t see a profit for the first 3 – 5 years.  That’s the average.  Owning a business is a demanding, 24/7/365 job, even if it's just making and selling stuff on Etsy.  You spend a LOT of time courting customers who fail to bite.  But you MUST, because the customer who walks because the time wasn't right, or their financing fell thru, or they just had a headache, will remember that you spent time and information on them.  And if they come back, they will remember you.  And even if they DON'T come back, YOU need to remember-- A HAPPY person will tell 1 other person how much they liked you.  An UNHAPPY person will tell 10.  As my DH is wont to say, "One aw-shit wipes out a hundred attaboys".

I've been "fully" retired for a year, from PAYING work.  I work harder now that I am retired, than I did when I was working!  The kids are here 2-3 hours longer than their parent's actual workday, figuring in lunch, travel, and the occasional stop at the gas station or the grocery store.  And just the physicality of caring for an infant (or 2!) , while runing after, educating, and amusing a toddler, is a way different story when you are in your 60's than when you were in even your 40's.

Dh will retire in 2 years or so, when his current project is finished.  It's a big job, & he's the general, running all the trades and not just the electricians.  He won't leave before it's completely done.  At that time, we'll decide if we want to continue running daycare, and if our kids can afford younger hands rocking the cradle.  If we do not, and they can, we will certainly find other things to do.  We have a history of volunteering and getting involved, so we will probably expand on that.  I've already told Dh tho, that I don't want anything I volunteer for to be something where I'm REQUIRED to be there a certain number of, or on particular days.  I want to be free to ... Carpe Deim.

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 12:48pm

Thank you, Kathy-I felt as if it took forever-but I guess in reality-it wasn't that long. I think because we had people telling us how quickly it would sell, we had high expectations. Now we just have the one stipulation to meet-the woodstoves must be approved. But they would have had to be approved if we stayed here anyway-the codes have changed. And I know Jason really hustles for his money (Mike calls him "The Kid")-he must not have any other life. The realtor in Midland has been sending us listings he thought were suitable-although now that we are actually looking, when he talked to Mike yesterday, suddenly all but the most expensive were NOT good. I am not impressed-finally Mike agreed we need to look at some of the others as well.

As for retirement-I highly recommend it. I volunteered at Community Living-I actually offered there years ago, but they didn't let me do what I wanted, so I backed off. As a volunteer I felt I could name what & when-& fortunately, eventually, I got onto someone who agreed with me. If I could not go-I called & told her & that was fine. (she'd tease & threaten to dock my pay-which of course was $0). Unfortunately, our moving date is such that I won't be able to do it for the Fall session in Midland-but I'll start the process when we get there, this time I will have to get a Police background check. They knew me here because of Adam-didn't have to do anything but show up! Mike has heard of a new wildlife centre near Midland-so he thinks he will offer to go there.

We want to travel too-we can finally travel. It seems we were busy working & raising kids for so long, then of course, Adam just got too sick to take anywhere. So I'm hopeful we can do some travelling before we get too old. My parents started to travel after a few of their kids left home-& as the first one to leave, I missed out on that too! My dream is to get a small RV-just big enough for the 2 of us & the 2 Pugs, our bikes & maybe the kayak Mike wants-& we'll go visit my brother in BC, plus eventually go to the East Coast.

So consider yourselves invited to Central Ontario-Georgian Bay too. It has gorgeous beaches & amazing history (read "The Orenda" by Joseph Boyden to get a sense of the Huron/Iroquois history there-plus the Jesuits who tried to 'civilize' them.)But best wait for summer-winters can be brutal. Lots of snow, times when you just don't go anywhere for the snowstorm, roads closed in town & highways closed around town.

So relax-decide what you'd  like to do. And as a volunteer-you get to pick your hours & how you want to spend them.

Nora

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 1:22pm

Nora, what kind of house are you looking for?   I know I would never want a 2 story, or even a 3 step split.  One of my requirments when  we built this, was that I could walk around the house outside, and wash EVERY window without getting on a ladder!  I also want open concept, and wide doorways & halls, as we also have here.  We planned this in order to age in place, altho the taxes may make that impossible.  Where ever the last place we live is, it will be a single family house, and have a yard.  Even if my garden is the size of a handkerchief, I will still want flowers and tomatoes, and hope to take care of it myself.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 4:45pm

That's a big announcement Kathy. And now you have a new horizon of options for how to spend your time. 

Start a new business at 60? Probably not but it depends on if/when you want to retire completely. Since it takes a while to grow a business it wouldn't make sense to start something you were going to end in 5 years...ideally you could sell the business but after so few years you might not make back your investment. Anyway, it would have to be something I already knew how to do and loved doing without pay.

If the idea is just for something to fill your time, then volunteer opportunities abound. The others made a good point about how some volunteer positions have a set schedule, others are more flexible....think about what works best with your lifestyle and personality. Some people prefer more structure...fortunately there is something for everyone. Narrow it down by your interests, skill set, and how much responsibility you want: do you want to be "in charge" or just a 'worker ant"? There probably is some sort of volunteer clearinghouse in your area...there's one called VolunteerMatch.com that you can enter your city or county, and there may be others. Try a quick internet search.

If you can retire now and be comfortable then go for it! I do recommend traveling sooner rather than later since you don't know if health issues might arise and complicate travel. This coming winter you might be a snow bird!

Just wondering, what are your kids up to now? Your son is working in Boston I think? Where is your dd and what is she doing? Did her bf go to grad school? 

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 7:07pm

Hi Sabr-I do not think anyone has a crystal ball. I don't think anyone can tell if their house will be their last one or not. However-I do want this one to be comfortable for us at this stage of our lives. Mike has very bad arthritis, so we would like one with few stairs-probably a bungalow. He says he wants a garage-& as my mechanic (my car goes to the commercial garage for very little, sometimes the exhaust system)-so okay, a garage. He's done all the work in the cold weather-but at almost 70, he's past that. I want room for flower beds plus a vegetable garden & that was agreed upon. After living years with mature trees-lots of them-he has said no trees, but we've cut it down to LESS trees meaning fewer leaves in the Fall. (I'm not sure why the grumbling-he mulches them with the mower-but being the sweet partner that I am...). He wants a computer room on the main level, I want a sewing/craft room-don't care where, but the door needs to close because I tend to be (ahem)messy in my creativy modes. I also want a spare room for any guests. And a second bathroom.

We need to be in town because driving 30min just to get TO town is a bit much-especially because Midland is in the snowbelt area. There are buses & taxis in town-out here, there aren't buses & to get a taxi is almost as much as re-mortgaging your home. Mike thinks a fence would be good-I don't care, the Pugs have 'distance collars' on, so they aren't going far. OH-& I refused to move into an "Adult Livestyle Community"-I may be old, but I'm not ready to live with a bunch of crabby seniors! Mike thought it would be good (so did our son)but surely we can shovel our own driveway or pay a student to do so. (besides with 2 dogs & 3 cats-I think we exceed the pet limit)

When we started looking, around South-western Ontario (Midland is Central Ontario) our ds & dil were thinking a condo-no mowing or shoveling-but also no garden or flower beds. There are nice ones-bungalofts they're called & Mike said we could share the loft part-his computer & my crafts! RIGHT! And who would push who over the balcony first? Nope-wouldn't work-suspicious death or divorce, one or t'other!

I don't need "NEW"-but Mike would like newer (meaning less work). I am the family financier-so I work the figures & as an 'economically depressed area'-Midland isn't good for job seekers, but for someone retired-it's okay. I tend to talk to people easily-so going somewhere I don't know anyone isn't a big deal. Mike is quieter-but the kind of person soon learn they can rely on for help.

I can't think what else, Sabr-it's a case of knowing what is right when we see it. Starting with a bungalow-& low maintenance (meaning more hardwood than carpet).

Nora

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 7:28pm

I guess I am lazy-I'm also older than you-but I cannot see the need or have the desire to start a new business at my age. And I didn't at your age, Kathy. But remember-I was in a very different situation than anyone else on the board. Until about 15mo ago, I was caring for a sick person & there was not the energy to think of anything else. He took everything I had-& what Mike had-physically, mentally & emotionally.

But even without that-I'm not sure I understand why you'd want to begin something like this? Isn't it time to sit back & relax a bit with dh? If there is too much time on your hands, & you don't have hobbies-there must be some talents you can share in volunteer services. I do remember when I was first "Relieved of my job" & although I only worked part-time and never identified myself as a nurse-I still felt as if I'd lost my identity! I grew up hearing nurses never got laid off-except they did-I did! And while I could have returned to bedside nursing-I was even offered a Pedi-ICU position-I thought "give yourself a shake Nora-do you REALLY need that?" So I learned that it was okay to move at less than full-out-speed, that if things were done & I had time to read or knit or sit & do nothing-that was okay. Your dh is retired, so why can't you be retired too.

As the others have said-a new business is time-consuming & as you found out-it takes a lot to make even the minimum. You've become proficient at computers now-so maybe you could teach some others that skill, especially some learning disabled people. Or work with women in shelters to show them what you learned about hair & make-up & professional clothes. You have talents you didn't even know were talents, Kathy!

Just IMHO-of course. I know that my time at Community Living was very enriching for me-I told my "boss" that I felt guilty because I thought I was doing it for them, & I was the one having such a good time.

Nora

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 9:08pm

Hardwood and/or tile would be a must for us, too.  That also is what we have now.  It's just cleaner in general, and with pets and grandkids, I don't know how anyone could keep a carpet clean.  I've been checking out the new tiles that look like hardwood!  They've come a long way, and are just beautiful, altho at Mike's age I don't know how keen he'd be on remodeling. 

And I hear ya about car maintenence.  Ed's a "gearhead", too.  We were just talking about that the other day, because Rae came over to have Ed look at her car, and Anthony got cranky and said she should just have taken it to a garage.    But she didn't see it as reling on Daddy, or imposing, because we've ALWAYS just had Ed fix our cars.  The only time we've gone to the garage, is when the job was too big or complicated, like pulling the engine, or replacing the fuel pump. which is now located INSIDE the fuel TANK.

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Sun, 07-20-2014 - 9:32pm

After years & years of having him replace the exhaust system-& then having a migraine for days because of the exhaust and lying on his head-I finally convinced Mike that some things are just worth the money. But apparently that does not include the muffler or a clamp to hold some doo-hickey-thingy (technical talk, don'cha know?). He has a book that lets him read the computer-& he's taught our neighbour about cars & engines & stuff.

He also does electrical work-they've all asked for help with that, most recently Karen & her dh. Usually it's "Can Dad come sometime?" & when I say "What day?" it comes back "Tomorrow". He enjoys it-as long as Rob does the plumbing part-& the 2 of them work well together. (I think that means they curse in tandem).

I look at the move as a new adventure-I just wish I could avoid the packing part. I'll unpack-I just don't like the thought of packing. But tonight I started to get my quilt top together, so when that is done, I'll begin in the sewing room (if I don't get it together-I'll forget the sequence of the pieces & we worked hard to make them work out).

Onward Ho!

Nora

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Mon, 07-21-2014 - 9:41pm

I'm 55 and a year ago our (largish, 160 year old) company was bought much to all of our disappointment.  They've decimated the ranks, don't' do R&D (not exactly a good idea for a pharma company; they just buy companies for the tech they have).  So dh and I have talked; if something happens, I would have the option of just not working (or doing something completely different). I would likely try to find something part time but I definitely can't see myself starting a new career at this stage. It's nice to know you'll be ok if you choose not to look for something; we're close to that as well.  But no, no new career at this point. Travel sounds lovely - dh traveled a ton before I met him so not sure that's in the cards for us but we'll see.

Would love for you to come through St Louis if you get to the midwest!

Sue

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 07-22-2014 - 11:40am

My friend, who is turning 60 and is a full time teacher, has just started training to get her real estate license.  She took the test but only passed one part so has to re-take the other part.  she isn't upset about that--English is not her first language so in a timed test, she always needs more time.  She is getting interested in the field because she & her kids bought & renovated a house to flip--it hasn't sold yet, but at least she will see how it is to try to sell.  I do agree with people who want a broker who is more experienced.  I am being forced (by divorce) to sell my house and I wouldn't hire someone who is brand new if I had a choice.  I am surprised that you have to give so much help to people before they have signed a listing.  I would not expect that.  The only house I ever sold was my exMIL's and I just met with a few brokers to get a feel about what they were like and just had them come and look at the house and give me an estimate, but I would never ask them to do work--I would feel so guilty.

As far as starting a new career at 60 if I had enough money to retire (and esp. if I had a DH who was retired)--no way!  I'm turning 57 and since I'm single, I have to support myself so I'll definitely be working at least til 66.5 when I can collect full Social Security.  I can't wait to be able to retire since I have a very stressful job (lawyer).  If I didn't need the money & was bored, I'd either do some volunteer work (but I agee with Sabr--one where you don't have to show up all the time) or get a "fun" less stressful job--of course those don't pay well but if I was retired I'd be doing it more to get out of the house than to get a paycheck.

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