Burnout in the Real Estate Industry

One of the major challenges faced by professionals in the real estate industry is burnout. Being a realtor or lender isn’t a job that you can just clock out from at 5 pm. In fact, sometimes it feels like most of your busiest hours come after the traditional workday ends. When you’re in the real estate game, it’s like you’re always “on,”24/7. If you don’t create a work-life balance that allows you to rest and relax every now and then, you may be heading toward burnout yourself.

How exactly would you describe burnout? Well, burnout is when you’re physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from dealing with constant stress and overwork. Real estate can be a high intensity job, especially in a tough market like we are experiencing today. There aren’t as many listings to go around, buyers are competing against 5-15 other offers, contracts fall apart, and you work from the moment you awake to the minute you go to sleep, meanwhile you’re still expected to market yourself and network. There just simply isn’t enough time in the day to do it all.

My experience with burnout:

When you’re uncertain about your next paycheck, it can seem impossible to give yourself some time off. I faced the same challenge during my time as a realtor. The routine was relentless; I’d wake up, check my phone for client messages, get ready, and dive into lead generating. In the afternoons, it was all about property showings. By evening, while everyone was winding down for dinner, I was instead writing contracts. Occasionally, I’d be on my phone with clients late on a Friday or Saturday night, especially when we had an impending offer deadline early the next day. I even would duck out from family events on holidays to attend to my business. It was a nonstop grind, which I’m sure some of you may be able to relate.

Over time, the constant grind took its toll, and both my body and mind rebelled. There were days when I couldn’t muster the energy to answer a phone call or text. Instead, I may have spent most of the day on the couch, my body signaling the need for rest, even if my mind was grappling with guilt over taking time for myself. I started to dread my work, which I had always enjoyed, because I simply needed a break. I felt like I had a black cloud over my head and stopped looking forward to doing what I loved. This was my body’s way of indicating burnout.

What it might look like for you

Having so many jam-packed days in a row isn’t healthy for anyone. We all need a break from time to time. Maybe you, too, are struggling with burnout but perhaps it doesn’t quite look like my experience. Burnout can affect everyone differently. Here are some indications that you might be feeling a little burnt out. 

1.  Decreased Productivity: A noticeable decline in your ability to manage tasks efficiently, meet deadlines, or maintain your usual work output.

2.  Emotional Exhaustion: You may become emotionally drained and show signs of irritability, mood swings, or emotional detachment from clients and colleagues.

3.  Physical Symptoms: Burnout can manifest as physical symptoms such as frequent headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, and a weakened immune system.

4.  Lack of Motivation: You might lose their enthusiasm for work, showing signs of disinterest or cynicism towards clients, properties, or the real estate market.

5.  Increased Errors: Burnout can lead to more mistakes in contracts, paperwork, or client interactions, which can be detrimental to your reputation and business.

6.  Difficulty in Decision-Making: You may struggle with making decisions, both minor and major, as their mental clarity and focus diminish.

7.  Withdrawal: You may feel withdraw from social interactions, both personally and professionally, isolating themselves from friends, family, or colleagues.

8.  Neglecting Self-Care: Burnout often leads to neglecting self-care practices such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep, which can further exacerbate the symptoms.

9.  Increased Substance Use: Some individuals turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with stress, which can be a sign of burnout.

10.   Client Relations: You may experience difficulties in managing client relationships, resulting in dissatisfaction, complaints, or a declining client base.

11.   Loss of Passion: It could be possible that you may lose enthusiasm for the profession, seeing it as a mere job rather than a fulfilling career.

12.   Increased Absenteeism: Frequent absenteeism or taking more time off than usual can be an indicator of burnout as you seek to escape the work environment.

Remember, these are just some common ways you might be experiencing burnout, but there may be other ways as well. Take a moment and reflect. Are you experiencing any of these symptoms of burnout? If you are, now is a good time to think about what you can do to prevent a total burnout.

How to overcome burnout

Avoiding burnout is the best way to last in the real estate industry. There are lots of crazy statistics out there that show most folks do not stay in the industry past a year and even fewer last more than two. Here are some things you can do to avoid burnout.

1. Time Blocking:

 During my time as a realtor, my mentor emphasized the importance of scheduling dedicated time for self-care. Whether it meant taking an entire day off each week or reserving substantial afternoon chunks, treating this time as a sacred appointment with yourself was key. To fulfill your fiduciary duty and provide the best service to your clients, you must prioritize self-care. Block off specific hours on your calendar exclusively for your well-being and commit to not working during those periods.

2. Vacation:

 Carving out time for vacations in the real estate industry can be challenging, but it’s a crucial practice. Even if you don’t have travel plans, scheduling a week (or more) on your calendar for time off is essential. You might choose to enjoy a long weekend every quarter or take an extended two-week break in the summer. Regardless of your preference, ensure it’s on your calendar. In an industry where work can be relentless, don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted colleagues who can assist with client showings and contracts during your absence. You can even establish reciprocal arrangements where you cover for them once a year or offer a percentage of the commission from deals they handle. Finding reliable support allows you to genuinely relax and recharge.

3. Setting Clear Boundaries: Defining boundaries with clients and colleagues is vital. This involves establishing clear expectations regarding your availability upfront. It’s crucial to set firm limits on when you’ll conclude work in the evening. For instance, you might decide that after 7 pm, it’s your time for personal or family matters. Communicate this boundary to your clients, assuring them that you won’t be reachable after 7 pm but will promptly respond the following morning. If you choose a specific day, like Tuesdays, as your designated day of rest, communicate it clearly to clients in various ways, such as during meetings, email signatures, voicemail messages, and other interactions.

4. Practicing Self-Care: Avoid overworking yourself by engaging in activities you love. Remember that work should support your life, not consume it entirely. It can be challenging to make time for your passions and interests, especially when you’re preoccupied with transactions and lead generation. However, engaging in activities that resonate with you is crucial, not only for your peace of mind but also for your business. Clients and customers prefer working with real, relatable individuals who have hobbies and passions. They appreciate professionals who prioritize their well-being, as it signals their ability to care for others. Ensure you’re taking care of your physical health, financial well-being, and emotional equilibrium.

5. Seeking Support/Delegating Tasks: If you find yourself overwhelmed by your workload, don’t hesitate to seek assistance. When lead generation and appointments become too demanding, it’s a wise move to consider delegating tasks to others. You might benefit from the support of an assistant or a transaction coordinator. Exploring the possibility of having a new agent help with showings can also relieve some of your burdens. Additionally, joining a real estate team offers access to more resources for transaction management. When the weight of work becomes too much to bear alone, reaching out for support from others is a smart decision.

Safeguarding yourself against burnout is not just a professional strategy; it’s a commitment to your overall quality of life. By taking proactive measures to preserve your well-being, you can defy industry statistics and ensure a lasting, fulfilling, and sustainable career in real estate. Remember, nurturing your physical and mental health is an investment that yields dividends in both your professional and personal life.

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