Real estate agents are often ranked as having one of the most stressful occupations. Erratic, unsociable hours, stiff competition, and an uncertain income are just some reasons why a career in this field can be stressful and lead to burnout.
The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as: ‘A special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.’
Christina Maslach at the University of Berkeley defines the significant symptoms of burnout for an agent as – feeling emotionally drained, often unable to sleep, constantly fighting off colds and other illnesses, feeling unappreciated and/or ostracised by colleagues, and being unable to achieve one’s personal best.
If you are a real estate agent and work in this competitive business, and this sounds like you, there are things you can do to get the work-life balance again…
Real Estate Burnout
At the best of times, if you work in real estate, too much pressure can be a serious threat, but with the constant presence of the pandemic, letting your guard down too quickly with state rules and related restrictions has led to an increase in mental health pressures in our particular industry.
Burnout can appear at any time – once the excitement of that sale has worn off, then stress and burnout are genuine contenders, and the pandemic has just added to that anxiety.
Even before the pandemic, real estate burnout was very real and extremely common due to the long hours, late nights, working at the weekends and even during the holidays to suit clients.
Many realtors faced exhaustion due to anxiety, the fear of losing a sale, or that next potential client.
High job demands with no control over the final outcome can be disheartening to real estate agents – not having control over your own schedule, which clients you work with, or the final outcome of a deal can quickly lead to signs of burnout.
Balancing your personal life and business can be very stressful for some. Many people go into real estate for the flexible hours and control over their lives but then find themselves working 24 hours a day, forgetting that they began this career for balance. And others find that the irregular paycheques and the need to budget are the most challenging parts.
Of course, all professions have their fair share of stress that could potentially lead to burnout, but real estate agents face unique circumstances, particularly in the current real estate market.
Pandemic Panic for Real Estate Professionals
Covid-19 related restrictions left many businesses in tatters, but, surprisingly, the housing market has continued its boom throughout 2020.
The US Census claims that real estate sales in 2020 went up by almost 19% compared to 2019 levels – this could be due to historically low-interest rates, or it could also be people working online from home looking for more space.
Regardless of the reason, the housing market was busier than ever, leading to a risk of burnout.
How to Prevent Real Estate Agent Burnout
There are various recommended ways to prevent real estate agent burnout which include:
- Stick to a Schedule
Some people work for 80 hours a week without getting burnt out, whereas others feel stressed out if they have to work more than 10 hours in one day. You must know your own body’s limitations. Sometimes you have to push past them, but you risk burnout if you start going over your personal limits too often.
Work out how to prioritize your time so you can stay most productive.
- Set Boundaries
The best way to avoid burnout as a real estate professional is to set expectations with your clients during your initial consultation – let them know your work hours, the best way to contact you, and the time it’ll take to respond to their requests.
Put your mobile in ‘do not disturb mode or turn it off after work hours. This means you won’t allow work to interfere with your personal life.
- Find the right tools
Many real estate agents use business tools such as social media, texting and other forms of digital marketing to contact their clients, which save them a lot of time.
You could change your marketing materials to make your life easier and consider getting the support of a mentor…
- Take time off with no excuses
Scheduling time for your friends, family as well as yourself is key to managing stress. Do things that take you away from work tasks – perhaps a game of golf or a yoga session between showings.
Taking time to engage in non-work activities such as exercise can help you focus and be more productive whilst you are at work.
- Pace yourself
Since the pandemic, many people have changed from office work to working at home and although in many ways this can be far more desirable, working at home makes it easier to work those extra killer hours.
Try setting a stopwatch every day and stick with it. Once you get to your stopping point, leave your desk and turn off your computer, and don’t check your emails or use the phone. If your everyday workload makes it difficult to work a sensible number of hours, try delegating, but definitely leave it until later – no burning the midnight oil.
- Exercise diet and sleep
Your health and self-care are essential – without energy and good headspace, you’ll soon become unwell.
Natural anxiety busters that are free and need only small amounts of time include exercise, sleep and deep breathing. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with stress due to your job, take a break.
Perhaps do some stretches or take a gentle walk around the block. If you have more free time, manage your stress by disengaging from work and doing something creative or get involved in a hobby.
If you’re sitting at a desk, try and get up and walk around at least twice every hour – maybe go for a walk during your lunch break. Practice calming breathing – inhale through your nose slowly, then exhale through your nose or mouth even more slowly. And don’t forget to drink lots of water and avoid sugary food.
It’s not easy being an agent at the best of times, but in this competitive business, we tend to please our clients to get that essential sale, often at our own expense. To avoid becoming burnt out, or if you have symptoms that are making you stressed, you need to address them as soon as you see any physical and mental signs. No job is worth becoming ill over… Making sales and money is exciting but not worth your health.