She Sold 27 Houses on Her First 7 Months As A Real Estate Agent.. | Deidre Harrison
The average real estate agent sells 6-8 homes every year. And for most beginners, it’s even less than that!
The title of this feature might have tricked you into thinking that it’s all been good with Deidre from the start and that the odds were just in her favor since the very beginning. Although that may be true to a certain extent, it also came with a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
From wearing Lululemons to her meetings because they’re the only clothes she had without holes in them, pre-driving her routes because she didn’t have GPS and pushing through despite the pressure of people around her especially her family.. She’s now one of the most successful real estate agents in Edmonton.
Fortune favors the bold, and the universe really indeed works its magic to those who are willing to go for it. Wait til you read how it all unfolded for her!!
She showed up that day with the intention of telling a more vulnerable version of her story, which humbled me and now I’m more than excited and privileged to be sharing it with you!
No matter where you are in your journey right, whichever season you may find yourself in, I hope Deidre’s story gives you faith, hope and inspiration. It sure gave me all that and more <3
Connect with Deidre:
HER STORY BEFORE REAL ESTATE
It’s interesting how everybody gets a slightly different version of our story. I had actually decided before I came today that I was going to provide a more honest and vulnerable version of it which I haven’t done before.
I graduated high school, national honors society, got early acceptance into university, worked and went to full-time university and in my 3rd year, I dropped out. I dropped out because I burned out. I ended up working as my dad’s legal assistant for about 4 and a half years. I was about 24 years old. It was great! I learned a ton being a legal assistant, that’s one of the parts of my background that I carry forward into essentially every aspect of my life-- like, being detail-oriented, being organized, understanding your legal rights and contracts and everything like that. But it wasn’t where I really wanted to be.
Halfway through working for my dad, I decided that I really wanted to be a real estate agent. I applied for my real estate license and started the course. I just didn’t have any support. I remember my dad saying things like no one in their right mind would ever buy a house from me and him sitting me down and going through a budget of the life that I dreamed about and talked about. “You would have to make $80,000/year and that will NEVER happen.”
Can we talk about why you decided
you wanted to be a real estate agent?
Sure! It was kind of two-fold. One was simply because part of my job at my dad’s law firm was I managed his properties. He has, right now I think there are only about 48 rental properties but at the time he had over 50. I was dealing a lot with properties and homeowners and investors to try and help manage that. And it was all actually here in Edmonton even though we were in Victoria, BC! At that point, I started talking to property managers and my dad’s realtor etc and I thought it was really an interesting position.
The kind of part that sparked me emotionally is that I moved around so many times in my life and all I ever dreamed about was having my own home.
Honestly, before that point, I did not know that there was such thing as like a real estate agent-- somebody that would help you find your home and help people through that process. Those two things happened at the same time and I just decided that that would be an amazing job for me.
I didn’t pass my licensing course at that point. I actually kind of dropped out. I think it was because I was young and I didn’t have much support. When you start in real estate it’s not like you get a salary, right? It is like any other entrepreneurial career where you either make it or you don’t. It is commission-based, you have to know people. If you don’t get clientele, you don’t go anywhere. So I think I was just scared at the time.
So I kept working for my dad. I had what I call my mid-twenties crisis where I essentially stopped doing everything that I was doing and moved to Africa and lived with my Mom for a little while to recenter myself. When I was coming back, I decided to move to Edmonton. And then, things took off!
I was working at Starbucks and in the parking lot, I got hired by a sales associate from Homes By Avi-- who’s a builder!! No word of a lie!!! I didn’t have a vision board at the time but what I had was a white-erase board. I was living in my grandparents' basement in Sherwood Park. I had nothing-- like nothing!! But on this whiteboard, I wrote I wanted to get my real estate license, I wanted to get $200,000/year, I wanted to buy a new car and I wanted to get a dog and my own place to live!
I was working at a Starbucks, I was standing in the parking lot talking with a friend of mine and a woman literally just drove up in front of me, rolled down her window and asked me if I wanted a job. I have no idea how that happened! When she asked me if I knew what HomesByAvi was, and I was like “I absolutely do. They’re a builder!” And she was like, “I need a brunette in my showhome.” *laughs* “And I was like, well you found one!” And she hired me.
I worked with her and she’s amazing. She’s absolutely amazing. While I was working with her, the man that I was dating at the time lost his job and so in order to cover our bills I decided I had to get a second job because once I started working at Homes By Avi [as a sales associate], I moved out of my grandparents’ place.
When I went around and applied for a second job, I applied at Liv Real Estate. I applied to be my broker’s assistant because I figured that I wasn’t licensed. I still don’t have money to get myself licensed so that was a great way to learn the industry— to become his assistant! I got through his multiple interviews and at the end of it, he called me and said that I was overqualified— just not licensed. And that if he hired me as his assistant, he would be back in the same position in 6 months or less where he would be having to hire somebody else because I would have moved on. So he was like, “Instead, what I’m gonna offer you is you need to stay at your crappy job and we’re gonna get you licensed.”
And it was funny because actually like, I couldn’t believe that that was happening! It was incredible! Number 1,
I was absolutely not prepared! But I said YES. I figured I would sort out the details as I was going through them.
I said yes, I started my licensing course. I was working full time and I was in school and I was training with my broker. It took me 5 and a half months to get licensed and then I started working as a real-estate agent for them.
Because I had had so much experience as a legal assistant, I figured that I would be qualified even if I didn’t have the same language because real estate is different than law. But at least I knew how to be an assistant and I knew how to do that very very well (obviosuly too well for him!)
I think also because I told him that my end-goal was to be get licensed and be a real estate agent, he figured that if he brought me in as his assistant, I would outgrow it and I would leave. *laughs* So, I never got to be his assistant but as I was training with him I cleaned his listings.. Because I didn’t have any money! So any of his homes that were going on the market that he needed somebody to go in clean them, he would hire me to go and clean them. Like, actually clean them. Not fancy at all!!
Selling 27 homes in her first 7 months
My first year was SO challenging. I wore Lululemons to all of my appointments because they were the only clothes that didn’t have holes in them. People would talk about me as the sporty agent even though I don’t sport and honestly it took everything in me to exude confidence while I was absolutely terrified inside! And honestly, I couldn’t believe that I was in the position that I was in.
10 months into my first year, I got nominated Edmonton-wide for Rookie of the Year. 7 months in, I had sold 27 homes. I don’t know how!! I honestly still don’t know how!! The average agent does 6-8 transactions in a year and I did 27 in my first 7 months! In my 2001 low-riding Toyota Celica and my Lululemons. I pre-drove all of my routes because I didn’t have a GPS and I didn’t know Edmonton. I worked harder than I had ever worked in my entire life! It was incredible. Super hard and super amazing at the same time.
It was challenging. Real Estate has a very large learning curve so things that now might take me 5 minutes to do would take me a couple of hours. It was a huge learning curve both in business, like how to actually accomplish everything at a high level.
I stopped talking about myself as a perfectionist. I strive for excellence. In striving for excellence, it requires a lot more research, a lot more care and attention to detail. I was doing my best even though I didn’t have any experience.
PROVIDING A HIGH LEVEL SERVICE
I was doing my best to still provide a high-level service to people who are purchasing the largest purchase they’d ever make in their entire lives. I believe that [a high level service] looks like a bunch of things. Number 1, I believe that being highly capable when it comes to contract law-- knowing the rules, knowing what’s required, knowing the processes, all of that stuff so I can then take all of that off of my clients. I do my best to lessen their stress by doing it for them. I also believe that it is important to catch things before they happen so that comes a little bit more with experience. Now that I know a bit more about the way laws of transactions go, I can foresee what would happen before it happens and we can mitigate it. I think that that is incredibly important and I think that that’s what sets me and sets really high-quality real estate agents apart because instead of scrambling and not knowing what to do, we’re able to just correct or mitigate it before it happens.
Perfection vs excellence
Perfection comes with shame. When you don’t do something perfectly, if you.. And it’s interesting, this is just something that I started to do this year because I have for a very long time considered myself as a perfectionist but the challenge is that although I do my best to foresee things happening, I actually don’t have control over everybody and everything. And so if I am working for perfection or demanding perfection from myself, the reality is that it won’t go perfectly. What I find is that perfection is very closely aligned with shame because as soon as I don’t do it perfectly, I feel ashamed. If I am striving for excellence, that can look like a bunch of different things! Excellence in a certain situation doesn’t necessarily mean perfection. I just don’t word it that way anymore. I don’t think that any of us need to beat ourselves even more.
TRAVELING & THE IMPACT OF HER PARENTS
I was in Africa for just a couple of months. My mom works for the United Nations and that’s why we went everywhere too when I was younger!
I find that travel throughout my entire life, when you take yourself out of a certain situation and you get away from it, you often are able to see it more clearly.
I’ve taken off on a jet plane multiple times to clear my mind and make decisions. It actually used to be a running joke tat every time I came back from a vacation, I’d break up with a boyfriend! *laughs* There’s something about getting out of your day-to-day that provides so much clarity.
Also, my mom said some really amazing things to me. My mom’s a phenomenal person. She is a type D very very dominant personality with very limited empathy. She would tell you the exact same thing if you were talking to her. So my entire life, it was either you succeeded or you fail. Those were essentially the two options there was no grey area. I felt like I failed in the eyes of my mom for a very very long time. It was interesting during that one trip where I spent quite a bit of time with her, something changed.
She told me that she believed that I was a connector and that if real estate was really something that I wanted to do, she thought that I would be amazing at it and that I need to stop trying to fit myself into a mold that either her or my dad created for me. That I needed to go and be myself.
Never in my life had my mom ever said words to me like that ever before and I came back to Canada with a total different outlook. I believe that I came back to Canada with the motivation to be myself.
Both of my parents are highly educated and hold very high-level serious jobs if that makes any sense. So my dad is the founding partner of the largest law firm on Vancouver Island and my mom is deputy director for country officer for the World Food Programme so she’s second in command of an entire office in an entire country! So you have these two people that went to university-- my mom had two masters, my dad has a doctorate of law, etc. And the mold that they had created for me was that’s what I was supposed to do! That I was supposed to either become a professor or a doctor or a lawyer or something along those lines and that never fit me properly. I think that became really really true when I went to university and I felt lost. Originally, I wanted to be a teacher, I went to university and I majored in English, minored in Italian and then halfway through, I switched my minor to Spanish because Italian is not a secondary teaching area in BC so in order to try to get into the teaching department that’s what I did but like I said I only stayed there for 3 years and then I dropped out. That would’ve been one of those moments where again I believe that I didn’t live up to that mold that either of my parents wanted me to.
I just always wanted to do something as big and as important as they have in their life.. Just do it my way.
My mom, although we had a rocky relationship for a while there, has always kind of have been an idol for me. The fact that she is a woman in an incredibly high-powered position was something that I strived for. Originally, I just did not have a position that I was striving for. I just knew that I had to be a high-powered woman who made a huge impact on this world. I just didn’t know how to get there. I think that real estate is not the be-all-end-all but I believe that it is a phenomenal place to start because you have access to so many people and so many different opportunities.
As for my dad, it would probably hurt him for me to say the truth but probably two-fold. Number one, working at his law firm did help me realize that I am actually incredibly interested in law. That helps me in my real estate career because we deal with contracts all the time as well as sticky situations where we need to problem solve our way out of it. And I’ve learnt some really valuable things from my dad about how to support people in challenging situations.
But I would say that unfortunately, one of my big motivators on my dad’s side was proving him wrong-- that his daughter with no education, who would never make $80,000/year and my lifestyle and my dreams were ridiculous.. I was told that more times than I could even count-- I just wanted to show him that that wasn’t true! I dreamed that for a reason because that’s where I was meant to be and I was gonna put myself there. I even remember in my first year, it was November and normally winter is not great for real estate and he’s like, you’re still selling houses? And I was like, “yeah, I am!”
HAVING A SOLID SUPPORT SYSTEM
It was actually something that my broker said to me right before I got licensed. He said to make sure that I had a strong support group because it was not going to be an easy transition. I remember the time that I thought I really had a wicked support group-- some of them taught me otherwise. All I needed was a couple people who really really believed in me. And my broker really really believed in me. For whatever reason, when I walked in there at that interview, he could see something in me that most people were not seeing in me at that time.
My grandparents, who I was living with prior to that on and off that first year-- they are two of the most supportive people I have ever had in my entire life. Through thick and think, they always had a place in me to go and it’s interesting because for the longest time, I considered their house my concept of home. I moved around so much and they’ve owned their home since ‘74, it has been a consistent. I had them and they were incredibly supportive of me starting in real estate.
And I also had Jeremy, my fiance. We’ve known each other since shortly after I moved here. We moved here here the same month, of the same year from different cities! We got introduced by a friend that we had met in a totally different city neither of us ever lived in, very random, we didn’t date the first year we were just friends. But we started dating very shortly before I actually got my licensing. You know, first of all, I would say that besides my parents and my grandparents, Jeremy would be my main support. I’ve been licensed for almost 6 years and Jeremy and I had been together for 6 years December 7th. So he watched this little girl in Lululemon just working as hard as she possibly could. He would do things like making my lunches, and he would listen to me talk about real estate for hours and hours and hours on end. I call him my physical representative to family events because for a lot of years I’ve had to make sacrifices and so he has really stepped in and been there for me. Now, he’s getting licensed and he would be a realtor by January!
The sacrifices that I’ve had to make revolved around time. You only have so much time. I was working-- and still work-- so much that my support group has changed and part of that has to do with the sacrifice. Right?
Not everybody was willing to stay friends with somebody who works as much as me. And that’s okay! Every body needs different things from relationships.
My mom has lived in a different country, on a different continent since I was 13. I like quality contact with people. I don’t need quantity. So what I have found is, real estate is amazing for weeding out the non-supporters and the people who are not meant to be in your life. It’s not in a mean way or a cruel way. It’s just that if your lifestyle does not fit my lifestyle and that hurts you then you need to find other people to be around. I have done a lot of those learning lessons in the last few years and then sacrificing probably some self-care because it was just.. At least in the first 3 years, I put everything that I had into my business. Now, thank goodness, I’ve gotten better. Things that would normally take me long don’t take me as long and therefore I have time openings for you know self-care or friends.. And interviews and my spouse! Even though he was incredibly supportive, that was REALLY hard for him. We were in a new relationship and the first couple of months were so lovely and all of a sudden I was off. We had some really hard times during that time and at one point I even moved out. I moved out for 6 months because it’s not easy when you’re creating a new path for yourself. Not only was I learning but people around me were learning.
One thing that I realized is it doesn't make me a bad person, doesn’t make them a bad person. We are just not the right people for each other.
Right now, I think I have some pretty solid people in my life that get who I am and I get who they are. We allow each other to be our own people and we love the time that we spend together.
The year before I bought my house, one of the things on my vision board was I wanted to have a strong female support group and it was like this incredibly important thing to me. I walked into 2016 determined to create a female support group that was solid. It’s so interesting because even with just that intention, I met Lauren, I met Shay.. Shay was one of my clients and we fell in love with each other and she’s like in my bridal party now. All of a sudden I felt like it shifted. I was so focused on work and I was like, “No. You know what? I can’t do this by myself. I can’t be this last woman standing. I need other women around me.”
All of the women that I choose to have in my life today are all different. They lead different lives but they are so fiercely amazing. I would do anything for them and I know that they would do the same for me.
What was the difference when you created
a space for other women in your life?
I wanted my life to be more enjoyable on different levels than just work. And I felt like I worked so hard but for what? And the “what” is the people that I love. I think I was just feeling very alone. Real estate is really amazing and I get to spend time with lots and lots of people but I’m serving them always. I’m managing expectations, developing plans and processes, making sure they feel well and although I love it immensely, I realized that I needed my tank filled as well. And that was okay! That was not a selfish concept or anything like that. The women that have really reason in my life, not that they only give to me (although right now, it kind of feels like that because we’re planning a wedding *laughs*) BUT it is just a beautiful reciprocal relationship so instead of having predominantly one side of relationships, having some of those reciprocal ones really helped balance me out. I think that’s why it was really important because I was very one track minded in the first three years.
The big impact in your own way..
what does it look like?
I’m still refining all of that. A lot of the visions and dreams that I have are not incredibly specific. Jeremy and I have been talking a lot about how to create a community impact with the skills that we have which is in real estate and so some of the things that we would really like to do is develop, own and run recovery houses for people who are coming out of treatment centers and need a transitional place to live, creating an environment they can be proud of, because we feel that there’s a lack in that area.
I would also really love to mentor people. I would like to get my team to a place where we are large enough where we mentor people, particularly women! Not because I’m sexist but one of the main things that I’ve found in any business aspect that I’ve ever gone into that there weren’t very many women to look up to especially once you’ve reached a certain point. Who then do you look up to? It’s not that they don’t exist but they’re few and far between. Female mentors are few and far between especially once you’ve reached a certain level in your career. And so one of the things that I really want to do is I want to mentor people and I don’t necessarily mean in a coaching aspect where I charge people for it. I really just want to be somebody the women in the business community look up to and will come to and I will give support.
I firmly believe that you can’t keep
what you have without giving it away.
How that will manifest itself, I’m not totally sure but I believe that part of it is speaking at events like InspireHer. It’s all kind of starting to come together.
I think what I want the end to be like is multifaceted. So even if I continue to be a real estate agent-- because I do believe that real estate, as an industry, is what I am dedicated to-- but then how I can utilize that industry in order to fulfill a bunch of my other dreams and aspirations is what I mean when I said it’s not the end-all-be-all. I would really like to do housing projects because I firmly believe in the importance of having a home and one that you can be proud of, feel safe in. [And in the importance of] what that does to the rest of your world and your ability to go out and make something of yourself and so real estate is what I’m sticking around. I just have a feeling that what I do in the real estate field will morph into other areas.
Her passion in having a home
I believe people who have safety and security in their home, a place to be proud of, a place to host people, or a place to decompress or create or whatever you’re doing within the walls of your home-- I believe that that is what then in turn help create success in the world.
For me, it was something that I had always wanted but I moved around all the time. It disrupted all of that all the time because all of a sudden I was focusing more on figuring out what was happening now that I’m in a new space rather than being comfortable in my space and figuring out what was out there. Housing and homes and everything to do with that is very important to me. Your home should always be a place that is sacred and safe. Even in our life, we always say that only love happens in this house. We don’t invite negativity or unsafe situation in your home.
It was just one of the things that really stuck out to me throughout my entire life. Even when I was a little kid, doll houses were my favorite! Not even so much the dolls but the houses!! I would draw houses-- I have drawings of crazy dream houses with basketball courts in the basement *laughs* That is NOT my dream anymore!! I drew some pretty intense houses. I have yet to see a house like that..
What do you attribute your success to in the first year?
I think definitely a huge part of it was hard work.
The fact that I just said “YES” and figured it out.
I didn’t say no to any opportunity.
Choosing the right brokerage really helped. Liv Real Estate is a very high-quality brokerage. They provide really great training and they also help with generating business so that was really wonderful. It always sounds weird coming out of my mouth when I say this about myself but I also believe that I am a trustworthy person. And if somebody gives me enough time and is in my space long enough, I feel like I can create an environment of safety and security and trust. I think that those are the most important things when you’re choosing a representative in a situation like that. One of the things that I tell all of my clients is I am going to be working on your behalf without you there. And you need to choose your real estate agent according to somebody you trust because if you don’t trust that I’m working on your best interest, this isn’t gonna go well for any of us. I honestly believe that in that first year, just the fact that people trust me was enormous.
It takes the interpersonal skills, the self motivation-- because I could choose to just sleep all day today and no one would tell me to do anything different. I could choose to sleep all day for a month and no one would tell me to do anything different. If I am not self-motivated to go out, generate business, share my message, learn new things in order to help my clients, create processes and be self-aware enough to also better all of my processes constantly, I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am doing.
FAIL RATE IN REAL ESTATE
Like I’ve mentioned before, the average realtor in Edmonton sells between 6 and 8 transactions in a year and I think it’s the 1st or 2nd year that there is a 90% fail rate. It’s not like people think that everyone can do it. Anyone can but not everyone can.
And I was actually told by my teacher when I was taking the course that agents generally back out for one of two reasons. Either they go into so much debt in their first year that they actually can’t make it into their second year, because we have expenses but we’ve not secured any source of income.
One reason agents fail is because they go into it with no money, which I did and they go into so much debt in their first year that they can’t make it into their second year. The second reason why agents fail is they actually get too successful too quickly and they burn out. I remember when my professor told me that. I was like, “Okay, I want all the success but I don’t wanna burn out and I don’t want to be drowning in debt by the time this year is over.” I would say I was closer to the burn out than anything else but I was determined to just keep going.
People will often refer to real estate agents as slimy or… how would I describe slimy? Maybe self-interested. They only think about themselves or the paycheck that they get andthey don’t care about their client or their client’s best interest. I know in my family think that real estate agents are liars. It’s very interesting because before I got licensed I had no idea that people actually thought so poorly about real estate agents until I got licensed. From very early on, I used to say that in every interaction that I have with other people, my goal is to beat the stereotype or prove it wrong however you wanna word that. That’s kind of part of my goal.
What kept you going?
I did my first deal in my first month and that helped because I had left my previous job and I wasn’t sure when my next paycheck was coming in but the fact that I had done one so quickly-- that really helped. I think I did a couple more in my second month which means paychecks and in my third month I sold 8. In my third month, that month or that year, I was the top selling agent in our office and yet I was brand spanking new. It didn’t take very long before I had more money than I had ever had from an annual salary in my entire life.
I went into real estate fearing that I was going to struggle. I even had one of the guys that I talked to say that “plan for the Kraft dinner years.” It was his reference to like, be prepared to have nothing for quite some time but that never happened to me.
I think it had to do with all that work ethic and the fact that I just round up attracting a bunch of business and people wanted to work with me which was, when I look back at it now, relatively miraculous.
3 BUSINESS TRUTHS
Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Protect and stand up for people.
Be honest and authentic in all of my interactions.
You understand now what I’m talking about? What a woman, right??? I’m endlessly inspired by Deidre and am so so grateful for the time she made for me. The life she gets to live now because of her courage just proves that with hard work and self-belief, and the help of a solid support system, anything and everything is possible. Now, it’s our turn to go out there and make it happen for us!