Fatherhood means something different for every dad amongst us.
We all know that a child does better in school if the father takes an interest in his education. Spend more time with them and let them learn by watching dad in action and they’ll blossom. Listen to his explanations and reasonings and overall confidence levels will increase.
What are the effects of fatherhood on a man?
Are those long forgotten and simple pleasures of childhood back in fashion? Do you recall how much fun it actually was to play peek-a-boo or hide-and-seek and now see your child’s genuine reactions? How many words to the classic toddler tunes can you still remember?
Being a new father also brings along quite a number of changes to one’s professional life.
How many of the personal adjustments that you’ve made are reflected in your day-to-day real estate business life?
In honour of Father’s Day (updated for 2018), I decided to share how being a father, not only has made me a better man, but also a better real estate agent.
Here are the 13 ways fatherhood has made me a better real estate agent:
1. Understand your mission
As a father, the precious legacy of your newborn will now need proper education, guidance and preparation before they’re able to fly off on their own. The pressure is on of overcoming one challenge after another, surviving the big (and small) crises and crossing all the hurdles that are along the way of your new fatherhood life!
The pressure is on, that’s for sure!
You can be the nicest person as a real estate agent, and be as enthusiastic as one can be as you’re taking one potential buyer after another through the house. However, if you don’t sell the house by the time your mandate expires, you have failed your mission.
No ifs, ands, or buts!
Ideally, as the popular saying goes, you’will manage to sell the home for the most money, in the shortest period of time and with the least amount of inconvenience!
As a real estate agent, your one and only goal is to get the seller’s home sold!
2. Put their interests first
The odds are pretty good that daddy likes to grab drinks with his buddies a few times a week!
How about those quick smoke breaks 4 times a day? Many of Generation X’ers grew up playing computer games all night (War of Warcraft and Call of Duty come to mind), stuffing yourself with pizza and ample of Redbulls, or having marathon sessions of TV series (binging ‘Breaking Bad’ anyone?).
I’m afraid to say that none of the above is necessarily setting a good example. Of course, there’s a difference taking care of yourself (or lack thereof) vs. keeping them in mind.
While at first, it feels as if nothing can be done at home without the little one demanding your attention, it eventually forces the fathers to tune out certain noises (e.g. screaming sounds, yelling or arguing kids) but immediately recognize the more important sounds (e.g. painful crying).
Interesting how one’s senses develop such that you can actually pinpoint your own child’s particular crying sound in a packed Saturday afternoon playground setting!
And, as a real estate agent, once you’ve been awarded an exclusive mandate to sell someone’s house or are commissioned to find your buyers a property, your ongoing service ought to be of a high quality.
After all, aren’t you intimately involved in one of life’s most expensive transactions?
These buyers/sellers are relying on you to provide them with the most recent updates, developments, communications, changes etc. Any questions or worries these clients might have, need to be addressed.
Another way of looking at it: isn’t that mandate a post-dated paycheck? Is that perhaps enough of an incentive for you?
3. Make time for yourself
Even though as a father, you are putting your children’s interest first, it is very important to take some time for yourself. Some fathers need to hit the gym to feel better, others are happy with some alone time on the computer or quietly reading a book every now and then.
Whilst it is not my intention to put together a case for a man cave (I know my wife will read this and I want to keep some things up my sleeve when I cross that bridge at some point in the near future!), a separate area or room of the house can be the ‘no disturb zone’, even if it’s for just an hour.
A little bit of ‘me time’ to relax and recharge my batteries can result in renewed energy to give the children (and wife)!
Some internet leads require an immediate response at 11pm or incoming phone calls at 5am. Would it be fair to say that unless there’s an ongoing negotiation taking place, there’s no urgent need to be on standby 24/7? Nothing so urgent that can’t wait till first thing in the morning.
Given the non-stop nature of the real estate market, how many real estate agents book off entire Fridays (or Saturdays) to switch off from all real estate matters, only to come back reinvigorated and enthusiastic the following day?
4. Have proper communication
From the moment I became a father, I immediately noticed that I started communicating a lot more with my wife than any other period during our marriage. The conversations tend to be more open-hearted and honest (I’m not sure how much the sleep deprivation plays a part in the latter).
A new father needs to quickly adjust to the new rules of the house: initially, as the child nurturer, the mother will undoubtedly take control but as time goes (and as the father gets more and more involved), the father is allowed to participate more frequently. As she’s experiencing that you’re serious about being more involved, the menial tasks will eventually turn into more responsible ones (yes, that’s how the cookie crumbles). Throughout all of this, continuous communication with your partner is key.
As our youngest member of the family gets older, communication as a united family will provide a more stable and secure environment. At least one meal can be shared as a family (where all cell phones, tablets, tv’s etc should be turned off!) and we do something many generations before us have done: sit down for dinner at the kitchen table and have a family conversation face-to-face!
And try to listen! You’d be surprised what you learn about one another, besides the superficial “how was your day”!
An open line of communication is very important when it comes to real estate as well. People want to know where they stand – whether they’re interested buyers with a pending offer or sellers wanting feedback on the latest buyer viewings.
Each client will have his own preference of communication medium (e.g. text message, email, phone call) but it’s crucial that the real estate agent understands that feedback needs to be given, even if there’s nothing new to report, as that message tells a whole lot on its own!
5. Protect them
There’s no doubt about it: whatever the little one is up to, any father will do whatever he can to make sure the child is safe. Supporting the baby’s head correctly, which one might be perceived as a juggling circus act shortly after the baby’s born, soon becomes something you’re very comfortable with.
As the youngster becomes more mobile (e.g. crawling, climbing and stumbling about until walking gets discovered), any and all objects near reach need to either be removed, pushed further away or child-proof locked, and eventually, as the baby grows older, car seatbelt safety will be an important topic, crossing the street correctly etc. The list is quite extensive once one start thinking about it!
Whereas a bachelor or newly-wed might not focus on ‘safety net‘ from a financial point of view, it becomes imperative to have the proper paperwork in order in the event something were to happen to daddy. Any type of insurance products gets revisited and adjusted, an emergency fund gets put aside and obviously, the will gets updated!
Similarly, any professional real estate agent worth the title is very familiar with legal paperwork.
On average, statistics indicate that most people buy & sell property every 7 years. Many real estate laws will have changed; much of the needed paperwork needs updating from the last time they were involved in property, so it becomes the responsibility of the agent to properly advise the client.
Which contract to use? Should certain clauses, exemptions, or contingencies be included or excluded? Why is a certain type of offer a better way to go about it than another? Plus the necessary disclosure documents, indemnity forms, the list goes on and on.
Yet, one cannot take for granted that the client is aware of any of this, so make sure to earn your commission by properly advising your buyer and/or seller!
6. Have solid integrity
When is a father considered to be a man of integrity?
As they say, “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
If one’s going to church every Sunday, yet treating the wife and children with utter disrespect, it’ll be a tough assignment to convince anyone that you’re rather a soft-natured and kind person.
When you give your word, do you keep it? Or do you back out of it once information/situation changes? The way your child sees you behind closed doors and in public ought to be the same!
Quite often, a real estate agent gets placed in awkward situations. He might already know how the other party will react, yet must try to remain neutral and pass the information on in a legal and trustworthy fashion. It might be tempting to slightly adjust the truth to make your case sound better during negotiations, but if (read: when) it turns out what really was communicated and done, how will the clients perceive you then?
The cliché of being called a used car salesman won’t be too far-fetched!
Aren’t the roots of any relationship honesty, integrity, and loyalty?
7. Spend quality time with them
At the end of a long workday, like most of us, we just want to relax in front of the television. However, let’s not forget about those little ones we have running around! They have not seen daddy all day and are likely very eager to be wanting to tell everything what happened that day: how little James fell out off the jungle gym or how they’ve won 5 extra marbles in the latest classroom competition!
Personally, my most precious time with my newborn son was the daily bath & getting ready for bed routine, which could easily take up about 45 minutes. We are having a blast, what can I say!
Ever since he was a little ‘baba’ in late 2014, I’ve been there almost every night to get him ready for bath & bed! I’m not sure who’s having more fun when daddy pulls those funny faces, or nibbles on the little son’s feet! Not too many things can come in between that daily appointment with him!
Being a real estate agent allows you to have more flexible working hours, and this time of the night is definitely something I’ve cherished for almost 4 years now, as I’m very well aware this definitely would not have been the case in my previous investment banking career with its very long (and late) working hours! I would like to state that I can count on two hands how many times I’ve missed this daily routine, but would need to verify that number with my wife 🙂
As much as work is important (and some might even like it), we sometimes need to stand still and realize that the days, weeks, months and years are flying by! Those little ones we held when they were born, will soon be big enough and not want to spend time with us. At least, that’s what I’ve been told what teenagers say & do!
They say that calendars don’t lie.
Kids are very in tune with what we (adults) spend our time on and if it’s not in line with their schedule, we’ll hear about it!
One of the most precious gifts a father can give his children is his time.
Similarly, a good real estate agent knows the value of face time with his clients. If you’re a post and pray agent, don’t be surprised when you’re trying to close the price gap on a deal that the seller is refusing to budge from his price level.
If you had bothered to take the time to update them on a regular basis and take the effort in seeing them in person from time to time, there’s a very good chance that such valuable feedback and report would now materialize in a more flexible seller when it’s negotiation time!
A good way to measure the importance of your clients will be the amount of face time you spend with them.
8. Take pride in the way you treat them
A father will always rough and tumble with his children. Mothers are much softer and gentler in their approach of playing with the children. It must be innate that men want to be way more physical and be running around with the little ones, throwing them up in the air, pretend-wrestle etc.
I’m treating my son like I want to be treated. I’m very playful but want to make sure he knows when I mean business. That’s how my father raised me and that’s what I want to pass on to my son. I had an awesome dad who taught me so much and I can only wish my son will look up to me as I do to my father. Even more so today, as a 40-something year old!
As an agent, you’re doing your utmost best to provide a good service. You know there have been many, many deals where buyers and sellers are satisfied to have worked with you. Referral business is living proof of that. People enjoyed working with you and before you know it, a sister/brother/cousin/neighbour of theirs is in need of a real estate agent and who’s the one they recommend?
As I always say, “People might forget the words you tell them, but they’ll always remember how you have made them feel.”
9. Show respect for your partner
There are so many aspects of a relationship which get touched by the arrival of a baby.
Being an interested and involved father means you need to carry your share of the responsibilities. The traditional ‘man-wife’ roles are no longer (e.g. feeding, changing diapers, bathing, putting them down to sleep etc). Besides the actual decision-making, the day-to-day activities demand help as well.
What better way to get to know your children than being up close and personal!
From the day they’re born, the new daddy can already help out. Who’s getting up tonight when the baby cries? If he’s crying in the middle of the night then goes to DEFCON 2, how about helping out the other parent and try to soothe the little one?
Was it a tough first 3 months? First 9 months? First few years? Damn right, it was!
With our colic baby, there’s no way either myself or my wife could have lasted this long if it weren’t for our teamwork! I always try to give her special attention, massage her whenever she wants, help out around the house and offer my babysitting services as often as I can when it’s time for her to go shopping, getting her nails done etc.
Keep in mind: Happy wife = happy life!
Working in the real estate industry, there are a few ways of tackling the business: you can either work on your own and try to get done as much as you possibly can or you can partner up and ideally 1+1 = 3. Working in a team is the best thing that has happened to me, as it’s made me more in control of what’s happening. My business partners and I keep double-checking one another to make sure we’re on top of things and we aren’t dropping the ball with clients at any given point!
During office meetings or client presentations, we are all strong believers that we need to choose each other’s side in whatever discussions arise. Afterwards, if there were any disagreements, we can sort it out amongst ourselves. Towards the public, we are always seen as a team and that’s how it should be.
10. Be there for the milestones
As a new father, being there for all the day-to-day activities (e.g. feeding, changing diapers, bathing, putting them down etc.) is important. However, when it comes to the more important moments (aka milestones), there are only a few excuses good enough that ought to let you off the hook for not being there.
Were you there when the doctor officially informed the mother that she was pregnant? Did you recognize the legs, feet and head when the first scans were done? How about hearing your unborn child’s first 140 heartbeats per minute half-way through the pregnancy? If anything, long before the child is born, a father should accompany the mother to the hospital for the check-ups. Many a story to be told of those ‘regular’ check-ups!
As the years go by, your child will have other ‘big events’ happening in their lives, which they would love to have daddy there: from elementary school theatre recitals, the first big sporting event to graduation. Even though there was only so much I could do at my almost 4-year old son’s Father’s Day event at his nursery school, I was taken in tow by my little one as he was very excited to show me the entire school’s playground!
(Who would have thought the monkey bars would still be so much fun at my age! Anyhow…)
Too many times do we hear about fathers not having the time to join their young ones in whatever (school) event they’ve got going on, only to hear as the years fly by, that they regret having missed out!
Just as parents ought to be present during milestones in the life of their children, so should real estate agents make sure to they’re at a number of important events for their buyer/seller clients; ranging from initial contract negotiation, acceptance of offer, to attending the home inspection as his client’s representative, and obviously, to the final key handover upon registration!
11. Be open-minded
Having heard the stories from my father when he grew up during World War II, and given how I grew up and how different the world will look by 2032 for my son as an 18-year old, I believe it’s important to remain open-minded and lead by example.
Times change and one needs to adapt!
Having said that, certain values cannot be compromised, regardless of the times we’re in (e.g. honesty, respect, loyalty, chivalry etc).
If you’re working as a real estate agent, there’s no such thing as a standard negotiation process.
Every person (buyer/seller) has their own particular interests, wishes and property desires that need to be addressed during the offer negotiation.
It is imperative that the real estate agents handling this matter are knowledgeable and experienced in matters beyond the vanilla “cash or bond” deal proposition and be open-minded when it comes to all the possible options available of finalizing the deal!
12. Don’t abuse the relationship
As a new father of a colic baby, one’s patience can get tested. Severely tested!
The husband-wife relationship is under pressure; people get tired; things get said and done, which afterwards are apologized for. However, that never -ever- gives one parent the right to treat the other badly. It’s quite scary how easily one could inflict harm upon the wife and/or baby during those times!
By hitting one’s wife or abuse your child would be considered the lowest of the low cowardly act of violence! Forget about trying to think that you’re a good dad if those are actually the actions you perform!
Likewise, there should never be any reason as to why the real estate agent ought not to remain professional at all times.
One time, an ex-colleague dropped the f-bomb on a client before he threw down the phone. Tensions were rising very rapidly and the agent was getting extremely frustrated with the situation. Unfortunately, his actions during those 5 seconds have haunted him ever since. I’m sure we can all imagine the irrefutable brand damage he has caused and the ‘crackdown’ of management upon hearing all this!
Conversations might get heated and misunderstandings (or ignorance about certain legal matters) might take place, but in the end, the real estate agent is there to guide the client along the process.
The last thing an agent needs to do is be rude or unprofessional and alienate the client!
Although easier said than done, one needs to distantiate themselves from such heated situations, before things get said or done which cannot be unsaid or undone.
13. Realize that the job is never done
Nobody said that being a father was an easy job. Regardless of how young or old your children are, your work as a father never stops!
Whether it is to reprimand your son as a toddler for drawing on grandmother’s favourite coffee table, intervening between your son and the neighbour kid as they’re about to settle their argument with their fists, explaining to your son why his breakup with his first 14-year old girlfriend isn’t the end of the world or supporting him in getting his first official job after graduation, the father will always need to be present.
Long after the children have left the family home, a father will still be the point of contact for advice and help.
As time goes, the father changes different hats all the time: a role model, psychologist, clown, sportsman, army general, and sometimes just… dad.
Especially since his passing, I often reminiscence about all the different roles my father played as I grew up. It wasn’t until I hit my mid-20’s that I realized all the things he had done for me. And it wasn’t until my mid-30’s that I realized all the sacrifices he had made! (Little did I know quality time was running out for us)
If you’re relatively new to the real estate industry, there’s quite the learning curve ahead of you!
One particular aspect will be the enormous flexibility of an estate agent’s willingness to adjust his days/hours to that of the client. Expect to be called for a viewing appointment, general enquiry or contract signing at any time of day or night!
Even long after the deal has been finalized, those clients might have a few more questions (or issues) they would like you to answer (resolve). Your level of after-sales service will need to be of the highest standard. And you know what, I’m okay with that: isn’t that after all what we are paid to do?
Dare I say that the easiest part is to sell the property and then the real work for a real estate agent actually only starts?
Closing thoughts (updated edition June 2018)
Relationships aren’t easy! Believe it or not, they require work!
Whether they’re at home with your partner or at work with your clients and business associates.
Many of the challenges presented to you as a (new) parent need to be faced together with your partner. Once you do that, it’s amazing to realize how much stronger your relationship has become. (Thank you so much, dear wife of mine!)
If you think about it: relationships and communication are what it really comes down to in real estate dealings as well.
Following an initial good report with your client, it will hopefully develop in a further professional relationship, where ample communication and feedback will ensure all parties are aware of what’s going on at any given moment.
What do you think? Has becoming a father or mother turned you into a better professional person, whether it be an accountant, IT specialist or real estate agent?
Regardless of your professional field, if you’re a parent yourself, this article will likely have made you think about your current job and family situation.
And, if you’re in the real estate industry, let’s hope your experience is very close to mine and we are all on our way to each become a better real estate agent!
Additional Real Estate Agents Advice & Related Resources:
- Becoming a Real Estate Agent via Easy Agent PRO
- 5 Tips To Selecting The Right Real Estate Agent To Sell Your Home via Kyle Hiscock
- Hiring a Top Producing Realtor Can Make a Big Difference via Bill Gassett
- 6 Steps To Becoming a Real Estate Agent via Investopedia
Together with the reference material, please use the helpful information provided in this article to become a better real estate agent!
If you found this article interesting, please help share it across your social media networks!
About the author: The above article “13 Ways Fatherhood Has Made Me a Better Real Estate Agent” was written by Xavier De Buck, your Northcliff (Johannesburg) real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.
Make sure to connect!
© 2015-2018, Xavier De Buck. All Rights Reserved.