Being a Realtor with John Jorgenson and Lilian Jorgenson

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About This Episode

When you’re a Real Estate Professional it’s very common to get asked questions about what it was like in the beginning, how you balance work and personal life, and how does one become successful? In this unique episode of the Go With John Show we answer those questions and more with host of the show John Jorgenson and his mom Lilian Jorgenson. Both successful Realtors with their own unique recipe to success. Don’t miss this episode as well as Part 2 of this series on what it’s like to be a Realtor.
Lilian’s Website



[00:00:05] Speaker 1 Hey, this is John Jorgenson and welcome to another episode of the Go with John Show. This is going to be a terrific two part series on what it is like to be a real estate agent. And I wanted to get this conversation on to our podcast because so many people are always asking me, John, can you tell me what it’s like to be a realtor? I’m thinking about going into the industry. That is not an easy question to answer, because different people, different real estate agents have different perspectives on the industry. So we’ve got a two part series we’re going to bring you. We’re going to start out by talking with my mom, Lillian Jorgenson. She’s here with us today. And she is one of the most successful realtors in the Northern Virginia market and has been for three decades at least. So let’s get Lillian’s perspective on the real estate industry. And then after I conclude my conversation with her, I’m going to give you some of my thoughts. And then in part two, we’re going to have two other folks come in and give us their perspective. So I hope by the time you listen to these two episodes, you will have a really good idea of what it is like to live your life as a realtor. So let’s bring in my mom. All right. So Lillian Jorgensen in the House today. How are you?


[00:01:45] Speaker 2 I’m great. Good.


[00:01:46] Speaker 1 Good. Thank you. So we’re talking today about what people are always asking me, and I’m sure you. Yeah. What is it like to be a real estate professional? What is real estate like for you? What is it been like for you at the various stages of your career?


[00:02:05] Speaker 2 Well, I think it has been the best career, the best job, the most satisfactory job you could ever wish. Starting out as a realtor, I remember in class that I was so excited every week coming to class, and the more I learned about real estate, the more excited I got. And as soon as I was done with my class, I was out there getting my feet wet and I never slowed down and I never looked back since. It is a to be successful. It is a full time job. And what does that mean to be successful? It means different things to different people. And thank goodness for that, because to some of us it means everything. The sky’s the limit and to others it’s sell a house a month and that’s success for them. And to me it is to sell as much as I can, and preferably I do sell a house a week every week for 37 years. And I love that it does get you out, you know, many hours of the day, you’re on the road. You do work on weekends, some evenings as well. But remember, it is what you choose to do. It is your passion, it’s what you wish to do. And also whatever happens, if it is to be, is up to me. So you have to get out there and get it. And whatever you are looking to do in real estate to be successful, you can do it.


[00:03:34] Speaker 1 So when you first started, you obviously followed kind of the guidelines that they gave you in your class, right? You were networking. I remember I was with you. You were handing out you still to this day when we go to dinner somewhere, if you don’t have a relationship of the waiter or waitress, they are getting your business card along with the tip.


[00:03:59] Speaker 2 Yeah. I really try to be all around and take every opportunity I can to leave a card, introduce myself, and of course, in the circles I travel, so many people know me already. And and it’s just it’s really great. It’s wonderful. You you put in a lot of effort to get to that place in life where you have made it. And you can you can coast also a little bit for a while and yeah.


[00:04:31] Speaker 1 So what is your so the industry is changing. It’s always changing, which is good. But I remember you would sometimes run out of the house in the middle of the night, 2:00 in the morning.


[00:04:42] Speaker 2 Well, that was the olden days. Yes. And I would say the olden days were when there were no computers and Internet and scanning. And you saw.


[00:04:55] Speaker 1 And most people did not have a fax machine in their home.


[00:04:57] Speaker 2 Now, not in the seventies and the eighties and the early nineties, I guess 2000 maybe. And a contract was not ratified until it was delivered. So you were negotiating the contract all through the evening usually, and you had to drive to the seller with the buyer’s contract and get it signed or get initials and back to the other party and get an initial and then back again to get it delivered in order for it to be ratified. It was definitely a lot more driving. I used to call myself the Beltway Bandit because we agents were literally on the road at midnight and 1:00 in the morning by the time we got home.


[00:05:40] Speaker 1 Right. And now they’ve changed the contract not too long ago that the workday ends at 9 p.m.. Yeah. Isn’t that nice?


[00:05:47] Speaker 2 That’s wonderful. I just don’t know what that means.


[00:05:50] Speaker 1 Yeah, no, you don’t know. That’s not for Lillian. Yeah. So. So what is your week look like? How many days a week are you interrupted at dinner with a phone call or how many times a week do you have to go out and work or work at your desk after dinner? Tell us about your weekends. What is your what does your life look like as a top performer?


[00:06:13] Speaker 2 I’m very structured and I just believe to get up in the morning and be ready to go. I am ready to list and sell the house any time of day. I don’t have to go home and change clothes. I don’t have to go pick up any papers anywhere. I’m ready to meet clients to list their home and to meet them to go out and show a home or just a notice of a phone call pretty much up in the morning at 730 in the office by nine and 830 sometimes. And then the duties of the day follow up with emails, phone calls, feedback, calling for showings and my listings call my clients at the end of the week. Weekly seems to study pricing on the home, so make sure that your listings are priced right. What is selling? So be sure that you follow up with. New listings coming on the market, listings that are withdrawn and just keeping up with all the market analysis for many different neighborhoods is a lot of work and that happens at the end of the week for the weekend so the sellers can get the update for the week and what has been happening all week. So you have to be regimented to get all that done and ready and get that sent out. So when we come to the weekend, there’s usually an open house on Sunday that definitely usually showings on Saturday because the client is off from work. So you find yourself on the road showing houses in various places in all over Northern Virginia, going out west to Leesburg, out to Percival Hamilton, or you’re going into Arlington, Alexandria, and it can take all day Saturday and then you have Open House on Sunday from 2 to 4. So yeah, you have time off on Sunday, but I find myself doing something almost every weekend. But remember, it is my choice and I do have wonderful quality time with my husband, believe it or not, and he loves to be my driver. So on weekends, if we’re showing, which is wonderful, he’ll drive and I’ll talk. I can make phone calls, I can follow up. I can do all those things while somebody else is driving. So that is really nice. But it’s not everybody’s choice to work every day. We just have to remember who we are and what we want to do. And that’s the beautiful thing about this job that it is what you want it to be and you can do whatever you want to do. It just depends on you.


[00:08:49] Speaker 1 So how many days a week are you working after dinner? Is that every day you go home after dinner?


[00:08:56] Speaker 2 Most of the time after dinner there’s usually a couple of phone calls. But for comparison, on Tuesday night I got a contract at 6:00, so we had a quick dinner and I had a process to contract, make copies, drove to my seller’s home and presented the contract, negotiated the contract, made corrections, got it signed, drove home, had to put it in the scanner, scanned it and emailed it to the agent so she would have it as quickly as possible. And then she had to get it to her clients. And by this time it’s 930 in the evening and she had to get it to her buyers for final initials and getting it back to me, because time is always of the essence. You don’t want to put off tomorrow what you can do today and get that contract ratified the same day. So I had it back by 1030 or 11:00, all ratified. So the house was sold Tuesday night, but at that time you more or less have been in action, you know, all the way from 6:00 besides dinner and then till 11:00 at night.


[00:10:05] Speaker 1 Yeah. So the fact that you when somebody calls you and you drop everything to go show a home or somebody calls you to list their home and you drop everything and you rush out to do it right away. How much do you attribute that to your level of success that you’re having today? Is that a key factor?


[00:10:25] Speaker 2 Well, I think I don’t really know, but I think it’s definitely a key factor that you are able to say, when would you like me to come over? I can be over this afternoon or I can come tomorrow morning. And if you hear any hesitation at the other end of the line, you also can say, Well, I can come tonight if you are not available during the day. Right? I would be happy to come after dinner. I have made it a practice to have dinner with my family every day. I used to just go any time and now I will say I can come after dinner. So that can mean any time. It can be seven or 730 or 8:00. And but it’s important that you listen to the thinking on the other end of the phone, because you say, I have to think about when you can come over. There is a reason and you want to just throw it at them that you also available tonight. And very often they will say, oh, that would be awful, that would be wonderful because I don’t get home from work until six and on and on and on. You also can offer if there’s any hesitation. Well, I can meet you tomorrow morning at 730. It’s no problem. And so you see, you find yourself being available. I mean, if you want to be successful, you have to be flexible to the client’s schedule. That is our job. That is, if you’re in this job, that is what it takes. You can’t be choosers too much. You want. Sure you can. You can put your foot down and say, I’m not doing this. I’m not doing ain’t doing this. Ain’t do. That is, I hear from some agent, but that’s not me. I choose to be available if they want to see me at 730 or eight. I’ve done that numerous times. We do the job at that time and right away you are scoring a point with the seller to be, Wow, here I have an agent. She can meet my needs, what I need, and that’s a plus. You are already halfway there to get the job.


[00:12:32] Speaker 1 So what I’m hearing, if I can summarize for you maybe, is that you first have to define or you have to quantify what is your definition of success? Yes. Right. So if you want to be a realtor, if your definition of success is I want to sell one home a month, you have to set the goal and then you have to behave appropriately in order to achieve that goal.


[00:12:58] Speaker 2 Yeah, you set your goal and you have to do the activities to up to.


[00:13:03] Speaker 1 Two better way to say it.


[00:13:04] Speaker 2 And so it is Stephanie. But I’m not satisfied with the House a month. I mean, my success is I want to do as much as I can. Yeah. And that’s just what I want. But everybody has a different threshold and that is the beauty of this job. It can be something for everybody. You may be perfectly happy to just play around with real estate and sell a house here and there. But if you really want to be a professional and by that I mean knowing the market, knowing the pricing and when you make an appointment on a Tuesday afternoon to meet a client at 730 in the morning, you got to do your CMA, you got to fill out the listing papers. You got to pull all the marketing material that you need to show what you’re going to do with that listing. You have to study the whole CMA. You better know all the information in all the paragraphs, remarks of all the comps, because that is your ammunition. Should there be any information there that you need when you finally meet this seller in the morning and you got to do your homework ahead of time and you learn a lot from reading all the listings as to what happened in the sales. And I think we need to you need to know that.


[00:14:21] Speaker 1 Perfect. All right. Well, thank you for that advice and good luck. You got to get on with your day. I know you got.


[00:14:27] Speaker 2 More fun with.


[00:14:28] Speaker 1 Thanks for stopping in. We appreciate it.


[00:14:30] Speaker 2 To go and people to see.


[00:14:32] Speaker 1 That’s right.


[00:14:32] Speaker 2 Okay. Bye.


[00:14:34] Speaker 1 All right. So we’re going to take a quick break. And when we come back, I’m going to give you my perspective on what it is like to be a realtor. All right. Welcome back to the Go with John Show on John Jorgenson. And I’m going to talk a little bit about my experience as in the real estate industry, being a realtor. So I got into the industry in 2004 the the way it happened. I guess my mom, obviously you just heard her story was was telling me, hey, you should get your real estate license just as a backup. You know, you never know. You may want to go into the industry. So prior to 2004, I owned a company called Marketing Mania and I was having a lot of fun, really enjoyed the business. But I went to a Brian Buffini seminar and he is a sales coach professional for realtors and was not in the real estate industry. He didn’t know anything about it. And my mom, Lillian said, Hey, you should really go and listen to this guy. And he was in Tysons Corner at the Sheraton. So I went and learned a lot of really cool things from him, which I applied in my marketing business and had a lot of fun doing it. So at some point in time I decided to sell my marketing company and I thought I would dip my toe into the real estate industry. And when I did, it kind of swallowed me up completely. I loved it. There’s a lot of things that are really exciting and fun about real estate, and then there are things that are challenging, which Lillian talked about some. And in our subsequent episode, we’re going to have some folks tell us about their experiences in in the real estate industry. But the fun and exciting part is really helping people. And, you know, you’re in the business and if you’re a practicing realtor, you’re doing transactions all the time and you’re dialed in to exactly what’s going on in the industry and how the negotiations work and all the ins and outs of the transaction and the folks you’re working with. This may be the only time they do this type of transaction in their lives with the current set of rules and regulations and things like that, because the industry is always changing. So somebody who bought and sold a house ten years ago who’s buying and selling a house today, has no idea how the industry works and what the various rules are. So, you know, we’re the coach as the realtor and we’re helping people through the process and that’s exciting. It’s really fun. And you build some great relationships with folks and it’s, it’s, it’s a nice industry and it’s very gratifying, but it is if you are going to be successful, it is all consuming and you have to want that. And you know, Lillian, I asked her one of the questions I asked her was, you know, how often do you have to answer the phone call during dinner? And I knew the answer that question because I’ve been there really for most of my life. And we get as jorgensen’s we we take ownership and many realtors. Right. I’m not just saying we’re the only ones who are doing this, but many successful realtors take ownership of our clients challenges throughout the transaction. And sometimes you have clients who can’t sleep, right, because they’re so they have so much anxiety about the transaction. And, you know, maybe you were chatting with them the night before late because they had concerns or they were worried or they had bought a new house. But now there’s a problem with the sale of their existing home with a home inspection or an appraisal, and there’s some kind of hiccup in the transaction. And your folks have a lot of anxiety and maybe you’re going to get that phone call that can relieve their anxiety in the middle of your dinner. Well, I’m going to want to take it and I’m going to want to get that information and pass it on to my client. And it may be just a simple five minute little thing. And I can send my client a text and say, hey, great news. I just got a phone call from X, Y, Z, and everything’s solved and I’ll call you after dinner, right? So you don’t have to totally blow up your whole plans for the night. But there are times where I think you you have to be ready to take some of these calls, because maybe if you don’t take that call, let’s just say it’s an appraiser or let’s say actually, let me not use that example. Yes, let’s use the example of a home inspector. So maybe the home inspector is calling you. If you don’t take the call and he leaves a voicemail, you may not get him or her until the next day. Right. And you want to put this anxiety to bed. So that’s just an example of how a situation may arise, where you will want to be interrupted in your dinner. You’re going to hear from other folks who say, nope, you know what? I turn off my phone, I turn it upside down, and I don’t even look at it during dinner because that’s just my boundary. And I totally respect that. And it’s it’s it’s important because if you have your phone on and if just on the dinner table, it’s hard to know. Okay, well, which call do I take? Which call? Don’t don’t I take. But I think now that I’m more seasoned, I don’t really have my phone by my side unless I’m expecting a call that is is important. So that’s kind of how I, I handle it. You know, one of the interesting things we’re going to talk about vacations. I didn’t ask Lillian about vacation because I know she doesn’t take any the folks that I’m going to chat with in the next episode, I ask them both, you know, how do you handle vacations? I used to when I was early in the industry, would send out an email saying, hey, I’m going on vacation next week, and which I don’t take vacations very often, maybe every three or four or five years. In fact, I just took a vacation in 2022 and it was my first vacation in six years. So it you know, I’m an entrepreneur and I love business and I love my life. And I’ve got a lot of great things going on every day. I don’t really feel like I need to take a vacation, but my wife and kids, they will say differently. So anyway, I used to tell people, Hey, I’m going on vacation next week. You know, if you have anything, I’ll get back to you when we get back. Or I would have somebody cover for me. And every time I did that, every single person it seemed that was in my database needed to talk to me. And there was some kind of an urgent matter with, with with my listings or an urgent matter with my buyers. And for some reason, for me and the folks that I work with, when I would send out that email saying on my vacation, it triggered everybody to need me. And so, like I said, I don’t go on vacation very often, once every two or three or four years. But now if I am going to take a vacation, I don’t say anything to anybody. I leave. I’ve got people covering me. If there are situations that come up where I’m needed, I will jump in. And this last vacation I took was really, I think the first vacation in my adult life where I literally was able to get away for a period of time and completely disconnect from my business. So it’s it’s only happened once in my life, and it’s because I have such a great team of folks working with me that are able to cover everything that comes up. But when you’re new in the industry, I think you’re get if you don’t have a partner or if you don’t have another realtor that you’re teaming up with one way or another, and that that’s a whole nother episode. But you’ve got to find a way to, you know, break away from the grind. If you’re going to go on vacation with your family, you’ve got to decide, do I want to tell everybody I’m leaving or do I just want to slide away and kind of stay plugged in? And in the next episode, we’re going to hear from a great agent who talks about how she handles her vacation. So I’m going to kind of let that one lay for a bit. So another challenge, I think one of the things that’s really interested to me about the real estate industry is that 20% of the realtors nationwide do 80% of the business. So that means the other 80% of the realtors do 20% of the business. So I am a total Type A person. My mom is a total type-A person. We’re after it, we get it. And so there’s lots of other realtors out there that are really aggressive, want to solve problems, and they don’t want to go to bed with troubles on their head. Right. You want to get all you want to get all the things wrapped up before the day’s over and you want to dot every I and cross every T. Well, occasionally. And if you’re doing volume, it’s probably one or two or three times a year you’re going to let’s just say I’m going to give you two examples. One example is you’re representing a buyer. You’ve been out looking for homes. You find the home you want to write on, you write the offer, and you send it over at 4:00 in the afternoon, you call the listing agent and you get their voice mail. You leave a message, Hey, I’ve sent an offer. I want you to call me back, let me know you have it. You send an email, you send a text and boom, nothing. And you’re like, okay, your client’s calling you at six, seven, 8:00 at night going, Oh, what did they say? What did they say? Well, I haven’t been able to get a hold of the realtor on the other side. So then you go to bed and you’re like, What in the world is going on? And then the next day rolls around, you’re trying to reach this other realtor, you can’t reach the other realtor. You get to the end of the day and you’re like, Okay, well, I’ve got to call the agents broker. I send one last email and I say, I’ve got to make sure this gets delivered, and then the agent shows up and then they you’re talking to the agent, you’re like, Hey, I sent this to you yesterday. What’s going on? And they’ll say, Oh, well, I have a full time job. I don’t really check this email as often as I should. And I didn’t realize you had sent this over until just now. And I’m like, Oh, my gosh, it just makes my head explode, right? So. That is the hardest thing for me is when things happen in this transaction that are totally out of your control and you are having your own anxiety because you can’t get done what you know needs to be done because somebody out there is not doing their job right. And this could happen with a lot of different things. And I’ll just give you one more example. I said I’d give you to. Another thing that’s really, really tough for me personally is when I’m working with a client. And and, you know, I think, you know, when I’m working with someone, we’re in this together, we’re a team. We have to partner on this transaction until we get through it. And I would say occasionally, very rarely, once every couple of years, I will have a client who has their own agenda for how they want to manage the transaction. So, for example, I could get an offer from a listing agent, I could get an offer from a buyer’s agent, I could send it over to my seller, I could review it with my seller, and then they go silent. They don’t return phone calls, they don’t return emails, and they think they’re negotiating or they are. There’s something going on that I don’t understand. But so now I’m in a position where I have to communicate with the buyer’s agent and I say, Hey, I sent everything over, you know, I’m waiting to hear back, right? And that’s really all I can say, right? I can’t tell the, the the other side what’s going on. But I do want to communicate with them that I haven’t heard back yet. I’m waiting to hear back. So over time, when, when, when two or three days start to go by, it’s an uncomfortable position that you have to deal with. So you have to be able to deal with complicated situations. You’re working with humans, you’re working with home inspectors, appraisers, lenders. Sometimes you’re dealing with multiple offers and things are literally out of your control. And you have to navigate the waters the best you can with the circumstances you have, you know? So if you’re the captain of a boat and you are going from point A to point B and you think you’re going to have smooth weather, and all of a sudden a thunderstorm comes out of nowhere. And now, instead of going down the Potomac River and smooth waters, you’ve got three and four foot waves and you got to know how to deal with it. So it’s it’s a fun business. It’s exciting business. It is probably one of the most unique industries I’ve ever been involved with because you have different things coming at you at different times all the time. You get new scenarios all the time, you get new regulations all the time. You’ve got to stay on top of the industry laws and regulations and you’ve got to stay on top of the market. So it’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of really exciting things about it. You know, there are some downsides, which I, you know, personally, I enjoy the excitement of taking that call at dinner and solving a problem and helping somebody sleep better that night. There is not a lot of people out there that would feel this same way, you know, but that’s part of my DNA. So the the industry is going to be what you make it. You are going to be what you want to be in the industry and so slowly and says, if it is to be, it’s up to me. Okay. So now I want to close with one last thought from my perspective. And remember, we have an episode too. This is a two part series, so I’ve got another episode where we’re chatting with a couple of other folks in the industry and I don’t want to step on their toes, so I’ve already had the conversation with them. So I’m going to try to bring in kind of a thought for folks that may still be listening. So there are so many different types of personalities in this world. There are so many different types of people in this world that are successful in real estate. You do not have to be like Lily and you do not have to be like me in order to be successful in this industry. I, I know people who are very quiet, very reserved, who are very successful in this industry because they are working within their sphere. Right. And I and I think that your ability to be successful in this industry is going to be directly linked to your ability to communicate to your sphere of influence. Who are the people around you that will trust you to help them through the real estate transaction? So it doesn’t matter really what kind of sales skills you have or what kind. People’s people skills are important and they certainly help. But I know realtors who are very successful, who don’t have the kind of people skills that you might expect them to have in the industry. So there’s lots of different ways to be successful in real estate. So if you’re thinking about going into the industry and you want to explore it further. Listen to episode two, and then I would reach out to Rachel Foster. She’s our broker at the McLain Long and Foster office. 7037901990 And for you military folks that are listening, it’s 7037901990. So get a hold of Rachel, she’ll talk to you. And in fact, Rachel is one of the folks that’s in the next episode, so you can listen to her. And it’s a great industry. It’s a lot of fun, it’s exciting. It’s different things to different people. It is what you make it. And as Lillian says all the time, if it is to be, it’s up to me. So it is a lot of fun. If you have questions, comments, you want to hear more from me about this, you know, get us on the Facebook page and we can talk more about it there. So thank you for listening. This concludes another episode of the Go with John Show. Go out there and build something extraordinary.