How does someone decide they’re meant for more than just the ordinary working world and jump head-first into an entrepreneurial lifestyle? According to the National Association of REALTORS®, about two-thirds of agents got into real estate because of the flexible schedule. Not all of us are made to stick to a 9-5 way of thinking- some of us are determined to do more so we can put more into our families and the world around us. Read on to find out how Josh DeWaard went into real estate right after college. He shares his story of defying the odds to take a chance on the exciting, but unpredictable, world of real estate.

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Before real estate, I was a college student. I went to Central College in Pella, Iowa. I studied biology with plans to attend grad school and pursue a career in the medical field. These plans changed late in college as I began to help start a nonprofit organization.

I initially went into real estate in 2017 in a part-time capacity as I was still helping a nonprofit organization in the Des Moines area. I needed a job that could support me financially and allow me the flexibility in my schedule that I needed. I transitioned into real estate full time in July 2019. 

The Appeal of a Unique Career

I don’t think I knew I was suited for this career, but I did know there were certain things about me that made this career appealing. I enjoy interacting with people daily. I like workdays with different activities to complete and challenges to face. I have purposeful interests outside of work, so flexibility to continue those were important to me. All of these aspects made me think real estate might be a career I was suited for. 

From Graduation to Business Building

The transition [into real estate] was difficult. Being young and fresh out of college was a challenge- you don’t get paid in this business unless you sell something. Some agents transition into real estate as a second career after they have already made some money. Getting into this industry out of school was financially stressful, but also motivating. It forced me to find a way because there was nothing to fall back on.

The biggest challenge was learning how to manage all of the aspects of the business: how to generate leads, how to network, contracts, showings, listings, social media marketing, etc. There are a lot of different things to learn and manage at one time. It felt overwhelming because I wanted to know everything at once.   

I had to learn how to provide value to clients while I was still learning how everything worked. That is still a challenge because I still have a lot to learn. I found that being honest about what I don’t know paired with diligence to learn and find out has been a fruitful combination. 

It was also challenging to learn how to plan out my workdays. Coming from school, I had spent my whole life with a structured class schedule. People told me what to do and where I needed to be. In real estate, you set your own schedule. I had to learn how to think ahead and block out time for certain activities. 

Growing Pains and Fruits of Labor

When I initially got into the business, I spent my time thinking about how I could get people through the transaction process. It felt like I was just trying to survive through the deal. Now I really see myself as a teacher. 

I love to explain the process to people and even talk about how to be a good homeowner. The more I’ve learned about real estate, the more I’ve realized there is so much that can be shared with consumers. I see myself as much more than a manager of a transaction. I am starting to discover what it means to be the “master of their journey.” This is a much more valuable approach to clients, but also a lot more fun for me. I like to answer questions and bring up ideas and information that people didn’t even know they needed to know. 

Work-life balance can be one of the greatest gifts of real estate, but it is also much harder to maintain than I thought. I used to think no set work hours would make it easy and natural to spend time with friends and family and to pursue other interests. 

What I have found is it actually requires more work to set healthy boundaries. Learning how to “shut it off” has been a challenge- especially since I am relatively new to the business. I want to respond quickly to clients and always be available. In the short term, this seems like a good idea. But I am learning that it is not sustainable. Not having set hours requires me to be intentional about creating a work-life balance. I am not all the way there yet but I have made significant progress. 

I coach high school football here in Des Moines. Having the flexibility to go to practice, weight room workouts and spend time with players has been great. I probably wouldn’t be able to do this in a different career. 

Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead

The most beneficial aspect of real estate has been the reality of consistent hard work. You don’t make it in real estate by working really hard every once in a while. From watching experienced, successful agents in our office, I am learning that taking small steps every day over long periods of time leads to sustained success. 

As a young person, I think I want results to be instant and complete. The concept of building something over time with thousands of small steps is foreign to me. I haven’t mastered this idea yet, but I am convinced it is the way to succeed in real estate- and probably other areas of life. 

real estate right after college
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I ran the Des Moines Marathon in 2019!

Ready to break free of the mundane and the everyday and build your life the way you want it to be? Find out if real estate is the right choice for you and take our simple personality test to see if you have what it takes to take your life beyond just the ordinary.

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