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®, 82 percent of agents got into real estate as a second career. 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 Thomas Payne left his career in banking to break free of the status quo. He shares his story of defying the odds to take a chance on a new career in real estate.

Almost every job I’ve ever had has been in sales and customer service. I waited tables in college and after college I got a job in banking as a teller. I was very quickly promoted to the Assistant Customer Service Manager at my branch. I managed the teller line, handled customer complaints, helped employees set and achieve sales goals and ensured branch compliance.

When I was promoted, I realized I didn’t want to continue in banking. My managers were very work-oriented and didn’t understand my need to prioritize family at times. I was also being paid significantly under what other assistant managers were being paid in the area, so I was working two jobs to make ends meet. 

The ‘A-ha’ Moment

I knew I wanted something different and had always wanted to go into real estate. One evening, I was venting to a friend about my bank job and she asked me why I never went into real estate. I told her I was scared to because of the lack of steady income. She told me I would never know if I didn’t try it and then it clicked that I wanted to get my real estate license. 

I had no idea if I’d be suited for real estate! It is completely different than anything I’ve ever done. Looking back, I think what prepared me for a career in real estate was my upbringing. I grew up on a ranch in Missouri which fostered my work ethic. My father was also self-employed and I saw how incredibly hard he worked in his profession. 

Once I started, I knew I had to be intentional about learning, growing and working to succeed.

Taking a Chance on a New Path

Most people have started a new job before. When you start a new job there’s always that period of time- sometimes it’s a day, sometimes it’s a week or more- where you go home at the end of the day mentally exhausted because of all the information you’re taking in to learn how to be successful in your brand new job. 

Transitioning into real estate was exactly like that for me, which sounds terrible, but was actually a blessing in disguise. There’s a lot of real estate companies out there that will leave you to figure out how to do this by yourself, but mine provided training, tools and systems. It was tedious to learn, but made me more successful in a shorter amount of time because of it.

Rising Above the 9-5 Mindset

My biggest challenge transitioning into real estate was going from the mindset of a 9-5 employee, where I get paid the same amount regardless of the effort I put in, and to the mindset of a results-based career where the amount I’m paid is directly proportional to the amount of work I put into it. Also, health insurance is just ridiculously expensive.

I love being in charge of my schedule. I work weird, crazy hours, but I’m in control of it. Sometimes I’m up until 11 p.m. at night negotiating deals or talking to clients, but sometimes I don’t go into work until 11 a.m. in the morning, because I want to spend more time with my family that day. 

I’m not bound to my two weeks of paid vacation, so I’m able to do more traveling which I love! Real estate affords the luxury of my wife being a stay-at-home mom, but I also get to stay home with our son a couple hours a week so she can substitute teach when the opportunity arises.

Succeeding with a People-First Mentality

One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting and getting to know new people. I meet people from all walks of life going through all different journeys. I love meeting people where they are and helping them with a very stressful transition in their lives. 

Another part of my job is educating buyers and sellers. I think too often in the industry agents don’t take the time to explain the process to their clients, leaving them to hope that the REALTOR® knows what he or she is doing! 

The biggest challenge is consistency in my marketing. There are day-to-day activities that I like to do to stay in touch with past clients, friends and referral partners. When I’ve got lots of business going on I can neglect those daily activities. 

Work-Life Harmony > Profit 

My work-life balance has completely changed for the better! I’m so fortunate to have a wife who has been able to roll with my eclectic, weird hours, but I love being in control of my schedule. Sometimes that means changing things to accommodate a last minute showing request from a buyer looking for that perfect home, but it also means being able to spend more time with my family, traveling, and incorporating my career in real estate into my passions and hobbies.

Ready to break free of the mundane and the ordinary 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. If you’d like to learn more about what it takes to get your Iowa real estate license, download our guide below.

Download your guide to the Iowa Real Estate Licensing Process

The process for becoming a REALTOR® in Iowa can seem long and daunting. You’ll have no problem completing them with this guide to becoming a real estate agent in Iowa.

What you’ll get:

  • Entire licensing process timeline
  • Breakdown of each step and process
  • Helpful tips and tricks
  • Worksheets to make it easy