Local real estate has suffered during the worst recession in decades, but not everyone has abandoned the industry for greener pastures.
A group of young affiliate brokers not only has decided to continue the hard sell, they've formed a Memphis chapter of the national Young Professionals Network to help create a lasting support system in a field where they're outnumbered two-to-one by people 40 and older. Many of the more seasoned professionals transition to real estate after retiring from other careers.
"Normally, it would be younger people coming in to take over the positions of the people going out, but we're the one profession where it's completely the opposite," said Stephanie Steele of Keller Williams Realty and sponsorship chair for the new group.
That's why it's always good to have a phone full of contacts or a wallet packed with business cards. It also doesn't hurt to have a family member to lean on for advice.
Steele's mother, Jo Shaner, has been in the real estate business for years, and after college Steele, now 26, began to realize that working 9 to 5 isn't always the way to make a living.
"With real estate I could move up as fast as I wanted," Steele said. "Although the market has certain limitations, no one is telling you you can only make so much."
The key to being successful in a business with flexible hours and irregular paychecks, declining values and tighter lending standards, is who you know and how you can help each other, said Amanda Lott of Prudential Collins-Maury. She is the Young Professionals Network membership chair.
"As much as your clients — your buyers and sellers — are important to you, it's also important to have relationships with the people you will be working with," Lott said.
Those people include closing attorneys, loan officers, seasoned realtors or brokers who don't mind sharing tips, and a host of others who can smooth the path to a more prosperous deal or identify emerging trends.
"That can be the difference between a client and someone who's going to call somebody else," Steele said.
It's something Lott, too, has learned from her mother, Carol Lott, the Memphis Area Association of Realtors' president-elect for 2012. Carol has worked in real estate for 25 years.
"She's got people she's been working with for 20-plus years, and they're fabulous," the younger Lott said.
The Young Professionals Network kickoff party starts at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 20th, at Bosco's Squared. To register, check out the Memphis Young Professionals Network's Facebook page or visit maar.org/mypn.