Rick Braden, Broker/Owner of MaxWell Realty in Lethbridge, Alberta, a Realtor for 16 years and a married father of two, finds it easy to balance real estate and family life. “I adore my family and most days I can’t wait to see them. In my line of work I meet a lot of people and far too often I see split and/or blended families that are a result of one or both parents not paying attention to their home life. All I have to do is reflect on their position and how unhappy they are and it becomes very easy to keep my family a priority.”

John Evans, Broker/Owner of Re/Max of Terrace in Terrace, B.C., a Realtor for the past 23 years, and a married father of seven-year-old Landon shares his thoughts, “I’ve gone through a transition of how I conduct my business depending on the stage of my life. Right now family is a strong priority for me. When I first started, I could work mornings, evenings, weekends – it didn’t matter. Now I have to work at keeping my time to myself or for my family. In the past couple of years I’ve worked less than 10 evenings per year. About 50% of my Saturdays are tied up and I have a rule that I just don’t work on Sundays. That is difficult to do in our business but most people understand.”

Mary Ann Keary, Broker/Owner of Royal LePage Riveredge Realty Ltd. in Brockville, Ontario, wife, and mother of Ashley and Zak, established a system to keep her family a priority. “Our team concept was developed in 1999 for two reasons. One was to provide professional and quality on-demand service to our clients when they required it in their busy lives. The other was to enable my husband, Rodney, and I and our two children to enjoy uninterrupted family and vacation time together. When we are “off duty”, our clients are covered by another trained and experienced team member. We attend church every Sunday as a family and share the rest of the day together. Our team does not conduct Open House tours on Sundays nor do we encourage home viewings on a Sunday, respecting our clients’ needs for quality family time and that of our team members. We enjoy family vacations and spend time individually with our children in their choice of pursuits.”

Is Organization the Key to a Balanced Life?

Most Realtors who are able to balance family and career credit their organizer. Rick Braden shares, “As a commissioned salesperson, my life revolves around my Daytimer. If I book an activity with my wife and/or daughters, it becomes an appointment, even if all we are going to do is watch TV. All I say to the client is, ‘I’m sorry, but I am already booked at 6:00, but I am available tomorrow at 4:00 and 7:00. Which would work best for you?’ I think one of the biggest misconceptions Realtors have is that customers won’t wait or adjust their schedules. I disagree. I think customers appreciate dealing with busy, successful people. They don’t need to know what my appointment is, just that I am busy. On the extremely rare occasion when no other time is possible, I will find another agent in my office that is available to cover for me.”

Like Braden, John Evans does not sacrifice family time for clients. “I simply say I have a meeting with my family. You aren’t always able to get out of it but most people understand. Most reasonable people are going to appreciate that you have a life outside of real estate and are going to respect you for being honest with them and work with you.” Evans does admit to losing a few clients every year who aren’t willing to work with his schedule but he averages 100 ends per year so he is doing something right.

Some Realtors involve their families in their career in ways that benefit each family member. If your spouse has always wanted to go to Hawaii, make it a goal to take him or her once you have sold a certain number of properties. Keep a chart tracking your progress or watch the stash of money grow in your ‘vacation fund’ jar. If the children want new bikes or a whitewater rafting trip, involve them in the same way – by working together as a team to reach the goal.

How to Balance Real Estate and Home Life

Braden offers some tips on balancing real estate and family:

  • Make family time an appointment.
  • At the beginning of the year, when you are setting your goals, pre-book family time. It doesn’t have to be a week-long exotic vacation; it just needs to be uninterrupted and committed to.
  • Have a buddy in your office that can lend a hand when you have conflicts with your schedule. It might cost you the occasional referral but that’s a heck of a lot cheaper than losing touch with your family while you are chasing that almighty dollar!
  • I don’t care how new you are or how broke you are, set aside one day a week to unwind a get away from work.
  • Do stuff as a family – go to a hockey game, go to a movie, go on a holiday, eat dinner, watch TV, take a class.
  • Let your family “in” on your day. Share the best and worst parts of your day with them and ask them to do the same.

Evans makes a good point, “There is no real real estate emergency. We are not doctors – it’s not a life and death issue. Some of our clients might think that it is. Most calls can wait for an hour for you to finish dinner with your family.”

Keary sums it up, “I recognize that it is definitely not easy to maintain the balance. Each and every day, I have to check myself and make the choice not to allow my priorities to get out of order.”