Inside Look at the Life of a Real Estate Agent

by Nikki Lindholm

In a previously recorded podcast, we sat down with Bettendorf sales manager, Matt Schwind, to uncover his motivation for becoming a Realtor. His “why.” Although Matt no longer sells, he shares with us what initially drew him to real estate and why he has stayed for 29 years!  If you’d rather listen to his interview – click play below!

Ruhl&Ruhl: Is it correct to say that you did not start out in the real estate world?

Matt Schwind: No, I didn’t. And very few people do. When I started, it was almost exclusively a second career for people. And it was a second career for me, too. It’s interesting, people come from lots of different professional backgrounds, and mine just happened to be radio.  I was looking for a job that I could do for a long time and not get fired from, because I had seen so many people in my previous job at the radio station who had been there 10 – 15 years, and they hand them a box and they say, “See you.”

Because as you can imagine you’re only as good as your last rating. And I thought I can’t do this. And then at the same time, also, my dad instilled in me to be a business owner because that’s the way you really make good money. And so, at that time, I was driven by making more money, having some autonomy for my career, and having something that I could do for the long haul.

R: You touched on the three main points that make people choose real estate:

  • Independence
  • Owning your own business
  • Being your own boss

MS: Well, and it’s also scary, too, because now the weight of the world is on your shoulders, right? You don’t have someone giving you a paycheck every Friday or every other Friday or once a month even. It starts off slow for most people. And so, they’ll go weeks and sometimes months before they get a paycheck. You’re just thinking, did I do the right thing? It’s very, very scary. At first, we try to coach people through that and to expect that and set up the proper expectation.

R: I think a lot of people assume that you’re starting from zero like you’re starting a whole new job. As if you are completely starting over. Do you think that’s true?

MS: Well, that’s an interesting question, because obviously, I’m starting a completely new skill set, right? So, I’ve never sold anything before in my life. I didn’t know anything about real estate. So, I think that’s where a lot of people start from. In that respect, yes, you are starting brand new, starting over. But we’re not so much concerned with that. When I look for new agents, I look for personality traits and personality qualities. Are you friendly? Are you someone that likes people? And are you able to talk to people and are you curious about them and can you help them? Do you feel like you would be an advocate for somebody? I feel like those qualities people have throughout their life, right?

From that standpoint, you’re not starting over. You have those skill sets that take you forward into real estate seamlessly, but you’re just learning. You know how to drive a car. It’s just a new car.

R: People look for certain skills in their realtor, they look for someone who they know, like, and trust. And if you have that sphere of people you know, like and trust already, you’re not starting over because you’ve got your sphere, they know, like, and trust you, they’re more likely to use you.

MS: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s important. You touch on probably the basic thing about being a realtor and that’s working with people you already know. And so it’s not about I’m starting a business. I’m going to put up a billboard or do a radio commercial or a TV commercial or a grocery cart or something like that because then I’m dealing with strangers, people that I don’t know that don’t know me. And if I’m already dealing with people who know me, I don’t have to introduce myself, so to speak. They already know that we’re starting off on a good foot. Yeah. And then that’s good. So hopefully the people that I’m working with initially as a new agent are people that already feel positive vibes about you.

R: Do you have any getting into the business stories or anything like that? Maybe, like how scared you were at first and how you kind of overcame it?

MS: I tell this story a lot to people who are just starting out. I was a slow starter. I was a slow learner. And I remember I started in July of my first year, and by December, six months later, I come home, it’s dark, it’s wintertime, it’s cold, it’s December, Christmas is coming up. And I think I had sold maybe three houses in six months. And I remember my accountant said, I got good news and bad news. The good news is you don’t owe any tax.

And the bad news is you made $600.  I almost quit because I said to my wife, this isn’t working. I got to go back and do something else. I’m really giving it a try. And she says, hang in there. And this is another key point. You got to have a support group, and whether it’s a spouse or family or friends if you don’t have people that are cheering you on, that’s another big, big red flag, because if you’ve got a spouse or kids or friends that say, what are you doing? That’s stupid. When are you going to quit? That just completely takes the air out of your balloon. And fortunately, I did have support from my wife, and she’s the one that kept me in it for another month. And if she hadn’t done that, I don’t know where I’d be today, but 25 years later, I’m still in the real estate business, and I almost quit.

R: I think that also touches on the pros of Ruhl&Ruhl because we act and work like a family. We are each other’s support system, no matter what you need, whether it be the Marketing Department, the IT Department, your manager, your other fellow Realtors – We’re all there for you, whatever troubles or great times you’re going through, we’re there for you.

MS: Another thing I like to say is a bit tongue in cheek, but it takes a village to raise a Realtor. You do have to have people that cheer you on, not only at home in your personal life but at work, and say, hey, I’ve been there and done that. I think that’s the cool thing about our company. As you said I’ll use the word synergy. I’ll use the analogy of running. Runners like to run with people who push them or that they’re at least their speed or maybe a little bit faster. To be successful in real estate, it matters who you fly with and you want to be in a good pack. It’s going to take you along and you’re going to ride the wave. And that’s one thing that I think Ruhl&Ruhl does differently, and a bit better than most other companies.

R: We’re always looking to challenge ourselves. The person I run with is faster than me!

MS: That’s good, right?

R: Oh yes! If someone out there is thinking of becoming a Realtor, what advice would you give them before they get started?

MS: Number one – I think they should check it out. They need to know what they are getting into. Most people are coming from a salary position, an employee. What we are, what the IRS classified us as, is an independent contractor. You’re now going to start your own small business. I try to be very clear with people on that. Sometimes people say, “I just love HGTV!” And don’t get me wrong, those shows are fun to watch, but they aren’t reality. You are starting a small business, just like you would with a coffee shop. You have got to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Like you said earlier – know, like, and trust people in your sphere of influence. But also have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Because I’m a manager of an office, many people will say “Oh here’s Matt, he’s my boss. And I’ll go, “Oh no, no no! I’m not your boss – you’re the boss! You are your own CEO, janitor, you name it, you’re everything for your small business! If they have that desire to be their own boss, I think that’s huge.

Thinking of a career in real estate?

Don’t hesitate to reach out! We’re available to discuss the process, getting started, and how to be successful as Matt mentioned above. Give Darcy Holle, our Director of Career Development a call at 563-441-5102 or send her an email.

Learn more about building a better business and a better life with a career at Ruhl&Ruhl. And remember you’re not starting over! You’re moving to the life of your dreams!


Originally recorded in 2019. Updated in 2021.

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