According to a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, the real estate industry has the second-highest rate of clinically diagnosed depression among a wide range of professional occupations in the U.S. There are, of course, any number of factors that contribute to depression…and in this case, the job might be one of them.
Why? Why would a career in real estate possibly be a factor? Responsibility without authority, high levels of stress, high client tension and wide swings in clients’ emotions, uncertain income, and difficult interactions. Those are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.
Every client/transaction has several moving parts; setting up showings, follow-up of showings, keeping track of contract dates, feedback, updates, paperwork, structural inspections, getting contractors for estimates, phone calls, etc. I think you’re getting the picture. Now take all of those moving parts and multiply it exponentially because most real estate agents have multiple deals happening at the same time….all with their own individual moving parts.
I liken it to juggling. Imagine you’re juggling several small, red balls when somebody tosses another one at you, and then tosses 2 more. You cope but it’s getting much more difficult and you don’t know if any more balls are going to be sent your way. Your stress level stays elevated in fear of dropping a ball or of more balls being thrown at you. However, it doesn’t matter how many lists we create or how many safety nets we put up…we are eventually going to drop a ball. If we are lucky it is something minor which can be easily rectified. If we aren’t so lucky it’s something major and we do the best we can to remedy it and gracefully accept the blame.
I’ll give you an example. Some time ago I helped some first-time home buyers buy a lovely home in the Dundee area. The listing agent is a member of a neighboring board of realtors so the forms and contracts were different than what I was familiar with. Long story short…..the refrigerator was NOT included in the sale and by the time I realized it, it was too late as we were already under contract. I dropped a ball. Talk about stress, “Crap! Now what do I do!”, and anger, “How could I miss that??!” So I did the only thing I could think of to fix the situation and I bought them a new refrigerator.
It’s also very easy for real estate agents to suffer burnout, which can also be a factor for depression. Unless we set limits, many of us are available 12 hours a day (or more), 7 days a week. I work with many international clients and it’s always fun trying to coordinate time-zones. Did you know there is a 13 hour time difference between NY and Korea?
So next time your agent makes a mistake, or isn’t immediately available, please cut her/him some slack. Juggling isn’t easy.