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Lessons Learned From Choosing The Wrong Brokerage

August 3, 2022

I moved to Florida in the late 90s after leaving the Coast Guard just prior to the tech explosion of the dot com era. I was determined to gain entry and make my mark in this new industry. By happenstance I found a job working for a local internet start-up company within the first three weeks of arriving in Fort Myers.

The next ten years of my life were consumed by long hours and constant travel, but I was also rewarded with even bigger paychecks. I had risen in the ranks of the tech industry and had achieved my desired outcome, or so I had initially thought. In my pursuit of success, I realized that I had given so much of my time and experience to my employers and that my financial success was only a fraction of what I could have achieved if I had been my own boss.

It took a few more years to finally take the leap to break away from the safety net of the corporate tech world and finally become my own boss. Before making that bold move, I wanted to find a similar industry to the tech industry when I started in the mid-90s. I was searching for an industry with a similar risk-to-reward ratio; I had never shied away from a risky proposition, so long as the potential reward was big enough to justify the risk. I settled on the real estate industry just after the housing bubble had collapsed in the 2008-2011 timeframe. I left my cushy tech job and six-figure salary to pursue not only greater income potential but also the freedom that I so desired. 

Making that leap from one industry to a completely different industry was not exactly new to me but was nevertheless still a struggle. Those first few years of working in residential real estate under a less than supportive broker were not the brightest part of my career. I fought for every listing and sale but still had a difficult time increasing my sales and gaining the experience that I knew I needed to attain the level of success I set out to achieve. I decided to take an even bolder move and open my own brokerage that in hindsight was not the optimal move I should have made at the time given my lack of experience and expertise in this field. I found myself completely overwhelmed and with no one to turn to for advice.

I vividly recall evaluating the differences between my corporate tech job to my current situation as a fledgling residential broker. It wasn’t the lack of a steady paycheck or the need to be accountable to a boss that I missed or needed to be successful as a broker, it was the lack of mentorship. I knew that all the hard work and countless hours would not substitute the advice and guidance from an expert. It was at that point, that I knew I needed to seek out some better sources of knowledge. 

I turned to the obvious places where one in our business could learn from experts: real estate seminars, online courses, and even YouTube. They either provided bare minimum information, knowledge that I already knew from the years in the industry, or were trying to sell me something that was overpriced and underwhelming. I needed something equivalent to a Ph.D. program in real estate sales. I was at a true crossroads, I refused to go back to working for a company yet I yearned for the mentorship, guidance, and support that was so freely available to me when I worked for a large organization.

I confided in one of my very close friends that was in real estate of my predicament. I had never really thought of us as being in the same industry since he was in land real estate, and I was solely in residential real estate. He suggested I look into pivoting into land real estate with the help and guidance of a prominent land broker. My friend suggested a highly touted firm and I began researching National Land Realty.

Today, I can distinctly recall reading through their website and each paragraph I read completely spoke to me and addressed all the needs I had been struggling with for months. In a matter of a few short weeks, I had gone from reviewing informational material to signing up to become a member of their support network. I was particularly inspired by their pervasive use of game-changing technology which spoke to my personal interest in using technology to meet business needs. 

I have yet to regret this decision to join National Land. I still have the independence I demanded since the day I left my tech company yet have the vast support and mentorship from the leading experts in the industry. I now have literally dozens of experts across the country to call on for guidance; National Land cultivates this inviting community that makes me feel like I am part of a large family that’s committed to helping one another. Today I am a better agent to my clients and continue to see my sales steadily grow, month after month.

Most importantly, I continue to learn. Not only did I finally acquire the knowledge I was initially seeking when I first joined National Land, but there are so many facets to this industry that I can humbly state that I am still learning the things that I didn’t even know I didn’t know! There were other benefits that I had not expected when I initially pivoted from residential to land including the differences in the emotions of the clientele, both from the sellers and buyers, which continues to provide a much more professional and enjoyable experience.

I am in the perfect situation career-wise; I am continuing to grow my individual sales well beyond my expectations and growing my sales staff across the state. In parting, I could easily see myself as a long-term member of National Land and look forward to the opportunity to give back the years of mentorship and support I have received from this amazing group of people. 

About the Author
Justus Koester joined National Land Realty as a land professional in 2017. He grew up in the heartland of the Midwest where he was a student athlete and earned the prestigious honor of Eagle Scout. He is a decorated veteran and served in the U.S. Coast Guard where he was first introduced to the beauty of Florida. After serving, he settled in Fort Myers and has made this amazing state his forever home where his two children were born and raised. Prior to joining National Land, Justus was the owner of a brokerage firm in Southwest Florida.