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NLR Stories

From Consultant to Land Professional: Trading My Salary for More Freedom

July 19, 2023

I graduated from high school and joined the Air Force in 2001. Once my time with the Air Force was over, I attended the University of Tennessee using my GI Bill money and graduated in 2010 with a forestry degree, and went to work as a consulting forester. It seemed that most consultants had their real estate license, so that became a goal of mine. It made a lot of sense because consultants are always in front of landowners and people who are constantly buying and selling land.

Before I got my license, there were a few times that I would refer land agents to landowners or buyers, and I thought to myself that I was the one who should be providing that service since I already had their trust and was genuinely concerned about representing their best interests. I ended up taking the time to get my real estate license in 2016 and joined National Land Realty. I haven’t looked back since and now I am enjoying land brokerage full-time.

I wanted to provide another service to my clients and be a “one-stop shop” for anything involving land. I also wanted to increase my income and saw this as a perfect opportunity to do that. It wasn’t like I was working a totally different job that had nothing to do with my full-time job at the time. The two went hand in hand.

At the time, my wife just had our first child and I knew more were in our future. That kind of kicked me into gear to get my real estate license and do what I could to increase my income. I think that I just felt trapped in a salaried position when I saw my ceiling. I wanted to be the best provider I could be without working myself to death and being away from my family. I tried to envision my family life and income 10 years in advance. I felt like God was leading me down a path and opening doors so I followed His lead.

Trapped would be the best way to describe how I felt at that time before I got my license. I wanted the freedom to pursue my goals and it seemed I was always trying to defend myself and the vision I had. I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied in my career until I reached the certain goals I had envisioned. I don’t think I ever really hit “rock bottom.” I had a good job with great benefits but there was something missing and I knew it.

I knew that God was leading me down the right road and I just had to follow His lead. It just so happened that I had a great opportunity presented to me thanks to my employer at the time, a fellow NLR broker and leadership figure. I had to make a decision whether to stay with my employer or leave and pursue land brokerage full-time with NLR. It was a tough decision to leave the safety and security of a decent salary and benefits but it was still pretty clear to me what I had to do.

It’s refreshing to have a strong group of agents to work with as well. National Land Realty’s support is second to none and takes a lot of stress off my shoulders. It has allowed me to trust myself and fully utilize the skills that I learned in my previous career. I feel more free now since I know that NLR “has my back.” Coming from working for an hourly wage or a salary to full commission was scary because that was all I ever knew. Now I know that I wouldn’t have it any other way and great leaders like Jason Burbage and Ronnie Richardson helped me get over that hump and adjust to my new profession.

We never stop learning in this business, and I think that is always a challenging and rewarding aspect of any great land brokerage. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way and roll with the punches. Staying confident that I will be successful is still tough at times, but it’s easier with National Land Realty behind me. It’s all on you to do the work and you won’t be getting a steady paycheck anymore but with NLR’s support, hard work, and confidence you can’t go wrong.

Now we are working on growing National Land Realty here in Tennessee and ensuring that our agents are successful and able to make a career for themselves. We get a lot of support from NLR which allows me to focus on my favorite part of this job: selling land!

Since joining National Land Realty, I feel like I’ve had more freedom and opportunities to serve not only my clients but my family and my community as well. I’m making more money than I was before and feel a sense of pride and ownership in the work I do. Making the transition to National Land Realty has been life-changing. 

In the end, NLR was the perfect fit for me. They really do provide all the tools to be successful. It’s just up to you to see it through. I have met some of the most genuine people I have ever known during my time at NLR. I am able to focus on land brokerage now and it’s the right fit for me. I still get to work in the woods, meet people, and serve them. I really enjoy seeing things through and knowing that a project was a job well done. Working for a land brokerage is a rewarding career and NLR gives you the tools for success and get the job done right!

About the Author
Matthew joined National Land Realty in 2016. Matthew is a U.S. Air Force veteran and received his B.S. in Forestry from the University of Tennessee. He is a member of the Realtors Land Institute, Society of American Foresters, Tennessee Forestry Association, and is also a Society of American Foresters Certified Forester. Matthew lives in Maryville, TN with his wife Morgan and their three children, Anna, Joseph, and Caleb. Outside of work and spending time with family, Matthew enjoys fishing on the rivers of East Tennessee, exploring in his Land Cruisers, and University of Tennessee Athletics.