Updated: Feb 28
Have you taken the time to step back and look at where you are? What does real estate success mean to you? Monica Neubauer is the Maverick Moitvator and podcast host for the National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) Center for REALTORS® Development Podcast. She sits down with Renee Williams to highlight the importance of knowing where you are financially to avoid burning yourself out without a goal in mind. It’s about figuring out what you need not only in real estate, but with your self and your family in mind.
Join in as she gives helpful advice to help you plan out your financial future and share some tips from her book, Straight Talk for Real Estate Success: 80 Tips for Structuring, Organizing, and Promoting Your Business. Stay tuned!
Mentioned on this episode:
Center for REALTOR Development Podcast - http://crdpodcast.com/
Center for REALTOR Financial Wellness - https://www.financialwellness.realtor/
5 Years Before You Retire by Emily Guy Birken
This American Life Podcast
The Moth Podcast
Social Security - https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
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Straight Talk For Real Estate Success With Monica Neubauer
We're going to talk to Monica Neubauer. Monica is the Maverick motivator. She is a national speaker and podcast host for the Center for REALTOR Development Podcast with the National Association of Realtors. She has been an agent for many years in Franklin, Tennessee. Monica is going to have a great conversation with us all about your development and the great opportunities that are available to us, not only as realtors but as we grow our business and consider other things that we can do beyond real estate as we exit. We're going to talk to Monica Neubauer.
We're here with Monica Neubauer. How are you?
Renee, I'm great. Thank you for having me.
Thank you so much for coming on the show. Everyone who listens to REALTOR Development knows who you are. I want to go ahead and have you introduce yourself. Tell us how you got started with that and more about the podcast.
If you look for it on your podcast apps, you want to look for NAR Center for REALTOR Development Podcast app. We created that a number of years ago. It got started even a year and a half before we released it. I was sitting with one of the staff members there. We were just talking about some of the course offerings that they had and webinars. It was almost like we looked at each other and said, “Why don't we have a podcast? Maybe we should do a podcast.” We did. We got it approved, worked on the budget and started the podcast.
We went to the podcast movement and learned how to do a podcast. It's been great ever since. There's a lot of podcasts out there that help with the motivational stuff. “Here's how you go out and get the business. You're going to be successful. Here's all the positive stuff.” Being that we are with the National Association of Realtors, we want to provide education. We want to strengthen our members to feel better about their businesses and what they're doing in their businesses.
I interview a guest every month and then we have four bonus episodes a year. That's how we've been the last couple of years. We talk about some parts of real estate. We've been talking about multiple offers, working with appraisers, zoning and codes after the Champlain Towers fell down in Florida. We've talked about service animals and emotional support animals. Things that real estate agents need in their business, we're giving them those kinds of tools.
Our situations change and we need to keep learning, we need to get that basis of foundation to help us start things and help us grow but our life situations change.
Listening to the podcast, I've learned so much. You cover a wide range of different topics but all things that affect my business in some way or another. It's hugely beneficial to listen to the podcast. Speaking of benefits, I wanted to talk about something that I heard on the show. In one episode you had, you were talking about financial wellness. We had Brittany Schanck.
She was in show number two because I knew right out the gate that I needed to talk about financial wellness for real estate agents as we build our careers and make the decision to exit production. For those of us who are women of a certain age, it is so important that we get our arms around the benefits that we have through our trade association but specifically this one about financial wellness. What are your thoughts on that?
You're saying financial wellness. Let folks know that they can go to FinancialWellness.realtor. There are webinars and education there. They have so many fabulous tools. They've been building that up. You had the episode with Brittany. I've interviewed staff people. We had a great conversation. We flayed ourselves open, talked about our finances and said, “Here's what we're doing. This is doing good. This is what I learned the hard way.” I did an episode with Rich Arzaga and we talked about how to choose a financial advisor, which for me was #Fail. I chose the right guy and he disappeared. Listen to that episode with Rich. It was good about some insurance things and finding a good financial advisor. The education that agents need is available.
I want to touch on Rich a little bit because he is connected with Ariel Siner, who did a webinar with NAR back in January 2021. I picked up on Rich’s episode with you. I watched Ariel's webinar. I had her come on the show. She was shown number three. Estate Planning for Realtors is the name of the episode. Between Rich and Ariel, you get so much good information about what you need to be doing because I know a lot of us, including me, because that's why I wanted to talk to her. We don't necessarily have all the pieces of the puzzle together to be prepared and do what we need to do. Did you feel the same way when you were talking to Rich?
We talked about mine a little bit because mine is largely based on investment properties as opposed to stocks and bonds and IRA funds. He talked to me about having a cash-based retirement plan. If I add together Social Security for my husband, myself and the amount of money I'm going to get from paid-off investment properties, that was my plan.
Talking to him, he helped me discuss that in a way that hopefully agents can understand that what your financial advisors is telling you may not be your only option. There are many ways to look at it. We need help but you can't train yourself at FinancialWellness.realtor. I was telling her episode with Emily Birken five years until you retire.
I have been reading that book myself and I was like, “I got so much going on.” I was very happy about that. I was preparing to teach the Senior Real Estate Specialist Designation. I need to keep learning. One of the things I'd love to talk with you about is that our situations change. We need to keep learning and get that basis of foundation to help us start and grow things. Our life situations change. 2020 to 2021, can anyone say change?
Emily Guy Birken was episode number four. The 5 Years Before You Retire is the name of the book that you were referring to. Tell me what you're thinking about being ready for change. How do we get the motivation? If we feel like we're overwhelmed in our business or we're stuck, all of the stuff that we're saying sounds good, like when you're listening to it on a podcast.
How do you get the motivation to keep learning when you're on the hamster wheel every day and putting out fires all the time in your business? How do you keep going and have the zeal for learning the figuring out what I need to do to take the next steps in my life? What are your suggestions for that?
The things that we need to grow in are hanging around on the outskirts of our brains. If your kids are 15, 16, 17, 20, you're already starting to think a little bit of emptiness and what's going to happen. You're thinking about cars and college funding. Those are the things that you want to learn about. How do I help my kids get scholarship money and get aid? How can I make sure they're at the right college? To touch on it, I don't necessarily want to go on a tangent. There are a lot of challenges with kids in college with the financing it, even with some young people going to college and saying, “This is not for me,” but not realizing it until they get there.
The parents are thinking about these things. Once you get to emptiness, then you're thinking about other things. What you need is on the periphery of your mind. That's what I would encourage people to pursue because I like to listen to podcasts. My husband listens too a lot. He listens to the ones he's interested in. I'll load up some in my podcast list, buy some books that I want to read or things that I want to learn, then I'll never listen to that one but I'm so drawn to this one or this one because that's what I need at the moment. In 2020 and 2021, I've been finding myself drawn to the stories. I listened to This American Life and true crime.
I've been needing to get some entertainment because I don't watch a lot of TV. When I'm driving a lot, I want to free my mind of everything that's going around, going on. I have a few that I'll listen to with intention and then I have a few that I listened to without intention that let me relax. That's what I've chosen. I got this big, hairy goal I'm thinking about and I'm like, “I'm going to go read books on that.” This has my interest. I went to the bookstore and bought a couple of books on something. I'm going to pour into that and see if that's something I want to pursue. Our interests take us to the place where we need to go.
I'm thinking two-fold. When you're super stressed, you need entertainment. Sometimes your interest is mind-numbing and entertainment. I love This American Life. I'm a big fan of The Moth podcast as well. It’s the binge entertainment I listened to. I will also say that we can't ignore the things that need to happen. I know that when I get stressed, I'll stick my head in the sand and go for entertainment or things that aren't adding any value. It's adding value to me mentally because I need the mental space to be free for a little bit.
You can do it for too long and it becomes a waste. One hour on Instagram reels or something like that, you waste time when you should be sleeping, honestly or maybe listening to a book on tape would accomplish the same thing to help you calm down. That's something I've been doing at night as well too.
What you need is actually on the periphery of your mind. Our interests take us to the place where we need to go.
I wanted to encourage the readers. It’s good to do some things that help you to relax your mind that are entertaining to get you away. Monica and I are both talking about benefits and financial wellness. We encourage you some things that we can do to have in place a plan for the future. That needs some of our time as well. If you haven't grabbed The 5 Years Before You Retire, that’s certainly something to think about.
If you haven't reached out to someone like Rick or Ariel, those are all things that we need to be considering. Monica, if you don't mind, I want to bring it back. You said something that's close to my heart, which is real estate investing. I try not to make every episode about real estate investing because that's not everybody's exit vehicle and in love with it, but I am. If you can, tell me a little bit about your real estate investing and what you're doing with that.
My personal goal and journey is that I want to own properties outright. I have them as part of my retirement plan. They will be paid off, so they will provide that constant source of income. I own two properties. You talk about taking time to keep planning. One night, I was exhausted and needed to go to bed. I sat down, put all of my retirement stuff on a piece of paper and wrote it down cause I needed to see it.
I know what my plan is. I've been living in it for a long time, but I want to see, “How quickly am I going to pay off my units? What's my goal? When can I think that I'm going to have my financial setup ready? Where if I wanted to work less or I wanted to back off that I'd have that freedom?” I needed to see in my mind the exit strategy and how it was happening. I put all those numbers together. For me, that's exciting. I have done flips. Flips are quite frankly regretting to me because if I flipped it, that means I don't have it anymore.
I have these two properties that I'm working towards getting paid off and getting my personal house paid off. I know that is not everybody's goal. Some people don't like it. I was reading an article about some of the people who want to be investing in crypto coin and other more risky things for my husband and me. My husband has less risk than me. The aging thing is a factor too. I don't like to use the word I'm being fiscally conservative here. I'm like, “Tightening up. You should invest in Vaughn's and get dividends.” I'm not there yet.
That's what we understand, even if we, as agents, hire a property manager to manage the property. We've been talking about looking at retirement locations, not places we want to move to retire forever but where do we want to spend some time that we might want to have a second home where we can rent it out either short-term or the 30 days because there are lots of regulations with that. We're talking about, “Where do we want to purchase another home in a place where we want to go visit so we can stay there some more and yet still also move it towards being paid off and being a source of income?”
It's something I'm always making a goal towards. I'm saving my money. I want to get that 20% down payment. I love to buy a property. I only have two in my residents. I wish it was more but it's all right. It's all in the plan. Certainly, the one is almost paid off. I could take my money out of that, go and buy two more if I wanted. That's not the plan that we've created. Those were different strokes.
You have options, choices, plans and you wrote it down.
I could share it with my husband. He could see it. We go to my Social Security, log in and see, “If you keep making this much money, your retirement benefits will be this.” We run the numbers and then I also put in, “What if I decide to travel some more, do some other things and I make less money, then I'll make that money?” That gives me power in my education to make decisions. It's like when we meet with our real estate clients. When we go to their house for the first time, they're drowning in overwhelmed ignorance.
Even if they know a lot, they're not sure how to put it together or make the plan. We're glad when they call us 1 or 2 years, even in advance, so we can help them getting paid, go through their possessions, whatever needs to be done, “I'll help you. We'll work through this for a while if needed.” It's the same for us. We need to look at our situation and plan.
I want to tell you a story. An agent friend of mine and I were always looking for where we could find that harmony in life. We get stressed. We're overwhelmed. We need to reassess our lives every year because that stressed and overwhelming feeling can only go on so long, then burnout, exhaustion and other things come in. We need to reevaluate every year. I'm always talking about how I can improve my life and the lives of my friends. We had this little group. We were talking about how we could help our businesses and lives. We had a mastermind at our brokerage firm, which you all have a need to start a mastermind at your brokerage firms. Somebody else has that need.
We were in this meeting and this agent said, “I feel so stressed. My husband has retired. He's putting a lot of pressure on me to sell a lot of houses. He's feeling stressed. His source of income has shifted. He's operating from fear because he doesn't have his job. He's not settled into what their income is.” She's feeling his stress and it's also affecting their house life because she's stressed. He's trying to adjust to retirement and the fear of money.
We talked to her, we said, “How much money is enough? If you're going to try and find peace and you're going to keep selling real estate, do 5, 10, 15 or 20 houses create enough income? How many transactions or how much money is going to create enough money for you and your husband to feel at peace?” They had not had that conversation. They didn't know how much money was going to be enough for them.
She's in this hamster wheel of stress, when in fact, she worked on it, came back and was like, “I don't need that much business at all to make our goals and bring peace into our house.” Until she ran the numbers, figured out what their need was and where their peaceful line was, she didn't know what they needed. She was running in fear and stress unnecessarily.
We have to acknowledge where we are and we need as opposed to what we want.
Isn't that what we do? The natural go-to is your mind goes to worry or stress. That seems to be a natural state. You have to fight it, think through and get outside of the situation. For us as realtors, it's easy to say, “I only need three houses a month.” You can figure out what your number is. For your market or luxury, you may only need one. It depends on what your situation is.
Life is easier when you quantify things. I have not been a girl who has loved numbers. I was not a math person. I started doing mortgages loans back in 2004. I loved money. Money was easier than Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry. You can easily quantify things, “This is how many closings I need to have peace in my life, marriage and family. This is how many mortgage-free homes I need to have to retire. Every month we need this much coming in. If I'm debt-free on three properties, we're good.”
I have a friend who's debt-free on several properties and could be in a retirement state if she wanted but she's not. She's killing it as a broker and enjoys it most days. Sometimes I go, “Why do you keep bringing all this on yourself?” There are certain things about it she loves so much. She does it because she loves it. That comes out of the joy of her heart. Financially, it’s fine. They've got that settled. Having the finances settled gives us a certain amount of freedom. If you want to get crazy, go take a trip or take three months off, take time. My daughter came home. She was living overseas and I'm going to not stress over what happens.
I want to enjoy this. She's been living overseas for two and a half years. She loves Christmas and holidays. We're going to enjoy the time. I have a fair bit of work that I'm doing, but I'm also giving myself permission. That's another phrase I wanted to give to your readers. I am giving myself permission not to be stressed over my work environment. If I take a few hours off a day, if I only work 4 to 6 hours a day instead of 8 to 10, that's okay. I'm going to enjoy my husband, daughter and son, when he comes. I'm going to enjoy my family and this season and be okay. I'm going to give myself permission to rest.
That sounds like Straight Talk For Real Estate Success. Let's get into that. It says 80 Tips for Structuring, Organizing and Promoting your Business. For those of us who are in the trenches every day, we're not ready to exit. We don't have our retirement strategy squared away. Monica, how are we getting through every day in our business with straight talk?
We have to acknowledge where we are and what we need as opposed to what we want. It's the business planning time of year. I did an episode on that. I want people to plan their businesses. It's a busy time because of the holidays. If people are not honest with themselves, they're not going to get themselves out of the place where we are.
It's one thing to look at positive memes and self-care days on Instagram, social media and say, “I'm going to a movie. I'm having a self-care.” You're going to a movie. I'm glad you're taking a break but I don't think that's going to take away your full emotional things. One thing that I learned, certainly becoming a speaker and even leaning into the motivational side, is that the things that motivational speakers have been saying for decades are still true.
The basic things that the health gurus say are also true. Good sleep, diet, some rest, the things that we need and then time with our families laughing. People say, “I'm doing this for my family.” “Have you seen your family all week?” Children want their parents’ presence. You hear a lot of children who grew up without a lot of financial resources but some of them will say, “I didn't know we were poor. My family was there. We played music and in the yard. We had a great time.” The children want their parents with them at a younger age. It requires being honest with oneself. When you're overwhelmed, you have to ask yourself a few questions.
You have to say, first of all, “What am I good at? What's my need?” Once you identify what you're good at and what you enjoy, “I want to keep doing that. What do I need? Do I need help in my business? Do I need a contract to close the person? Do I have enough business where I could hire an assistant, part-time, full-time?” You could do marketing and contract to close. “Do I need to hire a newer showing agent who's willing to go show homes for a fee because this market is crazy and I need somebody besides me who can go show a house to my client?”
It's imperative that agents give amazing customer service to their clients. Sometimes that means bringing in other people who do something better than you but you have to communicate with your clients well like, “I'm doing this as our team. This is our house buying team. It's you the client. It's me, the agent. It's the lender. It might be a showing assistant or a contract to close person.” That's one part.
You have to look at your business and say, “What do I need? Do I have the resources?” Look at your budget and say, “I can afford an extra $400 closing for a contract to close person. I can afford $750 or $8,000 a month for a part-time assistant.” That's honestly how I look at it with the people that I have helping me in my businesses. “This is my budget for help.” I hire the help that I need. I give them the tasks all within that amount of resources. That works one way.
The other thing that I was going to say is a lot of agents get into this, “I have to do it all.” The control freak kind of person. If you love your business so much, you're so afraid of somebody else damaging something like, “I like to work with people where they are,” I've made the other decisions about your work but if you just can't give it up, then you have to go back and look at your home and personal life.
If you're that busy, you're making some decent money. I do understand that in 2021, people have shown a whole lot of houses, maybe not as many closings. Look at your personal life and say, “What do I need in my personal life? Do I need someone to help me clean the house and help cook some meals? Should I go buy one of those healthy meal preparation businesses and pick up dinner or have them deliver it for me three nights a week?” What would be the stress relief for you? What is it that you need in your house? If you're going crazy, you need help somewhere. Please train your kids to clean their bathrooms and do their laundry.
The first day my husband brought folded clothes down to the laundry room, the kids had dumped their clean clothes into the laundry basket to get them off the floor. They were odd and still folded. He pushed it right back to him. He said, “That's it. I'm done. You're doing your own laundry.” My kids have been doing their laundry since they were fourteen.
Decide what you want to do. Decide where to get help and get the help. Don't just keep swimming by yourself.
Mine started at ten. Mom does not love housework. At that time, I had a corporate job. I was commuting one hour each way each day. I couldn't manage it all. My husband and I both work full-time. We have two kids. My son was 10 and my daughter was 12. They started washing their own clothes. There are some white t-shirts that came out blue because there were blue jeans in there.
They're growing. You got to buy him new clothes in six months anyway.
Was it perfect? No. Did it look like I did it? No. Were the clean clothes are then shoved in a drawer instead of being folded the right way? Sure. They were clean and they can wear them. We needed to get them in the dryer, then you take a water bottle. You spritz a little water, throw it in the dryer, pull it out and there it is, then they're not wrinkled anymore. We found all kinds of tricks. When you're a mom who works full-time, you're either a single mom or your partner works full-time as well, then kids need to manage some of their own stuff. They can if we set our expectations for our kids to take care of their own stuff, bathrooms, wash their dishes and so forth.
For some moms, I hear, “I can tell my kids to do it but they won't do it.” This is what happens and you'll see this on my Facebook. I had a post over the Christmas holidays. I put a note on the wall outside their bedroom that says, “The Wi-Fi will be turned back on and your phones will be returned to you once the laundry is done, the bathroom is clean and the dishes are done.” I posted it. Everybody loved that. “I pay for those items. We're all living here together in this home.”
My husband and I joke all the time. My husband said, “Our kids are bad roommates. They don't clean up their stuff. They leave things.” We're teaching them to be good roommates. Their roommates in college and spouses will thank us later. We teach them to contribute to the household. We, as realtors, work all the time. We need help around the house. Kids need to pick up some of the Slack. Where you can afford to get help, get help.
If you have mindset issues around getting help in your home because your mother-in-law, husband or somebody is going to say something about that, message me. Let's talk about it and come up with a strategy so that you can get over the mindset issues of getting help in your home. Ladies, we need help. We are superwomen. We can do a phenomenal amount of things but our business, family relationships or our mental state will suffer if we don't get help at home and in our business.
I have episode eleven. It's called Getting A Grip On Your Real Estate Business Operations. I talked about the fact that you do need help with that contract to close, transaction and coordinator. You need an assistant and an ISA in your business. Somebody to return calls to all the leads that you're paying for and you're not calling them back. We need some people helping you in your business because you cannot scale if you're doing everything. It's numerically impossible for you. There are not enough hours in the day. You need to do everything that you need to do to grow your business as a solo agent.
If you want to stay small, then you need to limit your expectations to what's realistic that you can accomplish but if you want to scale and grow even a little team of you, 2 or 3 other people, then let's have that conversation. It's doable to get to a place where you have a business. That's pretty much on autopilot and you're doing listing appointments, listing agreements, then you can make a decision to bring in a listing agent to help with that. You can exit production and start buying real estate or whatever it is that you want to do to get some passive income going. There's a formula to it all and it's perfectly doable.
Decide what you want to do. Decide where to get help and get the help. Don't keep swimming by yourself. You have to have a family meeting too. We're all in this together. The whole concept of teamwork is so important. It's teamwork with our buyers, sellers and family. We're all in this together. We're talking about people who are in business generally, somebody who is working but we've seen a lot of people who have backed off from their business because of the situation with their children. I'm here to tell you. As a real estate agent, if you've had to back off because you needed to be at home with so many changes in 2020 and 2021, you can come back.
I took a sabbatical for a year. Did it cost me money? It cost me money. Was it good for my health? It was amazing in so many ways for my life goals, health, relationship with my family and transitions that needed to happen. I got right back into it when I came back. People don't notice if you take a break. You may not want to advertise it all over social media that you've taken a break but I'm sad to say, many of us can disappear off social media for a pretty serious length of time and most people won't even notice. It's good and bad news. If you need the break or you've been taking a break, don't be concerned about that. You can come back anytime.
You have some resources on your website. Everybody knows how to get in touch with you but I want ladies to pick up Straight Talk For Real Estate Success. I want to know how to get in touch with you or how do they contact you if they want coaching and more information about this?
My website is MonicaNeubauer.com. You can order the book there. You can order it at Amazon. You can listen to the podcast. There's so much great stuff there. Google me. You'll find me somewhere. My phone number is there and you have that access. You can follow me on Instagram. One of my goals is I need to get a little more focused here. I'm a little bit too many places. There are always more things to improve in our life. You never arrive.
It's all a work in progress. We are always growing and learning. When you stop growing and learning, that's not good. Thank you so much for your time, Monica.
Thank you for having me, Renee. It's been great chatting with you. Hopefully, I’m sharing some good stuff for your readers.
Brittany Schanck - Previous episode
Ariel Siner - Previous episode
Emily Birken - Previous episode
Facebook - Agent Exit Podcast
Getting A Grip On Your Real Estate Business Operations - Previous episode
Amazon - Straight Talk for Real Estate Success
Instagram - Monica Neubauer
About Monica Neubauer
As a Maverick Motivator, Monica Neubauer’s mission is to help people grow in positive directions in their personal and professional lives. She is the author of Straight Talk for Real Estate Success: 80 Tips for Structuring, Organizing, and Promoting Your Business, the Podcast host for NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development, has worked 18+ years as a successful real estate professional and 10 years speaking nationally.