It takes a lot to be a realtor, and, in our series “What’s It Like to be a Realtor,” we talk directly with our team members to learn about the behind the scenes work of being a realtor. Through the series, our team members share how they started in real estate, what motivates them in their role, and which complex issues they see in real estate today, and so join us as we sit down and talk with Belinda Thomas.
What drew you to your job?
“Before becoming a realtor, I worked in community housing for many years as a case manager. During my time there, I was very interested in finding a more long term solution for housing for low to moderate income families, and this is what drew me into real estate. I knew that as a realtor I would be able to support families through the home buying process and help them become homeowners. As homeowners, families would be able to create generational wealth and decrease the rate of homelessness within the family by having stability and neighbor connections. So, I saw the link between real estate and the social work I was doing and felt that I could offer more support and help as a realtor. That’s when I made the jump and became a realtor.”
What did you do before real estate?
“Like I was saying before, I was a case manager for a non-profit before becoming a realtor. In that role, I worked with families that were experiencing homelessness, I managed several housing sites, and I oversaw a team of case managers. The transition from that role to real estate is fairly recent for me. In my social work, I saw how I could help more people as a realtor, so I took a leap of faith to leave my job as a case manager for a local non-profit in Madison and jumped into real estate.”
What’s something you wish you knew when you started in real estate?
“When I first started, I didn’t realize how much non-real estate I would have to learn and do as a realtor. Being a realtor is really running your own small business, so working as an independent contractor I had to learn small business skills and topics like bookkeeping, marketing, taxes, and social media. It’s a lot to learn on top of everything you need to know in real estate. But I really enjoy learning new things and overcoming challenges, and I’m excited for every new step along the way.”
What’s something you wish more people knew about real estate?
“I wish people knew that real estate isn’t really about selling and buying homes. Real estate is all about relationships. It’s about building strong connections within our community and providing genuine support to each and every client. Buying or selling a home is a major milestone, and everyday I’m honored to be a part of my client’s journey to reaching that life goal. Everyday I get to be a part of my client’s lifelong memories, and I’m not sure how a job could be more relationship based than that.”
What’s one of the hardest problems in real estate today?
“Definitely one of the hardest problems in real estate today is home inventory and home availability. Housing inventory has been low for a couple of years now, but now we’re really starting to feel the effects. Long story short, today’s low inventory comes from the 2008 housing crash and the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (*you can read more about that in our article here: Real Estate Market Crashing Soon?). And though we’re years away from 2008 and even 2020, it’s taken this many years to really feel all of the small effects add up.
Right now, inventory is so low that buyers don’t have a lot of time to make a decision on what house they would like to make an offer on, and sometimes they have to make an offer on multiple houses before even one gets accepted. That’s why it’s so crucial right now to work with a realtor that you really trust and who genuinely supports you. It takes a lot of work to find the right home at any time, but today it takes even more work and a true team effort.”
What gets you out of bed everyday to be a realtor?
“I love being an entrepreneur and the flexibility real estate provides me. Being my own boss gives me more time to spend with my family, and it always gives me something new to learn.
Plus, as a realtor, I have the opportunity to meet and build relationships with new people in different fields such as lenders, appraisers, inspectors, independent contractors, and more. Being a realtor really helps me get to know our community and form lasting relationships with the people who make Madison great.
These community relationships then help me support my clients even more. By knowing the right people and having the right connections, I can help my clients find exactly the home they’re looking for, even with today’s low home inventory and home availability.
In other words, like I said before, being a realtor is about building relationships and about helping people. So, that’s really why I get up everyday to do this job. I get up to be there for my family, for my clients, and for my community.”