Brokers, 5 Signs It’s Time to Plan Your Exit Strategy

Most real estate professional would agree that the past few years have been quite the wild ride. At the beginning of 2020, we were all pretty certain that the market would begin to correct and that things would change. Boy, did they ever change! No one could have predicted that a global pandemic could trigger such an intense housing boom and geographic shift for the workforce.

Having worked in franchise development for Coldwell Banker, I saw the writing on the wall. An oncoming “recession” or even a slight re-correction of the market would trigger a percentage of brokerage owners to plan their exit. The prediction may have been nearly three years off, but now it seems that many are reevaluating their plans for the future.

As an owner/operator, it’s sometimes hard to step back and take an objective look at the business you you’ve built. However, when the market changes, even the most dedicated entrepreneur tends to take stock and watch where things are heading.

This is one of the great turning points in the real estate market. Now is the perfect time to consider when, where, and if it’s time for the next chapter. Here are five reasons you should consider an exit strategy.

1.   Financial wellbeing

Believe it or not, it’s acceptable to be in business and make money. You’re allowed to profit from the fruits of your labor. However, a surprising number of brokerage owners don’t realize that they are actually funding the business from their own personal production.

I have seen numerous examples of owners who would have made more money simply working for someone else. Those office doors only stay open because you are writing a check every month. Not discounting the satisfaction of entrepreneurship, but if you find that you no longer want to support other people with your bank account, it might be time for a change.

2.   You’ve reached the peak

Most business owners don’t have a clear picture of what success looks like. They just keep doing what works until it doesn’t work anymore. No one really knows when the business has peaked until they are on the other side and heading back down.

Countless companies saw explosive growth in 2020 and 2021. Those days are gone. If you don’t have the stomach to watch what you built shrink or the desire to double down and grow again, it’s probably time to find someone else to take your seat.

3.   Shoulda, coulda, woulda

Have you been approached in the past 24 months about selling or merging? The chances are excellent that the topic has come up more than once. Many brokers were probably ready to hang it up at the start of 2020 but then the market was just too good to walk away.

Here we are on the backside of 2022, and things are looking a little shaky. If you find yourself saying, “Maybe I should have…,” then maybe you should. Next time someone reaches out to chat about a merger, take the call.

4.   It’s personal

Life happens. We all have personal reasons for the decisions we make in business. Maybe you have a sick family member. Maybe you want to travel the world while you can still enjoy it. Maybe you simply long for the simpler days of just selling real estate. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Sometimes, you just reach a point where you know it’s time to move on. Don’t miss the opportunity. Find someone you can trust with the company you’ve built and go live your best life.

5.   It’s not fun anymore

If you hated real estate, you wouldn’t have poured years, if not decades, of your life into building a business. You are 100% allowed to enjoy what you do. However, those who have been around long enough know that this industry can chew you up and spit you out, if you let it.

In the past year, I’ve lost track of the times I’ve heard, “It’s just not fun anymore.” Don’t get bogged down in something you dislike. It will lead to stress, resentment, and an overall dissatisfaction with your life. If you wake up dreading the trip to the office or roll your eyes every time an agent calls, it’s probably the right moment to politely exit.

There are many reasons why a businessperson would want to move on. At the end of the day, the reasons don’t matter to anyone but you.

If you nodded your head at any of the signs above, I’d recommend taking a hard look at your business goals and consider what is next. The market is rapidly shifting. While most don’t feel it will be as dramatic as 2008, there is no doubt that it will be another crazy cycle for the next few years.

Maybe it’s time to take that call the next time someone wants to talk about your company. Maybe it’s time to finally get off this crazy roller coaster we call the real estate market. Treat yourself to a corndog and enjoy your life while someone else rides the ups and downs of brokerage ownership.

This article was originally featured on, written by the same author.