“Real estate is tangible. It’s solid, it’s beautiful, it’s artistic, and I just love it,” president Donald Trump once said. That may be true when you’re the head of a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, but what do real estate agents working on the ground think about the often cutthroat industry? And what’s it like navigating Canada’s red-hot housing market?

To find out more, we spoke to Roger Travassos, a former professional musician that has been working as a real estate agent for the last year.

Workopolis: You were once the drummer in groups like Jacksoul and Remy Shand, was it difficult making a transition from music to real estate?

Travassos: Not really. They’re similar jobs in a lot of ways in that they both require you to hustle. With drumming you have to hunt down your own work, and a lot of it is based on the relationships you have with people. Real estate is really no different. That’s one of the reasons why I knew it would be a good fit for me, I was used to tracking down work, and travelling a lot.

What was it that interested you about real estate?

My dad dabbled a bit in real estate, so I was always somewhat interested in it. But I think what attracted me most was that it’s a people job; it’s about being around people and trying to make a difference.

Was there anything you learned while working as a musician that prepared you for your current role?

Actually, I’m learning a lot now that I could have applied to my career in music, but I would never go back. There really isn’t much of a business left in music. That said, I did learn a lot from that experience – no matter how talented you are, if you can’t travel with people, and you can’t get along with them, you’re not going to get work. I think that gave me some street smarts, and the ability to communicate properly.

How does one go about becoming a real estate agent? What sort of training is involved?

There are three courses you need to take to get your real estate license:

  • Real estate as a professional career
  • Land structures and real estate trading
  • The real estate transaction – general

Then you must choose between a course on residential or commercial real estate transactions. After this is completed you go into a two-year articling period where you must finish three more courses, including property law, commercial or residential real estate (usually whichever you haven’t already specialized in), and one elective.

You need to be prepared. There are a lot of things that can get you into trouble if you’re not paying attention. Real simple things like, is that TV mount staying there? And if it’s not, who’s fixing the wall? Or a dispute over a fence line … little disputes can turn into major problems when people are spending big money, and you’re got to make sure everything runs smoothly.

What would you say makes a real estate agent? Are there any skills that you think are particularly important?

It’s an agent’s responsibility to get a good understanding of the market, but the best also know how to communicate this with people in a way that makes them feel like they’re prepared to make a purchase. Knowledge is no good if you’re not able to communicate that to the people you’re working with.

What is a typical day for someone in your role?

When I don’t have a listing – which usually takes over the day – I spend my mornings door knocking. I farm a specific area called Danforth village in Toronto, which has five thousand homes, and every morning I know what street I’m working; I know the stats for that street, and I go knock on people’s doors.

I never go to a door and ask someone if they plan on buying, selling, or leasing. I always try to bring them something of value. Sometimes I’ll have a door hanger that will give them a free coffee at a café nearby, or I’ll promote a furniture bank during the spring. I’m always trying to bring something that might interest them, and then I’ll ask them if they want an update on their real estate market.

It’s something that I’ve learned to really enjoy, even with the rejection that you sometimes face. It’s ok if you get rejected, as long as you work through it. In my case, it’s made me a stronger person.

Do you deal with a lot of impolite people?

Not really to be honest. When I first started I had a few shaky doors for sure. But I think a lot of that has to do with your approach, and generally you get better at it. Also, your experience will be better if you’re bringing something to people, rather than making it about you wanting something from them.

Are there any misconceptions that people have about your job?

I think people think it’s an easy job. They think it’s easy to sell a home and that there’s really nothing to it. But, believe it or not, not all homes sell, and sometimes it can be a really stressful job.

What advice would you give job seekers looking to get a career in the industry?

Only get into real estate if you’re willing to hustle. If you’re someone who thinks the work is going to come to you, or if you’re used to a nine-to-five job, it might be difficult for you. The work does not fall into your lap, you have to go out and get it.

Sound like something you’d be interested in? Check out real estate jobs on Workopolis.