Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


The Accidental Realtor®

Once I was at a wedding reception and overheard a woman bragging to my ex-husband that her daughter just got her PhD in Italian Baroque Art History. 

"So," he replied, "She's going into real estate!" 

The proud mother was not amused. 

Still, it would not surprise me to find an agent in my office with such an educational background.  I don't know too many Realtors® who, while in high school or college, studied and set goals to be really great listing agents.  When I was planning my own life, a career in real estate never occurred to me.

For me, real estate turned out to be the perfect answer to an early mid-life career crisis.  My resume included a stint as an airline ticket agent, a job harassing the aviation industry and its regulators for Ralph Nader, then a consumer advocate position during the Carter administration that was, unfortunately, dependent upon his getting re-elected.  He didn't, and I was soon unemployed.

Then real estate came up and bit me!  It's turned out to be the most fun and rewarding work I've ever done, but who knew? 

It's more lucrative than either being a government consumer type or a flute player - even a really good flute player.

I'm constantly amazed at the past lives of my colleagues.  Many were artists and musicians.  There are a bunch of retired Foreign Service officers - of course, they get to retire somewhere in their late 40's or early 50's!  There are college professors, moms, and a lot of nurses. 

I do know one guy who has a Masters Degree in real estate, and we all teased him about it.  Maybe he'll have a next life as a sculptor!


Comment balloon 37 commentsPatricia Kennedy • April 28 2009 07:32PM


Peoples backgrounds in real estate are interesting.  I know a commercial broker who is Juliard trained, he's very successful at real estate!

Posted by Stuart Dobson ( over 11 years ago


There are so many people from different backgrounds in real estate. It is always interesting to know what realtors did before being realtors. Most of them that I run into that were always realtors had folks who were in the field.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Hi Pat...That is precisely why REALTORS® are such an interesting group of people.  We come at it from such varied backgrounds.

Real estate is something that a number of people suggested to me through the years and I was so hesitant while raising my children because I thought it would run my life.  Now I know better.


Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) over 11 years ago

So true how surprising some of the backgrounds.  I have taken to reading agent profiles.  Love the title "Accidental REaltor", lol.

Posted by Margaret Mitchell, Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty) over 11 years ago

Hi Patricia.

Well, actually I do have an earned doctorate. I spent  38 years in education and found that I was really not ready for retirement, so I looked around at possible second careers and decided on real estate. It was a great choice.

Posted by Bob Foster (Century 21 Lanthorn R. E. Ltd. Belleville, Ontario) over 11 years ago

I think about this often! "What I want to be when I grow up... " discussions never included real estate. The funny thing is - those of us who have stayed in the business do so because we LOVE it.

My son will tell you he wants to "work with Mom or be a Blue Angel." My daughter wants to be a vet and will tell you she wants nothing to do with real estate - wonder who will end up working with us? :)

Posted by Debbie DiFonzo, Lebanon MO and Buffalo Missouri Real Estate (Debbie DiFonzo - United Country VIP Realty, SW Missouri) over 11 years ago

Patricia - I hadn't thought about this before, but you're right!  That's pretty interesting...  :)

Posted by Debi Ernst, GRI, e-PRO, Broker/Sales Associate (St. Charles County, Missouri - Prudential Alliance Realtors) over 11 years ago

Pat - Ever known a Realtor not to blow their own horn. Let music come from the few

Posted by Claude Cross, Charlotte NC Homes For Sale (Homes By Cross, Inc. ) over 11 years ago

Hey I wasnt expecting it.  It kind of fell in my lap.  I did however alwasy enjoy looking at houses.

Posted by Justin Ukaoma, Kansas City Real Estate Investments (Vizion KC) over 11 years ago

Patricia, both Stephanie and myself became accidental Realtors as well !!!  And am very glad it happened.  LOL, great post !


Posted by The Somers Team, Delivering Real Estate Happiness (The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia) over 11 years ago

Patricia - Realtors have a varied background which makes for an interesting group of people.  I was an accountant for 32 years but I love real estate much better even when my clients are so impossible to deal with.l

Posted by Rosalinda Morgan, "The Rose Lady" over 11 years ago

Since real estate is a people career, more about people than houses, those varied backgrounds help us to identify with our clients and customers.  Good post.

Posted by 1~Judi Barrett, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) over 11 years ago

There are those who have made real estate their entire lives.  I'm glad I "backed into" it as a career as I think my past work experiences have helped me be a better agent in today's market.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 11 years ago


And if you love real estate, it can be a very addictive career.  Also, one of the most flexible careers allowing us to follow our dreams in many different areas.

Posted by Jan Evett, Broker Associate, 20 years+ in real estate (The Premier Property Group LLC) over 11 years ago

I got into real estate at the ripe 'ol age of 23.  I was in corporate world too long already and I knew this was the way to become my own boss. I could succeed or fail, but either way, I was doing it without a corporate world boss holding me back.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 11 years ago

Patricia, as far as business is concerned, I do not think education actually matters. I got the same education as "her daughter" but I do not think that matters too much as far as real estate is concerned.

Posted by real estate real estate over 11 years ago

Stuart, so what does he play?  Or sing?

Steven, there are a bunch of second generation agents here in DC.  We actually have a son and grandson of a DC legond in my office.

Kate, sounds like you made a great choice!

Margaret, thanks!  I'm sure accidental!

Bob, there are a lot of guys like you here in DC!

Debbie, sounds like you'll have a great partner in your business!

Debi, OK, so what did you major in?


Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 11 years ago

I have to admit I had never thought of real estate until I actually got in to it.  It all started from me selling our own house in North Carolina.  I have a bachelors in Social Work and a Masters in Audiology.  I hate little spaces what was I thinking.  Now that social work degree come in kind of handy though.

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 11 years ago

Pat, very interesting observation you made here. And a few people have said, that is exactly what makes us quite an interesting group!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 11 years ago

Pat- So true. I TOO, found real estate after I gave up the airline job with all the perks and moved to the Hudson Valley for my husband's job. I would have had to endured a long commute to ever get comparable pay and so I decided to re-invent myself as a real estate agent. Ironically, when I was in my 20's my father encouraged me to ge my RE license and join him in the business up in Central NY.  I wanted no part of it because I needed a steady income. I still do, but that's what make me work harder.   

Posted by Carol Culkin, ReeceNichols, Overland Park Residential Real Estate (ReeceNichols Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Hi Pat... I am a third generation REALTOR® and even I never considered a career in real estate until I was almost 40 years old!  Funny how that sort of thing happens!

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 11 years ago

It is amazing what backgrouns people have.  What we start out in life is seldom what we end up as !

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) over 11 years ago

My daughter is a Chemical Engineer who works in Personnel. I don't think we know until we work for a  while and hopefully we find our mission in life like you did.

Posted by Terry & Bonnie Westbrook, Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re (Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner) over 11 years ago


You got a very interesting topic, and your observations are great. I am thinking about it often, and agree with you.

Funny that no matter where we are coming from, we tend to think that our precious line of work, or education played a positive role in our Real Estate career

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) over 11 years ago

Good one, Pat... I usually don't about my "past lives" as it makes many people uncomfortable.  But in real estate, methinks most of have had a rather colorful background that ultimately culminated in real estate seeking us out.   ;-)

Posted by Randy Hooker, Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Queen Creek (Dreamcatcher Realty / Greater Phoenix Area) over 11 years ago

Thought provoking...I'm accidental, I bet most of us are!  Too long to tell how I landed here, but so glad I did, I was kind of built for this career but would not have known that if it hadn't accidentally found me.


PS I think we have the same birthday.

Posted by Kathleen Frawley, South County Sacramento, 916 730 4404 (Keller Williams 916 730-4404 Elk Grove, Wilton, Folsom, Sacramento) over 11 years ago


There are many different past lives in the real estate profession and I bet it would make a GREAT book.

Posted by Don Rogers, Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes (Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) over 11 years ago

Pat - I guess accidentally, on purpose best describes my career change.  You do get to meet a variety of people that is for sure.

Posted by Judy Jennings, Tap into Judy's real estate expertise & resources. (Top Agent Plus) over 11 years ago

It's amazing to look around the office and think about what my collegues did before real estate.  Fireman, teacher, bartender, stay at home mom/homeschooler, various backgrounds and they are all successful!

Posted by Jen Anderson (Exit By the Bay Realty) over 11 years ago

Patricia - I graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with a major in Bible Theology...  :)

Posted by Debi Ernst, GRI, e-PRO, Broker/Sales Associate (St. Charles County, Missouri - Prudential Alliance Realtors) over 11 years ago

Patricia, I just got my MBA when I decided to change careers.  I make a whole less money then as a chemical engineer, however I am able to go home each night and spend time with my family.

Agents career and background diversity just amazes me.  Its not only the housewife, soccer mom, but doctors, nurses, lawyers and teachers. I guess it's all about people and customer satisfaction.

Posted by Sun City Grand Homes Surprise AZ Real Estate Leolinda Bowers Designated Broker Leolinda Realty, Sun City Grand in Surprise Arizona (Leolinda Realty) over 11 years ago

As a former Art Major, TV producer, and Actor - I don't know what you're talking about. LOL.

Posted by Darrin Friedman (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty) over 11 years ago

Pat - For what it's worth, my first words were "appraisal contingency." My mother had to go look it up.

Posted by Ed Schneider, Washington DC Real Estate Specialist (Evers & Co. Real Estate Inc.) over 11 years ago

Hi Patricia

Realtors come from diversified backgrounds but we have one thing in common, we love the real estate business.

Good luck and success

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 11 years ago

Pat - Everyone has different backgrounds and that is what makes the world interesting.  I have a degree in Nursing, but left that job for Kraft Foods for 18 years, then got sick of Corporate America, and began a Real Estate career 9 years ago which I love!

Posted by Sharon Richards (Kirsten Realty Tampa Florida) over 11 years ago

Patricia, great point. I think it is all of our past experiences that make us better Realtors. Having the wide SOI and varied experiences can only help in this field. You really need to know a little of everything to do this career!

Posted by Charity Lane (O'Brien Realty) over 11 years ago

I doubt that many of us ever even thought about being a real estate agent. I did not;  I'm also accidental.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago