Making the Move: Environmental Engineer to Real Estate Agent
Back in 2016, Ranjani attended a New Year’s party that changed her career forever! At the time, she had recently been laid off after working for an environmental consulting firm in Seattle where funding was cut off and the budget was tight. Throughout her career, Ranjani had always been a high achiever who went on to pursue her Masters in Environmental Engineering and became a consultant for companies like Exxon Mobil.
Getting laid off was a big blow for Ranjani who had always done well, and it led her to question things personally and professionally. At the party, she got excited after meeting someone who had quit their 9-5 to become a successful real estate agent. The very next day, Ranjani enrolled at Rockwell Institute to get her real estate license. 5 years later, she is thriving as a real estate business owner who is ranked among the top brokers in Washington. She recently got her Managing Broker’s license and is planning to open her own realty brokerage.
Today, I am excited to share Ranjani’s journey to inspire those who are interested in pursuing a career in real estate or want some inspiration during these times riddled with layoffs.
Breaking Barriers: Her journey from India to the U.S.
Being born into a family of engineers, Ranjani grew up with 3 career choices: doctor, engineer, or lawyer. Not knowing any better, she decided to become an engineer and majored in Electronics & Communications. When she had the opportunity to attend an electronics conference in China, she realized how environmentally damaging it was to produce electronics because of all the waste that went into the water.
This revelation led her to pursue a Masters in Environmental Engineering in the U.S. where she researched opportunities to reduce the deaths of people who contracted noroviruses through contaminated waters every year. She patented a low-cost early norovirus detection method and officially became an Environmental Engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) upon graduation.
Eventually, Ranjani felt that her work at the EPA wasn’t challenging enough for her. Soon after, she started consulting for Kleinfelder, which handled high-stakes remediation projects with energy companies like Exxon Mobil. Although her career was going well, Ranjani’s husband landed his dream job at Microsoft soonafter. She decided to move to the Greater Seattle Area and accepted the first job she was offered at a small environmental agency where was eventually laid off due to tight funding.
Ranjani’s Advice for Overcoming Layoffs ✨
It’s OK to not feel OK. Acknowledge the emotion of feeling low and let down.. But once you accept the reality, tell your friends, family, or support network and lean in. Once you’re ready to shake things up, think about what’s out there and list companies you could work for. Start putting yourself out there and connecting with people. Make LinkedIn your Facebook. Eventually, you want to create a plan and process so that you can start doing everything towards your new goal. This can help you get over the “feeling like a failure” part, which can be overwhelming in the beginning.
From Engineer to Entrepreneur: Being her own boss
After 5 years in real estate, Ranjani has surpassed $260 million in sales and helped over 360 families find their homes in the Greater Seattle Area.
Being my own boss has become a total mindset shift. No one is there to push me further, I need to push myself.ranjani ravi
As a business owner, Ranjani is always thinking about how she can improve her business and serve her clients better. Oftentimes, she doesn’t feel like she is “working” but it can be challenging to draw the line between personal life and work, which has lead to burnout at times. As a best practice, Ranjani journals everyday about what she is grateful for, what she is letting go of, and what she is looking forward to the next day. It’s super cathartic and relieving!
Ultimately, Ranjani loves being a real estate agent and a business owner. Initially, she felt lonely when she first moved to Seattle, but now she makes a living from meeting new people. She enjoys learning about different backgrounds, cultures and helping others build their wealth and financial freedom. She is also proud to be part of one of the biggest milestones that a person can have in their life, and spends many weekends attending housewarming parties and baby showers!
Ranjani’s Real Estate Rise: How transferrable skills leveled up her game
Ranjani picked up some great skills from her Engineering days that eventually helped her become a successful real estate agent.
Analytical: She understands how to analyze and extrapolate data and play the real estate game of buy, hold, and sell. She shares these trends and insights through her “Sip n’ Learn” series on YouTube (@ranjaniravirealty) to help clients make more informed decisions.
Organization: Ranjani knows how to always show up as prepared and professional. She does her homework before meeting clients and shares a roadmap or process flow chart to help them understand the buying journey. Her familiarity with high-stakes client situations has set her up to look and act with polish and confidence.
Working Under Pressure: In a competitive field like real estate, Ranjani has learned how to effectively navigate the chaos with a plan and purpose. Every day, she works with highly emotional people so she needs to be calm and give her clients the confidence they need to make it through the whole journey, which is stressful and nerve wracking.
Ranjani’s Thoughts on Breaking Into Real Estate 💡
Take the time to decide if you want to pursue real estate part-time or full-time. Be patient and confident in yourself. Part-time is great for those who still have day jobs but want to try something on the side. Note that working hours are mostly on the weekends (e.g. open houses, showings, home inspections).
Your network is your net worth, so don’t be shy. Put yourself out there and ask others for their business, but be prepared for rejection. You will likely find that those who do business with you are like-minded and want to work with you as a team.
You will need to be comfortable with a variable salary because you may not have any sales in certain months of the year. You are also responsible for your own medical and health insurance, initial start up expenses, fees to be paid to your brokerage. On top of this, you need to market yourself by building a personal brand both online and in person.
An Insider’s Perspective: The Greater Seattle Area real estate market
On average, Ranjani says there should be 4-6 months of home supply in a healthy real estate market. During the pandemic, there were only 0.8 months of home supply and interest rates were super low—which is why home prices skyrocketed and bidding wars and all cash offers were the norm.
Ranjani says now is the best time for home buyers because it is no longer an aggressive seller’s market and home prices have decreased by 25%. This means you have more negotiating power and can now take your time to decide on a home while asking sellers for rate buy-downs, to cover the selling costs, and more.
Although interest rates are extremely high, sellers are now willing to do 3-2-1 buy-downs—a situation where they finance part of your mortgage. For example, if your interest rate is 6%, the seller can pay it down so that your interest rate comes out to 4-5% for the first couple of years and then it rises back up to 6% by the third year.
Advice for First Time Home Buyers 🏠
Seattle is also a strategic location where land value continues to increase. Everyone needs to start somewhere, you can consider starting small with a condo and then slowly build up your portfolio to include single or multi family homes. Condo value depends on location, and Bellevue or Redmond are in high demand in the rental market. You can connect with Ranjani on LinkedIn to learn more.
Thanks for reading!
Thank you so much to Ranjani for taking the time to share her insights and journey with us! This was one of my first #MakingTheMove blog posts where I did not talk about big tech! I thought it was timely with all the layoffs that were happening in the market and that some of you may be more interested in another industry instead.
I am always on the lookout for more #Making The Move stories. Please share yours with me via firstname.lastname@example.org!
Check out more resources for job hunting:
- Resume Rescue (NEW: instead of paying me, please donate to charity!)
- 3 Reasons Why Every Job Seeker Needs a Career Walking Deck
- These 10 LinkedIn Tips Will Make You a Better Networker
- Making the Move: Stay-At-Home-Mom to Exec Assistant to Business Program Manager
- #MakingTheMove: Management Consultant to Entrepreneur to Intrapreneur
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