Featured IC: Paula Swayne

My name is Paula Swayne and I am co-owner and the designated Broker for Dunnigan, Realtors, a family owned business in Sacramento, California.  Along with my responsibilities as owner and Broker, I am also an active Realtor, selling over $3.5M worth of property each year.

I have been an independent contractor since 1995, when I attained both my licensee and broker status after working for the company for several years as a secretary and bookkeeper.

My life isn’t just about my career.  I am a wife, a mother and grandmother, an avid volunteer for the Sacramento Association of Realtors, an artist and a lover of all things family.  My status as an independent contractor allows me the freedom to establish my own time priorities.  It also allows me to conduct my business in the fashion I feel is best for my clients.  Having said this, my clients quite often determine my free time.  I need to be available when they have free time, which is typically evenings and weekends.  The advantage to this is that I can spend my days working with fellow Realtors at the Association.  I can dedicate one day each week to my art.  I can have a day with my granddaughters after school.

Losing independent contractor status would be devastating to our real estate industry.  The first and most devastating result would be the loss of employment for thousands of middle to lower producing agents.  If the brokerages have to put licensees on salary, they cannot afford to risk employment for part time or lower producing agents who may not cover the employment costs of health insurance, wages, taxes.  The estimate has been the loss of at least 40% of the present licensees.  This translates into many real estate associations being eliminated due to loss of membership and our lobbying ability in D.C. to protect homeowners rights, being diluted.  Many brokerages would go out of business.

For me, everything I love about being an independent contractor would be gone.  The effect for me would be more as a co-owner of a brokerage.  We would become responsible for keeping track of our licensee’s time.  We would have to mandate our licensee’s actions.  The bureaucracy that we would have to create is simply not the way we want to do business.  We want to give our agents the ability and freedom to practice their career in the way they enjoy.  We especially want to encourage new agents to come into the real estate business.  Sadly, the cost of bringing them on without a guarantee of production would inhibit us from taking the risk of hiring new licensees that may not produce for the first several months, but would have to be paid.

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