Shane Carpenter is a Physical Therapist-Turned Realtor

Realtor (and Physical Therapist): Shane Carpenter

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This week’s spotlight features Shane Carpenter, a physical therapist (PT) who became a realtor and now works outside of the healthcare world!

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What is your full name and title at your current job?

Shane Carpenter, PT, DPT
Realtor®, National Commercial Real Estate Advisor. Co-owner of Carpenter Realty Group

Physical Therapist Turned Realtor Carpenter Realty Group Logo

Where are you located? 

San Diego, CA

Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?

Chapman University, 2008

What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

After working for 1 year in private outpatient practice making pretty limited wages, I discovered travel physical therapy.

I worked in 13-week increments as a traveler for most of my career. Travel PT took me to some crazy places…Roswell, Honolulu, Palm Desert, Maine, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Catalina Island…

I mostly worked in SNF, Acute, HH and outpatient settings. The craziest assignment I had was covering a prison hospital in Stockton and then later down on the San Diego border. 

What did you do after that, and for how long?

In 2013, I started my cash-pay PT practice, Surfer’s Edge Physical Therapy, and expanded into online courses, growth of surf therapy, coaching, and yoga programs.

More recently, due to Covid 19, I expanded into telehealth physical therapy. I love doing this, but it’s really more of a passion project than a consistent income generator.

I struggled with watching the cost of living go up and up here in San Diego, and feeling like I didn’t want to pass those inflated costs onto my patients. But, in trying to juggle the financial changes here in San Diego myself, I also didn’t want to take on more patient volume to make those changes, so I decided to look outside of healthcare to find other avenues of income. 

In November 2020, I joined my husband in the field of real estate, and we launched our business: Carpenter Realty Group.

What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?

I loved helping people. I loved seeing people grow, change, and meet their goals. I loved the connection I had with my clients and getting to know them and their families. 

I wasn’t too keen, however, on watching my pay grade continue to diminish as a travel physical therapist (for those who’ve been out there for a while…you know what I mean). I used to cover several of the same contracts for years, and consistently was earning less each year that went by due to decreased wages.

When and why did you realize you wanted to do something non-clinical?

In early 2019, I firmly started to look for other avenues. I explored working with naviHealth in both their pre-service coordinator (PsC) and skilled inpatient care coordinator (SICC) roles…but it just wasn’t the right fit.

I tried interviewing for spinal device sales positions (I had to have a lumbar fusion in 2019, so this issue is close to my heart), but I realized that the sales rep work schedule was probably way more ambitious than I was willing to take on.

Finally, after thinking about getting into real estate (I first considered it back in 2012), I got through my coursework and took my exam. 

What are you doing these days?

Right now I am putting 90% of my energy into real estate. I have joined the Homes For Heroes program so I can help give back to fellow healthcare providers, vets, first responders and teachers who are buying/ selling their homes. I am also working with a cash platform of investors to help bring distressed properties to them.

I am learning that real estate really isn’t all that different at heart from PT. You are simply helping people meet/make their goals, helping them through the ups and downs of life. 

In the meantime, I am still seeing telehealth clients for my surf PT practice and side hustling on Instacart on weeks where cash flow is slow. 

Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?

I am only seeing patients online via telehealth at this time. I keep wanting to get my home office going, but the delta variant of COVID-19 is kind of keeping me on guard these days.

If you’re still treating patients, about what percentage of your time is spent clinically vs. non-clinically?

10% clinical, 90% non-clinical.

How long have you been in your current role?

About 9 months…and it’s been great. I am closing a transaction this week, and it’s a lot of fun to help other healthcare providers.

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I like working and collaborating with my husband, too. We are able to focus on each of our strengths. 

How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection? 

Real estate agents have to hang their license with a broker. I joined EXP Realty of CA for a few reasons.

  • First of all, it’s a 100 percent online brokerage, so I don’t have to worry about going into an office. I have a 3D avatar instead of an office. During Covid, it just seemed like it made sense.
  • Secondly, the brokerage has some of the best commission splits in the industry, and they are growing worldwide, which opens doors for travel should we ever get out of lockdown mode here.
  • Lastly, they have a great mentorship program, which is what I felt I needed with switching into such a different role. 

Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job? 

No, I pretty much passed my real estate test on a Wednesday morning and was onboarding to EXP that afternoon!

Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?

Aside from taking a basic real estate licensure program (I took mine through Keller Williams Realty School…100 percent online), I am working on a few designations.

I completed a cash-buyer program for investors and am working on some commercial real estate courses. I am also finishing up getting my Senior Real Estate Specialist designation, as it made sense with my background in working with the elderly in healthcare.

All those years as a PT showed me how important it was for my patients to have a safe home environment, and now I am helping support this population in a different way with regards to their homes. 

How does one advance as a realtor? 

One of the nice things about my brokerage is that they are in all 50 states, and, once you meet your commissions cap of 16k, all monies earned on transactions for the rest of the year are yours to keep.

You can advance to be an ICON agent and get recognition when you close a certain number of transactions, or you could advance and get your brokers license. You can get involved with all sorts of different areas/aspects of real estate.

As I noted, the EXP brokerage is worldwide, which allows you to connect and build your business with agents outside of the US as well.

When did you start your business? 

I started my real estate business in November of 2020, and my Surf PT business in 2013. 

What do you do as a realtor running a business?

I help people buy/sell their homes, and I help real estate investors build their portfolios. 

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

Most my family has just been glad to see me find something I love.

I think it’s me still just trying to figure out what parts of patient care (online or not) I want to continue with, and what parts I am ready to leave behind, regardless of COVID. 

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you as a realtor?

Right now I am still putting a lot of systems in place, so I spend early mornings working on marketing and systems. Mid-late day, I’ll work on client transactions, and, for some reason, without fail, the need to write a purchase agreement happens at 8:45 PM when you’re thinking you may want to sit down and watch a movie or just relax.

Days that seem slower for real estate, I work on my other business.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that there some days that I just go do a few Instacart trips to put a little extra spending money in my pocket. Real estate earnings don’t come in like a normal weekly paycheck does, so it’s good to have options. 

What are some of the challenges of your role? What are the rewards?

I am not great with confrontation, and some situations you really just need to be on it. Real estate is tough; people are making big purchase decisions, so it can bring out the best and the worst in people.

I also think after 20 years of doing one-on-one patient/client care (I was a massage therapist first), it’s just a challenge to allow yourself to let go of the past and try something totally new. It’s scary…giving up that stability for the opportunity to do something new and different.

How do you think working as a PT prepared you to become a realtor? Which skills transferred?  

Owning my first business as a physical therapist has taught me so much about online/value-based marketing, lead generation, web design, how to run a business, corporate structure, etc.

Being a PT has taught me how to listen to people and what they need.

Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?

In general, with most real estate transactions, you earn 2-3% of the sales price of the property, minus commissions.

That means I pay EXP 20% of that 2-3% from a property sale, until my husband and I hit our shared annual cap of $16,000. After that, the 2-3% earned per transaction, I get to keep in full. 

There are programs however, such as Homes For Heroes, where we give back a portion of our commission to the buyer or seller so that they can reduce their costs and help them with getting established in their neighborhoods/ homes. 

That said, it could take 4-8 weeks or longer to close a transaction, so you may be without pay for a few months. However, in working with cash buyers who want to close in a short time period, you may end up with commissions on a property quickly.

So, it’s really like short bursts of higher income in trade for a consistent paycheck…but with the ability to truly earn as much as you would like, not capped by trading your time for dollars on an hourly basis. 

What type of person do you think would do well in your role?

My husband, who’s also a realtor, is an introvert and has thick skin. I am an extrovert and super sensitive…so I think anyone can do this job!

Do you work remotely or on-site?

I work remotely from my home office.

Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?

Any PT, OT, SLP, or assistant who may be interested in moving towards real estate is welcome to reach out. I can guide you in any way that I can.

I cannot directly employ any real estate agent, but I am looking to help other therapists who may want to join our team with EXP Realty. 

Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

My audible self-help library is pretty thick.

I just relistend to You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero, and I’m currently listening to Grant Cardone’s 10X Rule. I’d also highly recommend going on Clubhouse and networking with other real estate professionals, investors, commercial RE agents and lenders…there’s so much to learn.

What is a typical career path for someone in your role?

I really think the sky is the limit. If you want to do real estate full time and fully make a great living, you can. If you want to use real estate to supplement your income and pay off student loans, you can.

If you’re thinking about learning about investing so you can leverage property and build recurring income with rental income, you can. Pretty much, it’s up to you.

What is next for you? What do you want to do with your career long-term?

It’s tough to say for long term, but over the next year or so, I’ll take a stab.

I spent over a year getting my PT license for New Zealand. It got approved in December of 2020, but the visa wasn’t really solid enough for us to feel comfortable to travel there.

I need to generate enough cash flow from real estate so that we can do that comfortably. I am waiting for EXP Realty to expand into New Zealand, so hopefully that will be soon. They are already in Australia, so I think it could happen.

I would also love to be able to invest in a few properties here in San Diego, as well as back east in Maine where I grew up. Lastly I’d like to take any extra income earned and reinvest it into a few of the nonprofit surf therapy organization that I volunteer with, International Surf Therapy Organization

What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?

Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals and just keep going. Remember that our reptilian brain is wired to protect us in fight or flight fashion, so it’s probably pretty normal to be terrified of letting go of a consistent paycheck.  

What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?

Encourage healthcare providers to seek the creativity that they are missing from their 9-5 jobs. Encourage small businesses and smaller practices to employ non-traditional solutions to help their patients (outdoor treatment, online, surf therapy, etc.).

Support healthcare providers so that we can afford to live in the communities we serve (I am trying this with the Homes For Heroes give back). 

Forgive some or all student loans for all front liners/first responders who have been working in high-risk environments during this time.

Encourage PT schools to tell the truth about the cost of the degree versus the declining pay we see in the field so that they can foster entrepreneurship in their schools/possibly during school so students aren’t saddled with so much debt when they come out. 

If you could give yourself one piece of career advice you wish you had during school, what would it be?

Maybe consider investing in PTA program first, with a bridge program to PT. Look for creative ways to gain non-traditional skillsets that will help market your skillset to your patients. 

If you could teach anything to today’s graduate students in your profession, what would it be?

Entrepreneurship and life coaching. 

Do you have any special advice for other who want to follow in your footsteps to become realtors?

Don’t be afraid of your dreams; there are always ways to earn extra money on the side as you work your way towards them. It doesn’t always have to be a 9-5 that qualifies your worth as a therapist.

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2 thoughts on “Realtor (and Physical Therapist): Shane Carpenter”

  1. This is awesome! Much awaited post re: content outside healthcare. Neat! I too am a PT with interest in real estate. Though my interest lies in the investment realm. I still work part time in outpatient ortho PT, but my RE investments have afforded me the ability to be part time since about 2017-18.

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