Buy Alexandria Real Estate: Where Were You on September 11th? (or how September 11th launched my real estate career) - Part 2 of 2

Alexandria Virginia Real Estate Blog

Where Were You on September 11th? (or how September 11th launched my real estate career) - Part 2 of 2

This is reposted from last September 11th. 


If you haven't already read it, please read Part 1 where I detail my personal experience on September 11th

Part 2:  How September 11th launched my real estate career 



 Yesterday, I posted my personal story about September 11th.  Today, I tell the story of how I transitioned after September 11th from a career as an attorney to my current career in real estate and how September 11th was a catalyst.





 We left off yesterday at my wedding on September 30, 2001.  What a wonderful day!  I was thrilled to be marrying the woman of my dreams, Deborah.  A beautiful, intelligent, articulate, and adoring wife.  She’s a ballroom dance teacher, who shortly after our wedding started her own business, and now has 6 or 7 teachers working for her and a full-time administrative assistant handling the phone calls, scheduling and billing of clients.

As you might expect, there is a bit of pressure when someone marries a dance instructor for the first dance to be a spectacle.  It was.  We practiced for close to a year.  We changed out of our wedding attire and into our Argentine Tango outfits and put on a show! 

September 11th had us worried that many of our out of town guests (90% of the invitees) would not be able to make it.  They all did and more, including my parents from Florida, my sister from Colorado, and Deborah’s grandmother and uncle from England!  A very special day indeed, especially in the shadow of such tragedy.


I graduated from law school at George Mason School of Law in 1998.  After graduation, I worked for 2 years for one law firm handling banking litigation, and then moved to a very small firm handling securities law issues and some general practice.  There were only 4 attorneys including me at this small Washington D.C. law firm.

Around late July 2001, we were starting to get our paychecks late, and then later, and then starting to wonder whether we would be getting them at all.  I was getting increasingly frustrated.  I was working way too many hours and way too hard to worry about getting paid!


And then 3 days before my wedding, I found out that our boss had not been paying our health insurance premiums for several months even though he was deducting it from our paychecks.  I only discovered this because one of the attorneys tried to get her prescriptions filled and was denied coverage at the pharmacy.  I confronted Mr. Boss about this and expressed extreme dismay knowing that I was heading out of the country on my honeymoon for two weeks w/o health insurance. 

 Upon returning from two wonderful weeks in Montreal and Quebec City, I went back to work in mid-October.  I met with the senior partner (boss) and discussed the future.  Was he going to be able to pay me or not?  From the gist of the conversation, I decided that it was not worth taking that chance.  So that weekend, as I packed up a moving truck with my wife’s stuff, I had the pleasure of telling my new in-laws that I was a newly unemployed lawyer son-in-law.  That was fun!

After September 11th, law firms in the area were beyond hiring freeze, they were laying off attorneys left and right.  I tried to find another law firm job, but to no avail.  I even interviewed with one or two real estate settlement companies, but they weren’t hiring either.  For a couple of months, I hung out my own shingle and handled a few small matters – a couple of wills, an eviction, some business formation, obtaining a restraining order against an abusive husband – real law kind of stuff.  The only problem is that it wasn’t paying the bills.

Then one day my real estate broker friend suggested I get my license and come work with him.  I thought about it, discussed it with my wife and decided it may be a good idea.  I could get started in real estate while trying to build up a law practice on my own (not easy 3 years out of law school).  My wife loaned me the money for the real estate course and I was off.



In the meantime, to pay bills, I helped a handyman friend out with odd jobs, painting houses, fixing doors, getting my hands dirty type of work (he was actually my first broker’s go-to handyman).  This got me involved tangentially in real estate at (literally) the ground level.




By February 2002, I earned my real estate license.  Two months later I sold my first house and I’ve never looked back.  A year after September 11th, an Alexandria, Virginia real estate attorney saw my website and set up a lunch meeting.  He ended up hiring me to work at his law firm on real estate litigation matters.  I worked there for 4 years, progressively less and less as my real estate sales business grew.  The experience I had there has helped me immeasurably in my real estate career.

I tell all my clients at our initial meeting:

 95% of real estate transactions go smoothly.  Everyone shakes hands at the settlement table.  The 5% that go wrong, go really really wrong – big money, big problems.  At the law office, I’ve seen those 5%.  As your Realtor and with my legal background, I will help prevent your purchase (or sale) from falling into those 5% and will guide you smoothly through the transaction to settlement.”




 September 11th, 2001 was a horrible day for all of us, our country, and the world.  We must pause to remember, reflect, and rededicate ourselves to the cause of freedom.

In the aftermath of September 11th, my career in the wonderful world of real estate was launched.

PART 1: Read about my experience on September 11, 2001 and my personal exodus from D.C. in the midst of the confusion.


Thanks for reading!


Thank you for reading my blog post.  If you like what you’ve read, then please:

Follow, Connect, Watch, Subscribe

Follow Brian Block on TwitterBecome a Fan of Block Real Estate Group on FacebookConnect with Brian on LinkedInWatch Brian's Videos on YouTubeSubscribe to Brian's Blog

If you plan to purchase or sell a home in the Northern Virginia or D.C. area,
you can visit my main Northern Virginia & D.C. real estate website at


Comment balloon 9 commentsBrian Block • September 11 2008 05:24AM


Really a sad day and a memorable day. Lived in NYC for many years and this made my wife and I move out to Miami. The security and air quality there were really scary issues.

Posted by Michael Sahlman, e-PRO - Miami Beach Florida Luxury Homes ( - Keller Williams Realty) almost 10 years ago

Brian - What a neat look back at how you got started in the business, sounds like we started at similar times.  I was brand new in the business, doing it part-time while I waited tables to make a buck.  September 11th, 2001 was surreal, sad, and burns as a constant reminder to me.  Time will never take that away.

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) almost 10 years ago

Brian-Thanks for sharing your personel 9/11 story.


Posted by Joseph D. Federico, Eastern Massachusetts Real Estate (Donahue Real Estate Co.) almost 10 years ago

Brian:  It is good to note the good things that came out of that tragic day.  It is also good to reflect on it, but not let fear of terrorism ruin our everyday lives. 

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) almost 10 years ago

Isn't it amazing how God closes one door in our lives and opens another one. You obviously belong right where you are. Thank you for sharing your personal story of what 9/11 means to you.

GBU, Brian!

Posted by Elizabeth Nieves, Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team (The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group) almost 10 years ago

I had just got back from Saudi Arabia two weeks prior and the 10th was my first day back at work (Cop in the Air Force).  I had just got off of a 12hr shift and had just drifted off to sleep when my wife woke me up and told me something was wrong and I needed to go to work.  I was on the emergency services team (EST/SWAT).  Our team leader called me a told me "Not a drill it's go time" (I know it's kind of corny but you would just have to know the guy).  My next day off of work was nearly a month later, our team averaged 16-18hr days till Christmas.  Half of my friends where in Afghanistan by the 20th of Sept.  It was a very bad time.

Posted by Jeremy Caldwell (Executive Broker, Jim White Realty, Inc) almost 10 years ago

In reflection and honor of this event find the peace and togetherness that we all experienced in the wake of September 11th, not just today but every day in their honor!  WE WILL NEVER FORGET! 

We can do more than lead, we can inspire! -Unknown

Posted by Garren Grup, REALTOR, ABR, CNE,CDPE, GRI, Naples & Bonita Springs, FL (John R. Wood REALTORS) almost 10 years ago

Thats cool.  I came from an investing background, entreprenurial background and retail lifestyle...  I have kind of blended that with car hobby and general geekery...  So, if you were still in the law biz, would you be making the fun videos for the firm?

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) almost 10 years ago

Brian-I love this..and its great to read about other people's journey's in how they became a REALTOR. I read part 1 and I just got chills...because being no different in this regard I believe people really remember what they were doing that fateful day. I firmly believe when one closes another just have to be aware and awake at the sign of opportunity

Posted by Midori Miller, Digital Marketing Director (Talk 2 Midori, LLC) almost 10 years ago