What is limiting is your steadfast determination to work hand held. You are limiting yourself to hand holdable shutter speeds - which is why you have trouble balancing with outside light on a cloudy day. You are also limiting yourself to daytime work. No twilight or night photography because you can't hand hold it. You are making it more difficult to use multiple and/or off camera flash. You are probably limiting the precision with which you frame a room and, regardless of what you think, making brackets that can be blended effectively hand held is VERY difficult. You can always quickly remove the camera from the tripod when really needed, but, without the tripod, you lose all of the capability listed above. And a monopod won't help. That's for sports and wildlife.
All this you are sacrificing because you think you need to put a camera in a tight place. Put your camera on a tripod. Tether you camera to your phone or tablet with DSLR Controller. Mount the phone to the tripod with this (I mount mine to my center column). You can put your camera in any tight spot (or anyplace else) you want and use the phone remote to control all the functions.
Scenes change but, to be consistent, the camera height (which should really be about the middle of the chest - not eye level) should remain the same much of the time. It is about control - just not the same kind as a studio.
Now, if you will permit me, I'm going to get personal and I hope you will accept my remarks in the spirit in which they are intended - that is to help and not to offend.
You seem to respond to criticism with defensiveness and excuses. You've been given some very good advice on this thread from some experienced photographers who know how to produce what clients want. Take advantage of their help instead of drawing artistic lines. These guys know their stuff. Real estate photography has one purpose - to sell the property. Although we want it to look great, it's not about artistic integrity or individuality. First you must produce what your clients (please listen to their criticisms and don't argue with them - they know what sells) want. If you can add some more creative work after the nuts and bolts work is finished, that's a big plus. But first, provide the client with standard, clean, top quality real estate photography that meets the client's needs.
And don't be in such a hurry to trip the shutter - take time to see first. Have you ever used a view camera? You really should if you have access to one. It's great discipline for both the eye and the technique.
It is easy to think the clients will know what images will work best for them. And of course the truth is, who knows maybe they do. But in my experience they really don't know what the best types of images are to sell a home. Of course I'll have to back that statement up...
First off, what are the best, most sellable images you can possibly think of for marketing a home? They would probably look something a lot like a high end resort photograph. A romantic evening with a sunset on a balcony with a good looking couple opening a bottle of wine. Models will sell spaces. They will sell the lifestyle of the home/community and they will make people get emotional about wanting to live in the home. It is very hard to argue with this because of what we see everyday when we open magazines. We know what works, it's all right there in front of us. Yet, how many agents ask for models in their shoots? It approaches zero. I do know the mls would not permit this, but you have to realize, the mls is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the marketing of a home. Brochures, emails, online marketing could all use models in imagery if they desired. The real amazing part is this would not even cost anything extra in many cases; somebody could bring in their sister to read a book on the couch for 5 minutes of posing. Yet again, never done, never requested, hell, never even mentioned and not on the radar of any real estate agent. I guess that will be exhibit one.
Exhibit two we can look to what types of media homeowners are smitten with. By and large it is magazines like dwell and this style of imagery. And, if we look at the imagery within dwell, we see a stark difference between it and the agent driven imagery that ladens the mls. Dwell photographs tend to show less ceiling, I'd say they are lit well and with subtlety. They focus more on details. There is NEVER an HDR image to be found, at least not an overdone one. They give you a good feel for the home and depict it in its best possible light by not attempting to capture entire, large spaces all in a single photograph. And they are staged with much more sophistication. Keep in mind, the people curating the photos for dwell and its photographers are the best in the business. They know how to make a house look appealing better than anyone. In fact, I would say a good way to describe their job is to make these houses look as delectable as possible to gain interest and readership. Yet, Agents are focused on one thing. "Big". That's it. That is the scope of their photographic sophistication. They don't put the time into pondering the fact that if you show a space with an ultra wide angle lens to increase its apparent size, the image is going to be 35 percent ceiling. Of course they don't, that's the photographer's job. But they should get In better habit of relinquishing control, and I think dwell imagery and mls imagery would start to become less disparate.
The exhibits could go on and on, but those are the first two that came to mind. In the end people will believe what they want of course. I just think to be of the opinion that agents are experts in a field of art and aesthetics is like thinking joe Biden would be a good candidate to run a fashion show.