So You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent
So you want to be a real estate agent? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a real estate agent? You may have even thought about becoming an agent. Wouldn’t you like to know what it’s really like, from the inside?
I have been a real estate agent for the last 7+ years. I have had some success, and some slow times, and I have seen and experienced quite a lot in that time frame. I will tell you what you can expect if you want to take the plunge, and take on real estate as your profession.
The first step in becoming a real estate agent, is to study for the real estate exam. You should contact Realtors in your area, and tell them you would like to become an agent.
Each company will tell you why you should align yourself with them. They will tell you what the benefits are for you, and what type of a commission arrangement they offer.
Some will help you prepare for the exam. You should find a real estate broker/company that you would like to work for, and work with. Once you find the one your feel comfortable with, you can begin to find a school to take courses to become an agent.
There are online, and offline schools. I went the online route, but I know some people prefer to physically go in to a classroom and be in a school setting with an instructor, and all that comes with it.
Your Realtor company that you have aligned with can help you find the right schools. You should know that these classes, and curriculum, not matter where you take them, either online or offline, are not easy.
The training is in depth, detailed, and can be somewhat intense at times. The courses cover real estate ethics, real estate law, real estate contracts, and many other related subjects.
There is also a fairly heavy emphasis on math. You will likely be studying for three months or longer before you are ready to take the exam. The real estate exam is tough. Most people that take the exam fail it the first time around.
I have known people that had to take the test 5 or 6 different times before they passed. The real estate exam is considered the fifth toughest exam to pass, behind the medical boards, the lawyer bar exam, the CPA, and the stock broker exam.
The two agents that I know that had to take the exam 5 or 6 times before they passed, both became successful agents. They showed persistence, and determination from the start, and followed that through in their careers.
One of those agents that I worked with for several years, is becoming one of the top agents in my city. That is saying something because there are some 8,000 active real estate agents in my city.
So you want to be a real estate agent?
You will have to pay for the real estate school, the exam, and if you pass, for the real estate license out of your own pocket. You may get lucky, and find a Realtor that will sponsor you and help you with some of the costs.
How much the costs are will depend on the state you are in, and the school that you attend. Once you pass the exam, and pay for your license to be set up, you will then be hit with more fees.
You will have to pay fees to be a member of the Realtor’s Association. This is mandatory. You will then have to pay to be able to use the Multiple Listing Service website.
This is a must have for all Realtors, and it gives you access to all the properties in your area, along with many other online tools that can assist you with your real estate business. You then have to pay in order to get your Supra key.
This electronic key gives you access to properties that you want to show. Many houses today that are listed for sale, have the Supra electronic box on the front of the house, and without the Supra key, you will be denied entry to the home.
There are still listing agents that use combination boxes that contain the keys to the houses for entry. These make up less than 50% of the properties for sale.
Burdensome fees, and expenses are a fact of life for real estate agents. You will basically be in business for yourself. You will be responsible for all fees. and other expenses related to your business.
This includes health insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, and retirement accounts. It’s all on you.
Your biggest expense will be gasoline. Get ready to put major miles on your vehicle. This will mean more tune ups, more oil changes, more tires, and more repairs.
You best not be driving around in your uncle Bob’s old jalopy either, as you will from time to time have to drive your clients around for showings, and you will want to make a good impression.
And even if you don’t pick your clients up. If you come to a showing in an old beater, you may lose that client you have worked so hard to gain.
Being in business for yourself also means being responsible for your own taxes. You will have to learn what you can write off, and what you can’t for your taxes.
You will have to keep good records of everything you buy, and you will need to keep track of your mileage that you use for business. Taxes will take a big bite out of your income, but if you maximize your deductions, you can minimize the pain of paying taxes.
I personally believe that the fees, and taxes are too high for real estate agents. However, if you look at it from a typical business perspective, it is not unusual. For instance, a plumber will have expenses for his truck, tools, and other equipment.
A landscaper will have expenses in his lawn equipment, trailer, gasoline, etc. In other words, any business person who is in business for him or herself, will have significant expenses that they will incur. A Realtor is no different. But the fact remains that it is not inexpensive to stay in business.
Now that you know that you will need boat loads of cash to stay in business, it’s time to get down to how to generate that cash. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but you will need some greenbacks at the ready to stay in business.
Real estate is a very competitive business. There are often many other agents competing for the same buyers, and sellers.
If you have chosen a good real estate company to align yourself with, they will provide you with some training on how to generate sales leads, and they may even throw a few leads your way.
They will also teach you how to go about listing appointments with potential clients, as well as how to talk to potential buyer clients. You will also likely be told by your real estate broker to tell everyone you know that you are a real estate agent.
You should by now have your business cards ready to go, and your for sale signs with your smiling face prominently displayed at the ready.
You will need to go online, and utilize your social media with an announcement that you are an agent, and also to promote any listings that you may generate.
You can advertise various other places online as well, such as the realtor websites like Zillow, realtor.com or others such as craigslist to help you sell your listings and generate clients.
Some agents also advertise their services on billboards, buses, radio, tv, in newspapers and magazines, on their own websites, and on their own vehicles.
Once you start getting clients, be prepared to get emails, phone calls, and texts at any hour, day or night. Yes, I have received phone calls, and texts in the middle of the night many times.
Phone calls at 8 or 9 p.m. on a Sunday night are not unusual. Most clients don’t care that you may want to spend some quality time in the evenings with your family, friends, etc. They feel that their needs trump any life that you may have.
As an agent, you are basically on call 24/7. There are times you will feel like a professional baby sitter. Some clients you may develop a love/hate relationship with. How you handle these type clients is a matter of personal preference.
Some clients will become so troublesome that you may want to tell them to find another agent. I have only had to do this one time, but I have been tempted to do so on several other occasions.
So you want to be a real estate agent?
However, most clients that I have dealt with have been pleasant, considerate, reasonable people. But, be prepared, because the nightmare clients are out there, and they have your phone number.
You will also want to find a few good lenders. Most of your buyer clients will not have a lender, or they just talked to someone about their preapproval, but haven’t decided on anyone yet.
Your clients will look to you for a lender recommendation, and a good lender is worth their weight in gold. They will take your client by the hand, get them preapproved, and allow you, the agent, to start showing them homes.
Once you have an accepted offer on a home that your client wants to buy, your lender starts the loan processing, which is the most important aspect of the sale, by far. The most common reason for a deal falling through, is a problem with the financing.
Make sure your buyer client is ready, willing, and able. The first question you should ask any potential buyer client is, are you preapproved for a loan? If the answer is no, they are not ready, willing, and able.
You have to impress upon them the importance of being preapproved. They will be wasting their time, and yours, if they start looking at homes before they are preapproved. They may find a home they love, only to find out later that they can’t be preapproved, or the amount they are preapproved for is too low.
I had to learn this the hard way. I have had buyer clients tell me that they would have no problem being preapproved, or that they were preapproved a few years ago for a certain amount.
I spent months, and a lot of expense showing them homes, only to find out when they went to be approved for a loan, that they could not be preapproved.
So you want to be a real estate agent?
A preapproval shows you the agent, that the buyer client is serious about buying a home, and for how much home they can qualify for. I don’t show homes unless the prospect is willing to get preapproved. Don’t take the chance.
You also want to know how soon your prospect wants to buy. Some people like to start looking at homes a year or more before they want to move. This is okay, as far as looking online, but in a year’s time, almost all homes that are for sale today, won’t be a year later.
You want your buyer clients to start looking at homes about 4 months before they are planning to move. This will allow enough time for the home search, and for the closing process to take place.
In order to give yourself the best chance of getting listings, it is most important to be professional. This means dress professionally, and have your listing presentation material looking top notch.
Tell your prospect everything you will do for them in order to sell their home. Explain how you, and your company are experienced, and successful in selling homes quickly, and for the most money.
It is also important to be personable, friendly, and to follow through with what you promise. Always answer clients phone calls as quickly as possible, and deal with any of their reasonable requests in a timely manner.
In a nutshell: treat your clients how you would like to be treated. If you do this, you will have happy clients, and happy clients tell their friends, and their families about you. You may well receive referrals, and repeat business as a result.
I have only scratched the surface here regarding what it’s like to be a real estate agent. I became an agent in 2009, right after the real estate bubble burst due to the sub prime lending crisis, here in the U.S.
My friends and family thought I was nuts to get into real estate at that time. They asked me, so you want to be a real estate agent now?
Many agents were quitting, and taking other jobs. I was able to make a living thanks to a supportive, and helpful broker, and a lot of hard work.
I have seen most of the agents that I started with leave the business. Most of the agents that were able to make it usually had a spouse or significant other that supported them through the lean times.
I say this not to discourage you, but to let you know that it is a difficult business, and it takes a lot of hard work, persistence, money management, and discipline to make it a success.
To make it, you will need a love of real estate, some savings, an understanding family, a fair and supportive realtor to work for, and a great deal of determination.
I can tell you that those big commission checks are nice, but if you don’t save most of what you make, you will put yourself in a pickle in no time.
You always need to have deals in the pipeline, because it can take months, sometimes many months to see the fruits of your labor.
I wish someone had told me exactly what it is like, or will be like to become a real estate agent. I have given you the unvarnished truth of my experience.
Your experience may be different in some ways, but I promise you that much of what I have shared here in this article titled, So you want to be a real estate agent, will be what you encounter as well.
So you want to be a real estate agent?
If you have any questions or comments, I am happy to answer them. You can leave them below.
I wish you success in whatever endeavors you pursue.