Did you know there are more than 2 million active real estate agents in the United States? It sounds like a large number, right? But statistics show that nearly 65 percent of Americans own their home and might be selling it at any time in the near future and/or buying a new one, so that means there’s plenty of business to go around!
So, if you’re thinking of becoming a real estate agent, there’s room for you in the market. However, it’s important to recognize that becoming an agent isn’t like taking on a regular 9-5 job. It’s basically an opportunity to own your own business, which means that you’ll likely be working way past 5 pm, and probably on weekends, too!
A career in real estate is for those who are ambitious, eager to learn, and intent on making a living that could potentially be way above the national average. Sounds great, of course, but there are plenty of things to consider before taking the plunge into this new career.
Take a close look at yourself
Though this may sound like strange advice, the truth is that realtors need to be “people persons”. If you love being with others and helping people, this might be the right profession for you. If you’re an introvert and prefer to spend time alone and are overwhelmed by too much up-close-and-personal contact, this might not be your thing.
You should also be an organized individual. That’s certainly a skill you can learn, but you’ll need to be willing to do some work on it if organization is not your strong point.
Think about the duties of a real estate agent in general, talk to friends who are agents, and decide whether the job really does fit your personality. Then, if it does, forge ahead with some planning.
Recognize the financial restrictions
When you’re just beginning your new career in real estate, you’ll likely have more expenses than income, so plan accordingly.
In most cases, you won’t be getting weekly – or even monthly - paychecks as a new agent, so be sure you have some money in the bank when you get started. A cushion of sorts is ideal. Even if you were to sell a house during your first week in the business, it would be several weeks to a few months before the commission would arrive.
If you’re married or living with a partner that also contributes to the bills, be sure you can survive on his or her income for a little while until things start rolling. Being an agent won’t be a lot of fun and can get pretty stressful when all you’re worried about is how to pay the mortgage or the kids’ school tuition.
Of course, once you get your footing, real estate can be a very profitable business, and if you work hard, you’ll likely make up for those early, lean months.
In some instances, you can find salary plus commission positions, which might include starting as an assistant to an experienced agent. If that’s something you require, ask around at local real estate offices.
Check your time management skills
As an agent, you’ll primarily be designing your own schedule with the exception of the required time you might be assigned at your office of choice. That means you’ll need to be diligent about putting in the time necessary to grow your business. It can be very easy to slack off when you don’t have anyone to report to but yourself.
So, consider how you will organize your day and remember that you’ll often be going to listing appointments or showings in the evenings or on weekends as well. It’s okay to have some sacred time where you don’t schedule appointments, but you’ll need to be pretty flexible at the beginning and will certainly need to commit to spending at least several hours a day doing something real estate-related, whether it’s making cold calls, following up on expired listings, or working with clients.
Once you obtain your real estate license, you’ll be looking for a place to hang it, and it might not be that real estate office around the corner from your house.
As you begin to search for an office where you feel you can be successful, take time to do some research about those you’re considering. Talk to the broker. Talk to other agents in the office. Talk to customers who’ve used the agency, if possible. Ask for sales figures and additional financial info the company can release. Make a pros and cons list for each.
You want to be part of not only a successful real estate firm but one that will also nurture you and help you learn the business. Ask about training programs, continuing education, and other things that will help you as you grow, and then choose the office that seems like the best fit for you and your goals for a successful business.