Beware of buyers who dream of getting their real estate license

Broker Notebook

My blog attracts some interesting email.

Here’s one that’s a great example of how some people view the job of a real estate agent.

Dreaming of real estate license image via Shutterstock.
Dreaming of real estate license image via Shutterstock.

To this person what we do when we work with buyers is fun, and it would make an interesting hobby:

Subject:  Thinking about real estate for fun

Hello Teresa,

I saw your blog and was curious now that you are a broker, what type of arrangements you make with agents.

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Me? I love looking at homes, and I sometimes speculate, but I don’t want to bother my past agent if I’m just curious. My thought is, pay the $1k and a few weekends and get my license. Then I can look at houses at will, and if I like something I can make an offer myself. If I decide to sell a house I own, I would only pay brokerage fees and buying agent points.

Though I would be very low volume, additionally I could sell for friends at cost if I so choose, only taking a cut as a buying agent.

Soooo…. what I ‘m looking for is an inexpensive broker that would make me legal.

Thoughts?  Interest?

What would be your fee schedule?

Any suggestions would be great… thanks.

I responded to the email and let this person know that I am not at all interested and that what he is proposing is an expensive way to buy a house if that is what he is after. Brokers are responsible for the actions of their agents, and, to be blunt, there isn’t anything a broker could gain by taking this on except liability, expense and the opportunity to help bring the bar down to a new low.

For many people inside and outside of the real estate industry, real estate is a fun hobby. I’ll admit I like what I do, but the actual real estate transactions are not much fun most of the time. There is some work involved and even some gut-churning Tums moments.

I could treat the author of this email as a buyer lead. But since I am in this business to make a profit, and because I have more than enough drama and trauma in my life, I’ll just stay away from him. Even though my inner salesperson wants to come out and play, it just isn’t worth it to get involved.

I also get emails from people who want to get a real estate license so that they can buy a home and represent themselves. When I explain that anyone can buy a home without a real estate agent and represent himself or herself, I find out what they are really after is a commission, and that they are willing to spend thousands of dollars to get it — when they could just work with me and save thousands of dollars on the purchase of a home.

Becoming a real estate agent is relatively easy, as we all know. What people usually do not understand is that it costs money to be a real estate agent each month — whether we sell any real estate or not — and that a broker gets a cut of each transaction.

It seems that the commission paid by the seller is a big expense for buyers that they would just as soon avoid. Buying a home is easy, they think, and being a real estate agent these days is mostly about finding homes for sale on the Internet, and any bozo can do that.

First-time homebuyers, in particular, do not know what it is that they do not know because they have never purchased a home. To them, and to many others, real estate is a fun hobby and a great subject for a book or a TV show or a business.

Apparently everyone knows how to buy and sell houses. We just need the license so that we can be “legal,” or so that we can receive a commission.

Looking at houses and helping friends buy them and buying them ourselves is just an endless source of fun and a great way to spend weekends. Doesn’t everyone love looking at real estate as a hobby?

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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