5 things your recruiting broker didn’t tell you about a career in real estate

There is an 80 percent chance you won’t be doing this in 2 years

“I’m good with people, I bet I would be good at that.” Or how about this one, “I love looking at houses, I could be a great real estate agent!”

Have you heard these before or thought them to yourself before you got into the business? Funny enough, I have clients tell me this kind of stuff all the time. I guess I still don’t know how to take someone saying, “I think I would be good at your job.” Should that be insulting or should we view that as a compliment because we made it look so easy this time?

The truth about your real estate career- (1)
Grandson and grandma image via Shutterstock.

I got into real estate for a few different reasons, but none of them had to do with the desire to look at homes every day or to wear suits. Honestly, I thought I would get to golf more than I do, but I am not complaining. After enough experience to know what this career is about, I know that being too busy to golf is a good thing. So here is a list for those of you thinking about getting into “the game” and maybe a chuckle for those of you who have already established yourself as a seasoned veteran.

You don’t actually make your own schedule

It was pretty eye-opening to learn that someone who works for themselves can work as much as a real estate agent does. Well, a good real estate agent anyway. It’s true that you can create your own schedule, but the one thing to understand about being a good agent is that although you don’t work for one person (a boss), you work for (and want to) many people. They are called clients, and they pay your mortgage. You might be in the middle of dinner and a buyer will call you to tell you their world will end if they don’t see the home just listed an hour ago. Get out the Tupperware and hope your dinner tastes good in a few hours.

Being a real estate agent is expensive

There are many different brokerage plans, splits, commission agreements, etc., in our marketplace. A new agent might find that a lower commission split with lower office fees is a good place to start. However, if you make it past the two-year mark, you have proven yourself as an entrepreneur. It’s hard to keep this type of person tied down and eventually you will want to spread your wings. This either means starting a new brokerage or going somewhere that offers huge splits, with high office costs.

When getting into the business, a young agent won’t realize that it will be grossly expensive either way. Either the splits are not very good, which means you are paying your brokerage a lot of money each time you sell a house, or the office fees/marketing is all on you. That can add up really fast if you want to make an impact in your market at all. Save, think and make the jump.

Your friends and family might not hire you

Face it, you’re new. In this business, experience matters. And it matters a lot. You don’t have any. So don’t be offended when Uncle Joe, or even Mom and Dad, go with “their guy.” Can you really blame them? There are many ways to talk around this and hopefully someone in your office will teach you how to get past this objection (because you will hear it on every listing appointment).

“How many homes have you sold this year?” The last thing you can respond with is, “Well, none, but. …” That will not go well. So, think of your family and friends as a referral source. They may not use you personally, but they surely want to help you succeed. Your job at the start is to make sure everyone you know understands what you do. Someone will take a chance on you and then you’re off to the races!

There is an 80 percent chance you won’t be doing this in two years

It’s sad, but true. This industry can chew up and spit out the best of the best salespeople there are. So much so that only about 20 percent of new licensees will renew once their two-year license period is up. Whether this is because it’s not what they thought it was cracked up to be, or they simply couldn’t survive on the low income, it’s a proven fact that real estate isn’t for the weak.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average income for a Realtor in 2013 was $47,700. Take into consideration that most of these individuals are independent contractors and pay a certain percentage of this income to taxes, as well as adding on marketing/office expenses. You might be surprised how little the average agent takes home. Think about it — $47,700 is the average. That means a huge number of the 1.1 million agents are making less than that.

If you want to be a rock-star agent, it’s going to consume your life

I have a colleague and friend who, to say it simply, crushes this career. She alone does over 100 transactions per year. She doesn’t have a team, a showing agent or a personal driver. She just rocks it. I asked her what she would tell a new agent and she said something interesting: “If you want to be good at this, it will consume your life.”

Getting through the first two years is tough, but you have only about eight more years until your next phase might make you think twice about what you do. It’s called “the burnout phase.” You will say “yes” to almost every opportunity that comes your way and, if you’ve done a good job for your clients and learn a thing or two about running a business, you will have lots of opportunities. If you don’t plan for this burnout phase, it will almost undoubtedly happen. Nights and weekends are when we make our living. Make sure your spouse and kids are on board with this or it’s going to be a long road.

Still want to be an agent? Of course you do! Although these are five things that nobody told me before I got into the business, there are about 100 other things I’ve learned that will keep me in the business, forever. There is nothing quite like handing those keys over to a new buyer or selling someone’s home that was on the market with another agent for eight months. It’s one of the most humbling and fantastic feelings to be a part of such a major life event.

Another major life event? Becoming a real estate agent.

This post was originally published on the Trulia Pro Blog. Follow Trulia Pro on Twitter: @TruliaPro.


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