“Hi! I’m your local real estate agent. I just wanted to drop by today to introduce myself, and let you know that I’m an expert when it comes to buying or selling a home in our neighborhood. If you’re thinking about buying or selling, or if you know anyone else who’s in the market to buy or sell, I hope you’ll give me a call.”

That’s the 15-second introductory speech I’ve given at least 3,000 times since I obtained my real estate license last fall and started knocking on doors in my so-called “farming area” to find sellers who’ll pay me a commission to market their house.

The sales-pitch was drilled into my head by our real estate firm’s sales trainer. He even made our class of rookie Realtors recite it back to him in unison, time and again, sort of like the mantra I repeated when I had the time–and money–to go to yoga class.

Truth is, I’ve been spending 50 or 60 hours a week trying to build a real estate career since my newly printed license arrived in the mail about six months ago. But I still haven’t done a single deal–I haven’t been able to find someone to sell a home through me, and none of the dozen or so prospective buyers that I have chauffeured around town for countless hours has made an offer that was good enough to even get a counter-offer back from the seller.

Did you make money your first year in real estate? Click here.

The most frustrating thing for me is that I’m doing everything I’ve been told to do, and even a few things that could get me into trouble. I’m knocking on at least 100 and sometimes even 200 doors a week, I’m passing out flyers, and I’m responding to every e-mail from prospects as quickly as I can.

I have already worn out two pairs of shoes by walking door-to-door. I have holes in almost all of my sweaters because I wear my brokerage firm’s name badge everywhere I go–even to church–in the hope that I’ll attract the attention of a prospective buyer or seller. If you have any other ideas, I hope you’ll drop me a note.

The real estate training school I went to was very thorough when it came to teaching the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the job like how to fill out the paperwork for a new listing or write up a purchase offer.

But in retrospect, I wish our teacher would have spent at least a few minutes talking about some of the other everyday issues that new agents confront–like the real cost of getting started and the emotional stress that breaking into the business can put on an agent and his or her family.

I was totally surprised by the amount of money it takes to get started. Like a lot of people, I thought all I needed to do was to spend $29 at Kinko’s to get some business cards printed up and the fat commission checks would start pouring in soon after.

In reality, I’ve already spent more than $7,000 in license-related fees, mandatory training courses, the memberships that my brokerage firm requires in everything from the local Multiple Listing Service to the National Association of Realtors, and other items. My credit cards are maxed-out, and I’m falling behind on a couple of them because I haven’t earned a nickel in the last six months.

My errors-and-omissions insurance alone, which would presumably protect me if I screwed something up and was sued, costs me more than $1,800 a year. I can see why the insurance is necessary, but I don’t understand why our company charges each agent the same amount.

Why should an agent like me, who hasn’t even sold a home yet, pay the same price for insurance as another agent in the same office who does 50 deals a year? That’s as ridiculous as an automobile-insurance company charging someone who has earned a driver’s license, but hasn’t driven yet the same amount as her next-door neighbor who drives his Porsche 50,000 miles a year at 90 miles an hour and has already had an accident or two.

It seems to me that the rookie agents or those who do only a few deals a year are subsidizing the cost of insurance for our office’s multimillion-dollar sellers because all of us must pay the same premium.

I’ve learned the hard way that anyone who’s thinking of getting into the business should plan on spending at least $10,000 to get started–and also make sure they have enough cash set aside to meet at least 12 months’ of their normal living expenses. Unfortunately, I did neither.

Newcomers, especially those who are married and used to having two incomes, should also be prepared for the tremendous emotional and psychological stress that comes with the job. It impacts an agent’s entire family, and it only gets worse as the bills continue to mount. I’ll write more about this later.

Got tips, ideas or advice for the Rookie Realtor? Send them to Rookie@inman.com.


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