At last, 2020 has almost come to a close, and many people are already feeling psychological relief to be free of a year that’s caused so much turmoil. With the start of 2021, some may be considering new career opportunities, and with the intense market action real estate has seen this year, it’s likely an appealing option for many.
However, in these uncertain times, dipping your toe in the water with a part-time real estate gig may be the way to go before committing to a job that doesn’t offer a regular paycheck.
“As a young single girl, when I started my career [at age 22], some of the best advice I received was to keep my part-time job while I was getting started in real estate,” Mary Doody-Horton, associate broker at Coldwell Banker Prime Properties told Inman. “I didn’t have savings or a spouse to fall back on, so keeping afloat wasn’t always easy when I first started my real estate career.”
Here are some key tips that individuals looking to start a part-time career in real estate in 2021 should keep in mind.
Take time to find the right broker and brokerage
As an agent only working part time, it’s important to identify a broker and team who will be supportive and resourceful even though you may not be hitting the ground running all day every day.
Not every broker may want to expend time and energy on an agent who is probably bringing in fewer dollars to the company. But, as a new agent, you’ll need sales training and a supportive team willing to help you learn the ropes, so take the time to find a brokerage that will help you accomplish this.
Be prepared to juggle
Because real estate agents tirelessly work around their clients’ schedules — not their own — a part-timer should be prepared to deal with some scheduling headaches. If you work limited hours, it may be especially challenging to schedule showings around clients’ availability, so it will be important to stay organized and be as flexible as possible, depending on your situation.
Make allies and find a mentor
As an agent balancing multiple jobs, clients and other personal responsibilities, it will be important to make allies within your brokerage for those days when you’ll need someone to pick up a showing or other appointment that doesn’t work with your schedule.
Enlisting another agent’s help will likely mean that you need to compensate them for their time, so be sure to establish these terms in advance, and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
“Finding a mentor you mesh with [is] also priceless,” Doody-Horton said. “Almost 13 years later, we are now very good friends and we call either other constantly for advice. My mentor helped me with deals and brought me onto some deals as her unofficial ‘assistant’ to learn about the ins and outs of transactions [when I first started].”
Finding an experienced agent or broker mentor will help you get your feet under you and establish some connections both within the industry and out in the field with clients.
Consider starting out in a role other than an agent
Even if becoming a top-selling agent is the end goal, it might be helpful to start your part-time foray into real estate in a different position that will still help you learn about the industry.
“There are many functions in the real estate chain that can become part-time or virtual jobs,” Doug Hitchcock, former marketing manager at Exide Technologies, GNB Industrial Power, and now an independent marketing consultant, told Inman via the Inman Coast to Coast Facebook group.
The capability to work remotely will no doubt remain relevant at least throughout the first half of 2021, and Hitchcock reminded Inman that the following gigs are all valuable alternatives for gaining some real estate experience: MLS photographer, brokerage webmaster, open house-sitter, sign post digger, office assistant or receptionist, sales lead follow-up.
Stick with it
Working in real estate in any capacity means staying determined and persevering when business is slow or you lose out on a lead. While you’re still juggling other responsibilities and just trying to familiarize yourself with everything, it’s important to stay positive and stick with it.
In 2018, Jim Weix told Inman readers, “The difference between the failures and the successful agents is that the successful agents didn’t give up. They overcame obstacles and didn’t let challenges overcome them.”
Weix’s advice holds up for 2021 as well — it’s been a terrible year, but everyone gets a fresh start on Jan. 1. Find a good support group, prepare to work, and keep looking forward to the new opportunities each day will bring.