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Should You Become a Real Estate Agent?

Real Estate Agent Career

Real estate agents have flexible schedules and unlimited earning potential. Sound like a dream job? It can be.

In many states, you can take the required courses and licensing exams and launch your real estate career in just a few weeks. However, you may be surprised by the difficulty level of the material and exams.

Real estate agents are required to have an extensive understanding of legal and ethical issues involved in transactions. Prepare yourself to study hard. All of the information provided will come into play daily in your new career.

A Complicated Profession

Selling real estate is much more complicated than many might think. The best agents pursue the career as an educated, dedicated professional, not as a way to earn quick money. Seasoned agents will tell you: Real estate is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes work.

Once you’re a licensed agent, you can join a brokerage as an independent contractor. That means being your own boss––you can choose your clients, set your own hours, and begin building your business.

Of course, just like anything, the more you put in, the more you get out of it, especially in the beginning. New agents don’t get a roster of buyers and sellers handed to them; you will have to build your own client list and establish a reputation as an excellent agent in your community.

Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent

You will also have all of the standard responsibilities that come with any type of business ownership: bookkeeping, networking, marketing, tax preparation, websites, social media, etc. You will also need to join your local Realtor association to get access to the Multiple Listing Service. These expenses can add up. You’ll want to budget accordingly for your start-up costs.

Rather than a pre-set salary or hourly wage, income will depend on the time you invest. The more clients you work with, the higher your income. You can also specialize in high-income properties, working with only a few clients a year.

Or you might find another niche and build a business around it. Once you’ve grown too busy to handle all of the business yourself, you can hire an assistant or partner with another agent and continue to grow. Your potential earnings are truly limitless, however, as a salesperson, you may have to give up as much as 50 percent of those earnings.

As a licensed sale agent, you will have to work with a licensed broker for a minimum set period of time, which varies by state, before you can become a broker yourself. Most brokers work on commission splits with their agents. For example, if you’re total commission on a sale is $10,000, your broker may take 50 percent of that, or $5,000. SPIN Brokers, however, work differently. At SPIN, there is no commission-splitting, which puts more money in your pocket.

Ready to Get Started?

Go to the website for your state’s Department of Real Estate or Bureau of Real Estate. Check out the licensing requirements and the list of state-approved online or in-person real estate courses. Research the brokerages you’re interested in working with. Find out what types of support they provide agents, and what their fees involve.

Some new agents start working in real estate part-time, keeping their day job for reliable income until they build up their businesses. Decide the approach you will take, write a business plan, and start networking with potential clients and others in the business as soon as possible.

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