So you’re thinking of the entering the exciting world of real estate? Well, here are six things that you should know before EVER gracing the doorstep of a pre-licensing school or talking with a prospective real estate brokerage.
1. It’s a sales job.
The real estate business is a sales job and unless you like being poor, the “leads” that your company may provide for you will not be enough to sustain you. Unlike a normal career where you are paid for your time, talent, and experience, you pay the company that you work for in real estate for your hard work, talent, and your time. Every day, you need to find someone who wants to buy a home or sell a home and any day you don’t is a failure. Fail too often and you’ll go broke, poor, and it will be the worst decision that you’ll ever made.
You see, I speak from experience. When I entered the real estate business in 2003, I was looking for work as a consultant in the DC area and I didn’t know what I wanted out of this business. Ultimately, I wanted the end results (the closing checks) but I didn’t like the time and effort required for lead generation. Because I didn’t take my lead generation seriously, I failed early on but eventually persevered and now do very well. Therefore, if you’re willing to do WHATEVER (legally) it takes to be a success in this business, then proceed to number two.
2. Committ youself to being a great agent.
The stories that you hear of a buyer being taken advantage of or a seller being ripped of is usually as a result of some lousy real estate agent always looking for a short cut. Short cuts end your career quickly and make the rest of us look bad. Also, you need to commit yourself to education. In the real estate business, you will wear a lot of hats from CEO, CFO, CIO, CTO, salesperson, to courier, and sign installer. If you cannot tackle the skills required by each one of these roles, you will need to take whatever training is necessary to get you up to speed.
3. Consider the type of real estate that want to sell.
Call a few local agents and ask to pick their brain about their experiences selling in your local market. I am called frequently from prospective agents and I love sharing about the market, the opportunities that exist, and the challenges that they may face. Smart agents niche and it is their bread and butter. My group’s niche is the distressed housing market in Charlotte. Our experience, sales figures, and market knowledge are ahead of almost everyone in our market place regarding short sales and bank-owned properties. Granted, we sell a lot of owner-occupied homes as well but the majority of the buyers that find us are looking for our expertise.
4. You will need money.
Some firms say that you should not expect to sell a home in the your six months. If you work hard, you can make a sale within the first two months however you need money to get started in the business. Startup costs include:
- Licensing Fees
- Real Estate School and Exams
- Signing up with a brokerage
- Office Fees
- Telephone Fees
- Increased insurance
5. Interview multiple brokerages
Understand that it’s a number’s game: the more agents a firm has, the more sources of revenue they have. As a result, all of their presentations make them sound like they are the absolute greatest real estate firm on the planet. However there are some very different models that exist and so talking to a half dozen or so, you will most likely find one for you. While I think that Keller Williams is great, it isn’t for everyone. Keller Williams Realty is a hybrid between a traditional model (firm has more interaction in your business and takes more of your money) and the 100% model (keep more of your money but no training and support). Stay away from the 100% companies as you need training and support. The classes that you took in real estate school teach you how not to get sued and the basic concepts in real estate. Most people need the additional training from their brokerage to start a successful career. Without it: crash and burn.
You also will want to find a company that has a presence in the community that want to specialize in. The last thing you want is to lose a sale because the seller or buyer has never heard of your company and doesn’t feel you are credible. Once you have a name, a niche, and confidence in your abilities, you can branch into starting your own firm or joining a new one.
6. It’s not a part-time job
It may be hard to transition from a steady pay check to a life of uncertainty however it’s something you will need to do. Real estate isn’t a job that you can do at nights or just on the weekends. To do the job of an agent well and to make any money requires that you are working full time in your real estate business and you may need to hire some help. This may mean you will have to defer your dream of being a real estate agent for some time but that’s ok. Remember that every sale either helps or hurts your reputation and if your client is frustrated by the fact his agent can only show him homes at night because of their day job, that’s not going to help you.
Yes this may have been a little straight forward and negative but it’s a reality of the real estate business. I enjoy being a real estate agent because it allows me to utilize all of my skills in helping others. At times, it can be very challenging but what career isn’t. However, if you go into it with the goal of being the best agent you can be, to work hard, to avoid the short cuts, and treat it like a business, you will experience success beyond your wildest dreams.