Are you thinking about a career in real estate? This is what they WONT tell you.
If you are thinking about a career in real estate, you have most likely Googled what it takes to get a real estate license in your state. You may have spoken to some real estate agents that you know about exactly what they do; they most likely said you really should work with THEIR broker. You may have even interviewed with a couple real estate brokers to see what they offered…all of which offered what seemed to be the same thing…training, support and maybe even some leads. It is all but guaranteed that you have not heard what we are going to tell you…Here is the TRUTH about a career in real estate.
My Real Estate Story
When I got into real estate, I did so because I had been in sales my entire life and sold a variety of products. I had made my way up the later to become a sales trainer in a couple different fields. When I was looking for my first home, I personally looked up as much information as possible on the home buying process and the financing that was required. I felt as if I was pretty informed. Understand, this was when the internet was in its infancy, so I didn’t have the endless amount of real estate blogs and articles available today, I really had to put the time in.
After an exhaustive amount of research, seeing if I should use a real estate agent, I started reaching out. After meeting a handful of agents, I would ask questions to get a feel if they would be a good fit for me and if they knew what they were talking about. Many of them didn’t know much about the area, couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag or simply didn’t have the knowledge that I felt they needed to represent me properly. But they were ALL driving Mercedes and Lexus’s! And they were not even focusing in the luxury real estate market. I remember thinking to myself, if these people are this successful… I will rule the real estate world! So I took my test, quit my job and used all of the money I had saved to start my new real estate carrier. What I found out was that it was NOT that easy.
What I Found Out About The Real Estate Industry
I couldn’t tell you how to work on a car, be a dentist or build a swing set, but at this point in my career, I do know real estate. That took time and a lot of effort. I have learned to be successful in any vocation requires a pretty consistent list of things:
- A love for the job
- Work ethic
- A drive to be better every day
There is a huge misconception that real estate agents simply get a license, put a “For Sale” sign in a yard then walk away to have brunch and a mimosa. Truth is, if you want to be a successful real estate agent, you have to be prepared to do the following:
- Be available for work 7 days a week
- Answer your phone 24 hours a day—7 days a week
- Put your clients best interest ABOVE your own
- You need to be in a position to work 70 hours a week, for a couple months and not get a paycheck…at all!
- You must like people…I mean REALLY like people.
- You need to continuously look for new real estate information, digest what is out there, figure out what is real and utilize that knowledge for the benefit of others
- You must continue to learn new things every day—real estate does not stay static
- Be prepared to put your planned vacation on hold, to make sure someone else gets the house they have been working hard to get.
- Be ready to work with someone for 12 months, with no guarantee of any compensation because you TRULLY want that family to own a house.
The next thing you need to ask yourself is…
Why Do You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent?
If your answer is “easy money”…you should stop reading right now and continue with whatever job you are in. Most real estate agents put in an enormous amount of time, even if that time is simply missing dinner with their family to explain the results of a home inspection to a client on the phone. It is true, you can make a decent living, but once you figure in ALL of the time you put in, the hourly rate is not too glamorous.
Once you get your license, you will need to:
- Choose a Real Estate Broker
- Create Your Own Branding
- Get a Website
- Find someone who wants to buy or sell a house
- Choose a real estate niche
All of that is easier said than done. The last one on the list is where most real estate agents fail. Most agents fail out of the business because they either don’t know how or don’t have the money to properly market themselves to get their personal brand established. Marketing is one of those things where money goes out quickly and the return comes back slowly.
Agents market themselves differently. Some spent a ton of money on tools and services, websites to create leads. Some simply buy leads from sources like Zillow or Realtor.com, some send out 1000’s of postcards or fliers every month, some go door to door. You need to have a plan on how you are going to brand yourself.
Getting a real estate website that focuses on your neck of the woods is a critical piece. Having up to date information on the local market, showing all of the homes for sale in your area, sold properties if possible and lastly showing your personal value proposition. Creating pages on your site that focus on specific localized areas is super important. Here is an example of an agent who has done a great job of providing valuable content on their local area. http://www.boston2.com/cohasset/
Real Estate Sales is very similar to many other sales positions…80% of the sales are done by about 20% of the top producing agents. Many new real estate agents don’t make it through the first year and another large group falls out in year two. I’m pretty confident that most of the agents I spoke with, when I was looking for a home were in that group.
Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent
Real Estate agents have a tremendous level of responsibility. Being responsible for the largest transaction of most people’s lives takes more than simply passing a state exam and paying your MLS dues. You need to stay abreast of the ever changing real estate laws, rules and regulations but more importantly you need to be continuously learning to make sure that the horror stories you hear from other agents don’t happen to you…more importantly…to your clients!
What Makes It So Hard To Be An Agent?
You need to not take it personally when you spend countless hours on the phone with someone, connecting someone with the right lender and spend four Saturdays in a row looking at homes only to find out they are going to use their cousin to write the offer. Brush it off and move on. Stay in contact with that person because they may need your help one day.
You are your own boss. You need to make sure you wake yourself up every day and get yourself dressed. You are your own CPA, your own secretary, appointment scheduler, customer service department, IT department, PR department… all the time helping your clients in buying or selling their homes.
You Have To Love What You Do
I love the real estate business. I wouldn’t change my career in real estate for anything in the world. There is nothing better than the feeling after a successful closing with a new family buying their first home. I am a workaholic already, so I’m always excited when my phone rings at 9:00 PM. I make a pretty good living, can put my kids through school and buy the necessities of life. I generally get a pretty good deal when I purchase my own home, which provides some long term wealth. I enjoy learning and imparting my knowledge on my clients.