Do you love house hunting? Can you find the key selling point in any home? Do you enjoy making people's dreams come true? Have you longed for flexible hours? Then you'll enjoy a career as a professional real estate agent.
"A successful real estate agent is a people person. You can't sell a home unless someone is comfortable with you selling it for them," says Tom Chambers, customer solutions manager at License Professor.
Real Estate Career Preparation and Licensing
But how do you begin a successful real estate career? Start by making sure you have what it takes to succeed. The next step depends on the state in which you live. Every state has its own licensing process, so it's imperative that you take the time to contact your state's real estate commission and get up-to-date information about licensing procedures.
Once you have a better understanding of what your state requirements are, you'll be better prepared to select a real estate school to fit your needs.
Depending on the state you live in, your real estate commission may require any or all of the following:
- Age requirement (Usually 18 years of age.)
- Residency (Do you live in the state?)
- Education (A set number of hours in real estate training, plus pre-license and final exams.)
- Experience (Sales person experience, college degree, etc.)
- Clean criminal records (No convictions. Possibly expunged convictions.)
Interview Agencies And Brokerage Firms In Your Area
After you determine your state's laws regarding real estate licensing, you need to hit the pavement. Visit real estate offices and brokerage firms. Speak to the top real estate agents in the industry as well as hiring personnel.
Find out what they look for in the real estate agents they hire: personality, dress, education, degrees, past work-related experience, ethics, morals, etc. Some real estate offices and/or brokerage firms prefer their agents have classroom instruction in business management and finances, plus sales training. Some even prefer their real estate agents to know a second language. Understanding the needs of the company you want to work for (or with) is vital to your success.
Find A Sponsor
Depending on the state you live in, you may need to find a real estate office or brokerage firm to sponsor you. According to the Louisiana Real Estate Commission, "every potential real estate agent must provide an affidavit signed by the sponsoring broker at the time the application is submitted" or "the applicant may provide the affidavit signed by the sponsoring broker prior to issuance of the license."
Because real estate transactions are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, real estate agents must possess good character qualities, such as trust, loyalty, honesty, and even compassion. Qualities not found on paper. Therefore, many states require real estate agents spend their first few years working under successful real estate brokers. These brokers become the sponsor and attest to the integrity of the real estate agents.
Get Your License
Once you've found a sponsoring broker, it's time to tackle those real estate courses. Depending on time restraints and needs, an online course may be the best way to go.
"There's no doubt about it. Online programs offer a level of convenience and flexibility that's missing in a traditional classroom setting. With an online program, students can learn any time, day or night, according to their schedules," says Jay Achenbach, of Allied Schools. "Many online programs, including Allied, offer students the ability to take their quizzes and/or exams online and receive instant results. It's a convenient, time-saving way to train for a new career."
"In California, the state exam has a failure rate of around forty percent," Burke continues. "The biggest hurdle on the way to obtaining a real estate license is passing the state exam. It's a tough exam and most people find it to be a very nerve-racking experience."
"This is why we recommend preparing for the state licensing exam with the aid of specific prep materials designed to replicate the testing experience."
"Questions and answers, timed drills, and video lectures from experts in the real estate field are proven methods to help students pass the state licensing exam, the first time."
Sell Your First Property
Once you become a licensed real estate agent, it's time to get to work. With no clients, commissions can be sparse. "Like all jobs, you must start off at the bottom and work your way up," says Chambers. "You may spend the first six months of your real estate career doing other salespeople's dirty work."
How fast you sell a property and earn your first commission depends on many factors, such as:
- the real estate market,
- interest rates and points,
- the geographic location,
- the condition of the property,
- the debt still owed on the property,
- your clientele, and
- your overall attitude.
The hours a real estate agent puts into selling a house varies, but John Lumbleau, of Lumbleau Real Estate School believes "the first house could be sold in two months, and after two years of client building a house could be sold in a week or two." He goes on to say that "people who do not build clientele do not survive" this profession.
Jumpstart Your Real Estate Career
So it's important to make sure you get off on the right foot, and to do that, here are a few helpful tips for jump starting your real estate career:
- Don't quit your day job. At least not until you have a minimum of six months salary in living expenses set aside and a year's medical insurance paid in advance.
- Get organized. Keep a database of leads, clients, and sales. Know when home inspections should be schedules, paperwork filed, etc.
- Learn time management skills. Not only should you be on time to all meetings, but you must make sure your paperwork is turned in on time, or it could cost you a sale and your client, his/her home.
- Be flexible. Your clients work full-time jobs. Those jobs restrict their viewing and showing times to after-hours and week-ends. Unless you've built up a really good trust factor, your clients are not going to allow you into their houses when they aren't home.
- Develop patience. Don't rush your clients off the phone, or look distracted when meeting them in person. Your clients are dealing with one of the biggest purchases of their lives and they need your compassion and patience to make the right decision for them-not you.
- Become a strong marketer. Plan and execute with precision.
- Learn to network. Whether you are in a checkout line at the supermarket, a Bulls game, or a Chamber of Commerce business function, building a strong network is vital. Word of mouth speaks louder than any advertising you could ever pay for.
Your income will depend on the amount of time you put in, how much you listen to your buyers and your sellers, what your commission is from the sale of the property, and finally, the total cost of the property sold. As per BLS, real estate sales agents earned a median annual wage of $53,140 with top 10% making $98,090.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Real Estate Sales Agents