Things They Don’t Tell You About Becoming a Real Estate Agent
About once every two weeks, someone slips into my DMs asking me what it’s like being a full time real estate agent (which I LOVE… keep the questions coming!) This career is clearly attractive for a lot of reasons, and turning on the television to ANY channel proves that real estate is a popular topic with just about everyone.
But the glamour of those big commission checks comes with some baggage that people don’t really pay attention to when considering a career move to Real Estate. Since I get asked so often, I thought I’d put together a list of the things they do NOT tell you about becoming a Realtor!
Finding Business is Hard.
Many people start with the mindset of: “If I can just do 12 transactions a year, I’ll be set!”
I work on a team where clients are generated through my team lead (hi mom!) but bringing in even just ONE of my own leads was challenging as a new agent — it’s not like my friends move every day! But here is the shocker: Even my own friends forgot I was an agent. You may think, “my friends would never do that to me!” But guess what, they will! Your family, too! I remember sitting at the table at Thanksgiving listening to my cousin tell me about the house he just bought and I’m thinking, “Um hi remember me you Little Sh*t?!”
Believe me, you will cry the first time your friends “forget” to use you — it’s hard to not take it personally especially when you’re first starting out. Lead generation is a process and takes lots and lots (and lots!) of repetition.
It’s Really Expensive!
Those fat commission checks? Umm yeah, everyone gets a little piece of that pie. First, your brokerage takes their cut. I pay RE/MAX a monthly fee and a fee per transaction. Then there’s the associations, I am part of the following: National Association of Realtors, Illinois Realtors, and Mainstreet Organization of Realtors. They all have sizable dues. And then… you have required Continuing Education classes.
If you’re on a team like me,
your Mom I mean team lead takes their share, too.
Annnddd then, there are Taxes! I f*ing hate taxes. I usually set between 25% – 40% of my check (what’s left of it…) aside for taxes since I’m an independent contractor.
The reality is that income is irregular & feels like it comes in one big lump some, but half of it never reaches your bank account.
You can do everything right and still lose.
There’s two sides to the transaction and four parties: The buyer, the buyer’s agent, the seller, and the seller’s agent. When you’re working with people, there are no rules — just guidelines on how to do business. Every transaction is different. You can put in a perfect offer, and the other agent can drop the ball. I’ve been blamed for things that were clearly the fault of the other agent, but in their efforts to save face with their clients, the blame got shifted to me. It doesn’t bother me that I appear to be the bad guy, but it’s not fair that my clients may lose out on a property for circumstances that are entirely on the other side of the transaction.
It Takes Time.
Even if you have a client that goes under contract on a home on Day 1 of getting your real estate license, you still won’t be getting paid for 30-45 days, which is a typical escrow time. But … that’s not a typical scenario. More likely, it will take you 2-4 months to find your first client, and it takes time before they even submit an offer on anything. Here is my typical client timeline:
Day 1: Meet a Buyer
Day 2 – Day 30: Buyer looks online at homes I send them
Day 30 – Day 60: Buyer looks for homes with me in person
Day 60: Buyer makes offer & goes under contract on a home
Day 90 – Day 105: Buyer closes on their home
It could take 105 days to get a payday from a single client — so the goal is to have lots of clients at all different stages of this cycle so that paychecks are more “regular.”
But anything can happen in between these 105 days. Buyers can decide they would rather re-sign their lease. There could be lender issues that delay closing. The buyer could go under contract and decide the inspection had too many issues, so you get kicked back to Day 2.
There could be LOTS of reasons to delay your paycheck, but the biggest one is just Lack of Clients. You can’t even get to the point of showing houses until you have people to work with. It takes time.
It’s Really Hard to do Part Time.
Real estate is first and foremost attractive because it’s seen as flexible. Well, actually, it’s not flexible. I’M FLEXIBLE. There’s a difference, haha. To be a great Realtor, I have to jump. When a client wants to see a home in an hour, I jump. When an inspection needs to happen tomorrow, I squeeze it in. If earnest money needs to be turned in by the end of the day, I’m there.
There’s a constant and real fear that if I don’t work on my client’s time, they’ll just call someone else. So I jump. Half the battle is just being there and showing up.
But jumping is pretty impossible to do if you’re at your other job. Or if you go out of town a lot. Or if you can only put in 20 hours a week or so.
Real estate is NOT really set up to be a part time job. Because it’s an all-and-anytime job. Rarely can people keep many clients when they only keep a part-time schedule.
Every transaction is an opportunity to learn.
I’ve only had my real estate license a few years, but what has really accelerated my career has been joining a team. I highly recommend brand new agents find a mentor and partner up with someone that can pass down their experiences to you — find someone with enough business that it naturally overflows to you. That’s my circumstance with The Debbie Pawlowicz Group & I’ve gained first hand experience very quickly this way.
Considering a career in Real Estate? Talk to me about joining our team! Email me today!!