What are the motivations?
Real estate agents come from all different backgrounds and ages. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) finds that 95% of agents chose a career in real estate after leaving one or two previous careers—usually in business, finance, or management. Today, the average age of new real estate agents is near 50. Often, older people choose real estate as a way to ease into retirement or to supplement their retirement income. Younger people tend to go into the business because they are following in their family’s footsteps or they are intent on building a career in a field they love, as well as one that pays well.
A passion for real estate
A top reason people explore real estate is because they are fascinated by it. They get a thrill from touring properties and imagining how to transform spaces and build lives within them. They can readily imagine how to increase property values through a few well-chosen upgrades. The idea of doing that for a living is exciting because it taps into the dream most of us have, which is to earn a living doing what we naturally love. And, for many, they imagine how gratifying it will be to help others make smart real estate decisions. Still, there are other benefits that draw people to the career.
Diverse career paths
The more experience you get under your belt, the more you’re likely to earn. Additionally, you can parlay your experience in any number of directions, such as property management, real estate investing, corporate real estate departments, or a shift from residential to commercial property sales. By paying close attention to alternate career paths and accumulating the skills you need, you open up more opportunities for advancement.
Maybe you’re a new parent and you want the flexibility to work from home, be your own boss, and develop a work schedule that is tailored to family life. Real estate can do that. Perhaps you’re nearing retirement age and want to supplement your income while enjoying the camaraderie that comes from working with other real estate professionals. Real estate can do that too.
Why do people choose a real estate career?
A day in the life of a real estate agent Even though no two days in real estate are ever the same, some standard tasks will be part of your day. Time management, organization, and follow-up will be instrumental in your success as an agent. Seasoned agents often recommend developing a daily routine, keeping in mind that as you become more experienced and find yourself working with more and more prospects, the routine will help you stay focused on the duties needed to reach the closing table. Here are some typical day-to-day tasks:
- Develop marketing plans for listings and your personal brand
- Follow up on website leads and online inquiries
- Make calls to clients, affiliates, and other agents
- Network in the community
- Conduct over-the-phone or in-person consultations with clients
- Participate in local community events
- Host open houses
- Negotiate contracts
- Attend inspections
- Coordinate and attend closings
- Take professional development or continuing education classes
Is now a good time to become a real estate agent?
Before committing to a new career in real estate, consider the job outlook and the housing industry as a whole. Real estate tends to run in cycles. At times, business is brisk, but sometimes sales of commercial or residential property will be very slow for a year or two. Is now a good time to launch a real estate career, or should you wait? Here are a few things to consider:
The outlook varies by location
While the housing market overall is currently on an upswing nationally, real estate is—by definition—a local business. Market conditions in Kansas City may be completely different from those in Denver, southern Illinois or rural Maine. One of the best ways to learn more about your particular market is to immerse yourself in local data and to talk with the most active agents and brokers. What are average housing prices? How many homes were sold in the past month, and how does that compare to sales in that same month a year ago? How many agents are operating in the market? Set up appointments with a few different brokers to gather their insights. They will likely welcome your curiosity about the business and the profession.
Agents are optimistic
The NAR 2016 Member Profile Report tells us that nearly 83% of current agents definitely intend on staying in the field for at least two more years. 85% of brokers and associate brokers feel the same way. This sentiment is the highest it’s been since 2011. Agents are optimistic about what the future holds.
Real estate is a personal decision
Starting any new career is a personal decision. Your work-life balance is likely one of the reasons why you’re exploring this career, and it’s important that you consider your personal and family life— independent of professional opinions about the market—before you dive into real estate.
Will you have time for family and leisure?
Are you already working a full-time job that will have additional demands?
Are you financially ready to make the leap?
Do you have the willpower to invest the required time and energy?
Can you be your own boss?
It’s time to lay out your personal and financial goals, evaluate your personality and your personal strengths and weaknesses, weigh all that against the market outlook and make a well-informed decision Now you need to take into account your brokerage split. New agents typically have to give their broker a bigger split, because commission splits are typically tied to experience and the amount of business you bring in. If you have a 70/30 split with your broker, that leaves you with $8,400. Granted, $8,400 for one property is not too shabby. Just remember that you need to set aside a portion of that money for taxes (you’re an independent contractor now), and you’ll want to recoup some of the money you likely spent on advertising the property and shuttling clients around to see the house.