Real estate can be a rewarding career. Yet, quitting your day job impulsively and not planning your segue into the industry can leave you struggling to build a business (or financial) strategy later on. So before getting into real estate, there are a few questions worth asking yourself.
Before starting a real estate career, ask yourself how you’ll finance your business, how much time you can commit, what your communication skills are, and how you plan to stay organized. Also, ask yourself about self-motivation, your preferred broker, your persuasion skills, and your goals.
Many agents completely misjudged how difficult it can be to generate leads, build a network, and get listings in the real estate world. Below, we’ll go over eight questions you should ask yourself before starting a real estate career to be sure you transition smoothly and make the right choice.
How Will I Finance My Real Estate Business?
Unless you’re coming hot off the heels of another career where you developed a sales funnel or pipeline, your first few months in real estate are about branding yourself as an agent and getting the word out there. Not surprisingly, the funding aspect of real estate is also one that new agents tend to overlook the most.
Unless you’re a whizz at cold-calling or going door-to-door, then your marketing efforts will probably be the most pricey facet of your new career. Approximate costs include:
- Personalized Business Cards: $50+ for 1,000 cards
- EDDM Postcards or Mailers: $0.19 per piece
- Facebook (or Instagram Ads): $0.97 per click
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads: $1-2 per click (varies)
The list above doesn’t give the full depth of the price to market your new small business. Given the “Rule of Seven,” which states that a client might have to click on your ad or see your name at least seven times before they decide to give you a call, the costs above can multiply quickly from month to month.
Many real estate agents will spend around $5,000 a year on out-of-pocket expenses.
These out-of-pocket fees account for an average of $500/month, so you have two options to avoid overspending or eating into your savings: wait to transition into real estate until you have a good deal of money saved up, or maintain a second job on the side for the time being.
Good second jobs for real estate agents will have a flexible schedule and involve face-to-face interactions where you can potentially generate leads. Everything from being a barista or a waiter to working the floor at a retail store or being a personal trainer can be beneficial.
How Much Time Can I Commit to Real Estate?
Real estate agents are independent contractors, so that means you’ll have the freedom to set your own schedule and dedicate time to your new career when it works for you. The majority of successful agents work 40+ hours a week, and many agents report working more hours weekly as they spend more time in the industry.
Truth be told: A career in real estate can be quite time-consuming.
You can time-block your schedule all you want so that neither your real estate nor personal activities get put on the backburner. At the same time, nothing in real estate ever seems to go according to plan, so you might have to deal with things like:
- Emergency midday calls to contractors or inspectors
- Fielding calls from clients and other agents when your listing is under contract
- Dropping everything to show a client a new house on the market
- Juggling several listings and clients at once
- Hosting open houses for hours on end
Having more than 40 hours a week to dedicate to building your business is fantastic in real estate. Yet, a little flexibility in this scheduling is even more critical. That’s especially the case if you have children to care for or you’re holding down another job on the side.
It’s crucial that, as a parent, you have a family member or a babysitter on-call that can watch your children when an emergency work matter suddenly arises. If finding childcare or calling out of your day job isn’t an option; partnering with another agent in your office can help fill the gaps. These are all things you’ll have to weigh before pursuing real estate full-time.
Here’s a video from real estate great, Tom Ferry, explaining how time-blocking works and just how to get the most of your time as a real estate agent:
What Are My Communication Skills Like?
Understanding the laws and concepts in real estate is necessary to fill out the paperwork and avoid trouble with your license. But as a real estate agent, you’re actually adopting the job title of “salesperson.” Without adequate and effective communication skills and the ability to generate leads, your business simply doesn’t exist.
What many budding agents fail to recognize is that communication takes several forms.
The first wall many agents have to knock down is building the confidence to talk to strangers. It’d be nice to always get listings and buyers from people within your network (like your friends and family), but this confines your reach substantially. So you’ll need to be confident enough to reach out to people you don’t know without feeling invasive, annoying, or uncomfortable.
You also need to be willing to take on several different communication tactics, prioritizing the one that makes each individual client the happiest.
Some people prefer text communication via text message or email, while others like face-to-face meetings or phone calls. As a real estate agent, you need to reply rapidly to avoid letting a lead slip through your fingers and express yourself well via written or spoken word.
Politeness, respect, and empathy go a long way in this industry!
Your ability to explain the complex real estate processes to new buyers and sellers is also essential in this career path. The best real estate agents will walk clients through each step of the process, explain what happens next, and clarify the importance of each official document. In a way, you’ll be putting on your “teacher hat” as a real estate agent.
How Well Do I Stay Organized Day-to-Day?
A disorganized real estate agent might as well hand the business card of their competitor to any new lead looking to work with them. So if you’re considering a career in real estate, you want to be confident that you can keep your clients, schedule, and forms as organized as possible.
To understand just how crucial good organizational skills are, consider the following tasks and activities that can become overwhelming as a new agent:
- Adding all of your new leads and clients to your CRM (and reaching out consistently)
- Recording upcoming events into your calendar to avoid overbooking
- Keeping copies of signed documents
- Creating checklists for each property (call the plumber, mow the lawn, wipe the counter)
- Remembering to schedule your mailers monthly
- Tracking your miles to write them off as business expenses when you file your taxes
Staying organized isn’t too complicated during your first few months when you’re still working on getting listings and buyers.
However, it becomes a bit trickier when you have mounds of paperwork to sift through, dozens of hot leads to reach out to, and several listings appointments to arrange every week. You’ll have to find an organization method that works best for you, whether that be a color-coded file system and calendar or smartphone organization apps. Your clients may not credit you for being organized the way you might like, but they’ll undoubtedly notice when you’re disorganized.
The last thing you want is to show up to the open house you’re hosting without the proper pamphlets or go to your listing’s closing without the right documents on-hand.
Am I Able to Stay Self-Motivated?
Being your own boss as a real estate agent will either catapult your career to new levels of success or make your transition to this new career path all for naught. The majority of your success in real estate will be reliant on your ability to stay self-motivated at all times.
Now, you might be curious about what this means in a more direct sense.
To be honest, the world of real estate is typically unpredictable and downright stressful for both skilled and novice agents. The number of times you’ll question why you choose this path in the first place (or consider throwing in the towel, entirely) will astound you. The market will take a dive, hot leads will turn ice cold, and you’ll miss making an offer by a matter of hours.
When times of trouble arise, you’ll need to be able to pick yourself back up again and continue pushing forward toward success. Self-motivation is absolutely critical as a real estate agent.
To maintain resilience and self-motivation, you must remind yourself why you chose this career path in the first place. You’ll also want to see your failures as a reason to try harder to reach success. So if a listing presentation you thought went well falls through, you should be able to spin this event as a reason to schedule five more presentations by week’s end.
This is a great career path if you excel at finding the silver lining in every circumstance, even one’s that cost you $10,000 in commission!
What Are You Looking for in Your Ideal Broker?
Deciding to become a real estate agent is your first major step toward this new career path. Yet, you also need to understand that your experience in the industry will highly depend on the broker or real estate company you decide to join.
So before you even sign-up for real estate school, consider what types of tools and supports you’ll want in a place to ensure success during your first few months and years. Take the time to interview local brokers and learn about the following:
- The commission split (graduated, fixed, 100%)
- New agent training courses
- Mentorships available to learn the ropes
- Free advertising or marketing materials
- Access to a concierge service to streamline real estate tasks
- CRM tools agents gain access to
- Office requirements (desk fees, mandatory floor time, required sales meetings)
Keep in mind that choosing the wrong brokerage or company from the get-go can be detrimental to your real estate career.
For example, you might feel as if you’re left to your own devices during those first few months if your broker refuses to pair you with another agent to shadow. The last thing you want to do is put all of that time and effort into getting your real estate license, only to leave the industry within your first year or two due to a bad experience.
So jot down what you want from your ideal real estate company or broker—more than just your desired commission split—and make an effort to find the company that meets all or most of these requests.
This is the best way to ensure success and happiness in your new career!
Am I Persuasive and Do I Negotiate Well?
Buying a home is nothing like going into a store, taking an item off of the shelf, and paying for it at the cash register. Since each agent wants to get the best deal for their clients, you need to be able to talk a good game and be persuasive in your negotiation skills.
This is the type of skill that you either have or you don’t. So confidence is crucial when it comes to negotiations and persuasiveness.
You’ll need to be able to put market-value offers in for your clients, assert to your leads that the projected list price is based on the other comps on the market, and convince your clients to counteroffer to get your buyer the most bang for their buck.
To excel in this facet of real estate, you’ll need to be able to back up anything you say and do with the data and present it well. This skill also comes with a counter-skill—being able to put your foot down to avoid being swindled. That means your negotiation skills help your clients keep money in their pockets without being taken advantage of by another agent.
You need to be completely willing to put your fiduciary relationship with your clients ahead of your own personal interest: the commission. Putting your clients first and acting in their best interest is the best way to guarantee happy clients and future referral business.
Why Am I Considering Being a Real Estate Agent?
While it’s true that a career in real estate can be rewarding in several areas of your life, what motivates you to pursue this path can also determine your level of success.
Take a look at a few reasons that agents enter the field and how these reasons can impact their career’s longevity.
The most successful real estate agents can generate millions of dollars in commission each year and practically own their hometown market. An annual income this high can negate any debt you owe and help you transition into a real estate investor, but most agents won’t earn close to this much. So if you’re becoming an agent to experience a miraculous windfall of catch, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Desire to Help
Buying your first home and relocating to a new town is a stressful experience, and oftentimes, it’s the most expensive decision of your life. As a real estate agent, you can help people make the best home choice for their needs—commission aside—and ease the usual stress that comes with this sort of process. The internal fulfillment that you feel when helping others can help you see this career as worthwhile.
You Can Choose Your Schedule
Many new agents choose the real estate industry because of the freedom. You can choose your own weekly schedule, dedicate the majority of your time to the tasks you enjoy most, and earn your wages based on what you dedicate to your career. So long as you stay motivated, having control of your success is influential.
All in all, entering the real estate industry for “quick money” is a surefire way to lose interest quite quickly when it takes half a year to get your first listing. So before deciding to choose a career in real estate, ask yourself why you’re pursuing this path in the first place.
Once you’re confident in your new career choice, it’s time to get the ball rolling.
Research your state’s salesperson requirements, enroll yourself in an online real estate school (if your state permits it), and begin interviewing local brokers to plan out your next steps.
Most of all, give yourself time to break into the industry during those crucial first six months.
Use these first few months as an agent to mold your communication skills, build a network and sales pipeline, and shadow another agent as you learn the ropes.
Soon enough, you’ll have listings of your own and look back wondering why you waited so long.