I Want to Become a Part Time Real Estate Agent. Good Idea?

The job of a real estate agent can be arduous. Arranging meetings, negotiating on your client’s behalf, showing the property to potential customers.  All of these being done with the hope of a potential return and payout.  This might go on for quite some time, especially if you are new to real estate and haven’t taken time to get the property training and mentoring. The challenge of being a part time agent is that you don’t always control when your clients want you to perform these activities. Whether part time or full time, you have to commit hundred percent to get something out of it. Is Part Time a good idea? Yes and No, let me explain further.

The term ‘part time’ is a misnomer when it comes to real estate and real estate agents. Despite being a part timer, you might have to work more hours than a full-time job at some point.  The difficulty of being a part time agent is aligning your work hours with the clients desired timeframe and hours.

So, is becoming a part time real estate agent a good idea? Considering all the pros and cons, you might want to think more than twice before committing to this venture.  It is not impossible to do, but you need to know what is in store for you.

Working as a real estate agent can feel a lot different than the average desk jobs, 9 to 5 job or shift work. You are putting your efforts to achieve something which can feel very satisfying, but there is always that chance that the efforts will be for not.

By the same token, it might feel a bit overwhelming. If the equilibrium between satisfaction and endeavor is imbalanced, things might become frustrating real soon. 

So, for the newcomers thinking of getting into real estate as a part time thing we are going to discuss why you will face more challenges than a full time agent. If you are mom considering real estate, I have an entire article just for you as well.   

Also, considering that most of you reading this article are probably completely new to this industry we will also be giving some introductory information on becoming a real estate agent which may further clarify my explanation to why it’s difficult to work as a part time real estate agent, yet not impossible. 

What Does A Real Estate Agent Do?

Think of it this way, a real estate agent is the middleman between buyer and seller. They work on the seller’s behalf or the buyer behalf. They have to be available when the buyer or seller need them  They will work with interested customers; advertise the properties, flyer distribution and so on to work out the best deal that works for both parties. The agent receives a percentage of commission on the sales figure. Most of the time it is 3 to 5 percent, although there is no set percentage.  And if the client decides not to buy or sell, even after you have invested time and effort, you will not get paid anything.

A part timer may work from home, set up a small office in his residence and coordinate meeting with clients, agents and brokers. But most of the time a real estate agent working involves untimely travels and off hours. When a house comes on the market, the buyers can’t wait until you have a day off to show them the home, they want to and need to see it now before anyone else gets to make an offer on it. The seller will want to know that their property is being actively promoted, not just at the times most convenient to you, but within minutes of the time that showings have occurred.  They want feedback and they want it now and if you are unable to provide it, they are very likely to move on and find another agent that can. 

And if the other agent that is showing the property has questions, you will need to be available to answer them.  I have seen buyers agents not be able to get answers from part time agents and take their buyers to other properties and end up buying the property that they could actually get in touch with the listing agent.

Look at it another way.  If it is the buyer that has a regular day job they will want to visit the property on off times, evening, or maybe even weekends. It might be depressing to work when your families is at home for the weekend.  (In reality, this also applies to full time agents.)

An agent also has to join their local listing service. All agents use this service to list properties in the area, save sales records and collect all the necessary information about properties for their buyer. Real estate agent also regularly attends different training sessions, conferences and seminars involving their business to stay UpToDate. This also helps expand their professional networks.  This might be difficult to accomplish as a part time agent, no matter how flexible you think that you current work schedule is. 

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make?

No real estate agents are entitled to any salary initially.  Agent work as independent contractors and only get paid if they are successful in being available to service clients and complete a sale.  The agent gets a percentage from their sales and that’s pretty much it. There is the investment of time and effort that is made before any money is made.  Add to this the split that is paid to the managing brokerage and it seems that the only way to make real estate worthwhile is to focus on working with multiple clients, making multiple different sales.  This becomes a challenge for the part time agent with limited time availability.

The amount that an agent can make is directly related to the number of homes that they can sell.  Real Estate is a bottom line business. 

A brokerage or real estate team is not going to share a lead for an active buyer or seller with a part time agent, knowing that they are not going to be able to potentially spend the time or effort to close the prospective client.  If anything, it will be the part time agent that will have to spend time developing the relationship with a prospective client and then turn to a full time agent and allow the full time agent to work with the client and then share a referral fee split back to the part time agent, for 10-25% of the buyer or seller side commission.  In this scenario for the part time agent it is better to get a percentage of something than 100% of nothing if they are not able to service the client.

So it is difficult, yet not impossible for a part time agent to make some money in real estate, as long as they are focused on lead generation via developing relationships with prospective buyers, sellers and investors.  How much money is impossible to tell, but it will be far less than the potential income of a full time agent. 

While it is all well and good to say that you want to transition at some point from part time to full time, it is very important for you to understand what you are up against and develop a crystal clear plan that cuts the time for the transition down. 

The Process of Becoming a Part Time Real Estate Agent

Becoming a real estate agent requires a pre license examination and a license examination. Some qualifications are required and mandatory to be able to sit for the examinations. These procedures and requirements vary from state to state. The fundamental steps are more or less the same as follows:

1) Understanding the prerequisites for license examinations 

No matter the area of your work, every agent is required to take some sort of course and classes before taking the exams. It gives you a basic idea of the thing you might face in your job. It also helps an agent to acquire knowledge and terminology required to be successful in the field.

2) Complete a pre-licensing course

 You might wonder why you need a pre licensing course. Well, this is to prepare a ‘soon to be’ agent for what he might see in the licensing examination. There are plenty of real estate schools, local private schools, Online Classes and universities or technical schools that offer pre-licensing courses.

A little secret.  The name of the real estate school does not appear on your real estate license. People don’t know and don’t care where you go to real estate school, they only care that you are licensed.  So don’t get too caught up in selecting a school.  Pick one that offers the class and access to an exam prep module so that you can access sample test questions.  As you are going to be a part timer, you might opt for an online course if your state allows them. It will save you your time and money and will allow you to take the course during your available hours.

3) Enroll for licensing examination

Sign up for an exam after you have completed the courses and are confident enough to give it a go. Specific information regarding the examination can be found on respective websites or you can purchase an real estate exam prep module. These modules with sample test questions usually provide all the information you need for your exams.

Examinations are typically two parts: one on general principles of real estate and one on state specific rules. They generally consist of a hundred multiple choice questions and some math. You may not pass the first time but don’t be desperate, you are not alone. A lot of potential agents don’t approach the exam in the right way and fail the first time.  You chances will greatly increase with the aid of an exam prep module.

4) Getting your license 

To engage with your clients, you need to get your license. Details can be found on each states real estate commission or real estate department website.  I have to admit, they make it easier to understand how to get a drivers license than they do in explaining how to get a real estate license.  If you have passed the test, some brokerages can assist you in getting registered and licensed with the state. 

Once you get your license, you can enlist yourself in your local multiple listing service. It is quite essential to be a member because you have to use their service to list properties and gather various information. Market trend, tax record, previous sales record all these are crucial information and they can be acquired from one single place.

5) Find and join a brokerage

Every agent works under a brokerage firm when getting started.  There are no exceptions. A broker has the responsibility to oversee all the transaction and sales occurring according to the law in their respective areas. Their job is also to make sure that the agent, which is you, is abiding by all the legal procedures and ethics.

Some brokerages do not bring on part time agents because they feel that they are not able to be responsible for an agent that they can not see and that is not participating in the office for set meetings and training and office hours. 

That is fine, you probably don’t want to work for that type of broker anyway.  You need to feel comfortable that you are working with a brokerage as a partner and not in a situation where you feel like they are hiring you.  Think about it, you are trying to get out of a job and working for a boss.  The last thing that you want to do is end up with a brokerage company that treats you like a pseudo employee.

You want to partner with a brokerage that encourages you to be your own brand and own business backed by and supported by the brokerage, and not the other way around.

Difficulties of being a real estate agent and how to overcome them

No job, no business, no career is at liberty from hardships. Being a real estate agent is no different. As it is not your average 9-5-day job, you may burn out even more than other jobs. Oversaturated market and first few years of struggle could easily frustrate you. There is a lot more to add to that. So, let’s break down the things that make this job more difficult than others and how to win them over.

1) You don’t get paid regularly

Yes, that’s the number one thing. As stated earlier, it’s not a 9-5 desk job where you work for a company and get a paycheck at the end of every month or every two weeks. It’s more like a freelance job where you work for yourself, you are your own boss. You get a small percentage of commission from each sale and that’s it, at least until you are working with multiple buyers and sellers.

This might feel even more discouraging because becoming a real estate agent requires an up front investment. In any other job you sit for an interview and get recruited. Here, you have to take a pre licensing course, appear in the licensing exam, apply to activate your license and finally set up your own “business” and every step cost money. All of these eat into your income.

Plan your budget from day one so that all your expenses are in order. Try to have some savings before starting your journey as a real estate agent so you can draw from whenever you need. This will help you to be stress free in your early days as an agent where you are still learning and plan your career properly.

2) You are the boss and the employee altogether

You begin the journey by yourself, so you are on your own for the first few months. Lead generation and marketing, printing and distributing flyers, planning your marketing budget, branding, training and the list goes on. Doing all these by yourself is a hectic task to say the least. You don’t learn the management in your pre license course and suddenly you are in deep water.

Having to fill both shoes could be exceedingly difficult at least in the beginning. You potentially will not get paid for the first few months. Those are the times you spend learning the business, generating, and following up leads, sharpening your skill and so on and so forth. Doing all these, while being unable to pay the bills could shape up into a shaky start.

Maintain your timetable precisely and Plan ahead.  It is very important to develop a schedule and stick to it. Overworking one day could be exhausting and you may not be able to work the next day. Plan what is more important and carry those out first. Understand that the most important factors that you need to focus on initially is getting training and blocking off time to do lead generation to uncover potential buyers and sellers.  Everything else, including Netflix, is secondary.

3) No off hours

One of the most challenging aspects of this sector is working off hours. Technically you have no off hour as you have to work a lot of the time. Setting up a meeting with the client or showing them the property at first is going to be based on their schedule, not yours, until you develop the skills to change this or have enough business to change the scheduling equation. You are going to be eager to please, and will fit the appointments in where ever you can. Most of the buyers are day job holders, so they might prefer evening or weekends.

Your clients off day become your workday and there is no way around. Your working hours run counter to your family and friends. No one would love to abruptly leave a backyard weekend barbecue party to attend clients and you are no different. And ending up with an unsuccessful showing or appointment would just add salt to the wound.  I only share this with you because I have experienced it first hand.

Manage your working hours properly. Take advantage of technology. Having off hour meetings in a video conference might be a pretty good idea.

The tendency for a part time agent is to work there main job, be exhausted and then not have the energy to do the task required as a real estate agent.  This leads to either burnout or worse, disappointed clients and other agents that learn that they can not depend upon you as an agent.  Once you develop this reputation, it is very difficult to shake.

4)  You will be rejected time and time again

Rejection is always present in the real estate sector. You will be hearing “no”, “no thank you”, “I’m not interested” all the time. It’s enough to break you if you are not mentally strong. We naturally want acceptance and that’s okay but in real estate rejection is part and parcel of life. It’s okay to be disappointed to be rejected after the effort you’ve put but don’t let that walk all over you.

Don’t let the refusal get the better of you. Use it to your advantage as many new agents are not willing to push through after repeated rejection. Try to focus on what you have given, not what you have achieved. If you are only focused on the result, this job will crumble you. Set your goal to give the best of you, only then no rejection no matter how big it is, shall conquer you.

Partner with a Full Time agent and be willing to share the load.

Always remember the great quote by legendary Michael Jordan:I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

5) Its a long-term investment

You can’t start making money and become rich overnight, not in this business if you plan on approaching it part time. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a gradual process. In the initial years you learn the business, work out your strategies, observe the market, build a client base and so on. There may not be a single sale in the first six months. Also, there may be ten sales in the first year.  It is impossible to tell.  Only you can determine your level of success, when partnered with the right brokerage.

The only constant things are ups and downs.  It took me more or less three years to take off until I was the number 1 agent in my office based upon commissions earned. Those three years could be full of frustration, disappointment and financial struggle.

Be slow but steady. Don’t let the disappointment overwhelm you. Stay focused and work hard. Replace the frustration with dedication and perseverance. Teach yourself to absorb all the rejection. Build a positive mindset and attitude towards the customers. Buckle up and start grinding, you will start to see the results.

6) You interact with all kinds of people

You deal with a lot of personalities some of which are a lot different from you. It could be fatiguing and emotionally draining. It’s highly likely to face the best or worst of any individual in this emotional roller-coaster. It could be so frustrating that soon you might become skeptical about your communication skills.

Try reading books or taking classes on psychology and personality traits. It will help you read the mindset of your clients. Most decisions in this sector are fueled by some sort of emotional element. Learning those emotions will help you adapt to various personalities and appear appealing to your clients.

Build up an adaptive persona. Take the first step towards your clients and break the ice. Just remember, your clients are going through an emotional process. It is your job to help them through.

Adversities of being a part time real estate agent

What makes this already difficult job even more difficult is being a part timer. It’s not impossible but it is far from being a walk in the park. The complicated aspects of this job are multiplied for a part timer. Let’s have a glimpse of the hardships and obstacles you will face as a part time real estate agent:

  • Inadequate customer service

As a part timer, you will work outside of your full-time job. But that may not correspond to your client’s timetable. Most buyers are regular day job holders. So, their preferred time is most likely to be after hours or weekends, yet they will have questions that need to be answered during normal business hours. That will be exhausting for you to attend your customer after a full day of work.

Your customers preferred schedule might conflict with your regular job. This type of scenario will have a bad impact on your real estate career as well as your full time job. You must be a skilled negotiator to work out this type of situation. You can rely on technology, but facetime is what you need to work on. You cannot be of service to your customer if you can’t handle that.

  • Training and education

You have to take a pre license course and sit for examination just like any other full-time agent. This time-consuming procedure becomes even more inflexible for part timers. You are more likely to take online courses to save time, but those courses barely cover any sales contract, inner workings of local listing service

It is difficult for a part time agent to master the ins and outs of this business like a full timer would do. Contract completion, working out complex negotiations and staying Up-to-date with the market, you hone these skills over a long period of time. Full time real estate agents have a better chance to shine more than someone who is doing this as a part time job.

  • Joining a brokerage firm is difficult for part timers

A brokerage is the overseer of all agents in a particular area. You cannot work independently without joining a brokerage when getting started. Brokerage firms provide their agents with various resources and services. Providing office space, furniture, computer, telephone all these responsibilities are carried out by the firm.

Many firms would not want to invest this much in a part time agent. They have a certain expectancy of business volume from an agent when recruiting. Any full timer can offer more than part time agents so the brokerage tends to opt to the former. Part time agents are less likely to get full share leads. Any proportional system will halt your progress in this sector.

  • Your income will be split

To make sure you provide top notch customer service, you must work with another agent. That agent is given the responsibility to do the actual showing of property on your behalf in exchange for a small cut from your commission. Finding a partner could be difficult because they can do the job alone and keep all the commission to themselves.

This nullifies the purpose of being a part timer because you are trying to save up as much as you can. Maybe you want to quit your full-time job or start a full-time career in real estate. Sharing your commissions with another agent eats into your earnings, and it might take longer than expected to reach your goal of being a full time agent.

So, Is Becoming A Part Time Real Estate Agent A Good Idea?

Real estate sector is highly competitive and in some areas may seem oversaturated. There are more agents available for a single property and it is increasing every day, yet the agents that make a living, are fully focused on the real estate career. Taking the necessary courses, sitting for the examinations, applying for a license are time consuming procedures and require money. They might feel even more exhausting when you aim to be a part timer.

Comprehending the essential aspects of this business, market analysis, strategy selection, building a client base and competing with other fresh blood, new agents in the sector is challenging and a grueling job. Doing all these while keeping a full-time job may feel like a herculean task. You might be easily demotivated as you have another job to attend to.

In your early day’s income could be a scarce commodity. It takes around two to three years to really feel like you know what you are doing.  As you are a part timer which means you are likely to have a full-time job, now you have to pay the bills as well as supplement this new enterprise from that full-time job of yours. The stress could become crippling.

Analyzing the pros and cons, mostly cons, I would discourage choosing real estate as a part time job. It is not a job that can be done part time. It takes even more effort and labor than starting an actual business to some extent. If you want two simultaneous sources of income, I would highly recommend having real estate as your career and a less strenuous part time job. 

I want to make sure I am clear.  Is it a good Idea to be a part time agent.  Only you can make that determination.  If you say yes, you can handle it, then by all means get signed up for a real estate class and get to work. 


The real estate sector has had its ups and downs throughout the years. The fall of the market in early 2008 made many agents go jobless and created many part timers. House prices were low and there were hardly any sales. Even after all of these, real estate has retained its fair share of charm and attracts many aspiring agents every year. The allure of freedom, flexibility and financial reward can be strong. 

The only necessary investments are time and money like any other business. Your career can be flexible according to what suits you. You can limit your working hours and meeting, maybe take the whole weekend off. But these hinder your progression as a tradeoff. Time is money in real estate. The more time you spend, the more fruits you gain.

I Want to Become a Part Time Real Estate Agent. Good Idea

Many practitioners who started as a part timer trade this with their full-time job. This is the wisest thing to do if you are passionate about this profession. This enables you to be available to your clients all the time and maybe even weekends. The more effort you put, the more you receive in return as payment as well as job satisfaction.

In this business, your hard work and dedication will be rewarded with success and prosperity in time, while being part time can inflict damage on both of your jobs. If you are passionate enough, build your career on this. I am confident that the above discussions were able to give you valuable insights about this sector and help you decide what is best for you.

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