Realtor Realities: Starting A Career In Home Sales

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Superficially, being a realtor seems like a fantastic career choice.

After all, we’ve been exposed to the lives of real estate agents in the media for years. Featured disproportionately in TV shows, realtors pop up on both reality shows and in fiction. It’s natural to be curious about a job that seems so very lucrative, but for relatively little work. It’s just showing people around houses and then collecting a commission, right?

Wrong.

Entering a career in real estate might be a choice that’s right for you; for some people, it makes for an ideal career that is flexible and endlessly interesting. However, it’s important that you know the full facts about what life as a realtor is really like– the reality is rather different to the glossy world portrayed on TV…

Fact #1: Real Estate Agents Work Hard

“How difficult can it be?” you have probably thought when considering a career in real estate. “You show people around houses, point out all the features– it can’t be that much work, can it?”

It can. Yes, agents have to show clients around potential properties, but this is literally around 10 percent of their overall workload. If you want an insight into what agents actually have to do, then consider the following:

  • Source clients. Many real estate agents rely on their connections and word of mouth recommendations to keep their client list full. Advertising can only take you so far; for the most part, agents will need to network relentlessly, which can be incredibly time consuming.
  • Deal with client requests. Very rarely will a client tell a realtor what they want and find the realtor immediately knows of the perfect property. In almost every case, the agent will have to relentlessly search to find something that matches their clients’ specifics, which can take up hours of time.
  • Always be ready with a pitch. Real estate agents have to always be “on” and ready to work. If they’re at a party and someone mentions they are selling their house, a good real estate agent will immediately press a business card into the person’s hand. Realtors never know where their next big commission is going to come from, so they always have to be alert to opportunities.
  • Manage your own schedule. The idea of managing your own schedule might sound easy, but people tend to struggle without a reliable 9am-5pm working pattern. If you are disorganized in life, and prone to procrastination, you may struggle with the way that realtors have to live. It takes a long time for an agent to get used to not having set working hours or a “clock off” time; the job never stops.

Fact #2: Real Estate Agents Don’t Receive A Salary

If you like the financial security of a paycheck landing in your bank on the same day of every month, then being a real estate agent might not be for you.

Realtors are not paid a monthly salary. Instead, they are self employed, with their earnings coming via commission on sales that they make. This commission comes as and when it happens; there are no regular payments, and if an agent goes for a long period without selling a house, then there’s no guarantee they will get paid at all.

There are ways to mitigate some of the issues above; companies like Accel Commission Advance allow realtors to receive their commission within a few hours of the sale being finalized. These kinds of services have offered a financial lifeline to realtors, who might otherwise wait for up to three months to receive money that they have rightfully earned.

However, while these services can ensure that agents receive the commission they have earned, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that they will actually earn commission.

Fact #3: Realtors Are Self-Employed

The vast majority of realtors are self-employed. This can sound wonderful — working for yourself, no boss to worry about! — but actually has a few downsides. First and foremost, realtors are responsible for filing all of their business paperwork. They also do not receive:

  • Sick pay
  • Maternity pay
  • Holiday pay
  • Pension benefits

So not only do realtors have to manage their business, they also have to set aside a large chunk of time for detailed financial planning in their personal lives. You will need to have contingency plans for eventualities such as illness or starting a family.

Realtors are also personally responsible for:

  • Their taxes
  • Their marketing and promotional tools
  • Small business expenses, such as business cards and running their social media account correctly.
  • Ensuring that they are aware of rules and regulations (which change frequently) regarding the buying and selling of property. Many jobs require additional training after qualification, but realtors have to do this — and manage their schedule to allow for it — for themselves.

Essentially, if you’re not a fan of paperwork, then starting a business as a real estate agent may trouble you.

Fact #4: Real Estate Agents Become Embroiled In Professional Arguments

The stakes are high for real estate agents. They don’t receive a salary, so every commission counts– and this is an environment in which competitiveness is always going to be an issue. Realtors can find themselves in a perpetual turf war with other agents, and sometimes, things can get unpleasant.

If you’re going to make it in this competitive world, you’re going to have to be willing to work hard and always rise above any professional disputes.

So Is It Worth It?

Well, there are over a million members of the National Association of Realtors, so the answer appears to be “yes”. Despite all of the potential headaches, working as a realtor can be incredibly rewarding. The average take-home pay is around $36,000 per year, and the flexibility of the work might suit you well.

What we’ve tried to do is provide you with the facts; the essentials that you need to know before joining the real estate world. Hopefully, having read through the above, you can enter this career with your eyes wide open. When problems do arise, you can be ready for them, and nothing will be able to hold you back from a successful real estate career.

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Millennial Staff

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MiLLENNiAL is a lifestyle magazine profiling those who are shaping the world we experience. From business innovation and career strategy to sustainable health and cultural disruptors, MiLLENNiAL shines the light on the young change makers of the world.

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