Rookie Real Estate Agents - Revisiting Full-Time Versus Part-Time in 2010

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

toe in the water

Whether or not one can succeed/survive in this industry doing it part-time is always a good topic for debate. Emotions run high, tempers flare, feelings get hurt. Bummer.

But it really is an important question, especially TO those considering entering the field.

I've been thinking about it a lot, so I'll take one for the team and open up that can of worms yet again.

For the record, I've always been of the seemingly obvious opinion that if you're going to do something, do it 100%. And in an industry where far more practitioners fail than succeed, it only makes sense that the ones who devote themselves wholeheartedly to their career have a better chance of being one of the ones who don't fail... right?

Well, in the last few years, our industry has changed (really, Jennifer, y'think?) and it's not uncommon for a new real estate agent (or any real estate agent, frankly) to go months and months without a paycheck. And that's a tough situation to volunteer for.

So, new real estate agents approach their careers a little more circumspectly. They keep their day job (or night job as the case may be) and only stick their toe in the water... okay, maybe they wade in up their knees or even their waist. But they don't jump in. They don't fully commit. And they tell themselves that they're being practical, logical and responsible.

I get that. I really do. In a business where new practitioners might go a year before seeing their first payday, it's a tough sell to convince them to leave their regular paycheck and benefits behind.

But... practicality and responsibility aside... it still doesn't work. I know a lot of first-year agents and they run the gamut from having zero business to having more business than they can handle... and without exception, it's the part-time agents who are at the zero end... and the full-time agents who are at the more-than-they-can-handle end. (Of course, there are plenty of full-timers who are failing, but I don't know any part-timers who are succeeding).

The thing is - to succeed in a new business, you have to immerse yourself in it. Every day. All day. With all your passion, all your energy, all your resources. Sorry, but that's a fact whether or not you want to or can afford to. New agents who are succeeding are giving this career their full attention... not just sticking their toe in the water.

What's the punch line? If you can't afford to immerse yourself in your new real estate career, maybe now is not the time to begin your new real estate career.

p.s. please note that I am speaking primarily to new agents and pre-licensees here. Experienced agents with established lead generation and administrative systems can often make it working part-time. But rookies?  Sorry...

Aspiring Agents - Can't Go Full Time? Consider this...
Can a New Agent Make it in Today's Market?

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Lois Kubota
Keller Williams, Walnut Creek, California, DRE#01865028 - Walnut Creek, CA

I am a part time agent.  Got my license in June 2009.  I have another business as an insurance broker that I have run for nearly 10 years.  At my busiest time of year, it is very difficult for me to work on real estate.  My ulitmate goal is to do real estate full time and insurance part time, but that will take awhile.  Being an insurance broker brings me residual income.  Since I am the owner of my other business, I have tons of flexibility in my schedule.  I am not the kind of person who does shoddy paperwork and just because I am part time doesn't mean I would change. 

If I were full time, yes I would have probably had a sale by now.  When I look at the people I started with who work full time in real estate, they have had transactions, but I can assure you they are not making as much money as my insurance brokerage did last year. 

Not to mention that in the San Francisco bay area we have a 12.6% unemployment rate right now.  Could that possibly effect the market?

I'm not giving up.  I may be slow to make a sale, but when I do, I wil be very good at!

Apr 17, 2010 05:13 AM #49
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Hi Jennifer, I guess I have to say that while I would have Loved to throw caution to the wind, leave my original "career", and dive in head first, it would've been ugly for a long time. Besides the financial obligations, my wife would have flat out killed me if I did that! She's the kind of person who doesn't like the risk side of things. I, on the other hand, love a challenge and would Love to "prove everyone wrong" and throw the dice. In hindsight, I would have lost. And lost a Lot. The house, credit score, maybe even my family. I'm glad I went "part time" to start. Part time being about 60 hours a week, in addition to my other job. Watching videos, listening to audio and reading tons of books (yours included!) until well after midnight, then getting up at 5:30 for work. Spending breaks and lunch hours always on the phone, making sure everything was being taken care of. Changing clothes in my car, while Driving. (I don't recommend this, by the way). Things are pretty good now, so I really can't complain.

Thanks for the post and good luck to everyone. Full and Part time alike!

Apr 17, 2010 10:57 AM #50
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I think Renee's suggestion is a good one, and I agree that experienced agent's are far more likely to do well part time than rookies.

Apr 17, 2010 03:04 PM #52
Dennis Swartz
Full Circle Property Management - Columbus, OH
MBA, GRI...experience counts!

I think its all about what type of person you are. If you are a hard worker who puts the time in, then you can create a decent career out of part time real estate if that is your goal. It will be very hard to transition from part to full time real estate for most people as they do not want to let go of their security of a paycheck. If you desire to be a full time agent, you really need to rip off the band-aid and jump in, otherwise I don't think you will ever transition from part time to full time.

Apr 18, 2010 09:59 PM #53
Stephen P. Panczak, Sr, MBA
Palm Beach, FL
Realtor, Property Mgm't, LCAM

Jennifer - great article on such a "touchy" topic! I started off 2 years ago as a part-timer but found it necessary to give it "full-time" attention.

Apr 19, 2010 02:29 AM #54
Morris Massre
Pembroke Pines, FL
Real Estate Instructor Broward County Florida

Doing business with a part-timer is a nightmare and I don't recommend that kind of practice.  I don't think that practicing part-time benefits you in any way unless you have a real solid base of leads.  You tend to lose touch if you're not in there all the time and taking it seriously like a real business.

Apr 21, 2010 04:44 AM #55
Bridget Cella
Re/Max Connection - Sewell, NJ
e-Pro, Realtor

I appreciate you rpost and believe in it wholeheartedly.  It is something I have been struggling with as far as continuing Real Estate - unfortunately I have two special needs children and a husband who owns his own business so needless to say even though Real Estate is my only job - it's not.  Thanks for giving me the answer that I think I knew all along!  Maybe Real Estate is not for me.

Apr 22, 2010 01:37 AM #56
Steve and Jan Bachman
RE/MAX Gateway, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Fairfax - Herndon, VA
Realtors - Northern Virginia

What percentage of agents nationwide make their total family living in this business? My guess is less than 15%. What do you think? The nice part of the business is that you can make it what you want. My wife and I are full time, but most of the agents we know have other sources of income and do not work "full time". 

Apr 22, 2010 02:23 AM #57
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Bridget - I don't want to drive you out of the business if that's not what you want, but sometimes figuring out that it's time to do something else is the best thing that could ever happen to you!

Steve - If someone doesn't want to make much money selling real estate and won't be frustrated (or financially devastated) by not experiencing the success that is possible, then sure, it's fine for them to dabble (although I must agree with others that it probably doesn't serve their clients properly). But most new agents come into this business wanting to make a go of it and if that's their goal, their best chance of it is to fully commit.

But it's scary to think that it's "okay" to dabble in a career that involves such huge sums of money... hmmmmm... might be another post coming out of that thought...

Apr 22, 2010 02:29 AM #58
Rob Tucker
Florida Real Estate Advisors - Sarasota, FL
Florida Real Estate Advisors

Rookie agents usually go one of two directions: up or out! Either way is fine - what's unfortunate is that so many of them could have made it but didn't have the right coaching/mentoring/support networks to help them succeed.

What we learned in the licensing classes have absolutely nothing to do with real estate sales and success. Unfortunately or not - it's also easy to get into the business of real estate - $1000 (or less in some areas) and anyone can do it if they can pass the test. Let's also acknowledge that most companies will take any new agent and simply hope they succeed or at least do something every once in a while so they can make money. Most companies do not spend money training their agents (either experienced or new agents) and do not spend any money on the agents in general... they may say that they do, but when you really look at the numbers, they do not.

Rookie/New agents need to realize this and get some kind of coaching and training to really make a successful business.

As for part time vs full time - it really does depend upon that persons specific goals, but you cannot make it in this business very easily as a part timer. You haven't committed to the success and time required as a part timer - you still have an "out" and really don't have to succeed.

Success in real estate is actually very simple for a rookie agent (notice that I didn't say easy!):

1) create a business plan and develop your goals

2) implement 2 forms of lead generation (there are some inexpensive categories here)

3) block out lead generation time - critical

4) do not deviate from the plan

See... simple... not easy!

Jun 07, 2010 08:45 AM #59
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Rob - thanks so much for your long, thoughtful comment! GREAT stuff! I think you have your own blog there...

Jun 08, 2010 01:55 AM #60
Anna Tolstoy
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Natick, MA

Hi Jennifer, first off, I loved your book, I joined AR just recently and was so glad to find you here :)

I think Real Estate career offers you flexibility but in turn demands certain actions that you just cannot afford to forfeit. Simple things like answering emails and jumping on the phone when it rings. Yes, we might have a crying baby, so we jump on the message left, and call back as soon as we can. 

I think the major obstacle is, that you have to be "on call" all the time. With regular job, be it full time 9-5 or part time noon to 3 or whatever, you finish your hours, you punch out and you are done. You don't have to do anything, worry about anything, even think about anything. (Unless you are a teacher and have to prepare lesson plan and correct homework. But I guess you all understand what I mean ). And even if you have a great broker / mentor, you still have to think for your self, how to market yourself, how to improve.  Sit and read ActiveRain archives for example, when kids are asleep, using up your every available minute. 

Now, when / if you know well enough what you are doing, you theoretically can do it part time, I guess...

Anyway, it was a great discussion, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Thank you for opening your can of worms, Jennifer :)

Jun 10, 2010 12:02 PM #61
Rob Tucker
Florida Real Estate Advisors - Sarasota, FL
Florida Real Estate Advisors

It's my pleasure Jennifer - anytime! Yes I do and also an external site with info, downloads, etc. (

Jun 16, 2010 02:19 AM #62
Rob Tucker
Florida Real Estate Advisors - Sarasota, FL
Florida Real Estate Advisors

I've been a Rookie agent twice (moved after building a business for 3-4 years... oh what fun) and both times sold over $12 Million. It's actually a simple (notice I didn't say easy) path, but I do believe anyone can do it if you follow the right steps. I put together a free training series specifically for Rookies here:


Good luck!

Jun 28, 2010 12:53 AM #63
Kyp Durron (Imperial Real Estate - Tampa, Florida)

Some of you are so full of yourselves. That is the real reason the general public doesn't care much for Realtors.

One asked, "Would you hire a part-time brain surgeon?" Duh!!!

Oh yeah, real estate is like brain surgery! It is so incredible difficult how can anyone but a superstar do it?

"The part-time agent did not get the buyer's signature!" says another. This "another" should ask the buyer not to go to work that day to get the contract signed. Did you think of that??? Did ya? Better yet: there are things called computers in this 21st century. There's also this wonderful communications technology called the Internet! You can send files to be electronically signed! Holy cow the newer generations don't care for condescending, supercilious behavior. They prefer the convenience of technology. There's also this other great thing called texting. You a need another new technology called a cell phone for that.

"It's a nightmare to work with a part-timer because I'm such a sweet stud and I know it all." Suggestion: forget about that deal. You have so many deals that are worth it, why bother?

"I can't imagine how a part time agent can adequately serve their clients. They're too stupid and I'm so smart. I don't even sleep serving clients 24 hours in a day. That's why I make hundreds of thousands a year."

Did you know that part-timers even write books? I bet you didn't.

Just continue to be superstars and let the part-timers take the unworthy business you will not take.

Jul 11, 2010 02:40 PM #64

Athletic full-timer: "I am like a barracuda in the water. I swim because I jumped in and nature took over.I'm like Aquaman."

Narcissistic full-timers: "I am God's gift to Real Estate. Part-timers are like dog poop that I accidentally run and step into."

Egoccentric full-timers:"I have so much quality service in my blood and that it is coming out of my ears. My DNA is just superior to that of those slobbering and mentally challenged subhumans who attept to work real estate part-time."

Arrogant full-timers: "My big mustache can provide better service than a dozen of part-timers put together. I spit on them. I really want to help my clients because I can rip them off and then spit on them too."


Jul 14, 2010 06:17 PM #65
Roger Newton
Roger Newton Real Estate - North Plains, OR

Part time or full time both really need to meet the same basic requirements.

I think that they both need reasonable availability.  Neither should be available 24/7.

If you are a buyer's agent, you need to be available when your buyers need you.  Most agents schedule their buyers around other appointments, so anyone can do this.

If you are a listing agent, you need to be available when your listings need you.  Someone may be doing their listings a disservice if potentials buyer can't get information or through their buyer's agents.


Secondly, they both need updated knowledge or the market, forms, and proceedures.

I used to work at a big office, and we had a part-time agent who did not have a lot of availablity or knowledge.  She would do a few transactions each year.  She partner up on each transaction with knowledgeable agent like myself to make sure that everything was handled.  This worked out good for everyone.


I would like to find a great part-time agent to help me out right now.

Feb 07, 2011 10:50 AM #66
Bentley Hale
RE eBroker - La Crescenta, CA

Hey All, I am a rookie agent but have a very part time job as a restaurant manager at night on the weekends. I have come to realize that even though I have my work week free (MON-FRI) to devote to real estate, I still need my SAT and SUN mornings free to do open houses and show clients. I feel that if someone wants to have a part time job, they should definitely put real estate as their first priority and try and keep a set schedule for your part time work that would be most beneficial when they do have clients....its a tough start but hopefully we can work ourselves out of part time....



May 19, 2011 08:35 AM #67
Lisa Hassler

I agree with the need to be fully committed.  Its a mindset that pushes you towards success.  I'm new at this so I know nothing - Ok, less than nothing.  But, I would like to add that I think it is equally detrimental to go into this with the idea that "I'm going to give this 6 months, or 9 months".  Like being part time, it keeps you from being fully committed.  When I started, I was also working part time at another job.  I worked for a couple of months at both jobs.  It has been a month and half since I quit my part time job to focus on real estate, and I have seen a tremendous difference in my attitude, and my progress in learning what I need to know.  Full time is the way for me.

Nov 19, 2011 12:13 AM #68
Rick Lindemulder
Coldwell Banker Bain - Duvall, WA

What is full time? What is part time? I know part time agents that put in more hours then many full time agents I've seen. I am a full time agent but also own rental properties that I do repairs on myself because it saves me money and I enjoy it. Does that make me part time? The thing about this business you will never run out of work to do but the key and challenge is to make your work productive.  

Dec 26, 2011 12:58 PM #69
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