So You Want To Be A Real Estate Agent? Some Unsolicited Advice
So you're thinking about becoming a real estate agent? You really enjoyed looking at houses when you bought yours. Your agent made it look like a ton of fun, and you saw that HUGE paycheck she got at closing! You want a piece of that action don't you??
You'll find the barriers to entry amazingly low. If you've got about $1000 in cash, the time to take four mandatory classes and the ability to pass a two part exam, you too can call yourself an Ohio real estate agent. Notice I said agent, NOT REALTOR®. You may not realize it yet, but they're not exactly the same thing, but that's a topic for another day.
Now there are many things those four classes will teach you, but bottom line what they're priming you for is TO PASS THE EXAM! That's ALL!
They are NOT going to truly teach you how to be an agent, the pros and cons of the trade.
You won't find a single minute spent on (in no particular order):
- How to prospect for clients. What do you do after you're worked through your friends and family?
- How to set a budget. It's a business, not a hobby.
- That it takes money to make money! You'll find there are a tremendous amount of people, companies and organizations with their hands out. It starts with your broker, your state and local organizations, MLS, sign companies, lock boxes.....it will NEVER stop, so you better plan for it.
- Your broker may or may not train you! As a new agent, your broker selection might be the most critical choice you can make. Don't just take the first broker you talk to. Interview them. Check out the different models. Find the right one for you. There truly IS something for everyone.
- You're going to get yelled at! And it won't always be your fault (although sometimes it probably will be). You're dealing with big money here. Buyers and sellers get stressed, and you're the closest target.
- Your fellow agents may not be your friends. This is a whole topic in itself, but you may be friends, but you may also be competitors. Some will NOT play nice in the sandbox with you. There are some HUGE egos in this business. Despite this, DO find someone you can trust. Get a mentor. Get a back up agent that can cover you when you take a vacation.
- Your fellow agents are under no obligation to cut you slack or point out your errors. Their FIRST AND PRIMARY obligation is THEIR clients. That's their job. They shouldn't be pointing out that you
forgot to ask for closing costs, that you didn't get the inspections done on time....they're just going to enjoy the benefit of your mistake.
- This life will eat up EVERY hour of your life if you let it. It will take away birthdays, kids ball games, church services, you name it, IF you don't set boundaries, your life will be consumed. SET THEM!
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Some drunk teenage idiot in a golf cart WILL run over one of your signs at 2 in the morning. Sellers will change their minds about selling their homes. In happens, roll with it and move on.
- Be prepared to be used. You'll get called to a listing appointment where they have absolutely no intent of hiring you. They just want to pick your brain. You won't always know it at the time, but you'll realize it later. It happens. Vent here if you need to, but move on.
- Prospect, prospect, prospect. Yes I know this is the second time we mentioned that....but without it, you're toast. You've got to have new business coming at all times. If you're going to pay someone for leads, do your homework first. "Old school" things like postcards still work if done properly.
- Get active in Social Media. Blog. Tweet. Facebook. Foursquare...whatever works for you. It's mostly cheap, and it evens the playing field with all those that have MUCH MORE experience than you....but aren't present.
- Get the right tools for the trade. Smartphone & Laptop/tablet at a bare minimum. Get the software you need. Get a website. Ditch the hotmail email address.
- Have cash reserves, or don't give up your day job. We're in a business where today's success doesn't pay you for 30 to 60 days out or more, and DON'T spend that check before it's in your hands.
- Understand your local market conditions. Depending on how good or bad it is, NOW may not be the best time to enter the market. That said, if you can survive this, you'll be toughened and skilled beyond anyone who's ONLY sold in an up market.
We could go on for pages like this. Bottom line, before you commit to the classes and the time, talk to a few agents and get the real skinny. Your agent may have made it look easy when they helped you find that house or sell your home, but agents are like ducks on a pond. We'll make it look smooth and calm on the surface, but we're paddling like maniacs out of sight! So do your homework.
We're NOT saying to not try this profession, just come in with your eyes wide open. There's huge reward in doing the job well, finding that JUST RIGHT home for someone, selling that home and letting someone move to the next chapter of their lives. It's NOT just about the paycheck :)
We hope you find the advice helpful in making your decisions and planning your future!
Liz and Bill aka BLiz