Are You Sure This Business is For You?

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Lynn Friedman urged me to share my story on AR for the Contest "Advice for New Agents" - I originally posted this on Quora 1/30/2018


Be a real estate agent, they said. It will be fun, they said. Haha. The life of a real estate agent; being your own boss. Doing what you want, when you want, and then getting the big, ol’ fat paycheck at the end of a closing. Sounds great, right? That’s exactly what I thought when I got out of the retail world and decided to be a real estate agent. I mean, I didn’t have to keep the 9 to 5 hours, I could work from home, being a new mom, I could spend more time with my son. It all sounded great, until I actually did it.

No one tells you that as soon as you become a real estate agent you don’t automatically have business. I don’t know why I assumed that as soon as I got my license, business would just come flooding in. And, this was back in 2004 when the market was great and homes were flying off the market. There were millions of home buyers, thousands of sellers, full asking price offers, and yet, I went five months without a sale. Have you gone five months without a paycheck? That’s a little tricky to do.


But, I digress. First comes the enormous cost of being a real estate agent. My husband worked in IT for a major real estate firm in the Seattle area and as he put it, anyone could be a real estate agent. But, I found out fairly quickly that wasn’t the case. Yes, just about anyone could take the test and with enough studying, pass it, but be a good real estate agent definitely is a gift.

You can’t just go out and sign up at any real estate firm in your city. There are classes you need to take, tests to pass, and then all the marketing stuff you need. Taking the test and studying for the education was at least several hundred dollars. Then, if you don’t pass the test you have to pay to take it again. Luckily, I passed right away but there’s always continuing education. But, this is a good thing; you want your real estate agent to continually stay updated with legal terms, the latest tax laws, and changes in the real estate market. It’s like keeping your driver’s license active by taking a short test every 5 to 7 years, however, real estate agents need to keep up continuing education at least every two years, which again, costs money.


Then, like I said, comes the marketing materials. Once you have passed the test you have to put your license with a brokerage. You can’t just be your own independent agent out there unless you take more tests to become your own brokerage. But then you must carry your own insurance, etc. So, most agents just hang their license with an existing brokerage. But, that costs too. There’s usually a desk the or at the very least a split fee for transactions. This means that if you get $1000 for selling a property there may be a 70/30 split where the brokerage gets 30% and you get 70% plus transaction fees and any other fees that go to the brokerage. In the end, you’re not making much on the sale of a property, if you even sell a property.

Additional Content: Bad Advice to Take When Selling Your House 


But again, I haven’t even talked about the marketing tools which I mentioned several paragraphs back. Business cards, listing signs, brochures, website, and your membership to the National Association of Realtors and/or the local MLS. All of these fees can add up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month just to be an agent before you even sold anything.

Like I said, I assumed that as soon as I became a real estate agent the business would just come to me, but that’s not the case. Nobody’s just going to hand you a listing and if they do, it’s either too good to be true, or there something wrong with the listing or the buyer. After five months of marketing myself online, I finally got my first sale! Of course, it was for my sister-in-law, so, I’m not exactly sure that counted. But it was a commission nonetheless. Finally, I can put a little bit back from what I was constantly taking out and putting on credit for the last few months.


After that, a few more calls came in and I started to help a few more buyers. But, I don’t know if it was just me or is every real estate agent has crazy stories, but it seems that every single deal I did, ended in some sort of disaster or crazy story. The only listing I ever had was for a 600 square-foot house that had been lived in for 40 years by the same, old smoker. I have never scrubbed and cleaned the house more thoroughly in my life. After two weeks on the market, the owner started complaining and telling me what a horrible job I was doing. The next day we got a full price offer.

It seems like every deal ended with me in tears over something. Buyers and sellers screaming obscenities at each other, unreasonable real estate agents on the other side, me forking over hundreds of dollars at closing just to keep the deal alive.


Additional Content: What a buyer's agent actually does for you


I don’t have a thick skin. I don’t let a lot of things bother me, but I also am very sensitive to the reactions and behaviors of others. Typically, I walk away or step out of the situation, but when you are in the middle of the situation between buyer, seller, agents, lenders, escrow, and title companies, you can’t just step out. You have to see the deal through to the end whether you like it or not.


This is why I have a whole new appreciation for real estate agents. The really good ones, the sensitive ones, the ones that got into it because they love the business, are really the true gems in the industry. Those that got into it for part-time work, to buy and sell their own houses, or to think that their time is their own, are not in it for the people. I have to admit that I was not in it for the people but for my own employment. And while that’s not always bad, if you’re not finding joy in your work, find a new line of work.

Which is exactly what I’ve done. I don’t regret my time as a real estate agent, in fact, I appreciate it all the more. I’ve learned about the industry, made connections and networks with hundreds of agents over the years, and developed my own industry for blogging, marketing, and helping real estate agents in their own business. I may not have gotten a deal in my first five months, but today, because of the additional marketing information, knowledge, and education I’ve received, I helped dozens of real estate agents and brokerages push their business forward, get more leads and convert more traffic and this is the position I love. All the knowledge and education I’ve collected over the last 20 years has brought me to where I am today and I couldn’t be more satisfied or happy with what I’m doing.


Is this a story about me? Maybe. But, this was inspired because I recently had to tell all of this to my nephew who was considering getting in the real estate business. After my long dissertation, he had to really think about whether he was getting in it for the job or for the love of the job. I’m sure there are hundreds of stories like mine out there, and while I’ve seen real estate agents come and go, the ones that love it excel at it and are extremely successful and I wish them all the best.



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ActiveRain and SEOTammy Emineth is an expert in custom content and original articles for blogs, website, press releases and more. Contact me anytime and feel free to subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on my latest blogs and informative information. Email me or contact me for Real Estate Website Marketing and SEO Content Writing.

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Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hi Tammy Emineth, thank you so much for your honesty and being so open. Being a successful agent is not easy, it takes time, money and tons of work.

Jan 30, 2018 03:35 PM #3
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good evening Tammy Emineth,

What a fantastic post..I hope to see this featured..honest analysis and one many should think are right "Being a successful agent is not easy, it takes time, money and tons of work."

Jan 30, 2018 04:20 PM #4
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Tammy,
There are so many misconceptions about the business... and UNreality TV has only exacerbated it.  A sincere passion for the business and desire to help people should be the only reason to enter.   Thanks for the post!

Jan 30, 2018 07:28 PM #5
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Tammy- that was so sweet of you to share your experience and I'll bet there have been many who could say the same thing. But instead, what you provide for us, because of your knowledge and experience as an agent is invaluable. 

Jan 31, 2018 11:16 AM #6
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

I love that this is told by someone who tried it, and decided it wasn't the right career choice. I laughed at your comment that no one tells us you don't automatically get business. That was one of my first big surprises. I thought the real estate company would supply leads. Wow, was I in for a shock!

Feb 09, 2018 04:17 AM #7
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Tammy, I love this article. It's full of valuable information and relates how the real estate business really is in the beginning, and if you don't love it, maybe you are in the wrong line of work. I'm glad you had the experience and are now doing what you really love! Congratulations on being one of twelve posts selected to be among the best by the ActiveRain staff. 

Feb 10, 2018 03:15 PM #8
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

This is an incredible and honest story about the reality of real estate.  I greatly appreciate your wllingness to share it with us. And, I hope it saves another person having to go through the same experience to find out the same. 

Feb 11, 2018 07:06 AM #9
Raul Rodriguez
Covenant Partners Realty - San Antonio, TX
Looking out for the client's interest and not my p

I got into real estate as a something to do kind of thing. I found that I enjoyed helping people get into a home, and what made it better was the fact that because I am pensioned from a 30 year career at Frito-Lay I was not dependent on the commissions of the sale. Not that I don't enjoy the fruits of my labor...

Feb 11, 2018 07:34 PM #10
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Tammy Emineth ,

I'm so glad to see this post featured! I knew when I read it the first time it would be. Congratulations!

Feb 12, 2018 04:52 AM #11
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Tammy, I think you found out what many new real estate agents find out.  The real estate schools do a great job, but not a great job (and I'm sure there are exceptions) at teaching people the realities of being a real estate agent.  That everyone has their hand out "because you make the big bucks!!", so they should each get a piece of it.  It's another it takes money to make money business.

Feb 12, 2018 08:46 AM #12
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

Yes.  I think this is the right thing for me to do since I have been doing it since 1982

Feb 12, 2018 01:52 PM #13
HunterCanvas Shade
Hunter Canvas & Shade - Sydney, AU

Thank you for posting. 

Feb 12, 2018 05:33 PM #14
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

The next time one of my friends says they're thinking about selling real estate, I'm going to send them this post.

I did NOT get into the business to make the big bucks. My first broker asked me how much I'd like to make that year? I responded that I'd be thrilled if I made $25K. I laugh about that number now. I've had a single sale's commission surpass that number. I had my worst year in 2011 (an historically low year in the Nashville area). Tom told me to throw in the towel and get a real job. Fortunately, I hunkered down and got serious about blogging. That was a game-changer. 

Now when someone tells me they are thinking about real estate, I say "Where will you get your business from?". Of course, they always say, "Doesn't your brokerage send you business?" I love telling them, "No, why do you think I opened my own brokerage? If I have to generate my own business, I'm not going to give so much away." After hearing that, they usually reconsider.

Feb 12, 2018 06:55 PM #15
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Your experience isn't an isolated incident, yet, when 95% of new businesses fail, it's failure rate IMO is attributed from not creating a comprehensive business plan. Successful people will tell you that when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

Fortunately, one's failure doesn't equate to doom and gloom forever, doesn't it? You fell down but like so many others, got back up and found your niche and found new success. The experience you gained as a real estate agent will help you throughout your career. All the best for your continued success. 

Feb 12, 2018 07:00 PM #16
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Great story.  The real estate business may not be for everyone but everyone who attempts it ends up permanently impacted in some way - for good or bad.  Obviously it was the experience that lead you to where you are today!

Feb 14, 2018 07:06 AM #17
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

I can't believe you don't have more comments.  Of course we all know that real estate is different in real life, but I figured you'd have way more comments.  I've sent several of these posts to my daughter who is currently studying and will eventually take the test.  Your is yet another one for her to read!  Great post!

Feb 15, 2018 03:50 PM #18
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

Tammy Emineth - I took a stab at real estate 3 times, and only the 3rd time did it stick. The first 2 times when I felt in a rut in the corporate world, clients showed up who wanted me to handle their marketing as an outside contractor/vendor, offers I could not refuse. The third time was when I was doing my own real estate investing and the agents were, well, not what I expected. And this 3rd time it stuck! I had found the perfect agent. Me. And that's how I like to handle my clients (now in my 12th year and as a broker), the way I WANT TO BE TREATED.

Feb 26, 2018 12:22 PM #19
Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Tammy Emineth Great Post...Love it. Being honest is something many agrents aren't with themselves. Although lately I have had several Realtors come to me for advice to getting their real estate going...Must be my age..ha

Cheers, have a fun and successful day, talk soon!

Mar 15, 2018 11:53 AM #20
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Some people work their whole lives invjobs that don’t fit them because they don’t take a step back and really analyze things. These things can be a blessing if we let them.

May 09, 2018 10:30 PM #21
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Honesty is my thing and without it I would be so much less of a person. Full stop. Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation

May 09, 2018 10:31 PM #22
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