The real estate market is complex and fascinating, often reflecting many of the larger shifts in politics, economy, and society. Real estate agents are tasked with navigating all of that to help clients find the home of their dreams or sell their property for the best price.
There are currently over 106,500 real estate brokerages (and counting) in the United States. Being a real estate agent can be as rewarding as it is challenging, so why should you become a real estate agent? Read on to find out exactly how, plus how to be a successful real estate agent.
Don’t take that to mean that the real estate is constant. If anything, real estate is always fluctuating between buyers’ markets and sellers’ markets. The smallest changes can have huge impacts on property values, and that gets even more complex as you narrow your scope from whole states down to specific ZIP codes and neighborhoods.
However, the one true constant of the real estate industry: Everyone needs a home. Everyone wants and needs a roof over their head, secure rooms to keep their belongings in, and a safe place to sleep at night. That means that you will ostensibly always have people who are looking for homes or looking to sell their homes for something else.
What makes this even easier on you is that the Federal Reserve recently voted to keep short-term interest rates at or close to zero. This comes as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Federal Reserve doesn’t directly set mortgage rates, but small interest rates do make home buyers more willing to sign on to a mortgage. More people in the market means more people who need real estate agents.
There are, of course, plenty of good arguments for you to go to college and receive a degree at any level. However, if you find college limiting (financially or otherwise) or simply want a change of pace without having to get a degree from a four-year college, a real estate career might be exactly what you’re looking for.
That doesn’t mean that obtaining your real estate license is a walk in the park. Each state has its own requirements. For example, you have to be at least 18 years old and you need a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Most importantly, you have to take a pre-licensing course from an accredited real estate licensing school, and you have to pass the licensing exam in order to get your real estate agent license. Thankfully, states offer a wide range of options to get your real estate education, including online classes, community college courses, and in-person real estate schools.
Courses and licensing exams will cost money, and just about every other step will also come with a cost, from fingerprinting to eventually joining a brokerage. The total cost to become a real estate agent is around $2,000, which can still be a bit prohibitive to some but is considerably less than college. A four-year university will easily cost more than 10 times that, often leaving you in debt for years and without any real job security. With a real estate license, you can get started working almost immediately as a new agent.
Finding or selling a home isn’t easy, and navigating the complexities of real estate can be hugely intimidating for the average person. With the wrong information, people can end up losing large amounts of money or, even worse, getting into legal troubles.
That’s where you come in. As a real estate agent, your main goal is really helping others. You have the information, education, and experience to guide people through the process and connect them with others who can provide specialized assistance. Even beyond the commission that you earn, there’s just a real satisfaction to helping people.
Buying or selling a home is also a major milestone in anyone’s life, from helping a new couple find a home where they can raise a family to helping recent graduates find an affordable bachelor pad. There are just inherent emotions that come with helping a person find the right home for their specific life moment. As a REALTOR®, you quickly become a bit of a mentor or a counselor, and you can forge some lifelong connections as you help people.
There obviously is a whole host of factors at play here, many of which aren’t in your control, but the real estate profession does offer a high earning potential. The average salary of a real estate agent is over $42,000, though this number varies from state to state and can change based on your real estate commission fees, the number of transactions, and other factors. The thing to remember about real estate is that you aren’t limited by an hourly wage or any specific salary group. The only real limitations to how much you earn are based on how well you grow your business.
Granted, that in itself is easier said than done. Practicing real estate does take a lot of hard work and requires prioritizing your clients and prospective buyers. Caring about your clients and making sure that you meet their specific needs is the key to succeeding as a real estate agent. That could mean some sleepless nights and burning the midnight oil, but your hard work will pay off financially.
There are plenty of jobs that become routines where you clock in, do your work, take a lunch, and leave for home. It’s the same thing over and over every single day. That can work for plenty of people, but if that sounds tiresome or downright boring, you may want to consider a job in real estate.
Real estate is all about change and adapting to that change. The market is in constant flux with old trends dying off and new trends sprouting up where they left off. It’s an industry that requires staying on your toes, knowing when to improvise, and exercising a surprising amount of creativity. You also get to meet people from all walks of life with different personality types and backgrounds. That can be an exciting and fun prospect for a lot of people looking for more out of their careers than a humdrum, routine office job.
Related to the above, real estate is a market that requires you to constantly learn. Even the most experienced agents and real estate brokers aren’t complete masters. There is always something new to learn. That can contribute to more accurate ways to predict trends or methods for better serving your clientele. While learning new skills will improve your business, there’s something to be said for working in a role that actually requires you to stretch your brain and create new wrinkles. If you love constantly evolving and learning, you’ll naturally have an advantage in real estate.
If you are a fan of design and architecture, you just might love real estate. Houses are the physical component of real estate, and you will see a ton of them as a successful agent. If you specialize specifically in luxury homes, that also means seeing massive mansions with incredible views and amenities in exclusive locations, but even more affordable homes have their distinct charm.
That can all build on your own knowledge and creativity to serve clients. You might even get some design ideas for your own living situation.
You can take your real estate business in a variety of directions based on your own goals. As you expand, your income can grow well beyond six figures. You can hire an assistant and maintain a relatively small practice. However, after three years as an agent, you can become a broker. As a broker, you can hire a team of real estate agents within a brokerage while you maintain a new role that is focused on company growth.
As a real estate agent, you are your own boss. No more working under different managers or dealing with strange office politics. You set your own rules and maintain complete control over your daily business operations. Granted, that can get tricky if you aren’t used to independence or don’t have some built in discipline, but part of being your own boss is learning what works for you and what doesn’t.
As your own boss, you can:
You can also stay location-independent, which means working from home one day and working out of a coffee shop another day. You will still have to report to your broker, who oversees your paperwork and transactions, but they can’t tell you what to do or how to operate your day-to-day business.
Along with all kinds of clients, real estate introduces you to a whole host of interesting characters. From other agents and brokers to vendors and potential partners, there’s no end to the number of connections you make as a real estate agent. These are connections that can last a lifetime. If you are a people person, real estate is the industry for you.
Real estate isn’t for everyone. It does take hard work, dedication, and knowledge about the market and dealing with people, but it can be incredibly rewarding.
If you’re interested in real estate jobs in Southern California or are interested in switching brokerages, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties offers some excellent career opportunities. Contact us to learn more about joining our team of California real estate agents or our real estate school partnership if you’re just getting started.