Expectations vs. Reality: What It’s Like to be a Real Estate Agent

by | BiggerPockets.com

Think you want to be a real estate agent?

Here’s a crazy stat: 80 percent of real estate agents fail. But that’s probably because they had no idea what they were getting into. It can be a great job—and one that’s lucrative—but is it a good fit for you?

To be successful in this entrepreneurial venture entails a lot—both on the surface and behind the scenes. It requires a certain personality type, as well as a whole lot of work!

Related: Traits of a Great Real Estate Agent

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Why Don’t Expectations Align with Reality in Realty?

Real estate agents do a lot. Much of it can be fun, exciting, rewarding, and even glamorous—just like the shows on HGTV would have you believe.

But the fact is the television representation of what it’s like to be in the business is extremely misleading. For instance, have you considered it’s primarily a sales position? And are you aware that a good amount of the work you do is unpaid?

In this video, learn what it really takes from someone in the biz.

If you’re thinking of a career in real estate, what other questions do you have? If you’re currently an agent, what advice would you offer those considering becoming one?

Weigh in with a comment!

About Author

David Greene

David Greene is a former police officer with over nine years of experience investing in real estate that includes single family, multifamily, and house flipping. David has bought, rehabbed, and managed over 35 single family rental properties, owns shares in three large apartment complexes, and flips houses. He also owns notes and shares in note funds. A nationally recognized authority on real estate, David has been featured on CNN, Forbes, and HGTV. Now the co-host of the BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast, David has a passion for teaching and helping others grow wealth through real estate. In 2016, David started the "David Greene Team" and became the CEO of the top producing Keller Williams East County team as well as the top producing real estate agent. The author of Long Distance Real Estate Investing and Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat, David has won several awards including second place for real estate book of the year awarded by the National Association of Real Estate Editors (Long Distance Real Estate Investing).


  1. Greg Braun

    David as always great information. Honest and insightful. I’ve always considered becoming an agent, but at this time in my life having committed family time is top of mind, so your insights are helping keep me away for now. I know that a lot of investor agents struggle with loyalty when a “deal” pops up their clients forget they have an agent. So much work is done without reward too. Your video reminds me to appreciate and respect their time too, so thanks for that reminder!

  2. Katie Rogers

    The fiduciary duty and the imperative to close are in conflict. The imperative to close tends to take priority.

    The real estate agent who tries to take control of the relationship will lose me. After all, the agent works for me.

    It takes approximately the same amount of work to sell a median house no matter the location. It makes no sense that agents in my community make three times the commission simply because the median house here is about three times the US median.

      • Katie Rogers

        You can quibble about a preposition if you want. The fact is the agent has a fiduciary duty to put my interests first, however, in actuality agents work for their broker, no matter how much they may insist they are working for me. No matter what the buyer’s goal might be, the imperative to close means the agent will reinterpret the goal to getting the buyer to sign an offer, and then keeping the buyer on track to close even if it turns out to be in the buyer’s best interest to activate a contingency and cancel the contract.

  3. Katie Rogers

    No, not even close. Even worse, our median income is comparable to the national median. However, there are a few sectors that expect to garner outsized income. Construction for one. There is no way you can do a complete remodel of a house here for the $30,000 that BP flippers often report.

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