Is a part-time real estate agent possible?

39 Replies

Hi all! I've been reading and listening to podcasts pertaining to real estate agents and real estate investment. I plan on in January taking the real estate pre-licensing course. I am currently a nurse working 5 days a week so I will be taking a night class. I'm just trying to figure out when I begin working as an agent how to go about it. I am sole provider for my family at the moment so to go from a steady salary to commission is scary. Did any of you all start out part time doing this until you got the hang of things/had more money saved up? If this was a part time gig for some, did you find it hard to be available for clients because of your other job and what did you do? I eventually would like to be full time. Just wanted to hear from others who have been in a similar situation and how they handled it. Any advice is appreciated!

Hello. I am a part time agent. It’s possible. I work full time in radiology as a tech. I just spread the word that I do real estate on the side and primarily work with friends and coworkers. Maybe try to do 3 12s. So u have more time to network. Also, finding a broker that’s willing to let you pay as you make a sale instead of monthly fees. I had to teach myself everything though. A lot of YouTube and books and conversations with my broker. Good luck 

@Kayla Santangelo I got my license while working full time and left a high pressure, large time commitment job to do Real Estate full time. I am the only provider for my family of 5 as well.

I woke up at 4:30am for a very long time and worked 60-100 hours a week for 2+ years including working every weekend. Just now I’m slowing down and have agents under me. We are projecting to do 30 million next year with all of the business generated by me.

It can be done but it isn’t easy and you need to take the time from somewhere. It’s either going to be your family or your current job or you can sleep a lot less.

Or maybe you can just make a little extra money doing sales on the side but it takes time and effort. You will be in a perpetual cycle of 60+ hour weeks if you don’t pick eventually.

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I'm in a all market with 200 agents, so I see everyone that comes and goes. In the last 13 years I've seen hundreds of agents come and go. I have not seen a single part-time agent stay more than a few years and none of them have earned much income. In my market, the average full-time agent with more than three years experience will earn around ,$40-$50,000 which is below the median income for our market. A part-time agent can expect to make far less, even if they hustle.

Long story short: a part-time agent will only make a part-time income, at best. They are more likely to earn very little and give up after 1-2 years. 85% of all agents, including full-time agents, give up within two years.

Possible? Yes. Worth the trouble? Probably not.

@Kayla Santangelo

Is it possible to start out part time and scale to full time? Yes it is. That said, to Nathan’s point this is an extremely high failure rate business as only 13% of agents succeed after the first four years.

You have a family so you gotta keep the food on the table for them while trying to make it as a solo agent.

My biggest takeaways for you:

1) This is a business. Treat it as such and you will thrive. Treat it like a side income or hobby, and you will hate it.

2) Learn, Learn and Learn. License course in most states teaches you nothing about running a business and helping clients. You must do this on your own. From how to effectively set up searches on the MLS, write contracts, negotiate, how to get clients, etc etc. if you can't put in the time to learn, why should your future clients trust you to help them? In some cases they may even know more than you if they have bought/sold several times.

3) Most full time agents go several months (6 or more) before they earn their first commission. If part time, you may go even longer but don’t let that discourage you. Though you should know that you will have expenses well before you get your fist closing so plan and budget for that.

4) Join a large brokerage or team that can teach you without you having to do it on your own. This will significantly cut down the time it takes you to be “in the know”

I’ll send you a Message with some additional things that I think may help!

@Nathan G.

I’m licensed and do it part time. I agree that I don’t make much money at it. But I do close a couple each year (mostly my own buys). And I get mls access, can schedule my own showings, and can write my own lowball offers. To me it’s worth it and all the expenses are tax write offs. I probably do a bit better than breaking even 😅

@Kayla Santangelo I’ll tell you what I’ve told my friends and family for 28 years now - get into it, especially part time - if you don’t need the money.

HOWEVER - as an investor, do the math on the commissions you’ll make on your own expected purchases this year. That might produce enough income to make it worth it - then you’ll have momentum (and more experience) to attract clients and build your REA business.

@Hersh Shah thank you for the valuable information. I have my MBA as well so business is something I've been passionate about and why I want to take the real estate agent position seriously and get as much knowledge in so when the time comes I can hit the ground running. I wish I could just dive right in and forget about nursing but I have to be cautious since I am caring for my family. 

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@Kayla Santangelo I wish I could do 3 12s! I think I would be golden. Just likeothers say…u need to put money into it. Your local boards/mls lockboxes etc. cost prob around 1500$ a year. And sometime insurance and brokerage fees. As long as u think u are taking home enough money to make it worth than it’s worth it! I’ve done it for like 6 years and made enough to keep it up

It's doable but unfortunately, the likelihood of success is remote. Jobs like that require constant dedication, regularity, and more importantly a lot of availability for your clients, which is hardly compatible with working part-time.

As others have mentioned, you may find some success (i.e. close some deals) but you'll realize that the hours spent doing so may not have been worth it.

If you want to be part time and make MILLIONS in income the answer is no.

I don't like part time. It's a crutch. It allows agents to be mediocre. You get stuck in this vicious cycle of being just comfortable enough at work and then doing a few deals on the side and days turn into months, months turn into years, and the mediocrity continues.

I worked a part time job delivering pizza when I started out 18 years ago. It wasn't that I wanted the job as a crutch it was that I was trying to figure out what part of real estate I liked ( commercial, residential, leasing, land development, and on and on) before going all in.

You need to figure out your WHY of the reason you are getting licensed. Is it to do investments on the side for retirement? If that is the case then part time can make sense as the nurse career is your main focus. If it is you want to get out of nursing all together then you need a PLAN and up to about 6 months living reserves of income saved minimum.

The top 10% of broker/agents do 90% of the business the rest just survive and get by if they are lucky. It's just like a brownie shop there are 10 places and some the product tastes like crap, some where the brownie tastes good, and some where the brownie is so amazing they come back time and time again and tell everyone how good it is and they should go there.

The TOP earners are so good people seek them out and they do not have to beg for business with the scraps. These are full time professionals dedicated to their craft. Residential for agents has a lot of nights and weekends so if that is why you want to get out of nursing it might not be the right fit for you.

Right now you are working an job that employs you. When a broker/agent you are an independent contractor. You have your license with a principal broker and brokerage BUT you get your own business to make your own money so success begins and ends with your daily dedication and effort.

I like the money on the commercial real estate side but love the client relationships I have with the people. Very few do it for only the money and can burn out quickly if that is the driving reason. If you take away the crutch and go ALL IN then you have no backup plan it is succeed. When you have these crutches of a part time job or a plan B you are already telling yourself in your mind you likely will fail so plan for the alternatives instead. That results in minimal effort going into something you already believe on some level might not happen so you stop before you start.

I won't sugar coat it about 80% of new agents fail in year 1 of being licensed. Of the remaining 20% in 5 years about 80% of those have left the business. It's few and far between the ones who stay and are very successful. The key is once you have a track record and experience more and more people view you as a sure thing to refer a friend or colleague to you. In the first 10 years about the first 3 years are 10 to 20% referral and about 80 to 90% on your own developed business, years 4 to 6 about 50/50, years 7 to 10 about 65 to 75% referral and 25 to 30% newly developed business. The track record and experience usually takes over to increase referral velocity.

I don't have all the answers. Just sharing 18 years in the business starting out from nothing and being in the top percentile. I take everyday like I know nothing and need to learn more. That helps my mind expand and stay open to getting better and better. Those small slices of daily improvement with learning add up to big knowledge gains over time.

@Kayla Santangelo I worked as a dental hygienist full time and part time agent for Redfin, the associate agent role. If you want to keep your nursing career and pick up real estate on weekends and nights you will do well as a Redfin associate agent. You get paid by event but you won’t see the big commission checks. You can always become a full-time agent in a traditional brokerage if you decide to go that route.

@Kayla Santangelo You can definitely be a part time and work a W-2. Everyone gets caught up with the time thing. It's not that big of a deal, unless you make it one. Most can't do it because they "invent" a want for free time to consume verses create and earn.

I spend 40 hours in a job, and 5-20 hours in real estate depending on client activity. Having a job is just a different income stream. How many wealthier people do you know that only have 1 income stream? I don't know of any that do.

Here is what I have found. You have to know how "you" operate. If you know this, then this determines the time you spend in it.

To me, it is a passionate hobby that makes money. Does that make me less committed? Heck no! I am a scrapper. If someone wants help, I help them as if they were a member of my family. I use the same tools as all the big firms. And perversely, since I have another income, I don't HAVE to close the deal - so many agents are starving for their next paycheck it clouds their perspective and they give bad advice. I see it all the time! Lol. And I don't have the overhead. And biggest, I work when I want. In years past I took summers off. If someone needs help when I am not available, I refer them to someone I trust.

This business is about building trust with people who meet and know you. If you're bad with creating value, forming new friendships and cold-market marketing, then it is going to be rough. You HAVE to find a way to attract strangers to your business, just like any business. Most people fail in 2 years because their personal networks are busted by that time, they aren't attracting new clients. PM if you need more help.

Read what Joel Owens said then read it again.

I'll quickly reiterate you want 6-12 months living expenses set aside.  Normally would say 6 months but you have a family and are sole provider might consider increasing that.

Consider joining a team.  A good team.  The best team.  You don't want to work with someone that isn't running a business you want to work with the best team to learn from the best and henceforth be the best.

@Kayla Santangelo I actually just got my real estate license in Colorado a little over a month ago and am intending to start part time in real estate and shift out of my current 40 hour job. I realized that I needed to make a change to make my investing my priority, and a 40 hour job isn't going to do that. Like others said, you need to know what your goals are. For me, I want to be a full time investor so working in my current field won't get me closer to that without saving money on the side for years at a time. That just isn't the rate I wanted to grow. So it makes sense to get my license so I can meet people in real estate and meet investors. It's all about taking steps in the direction that is right for you to gain the happiness you deserve!