Becoming an Agent

10 Replies

Make sure you have some money saved up. My wife got her license about six months ago and is finally about to get her pay check from it in the next month or so. It costs a lot up front so you will either need another income to subsidize it or a good savings account.

Savings is important - 6 months of living plus expenses to start up your business (licensing, MLS fees, professional orgs, E&O insurance, basic materials like business cards and signs, plus marketing you plan to do) seems a reasonable estimate.

I'd spend some time thinking about what sort of agent you want to be - do you want to focus on investors, first time home buyers, certain geographic areas?  Some people don't have a niche, but instead use existing networks as a starting point e.g. schools, religious institutions, places where you volunteer, former places of employment.

Another important question to ask yourself is how much support you want from your brokerage.  Do you want go in for training from X-Xam 3 days a week your first month, or do you need a more flexible schedule?  Do you benefit from a classroom experience? These are important questions to ask yourself BEFORE you start looking for a broker.  

Spend some time thinking about where you want to work, and how you work best.  Somewhere with expectations about staffing the front desk may be a problem if the office is far from your home and your target market.  If you have trouble focusing on work at home, find out how much they charge for desk space.

A lot of people get their license and only work part time.  How much time are you realistically willing to give to real estate?  Blocking off time on your calendar is CRUCIAL for most people.  I probably spend a half hour most nights adding items to my calendar or moving things around to keep on top of my rehab/rentals, agent, and other obligations.  I work at Keller Williams (happy to discuss why if you're curious) and something I hear again and again from the successful agents is the importance of time blocking and following their calendar.

Most importantly, ask yourself if this is the right path for you.  Ask yourself how you feel about these situations

Can you see yourself building a business as an agent?  

Can you see yourself providing a real estate service to the public?  

Do you want this life?  

What will you sacrifice to be successful?  

Do you have what it takes?

If you are interested in selling single family homes you might want to look at the following books:

  • "21 Things I Wish My Broker Had Told Me," by F. Cook.
  • "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent," by Garry Keller and Dave Jenks.

These will give you a good overview of this portion of the business.

Down the line my end goal is to become a Real Estate Investor but since i don't have any connections in real estate , i was thinking getting my license can help me make extra money and teach me about real estate all in one. I spoke to a broker recently about interning at his office, he basically said what i would learn could only be limited without having a license. I just really want to get my foot in the door but i will do further research before deciding if being an agent is the right career for me. It is something i am considering. I am also interested in knowing how you'll experience has been so far if you guys don't mind sharing?@Deshan Kennedy @Maggie L.

@Precious Thompson Hey Precious.  Hope all is well!  My experience has been great so far with Keller Williams Realty! We definitely made the decision with the broker and office.   My wife and I signed up for Than Merrill's investing course next month in Washington, D.C. $197 for three days!  Can't beat that and that was just from attending one of their free seminars.  This is good because we will begin investing in the upcoming months.  Getting our real estate license is a blessing because you learn so much, you are able to network in the business as well as you can use your commission in your transactions.  I agree with the broker that you met with that your learning will be limited BUT you can sign up on broker's team as an assistant or something in that nature to learn the business.  Plus, if you get with a good broker and express your intentions with them, they might bring you on their team and cover the expenses of you getting your license if you are willing to sign a contract with them.  Life is like real estate, everything is NEGOTIABLE if you are willing to go after what you want.  

If you want to get into a circle then you need to surround yourself with the people who you want to be surrounded with.  What is holding you back from taking the course and getting licensed?  Take the course, pass the test and you have 12 months to hang your license with a broker or you will have to start the process over.  You have to be willing to invest in yourself before anyone else will!  

PM me if you have any questions that I can help you.  

Shawn Kennedy

Kennedy Group Real Estate

@Precious Thompson one option may be to become an unlicensed assistant to a real estate agent.  This can actually be a bit harder than becoming a real estate agent since you're finding an agent who is looking to expand their business and thinks you're a good fit for their needs.  

Becoming a salesperson at a brokerage, on the other hand, is pretty easy.  You're showing that you're committed enough to put up the money and time to get a license (not that much if you consider it entry into a new career) and since brokers get a percentage of your commission they are actively recruiting. 

If you're interested in becoming an investor you should look around for investor-friendly agents.  Spend some time here, on google, at RE groups, and find some agents or brokerages that look interesting to you.  Invite agents out to lunch/coffee and a chat about the business.  This will help build those connections, and you may even find a mentor.  Before I got my license I had a few conversations with Realtors about the business and what I wanted to do.  It really helped give me perspective.  I also interviewed at multiple brokerages, which I HIGHLY recommend.

A few things to consider.  RE agents have a high attrition rate.  Many people quit before their first year is up, and few people stay in the business longterm.  It is a business, and needs to be treated as one.  Figuring out your brand/niche/style is important.  

Investors have different needs than retail (people looking for a primary residence) clients and even if you want to invest longterm, you may find you do better working with non-investor clients and watching for deals to pick up as you see them.  Personally, I like to work with investors because I am a numbers person and picked up a few rental properties before I got my license.  I came into RE with an investor mindset, and it shows.  That said, there is also a touchy feely side to being an agent.  I like helping people attain financial security through long term investments, and I love seeing my community made better as old houses in disrepair are transformed into beautiful homes.

Regardless of the route you take, I think access to the MLS is a HUGE asset when you're trying to learn about real estate. You can get this as an assistant (there is a form for access for unlicensed assistants) or as a Realtor. There are a lot of websites that pull some of the data from the MLS, but it's not always accurate or complete.

Becoming a real estate agent is a relatively inexpensive small business to start up.  The problem is most newer people who enter the profession do not understand the difference between owning a small business and having a job.  Most small businesses operate at a loss for the first couple of years and have high capital needs. Starting up in real estate if you are taking it seriously will probably have expenses of about $10,000 in the first year. Then you also need to be able to not only spend that, but survive without a salary coming in. Until you build up a client base you will also need to spend many hours working. So be prepared for that.

I would also suggest that starting out with whoever the market leader in your market is a good idea. Piggy back off of the work they have already done building their brand. That will help you generate business more easily.

Russell, what is the source for your claim about incurring $10,000 in expenses during the first year as a real estate salesperson?  Surely, there are wide variations by state, within states, etc.