Arizona Real Estate License - Doing it part time?

10 Replies


I currently have a job selling commercial insurance full time. I would like to continue to work there full time, however I thought it could be beneficial to get my real estate license on the side. I don't wan't to commit to working for a brokerage, but I wouldn't mind helping my friends and family buy/sell houses every once in a while. Is this common? do you know of any brokerages in phoenix that may allow me to hang my license and continue to work full time in insurance?


Hey Ryan, There are lots of part time agents and if you go to any of the larger brokerages (Remax, Realty One, Home Smart, Century 21, West USA, My Home Group, Etc) they should allow you to hang your license even though you plan on being a part time agent. Look for a brokerage with low commission splits. A lot of companies now allow the real estate agents to keep 100% of commissions and then have a transaction fee (typically about $200) for each transaction plus a monthly fee of about $25. That's typically a lot cheaper than splitting 20%-30% of your commission with your broker. Good luck! 

@Ryan Garcia

I am a part time agent and the situation for me is working pretty much exactly as @Clayton Coombs described it. I am with West USA Realty and get 100% commissions and pay $250 per transaction as a transaction fee, $60 per transaction for insurance, and a $25 a month fee. I may be biased, but West USA has really worked well for me. Been there about a year now and I still have my full-time job. If you have any more questions, feel free to PM me.

@Ryan Garcia

I may be biased as a professional full-time agent, but let me ask you this...

  • Would you buy commercial insurance from an agent who worked part time? 
  • Would you recommend any of your clients purchase commercial insurance from a part time agent?
  • Would you recommend any of your friends and family get commercial insurance from a part time agent?

If you answered no to any of the above, then perhaps you should reconsider.

Frankly, part-time agents are the bane of this industry. In 2015 the National Association of Realtors conducted a study called the "Danger Report" and the #1 threat to the industry was "Masses of Marginal Agents Destroy Reputation."

"The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry."

Threat #2 was commissions spiraling downward... gee, I wonder why? ;-)

There are like 45,000 licensees in the Phoenix area and I'd bet 90% of them sell 1-2 houses or less per year. And that's because lots of people think it's get-rich-quick or a great way to make some extra money by selling their friends and family's houses every now and then.

But if you really cared about your friends and family, you'd tell them to hire a experienced veteran who really knows what they're doing and can help them sell their home for more. 

What you need to realize is that you're dealing with likely the most valuable asset in their lives, and if you screw up because you don't know what you're doing you could cost them tens of thousands of dollars. Have fun seeing grandma at Christmas every year when you totally screwed up the sale of her house.

I'm not trying to discourage new agents from getting into the business, but if you're going to get in, be all-in. Or if you're an investor who deals regularly enough it's worth getting your license. 

But if this is a side-hustle for you, you're probably going to do a terrible job and cost your friends and family money. It's just the truth. I see it happen all the time. 

Either leave it to the professionals, or aim to become a professional yourself. If not, please stay out. Just closed an escrow last month in Sacramento where the listing agent had the seller and tenants fill out the lease incorrectly and left the tenants paying all utilities and even included their refrigerator in the purchase contract. 

Even better? The seller and the tenants were related. That amateur agent just cost the tenants $300 extra per month and cost the seller a new refrigerator owed to my client. Plus it strained the relationship between the seller and tenant. The seller told the tenants they would continue not to pay water / sewer / garbage, and then once the house was sold she had to explain that her agent messed up the lease agreement and now it's going to cost them several hundred extra per month to stay there. No bueno.

There are a MILLION other horror stories like this... don't be one of them. Stay out unless you're going in full-time.

@Wes Blackwell A clear indication that an agent is part time is when they inform their clients and/or agents in a transaction of their limited availability. A transaction with an agent that states that they are unavailable on Sundays, after 8pm, before 10am, etc seems to also lead to further instructions of that agent also not being available for several days at a time during escrow. If I were considering using an agent I would text them a message and wait to see how long it takes them to respond. I might even text using more than one number, or with a blocked number at different times of the day/week. If an agent is unresponsive with their client then they will likely be the same with other agents that want to show the client’s home, or when their client wants to see a house quickly. Which brings up another point, how can a Buyer’s agent effectively show homes when they are part time?

@Wes Blackwell

I understand what you're saying, but even experienced full-time agents make mistakes and there are plenty of full timers that are unethical and incompetent, just like any other profession. I personally don't find being a real estate agent as something that has to be 100% full time or is exceedingly difficult to the point that it can only be done full-time, but that's my opinion. If there are two agents, 1 full time and 1 part time, and the part timer sells 5 homes his first year and the full timer sells 1, the part time agent technically has more experience and would probably have more knowledge than the person doing it full time. 

There's a lot to know to get started and even more to learn once you do, but real estate is not exactly rocket science.

I would suggest any new agent (full or part-time) join a team and get a mentor and learn the rules and regulations and get taught how to be a professional. Ultimately, it's the number of transactions that you go through that will be the best teacher, not just the amount of hours you spend being an agent.

@Ryan Garcia there are thousands of agents who keep their license active but don't really do many transactions. Most of the big brokers will charge a flat monthly fee just to hang your license with them. 

Do you have enough family and friends to really make this worth your time and money?  You're looking at a couple thousand dollars and HUNDREDS of hours of your time to go through the class, prepare for tests, take tests, get fingerprinted, send all paperwork to AZDRE, etc. Plus there are other yearly recurring costs outside of your brokerage dues. These include membership in a local Realtor board, ARMLS subscriber fees, lockbox e-key subscription, just to name a few. 

Originally posted by @Wes Blackwell :

@Ryan Garcia


But if you really cared about your friends and family, you'd tell them to hire a experienced veteran who really knows what they're doing and can help them sell their home for more. 


But if this is a side-hustle for you, you're probably going to do a terrible job and cost your friends and family money. It's just the truth. I see it happen all the time. 

 I can vouch for Wes taking part time agents (& their clients) to the cleaners like an NBA forward dunking on a 10 year old. That's up in Sacramento. 

What we see down here in the Bay Area is things like the clients of a part time agent paying (for example) 100% of Berkeley's massive transfer tax (that is typically split 50/50), sewer lateral negotiation results outside the norm... $10k easily. Even giving away half your commission check wouldn't cover it.

Thank you everyone for the responses. I will take into consideration all of your feedback! I understand there’s some animosity between part/full time real estate agents. Would you consider part time employment for people just starting out in the industry? So they fail miserably? I personally wouldn’t mind doing business with someone who worked part time as long as they were honest, professional and punctual. I’m looking to grow myself as a professional and I figured maybe I could understand the industry a little better by getting licensed. I work with lenders, realtors and investors every day and network with them consistently. I was hoping my career in insurance would compliment a part time career in real estate and vice versa. 

Updated almost 3 years ago

Don’t* fail miserably

@Ryan Garcia

I can't remember which guru I heard say it, but the advice is to "keep your main thing your main thing."

Perfect example: I have a client here in Phoenix who is an oral surgeon and does very well. He recently got his real estate license because he wanted to get into flipping homes. Cool beans yo...

BUT --  the time and energy he spent on getting and now maintaining his license would've been much better spent growing his surgery business. Same thing goes for any other sort of professional. Programmers, doctors, lawyers, etc.

What do you think would increase your bottom line more?

  • Spending 500 hours next year learning how to become a real estate agent?
  • Spending 500 hours next year working on growing your existing insurance business?

I think if you just do a little brainstorming and run the numbers, you'll always come out on top if you keep your main thing your main thing.

I'm sure you could grow yourself as a professional by also becoming a CPA, an attorney, a loan officer, etc. but you'd probably get better results hiring an expert in those fields when you need them rather than trying to do it yourself.

That's what I always tell my clients... leave the real estate thing to me. I'm negotiating contracts and looking at properties daily. You'll never catch up if the only time you have to look at properties is on your lunch break. 

Same thing goes in reverse too. I could do a ton of research about what I should and shouldn't include in my insurance policy, but I'd much rather come to a professional like you and say "Here is my situation... tell me what I need."

And that's exactly what I do with my investor clients. I have a lot of business that comes in from the Bay Area looking in Stockton or Sacramento, and every investor's situation is different. Budget wise, financing, single family or multifamily, turnkey vs. remodel, etc. They tell me their situation, and I tell them where in town to look and provide them with some potential properties and a boatload of data to help them make the best possible investment decision. 

But if I was a brand new agent who didn't even know where to get crime data maps from the Sacramento Police Department or didn't have time to read the news and learn that Sacramento has triple the nation's rent growth rate because I was too busy running my insurance business, I would be doing a disservice to my clients that surely could've been done better by a professional who's doing it full time.

For example, I could get my insurance license and write insurance policies for every single one of my clients... but I don't. Why? Because my time would be better spent becoming a better real estate agent. And that's what I'd suggest for you too. 

One thing you could do though is get your license and then refer business out to some of those great agents you work with and collect 25% referral fees without having to lift a finger. That's what I recommend to my client who is an oral surgeon. He knows a ton of other people in the dental field and speaks directly with 10-20 patients a day and could surely drum up a bunch of business that way without having to learn how to sell a home, do an open house properly, etc.