Is a Career Change (to real estate agent) right for me?

2 Replies

Sorry if this maybe isn't the best forum for this, but I felt like it probably is, so here goes. I'm self employed in a niche field, Electronic Systems Integration... (think smart homes, home theater, networks, smart lighting and shades, etc). I did everything the hard way through self education and learning as I go. I live and work in the Silicon Valley Bay Area, but am not from here originally, so didn't have a network to start with. 

I'm passionate about real estate and have been since my late teens. Making many mistakes with money throughout my 20's. Grew up with little to know financial education and discovered the education I needed only later in life. I'm now 38, married to an amazing wife and have two young kids. 

My business has worked for us because I make my own schedule and thus have flexibility for our family where my wife's work schedule is more traditional and limiting (but also the stability to my up and down small business income). I love being self employed, the freedom, the challenges and more. The work I do is unique, fun, sometimes stupid frustrating but also sometimes rewarding. 

The bigger custom projects I do are what I enjoy the most and in terms of retail, are bigger ticket items. 

My concern has been scaling. I've tried various things over the years, having employees on and off, trying to create systems and more. There are definitely things I suck at, things i'm okay at but don't do regularly and things I'm great at. The frustration has often been getting burned out on reinventing the wheel and trying to create/find a system/structure to copy.

I network with many professionals around the country, some that I would consider very successful. In the past few months I've found that many of them are still trying to create the systems needed to ever have a more passive business. There is a large capital investment in training people for this work as it isn't something people can go to school for or that there are clear training programs for. There is for aspects of it, but not everything. There is obvious risk in investing the time and money into someone. 

It isn't comfortable to me talking about this, because in my head, I feel like i'm just being a whiner and not stepping up to the challenge. But, why not. 

Here's the thing. I'm 38. I know that isn't super old, but it's getting there. When I think about about how much work and time I've put into this over the past 15 years, especially in the first 8 years.... and had I just put the effort into something that was already a proven system and had some structures in place (giant's to stand on), I can't even imagine where I would be today. 

So while part of me wants to continue with the challenge, keep focusing on my business to make it the best it can and hopefully create the systems needed to make it passive and possibly a salable asset in the future. Another part of me feels like that is still a bit of a gamble and that I may be better off working just as hard at something already proven, something where I can come in and work with others. Something that could still allow the freedom I'm custom to  while also allowing me to retaining my business but only focus on the most profitable and enjoyable projects IF I choose to. 


This led me back to real estate. We (my wife and I) are working towards actively investing in real estate, trying to brrrr some properties with a plan now for getting things in order. However, I've been interested and reading about real estate since my late teens. House hacked my first home at 21 and retain it as a rental today. Had a mentor that I think I found in the news paper, but never actually met....  then life took me in another direction and I jumped in head first in the deep water... leaving real estate behind while I worked on other things. 

Today I'm more interested in real estate than ever, reading, listening, discussing real estate related things every day. Which makes me want to be around it more where I can learn even more and be active. 

I feel like I'm in a unique position to become an agent

  • I have another source of income with a flexible schedule via my existing business and projects, so I wouldn't be pulled away in the first 2 years due to lack of income starting out like it seems many are.
  • I have more big picture experience than probably most who become an agent, in that I'm comfortable with delegating work and creating situations that are win-win (as I sub-contract out a lot of things these days in my business). 
  • I'm self driven, always have been
  • Enjoy sales and negotiations, probably one of my favorite parts of what I do now.
  • I've been educating about general real estate investing for awhile now, definitely have a lot to learn, but likely know more than the typical starting out agent. 
  • I've worked with (and managed some) contractors in/around construction
  • I know my why, which makes many things easier to do that we are afraid of doing. Doesn't take the fear away, but makes you more willing to move forward DESPITE the fear. 
    • I have the experience to know that the first step is the biggest, but it gets easier with time. Knowing this is one thing, but actually working through it on multiple occasions gives a bit more confidence in the process. 

I certainly have some concerns, I'm not a naturally outgoing person, especially in groups, but am comfortable in small groups or one on one. (did door to door sales in Jr high to save up and buy my own Sega Genesis, yes, I'm that old :D..... but really not something I'm eager to go do again. This is something I've worked on being better and continue to read about. I also need to learn and practice goal setting more. I am, but it isn't something I grew up with or have ever really done, so I am today, but it doesn't come naturally or easily.

Would definitely appreciate any feedback, questions I can answer or ask, suggestions.... or just general chat. Thanks in advance. 

In order to be a successful real estate agent, you need to be able to do it full time. The very successful agents I have known over the years worked crazy hours, sometimes 80 hours per week. Running another business makes it very difficult. It would be worthwhile to take the course and educate yourself. We are never too old to learn. As I have mentioned in another thread, if you are planning to be a REI having a license can be a detriment. It will likely cost you more than the commissions you might be saving.