Is Real Estate Agent a Good Job?
Well, a better question would be "is real estate a good career?"
Real estate agent isn't a regular 9-to-5 job with a boss and a salary, and you won't be successful if you think of it as one.
Real estate agents are independent contractors – they work under the supervision of a broker by law, but their hours, income, and advancement opportunities are in their own hands, determined by skill, effort, and no small amount of luck.
Real estate agents work on commission. Property owners usually give up around 5% of the final selling price to their agents. Once you have an established practice and a thriving referral business, the money can be excellent. The top 10% of real estate agents made more than $102,170 as of 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, the downside is that it's possible to make next to nothing.
Another thing that a lot of people love about real estate is that the hours are flexible. You're not stuck in an office 40 hours a week. Often, you're out and about meeting people and showing properties. On the other hand, the flexibility of your schedule isn't entirely up to you. Clients want to meet when they have time, which often means working evenings and weekends.
Finally, one of the biggest selling points of real estate agent careers can be that you are your own boss. That's appealing to many people.
Are Real Estate Agents In Demand?
The real estate job outlook is always closely tied to the real estate market and the economy as a whole. That means two things: it will always wax and wane, and predicting its future is incredibly complicated.
The good news is that, unlike industries that depend on people's disposable income, people will always need real estate agents. Even in a poor economy, folks need places to live and work. The life events that impact their needs often happen independent of the economy – marriage, kids, empty nests, retirement, business growth, and business change.
Real estate agent demand will never bottom out to zero.
The real estate agent job outlook, on the other hand, is deeply dependent on the economy. But agents' status as independent contractors makes outlook complicated.
You can't just ask "how many jobs are available in real estate?" because that's not how it works. People exit and enter the industry based on individual decisions. There are times when brokerages are more eager to expand than others, but real estate agent job growth isn't as simple as who's hiring.
In fact, the real estate agent job outlook can be counterintuitive.
When real estate agent demand is poor, agents often leave the industry for more predictable work. When the real estate agent job outlook is excellent, there's typically a flood of real estate students that will become a surplus by the time they get going.
As a result, the smartest time to earn your real estate license is sometimes at the bottom of the real estate market (like now). There's less competition with other new licensees, and frankly, you're not going to earn a lot at the beginning anyway – more on this in a second.
You'll have time to establish yourself, and you'll be ready when the real estate agent demand picks up. You'll be productive while a surge of brand-new agents are just trying to find their feet.
Is It Worth Becoming A Real Estate Agent?
Well, the initial licensing process for becoming a real estate agent is less expensive and time-consuming than a lot of careers with similar earning potential.
If you're going into residential real estate, you don't need a college degree. It's just a set of state-prescribed courses followed by a state exam, background check, and application.
If you choose online courses, you can usually get licensed for under $1500. In many states, it's well below that – in Florida, it's as little as $350.
It also doesn't take very long. In most states, you can become a real estate agent in 6 months or less.
But a lot of people look at the earnings potential and the relatively fast startup time and see dollar signs.
We'd be doing you a disservice if we didn't mention the hidden costs of getting a real estate practice to the point where you can earn a profit.
What many new agents don't account for is that for the first few years of most real estate agent careers, your income will be negative. You'll have expenses from marketing and networking, as well as fixed costs like desk fees, professional dues, and continuing education.
And the downside of working on commission is that if you don't sell, you don't earn. It takes new agents anywhere from six months to two years to make their first sale. And although 5% of the selling price sounds amazing, that money isn't entirely (or even mostly) for you, because of commission splits.
You'll spend your first few years finding a niche, learning the industry, building a network, and establishing your reputation. It's an investment in the best and worst senses of the word. New real estate agents either need a substantial nest egg for living and startup expenses, or they need to work part-time and hold down a second job.
Being blindsided by this reality has been the death knell of many promising real estate agent careers, so you need to plan for it.
It also means the answer to the question "is it worth becoming a real estate agent?" is a very individual one.
Should I Become A Real Estate Agent?
As we mentioned above, being prepared for the reality of your early career is one necessary ingredient for success. Another is being willing to sacrifice and hustle.
But your individual talents and attributes will make or break your career. Real estate agent careers aren't for everyone.
To be successful as a real estate agent, you need to be a self-starter. It's important to be organized, responsible, and capable of planning ahead – you'll be handling large sums of money and you'll need to think long-term.
You also need a fair amount of persistence and optimism. If you're someone who's discouraged when you don't see immediate results, then real estate probably isn't the career for you.
Naturally, you also need to be a people person. Clients will expect you to be a good listener, to remember what they want and need, and be effective at communicating. The key to long-term success in real estate is to collect happy clients who'll recommend you to others when the time comes.
Does this sound like you? Are you ready to begin your new career? We can help!
We offer online, self-paced pre-licensing coursework in many states and exam prep resources for most. Check out our catalog and enroll today to get started!
Written and Published by: VanEd